Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!?!?

Our New Year’s Eve was spent at Cabela’s.  Believe it or not, it was pretty picked over and the food was not that great for the price we paid.  It was a bummer of a trip!  The things Eric wanted were gone.  😦  BUT I was delighted to find a pair of winter boots!  I haven’t bought any in such a long time, so with the money “Santa” left for me, I purchased a pair!  Another thing I bought the day after Christmas was a new purse!  I have never paid so much money for a purse in my entire life, but I love my new purse – it has the glorious smell of leather.

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We rang in the new year with a very sick husband/father.  He pretty much stayed in bed ALL week, except for Thursday, when he HAD to go to work.  He also went to the doctor’s while he was out that day.  They tested him for pneumonia and the flu.  Tested positive for Influenza A.   Eric ran some pretty high fevers, had aches, froze and sweat all week long.  It’s been a really rough week for him.  I’ve never seen someone have such nasty fevers for such a long time!

While the week has been spent battling sickness, I’ve been busy nursing Eric, and now Nathan, and taking care of chickens, laundry, etc.  Nothing overly thrilling.  I made chicken noodle soup twice this week.  Today I also made a huge stock pot of chicken stock because I was using my frozen stock all up.  We’re using it like crazy these days! It’s a necessity.  I’m getting good at making gluten-free noodles.  The family is crazy about it too.  Everyone eats at least 2 bowls, so my normal pot doesn’t last as long as it used to.  Kinda sad, but I’m glad they love to scarf it down and give rave reviews about it the whole time.

We’ve been reading through the Bible, starting on January 1st.  It’s going ok so far.  We’ll just keep pressing on!  I’m sure it’ll be hard, sometimes it’s hard already.  It’s all about priorities though.  That’s for sure! **Update since I started this post** We missed yesterday (January 6th),  and I decided to change reading plans.  I found one that isn’t so overwhelming for us and we’ll be starting that this evening (Jan 7th).

There’s been a tragedy in the family. . . well, it’s nothing that dramatic really.  Grace somehow lost her precious blankie between the boy’s bedroom and her bedroom.  We’ve searched both rooms and can’t find it anywhere!  She slept in the boy’s room on the floor the one night, took her blankets and pillow back to her room and has lost her little blue blankie!  There have been many tears over this thing.  It’s a mystery, really.  I just can’t figure out how it is missing!  There’s no where for it to have gone!

Speaking of battling sickness, both boys have fevers and so do I.  Nathan’s was super high yesterday, but seems to not be so bad today.  Ryan and I have low-grade fevers happening right now, along with aches.  I also have this awful, choking cough and my throat hurts from it.  The joys of flu season!  Thankfully it’s not the stomach flu!

So that is how our new year has gone, so far! 🙂  Eric returned to work today and I think he’s doing much better, thankfully!

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Cheese Crackers

Yesterday I was busy trying a few new things in the kitchen and had 2 successful recipes!  I LOVE it when that happens!   I would love to link to the site I originally found this recipe, but it keeps saying there’s a server error.  I’m so thankful I printed it when I did!

Gluten-Free, Grain-Free Crackers

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2 1/2 cups almond flour

2 cups grated extra sharp cheddar cheese

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

4 Tbsp finely grated parmesan cheese

2 egs

3 Tbsp oil (original recipe call for grapeseed, but I used expeller pressed coconut oil)

 

 

Directions: 

* Mix together the almond flour, salt and baking soda.

* Add in cheeses.

* Add in the eggs and then slowly drizzle in the oil.

*  Beat slowly until mixture is doughy.  Should be mostly firm.

*  Half the mixture.   You can cook both batches or freeze one for another day.

*Place the dough in the center of a large piece of parchement.  Place another piece of parchment on top and using a rolling pin, roll from center outwards until dough is about 1/8 inch thick.

*  Trim around edges and/or cut through dough to make squares – a pizza cutter works well.

*  Top with an extra sprinkling of salt if you like extra salty crackers.

*  Bake aDSC_7492t 325 degrees for about 15 – 20 minutes until dough is browning and edges and middle are no longer moist.  Check often as ovens differ.  (I baked mine 10 minutes more, turning them over to make them crispier).

*  Let cool completely before breaking or cutting – at least one hour

** The site I got this recipe says Recipe by:  Greynonymous.  So Thank you, whoever you are, for this wonderful recipe!! 

 

 

 

DSC_7499 The finished product!  Delicious!  I was putting some cheeseball cheese on these!  Wonderful!

 

Another recipe I made is Paleo Apple Crisp.  So tasty!  I did make a couple subs – I used organic cane sugar in place of the muscovado sugar.  I also just used all pecans instead of the walnuts the recipe called for.  Don’t have walnuts, so that is the main reason, but I’m not really a walnut fan.  🙂

The only other cooking adventure I had yesterday was using my convection oven to bake frozen chicken breasts.  I love how they came out of the oven and even Eric said they were not bad and he is not a fan of chicken.

 

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup – Revisited

I’ve been meaning to write something here for weeks, but obviously haven’t done it lately.  It’s not that there isn’t anything going on these days, it’s just a matter of time and motivation.

Anyway, Eric was sick a couple of weeks ago, and I am currently sick (though feeling much better than last week).  When Eric was sick I thought chicken noodle soup would be perfect.  So instead of making noodles the first day, I went and bought some at the store.  The “homemade” store-bought kind.  😀  Mainly I didn’t feel like making any and I didn’t know how to go about making gluten-free ones.

The next day I made some gluten-free egg noodles.  It was an interesting experience.  I was working with this homemade mix for the noodles:

2 cups brown rice flour,
2 cups white rice flour (I used sweet white rice since it’s all I have)
1 cup potato starch (the recipe called for cornstarch, but I switched it and it worked just fine)

Then if you remember THIS post (which you might not because a lot of time has passed since I wrote it), you’ll see the recipe I used to make Homemade Egg Noodles.

Anyway, I did make a couple of modifications to the recipe and here it is:

2 cups rice mix (from above),  3 egg yolks,  1 whole egg, 1 tsp salt,  1/2 tsp xanthan gum (this is added, would probably work without it, but I wanted to try it with),  1/3 to 1/2 cup water (I used more water than that until it stuck together).

I mixed the rice mix, salt and xanthan gum with a fork in a bowl just to get it blended together. Then made a well in the middle and put in 3 egg yolks and 1 whole egg and started mixing it and then added water by the Tbsp until I got the mixture to hold together. You don’t want it too sticky, but you do want it to hold together.

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I separated it into 4 equal parts and worked with one at a time.

I dusted the counter and top of the batter with potato starch and rolled it out. Cut it into the size strips I wanted with a pizza cutter. I don’t have a pasta cutter, so I don’t know how it would work in there.

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I boiled it batch by batch for 10 minutes.

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And this is the wonderfully, delicious finished product.

Everyone in the house loved it!  I love when a new recipe works out so well!

New Stove

Eric and I bought our first stove back in March of 1999 when we moved into a rental home, it wasn’t a new one.  It has been with all this time . . . until Saturday, when it decided to burn out an element.  It was pretty freaky to see the oven glowing inside, even after I turned it off.  It wasn’t until I unplugged it that the glowing finally stopped.  Last year we had oven issues around this time of year, had to replace the thermal gauge inside the oven.  It would burn the tops of whatever I was cooking and everything else wasn’t done cooking yet.  Anyway, it was a mess, but Eric fixed it.  He’s handy like that!  🙂  Some time  during the past year one of my burners on the top quit working, so I only had 3 burners and even they weren’t the best.

After Saturday’s oven glowing experience, we decided we’d go oven shopping.  Nothing like having to do this before the holidays!  But it was time and I was ready for  a new oven!  Saturday, Sunday and Monday were interesting cooking days since I didn’t have burners to even use.  I used a crock pot, griddle (it is part of this awesome waffle iron that I got many years ago), and microwave a little bit.  I hate microwave cooking, I really do.

Yesterday our new stove came and they hauled our old one away!  Set up the new stove and there it was . . . all nice and shiny, just staring at me.  I stared back at it.  To be honest, I was afraid of it! LOL  I’ve never had or used a brand new stove, so it was a little intimidating!

Anyway, here are pictures of my new stove and some of the things I’ve baked in it already! 🙂

                                                                      

It’s so nice and shiny!  I LOVE it!  It got a lot of use yesterday, its first day in our home!

            

The inside of the oven before I used it.  Then coconut macaroons are the first batch of cookies I made for my husband.  Not pictured are chocolate chip cookies I made for the kids and a butternut squash that I baked.  And then there are the pictures of the Gluten-Free/Grain-Free Almond Scones.  I was drooling and couldn’t wait for these things to finish baking!

                                                                                       

The finished scones!  They are SO very good!  I ate a couple last night and one for breakfast this morning!

The picture of my arm is showing a boo boo I got from my new oven.  I burned it on the top rack putting something in yesterday.  Silly me!

Anyway, it has been so fun to have a new stove/oven!

Not sure what I’m going to make with it today, but I want to try out the convection part of the oven.

I have a chicken I want to throw in there – not one that is walking around my yard though. . .

PS.  My shiny appliances are waiting for their new kitchen to come . . . some day! 🙂

Gluten-Free Baked Oatmeal

This is another recipe from Pinterest.

I do love Pinterest.

Lots!

This recipe is from a site called Urban Nester.

The recipe is called Gluten-Free Baked Oatmeal Casserole.

I made the whole family eat this today. 🙂  It’s a healthy and delicious warm meal.

Everyone ate it and liked it to some degree.

After reading THIS article, I am seriously thinking about never buying boxed cereal again.

Here is the recipe from Urban Nester:

Gluten-Free Baked
Oatmeal Casserole

Total Time: 50 minutes
Serves:
6

Ingredients
2 cups gluten-free rolled
oats
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon
cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup walnut pieces
1 cup raspberries {any berries work}
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
2 cups milk
1 large egg
3
tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 ripe banana,
peeled, 1/2-inch slices

Instructions
Preheat oven to 375°F and generously spray the inside of
a 10-1/2 by 7 inch baking dish with cooking spray and place on a baking
sheet.

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, sugar, baking
powder, cinnamon, salt, half the walnuts, half the strawberries and half the
chocolate. (Save the other half of strawberries, walnuts and chocolate for the
top of the oatmeal).
In another large bowl, whisk together the milk, egg,
butter and vanilla extract.

Add the oat mixture to prepared baking dish. Arrange the remaining strawberries, walnuts and chocolate on top.

Add the banana slices to the top then pour the milk mixture over everything. Gently shake the baking dish to help the milk mixture go throughout the oats.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until the top is nicely golden brown and the milk mixture has set. For an extra tasty top, sprinkle a tablespoon or so of extra brown sugar.

**I used blueberries and pecans in place of strawberries and walnuts.  We are not big walnut fans here,

and I only had blueberries in the freezer.  This tasted wonderful!

You can make it more healthy if you want.  🙂

Quinoa This and Quinoa That

 

Yesterday I was in a cooking mood and decided to try a couple quinoa recipes.

I have a bunch of the stuff in my fridge/freezer.

The first recipe I tried is Parmesan Quinoa Bites.

She has a great photo of all the ingredients on her site.

I have my new lens on my camera, so that is why there are so many close-up photos in this post.

This is all the quinoa and other ingredients mixed and in the muffin pan.

I enjoy eating parmesan cheese.  A lot!

After the food cooks, this is the delicious morsel that comes out of the oven.

3 out of 5 really like these.  1 (Eric) was ok with it and 1 (Ryan) didn’t like it at all.

Here is the recipe from Make It and Love It:

Parmesan Quinoa Bites:

  • 2 1/2 cups of cooked quinoa (instead of preparing quinoa with water like the package suggests, use chicken broth. so much tastier!)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 stalks of green onion, sliced thin
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, plus extra to sprinkle on top
  • 3 Tbsp rice flour (or regular flour if you’re not GF)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (more if you use water to make your quinoa. otherwise, the chicken broth adds enough salt.)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 (fahrenheit).

Combine all of your ingredients in a large bowl (except for the extra parmesan for the top of each bite) and mix well.  Spray your muffin tins entirely with cooking spray (don’t skimp on the spray or your bites will stick).  Scoop out enough mixture to fill your standard muffin tins 3/4 full.  Press down firmly with your fingers or the back of a spoon.  Sprinkle more parmesan cheese on top of each muffin tin portion.  Bake in over for 20-30 minutes.  Ready when slightly browned on top and a fairly browned crust on bottom and sides has formed.

My next cooking with quinoa recipe is from Queen of Quinoa.  Obviously, she has LOTS of quinoa recipes.

This recipe I tried once before.  The Quinoa Thins were ok, but I wasn’t crazy about the texture.

After I made that batch, I decided to really turn my quinoa into powder.

This was very hard since I only have a blender, not a food processor, but it did work.

See the texture difference from THESE ones?

So much better looking this time and a much better texture!

My kids love them!

Gluten Free Quinoa Thins (I made hummus, but not the one in this post) :

I made some modifications to the recipe.

  • 1 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/2 cup millet flour ** (see below)
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • 7 – 8 tablespoons cold water (more if needed) *** (see below)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a food processor fitted with the metal s-blade, combine all the dry ingredients and  pulse until smooth. Transfer the flour mixture to a medium bowl and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, raw honey and one tablespoon of water. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix with a plastic spatula. Add the remaining water one tablespoon at a time until you have a thick, pliable dough.

Shape the dough into a rectangle and place it between two pieces of parchment paper. Roll the dough between the two pieces of paper until it’s about 1/8″ thick. Remove the top layer of paper and transfer the other piece (carefully!) to a baking sheet.

With a pizza cutter, slice the dough into squares.

Bake the crackers in the warmed oven for about 15 minutes, or until they start to brown. **** (see bel0w)

** in place of the millet flour, I used some Almond Flour that I made.

***Reduced the water a couple tablespoons.

**** The cooking time was longer and I turned the crackers over after 10 or so minutes of baking and removed the ones that were getting brown and kept doing this until they were cooked to my satisfaction.

Wheat Free, Say What??

   My bloggy friend, Tracy, had a really good post about a week or so ago.   It was her openness about her issues with weight and how she’s tried so many different things to lose weight, but it just doesn’t go away.  She then shared a link in her comment section to Wheat Belly Blog.   Well, I’m not hugely overweight for my size, but I’d like to lose a few.  I wasn’t really thinking about myself so much while reading that blog link, but I was thinking about my husband.  He has had a hard time losing weight for years and I thought “Why not give this a try?!”   Of course, it was all well and good in my mind, but I didn’t know what Eric would feel about it.  So the morning after I read that Wheat Belly Blog, I texted him a message about going “wheat free” and see how we’d do with it and he agreed to it – amazingly!  
  My husband is very skeptical when it comes to anything like this.  🙂  He made a “deal” with me.  He said, “I’ll just not ‘believe in’ this and go along with it and you can ‘believe in it’ and we’ll both see how we feel at the end.”    Today marks our first whole week without wheat.  Well, we had 2 days where we did cheat . . . our son’s birthday was this past Friday, so we HAD to have a cupcake Friday and Saturday, lol.  Insanely sweet, but so good for a few minutes.   Eric says he doesn’t feel any better or worse not eating wheat.  I, on the other hand, do feel a little better.  Not as draggy and overstuffed and bloaty.  I lost nearly 5 pounds in the first couple days and I do believe it was water weight or something.  Eric has lost about 5 pounds, too.  He said he’s happy if he can lose weight and NOT exercise. . . work has been extra stressful for him these days and he hasn’t had the energy for much of anything else after he gets home at the end of his 11 hour work days. 
 
          
Right after we decided to go wheat free, I started looking online for wheat free ideas and recipes.  Of course, Pinterest has TONS of wonderful, tasty ideas. 
The almonds are soaking in water here.   I got the idea to make my own Almond Flour @ ADDICTED to VEGGIES:  How to make raw almond flour .  Don’t know if I did something wrong here or what.  She said the almonds will just pop right out of their skin after soaking them for 8 hours.  Mine soaked for, oh, a good 12 hours or more and none of my almonds just “popped” out of the skin.  I was very saddened by this.  My almonds needed peeled and my poor thumb nail got cuts underneath from the skins.  It was a painfully long process, too.  I had 3 cups of almonds soaking here.  They bloat up a lot, too.  It was not a fun experience for me. 
 
The next day I decided to dry them out in the oven.  They are still sitting on my counter, in a storage baggie, waiting for me to grind them in the blender.  I still am having trouble looking at them.  🙂 
 
 
   
We have a local organic food place and I’ve been there once before just to window shop.  Last week, I decided that since we are going wheat free, that I wanted to order some wheat free flours to substitute from time to time.  I ordered Brown Rice Flour, Spelt Flour, and Coconut Flour.  I’ve made a loaf of bread with the spelt flour in my bread machine.  It turned out ok, but is definitely different in texture than regular bread.  It was a no-go for Eric.  The coconut flour bags have recipes on the back, so I tried both of them.  One was brownies and the other was chocolate chip cookies.  If you like coconut flavor, you’ll like these wonderfully tasty snacks!  They are different in texture, but not grossly different.  They are Eric approved and he DOES like coconut. 🙂 
 
This whole “wheat free” eating is a whole new ballgame.  There are lots to learn and I’m always obsessed with something when I’m trying to learn it. 
 
        
Here are a couple other snacks I attempted.  The first picture is kind of a ‘larabar’ type snack bar.  I took dates, almonds, and craisins and blended them and mixed them together.  I put them in a long, skinny bread pan I have and put them in the fridge for a bit.  They cut easily and I put them in baggies and put them in the fridge.  Another recipe I want to try is Apricot Coconut Energy Bars.  I found it on Pinterest, of course.   The middle and last pictures are my attempt at Gluten-Free Quinoa Thins.  These were definitely tasty, but not that crispy of a texture.  I had taken my quinoa and put it in the blender to make it more powdery.  Little did I know even MORE powdery would be way better and probably cooking them on a regular cookie sheet instead of my Pampered Chef stone would be a better choice, too.  Or maybe leaving them in the oven a lot longer on the stone?  I don’t know for sure.  Guess I’ll have to experiment some more.  I put more quinoa in my blender and decided to sift out the bigger parts and just keep grinding.  I think I have 2 cups of  mostly ground quinoa now.  It was a long process and I’ve been hoarding it since. 🙂  I’m thinking I really want a vitamix or some really good blender or food processor.  My old Oster brand blender is great, but it’s just not as versatile as I’d like. 
 
The kids are not doing a “wheat free” lifestyle change at this point.  Ryan said, “Don’t take away my bread!”    I couldn’t help chuckling over that one.  I do joke that he is my ‘breadatarian.’  Some day I’ll get them weaned off the stuff (maybe), but for now I’m just happy they like fruits and vegetables and will eat them most of the time. 
 
Now I need to go shop for more vegetables!  They really do help fill you up.  We do eat a lot more protein and vegetables.  It’s sort of like an Atkins or South Beach type diet, I guess.  I’ll do updates from time to time about how things are going.  It has been an adventure to this point!