Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


For those of you who received an email this morning which appeared to Link to new recipes posted on my blog, I apologize! I’m just getting the blog going again and was composing drafts of recipes to come and for some reason it recognized them as new published posts and sent the email out. :-( So sorry for the trouble and if there’s a particular recipe you saw that you would like, please just send me an email and I will get it to you right away! Otherwise, keep watching and new content will be posted over the coming weeks! ūüėÄ

Front Yard Gardeners Unite!!!

Just a quick post about a story which is spreading like weeds, not just here in Michigan, but across the globe.¬†¬† A¬†family in Oak Park, Michigan has planted their front yard with¬†a beautifully maintained vegetable garden and are facing persecution at the hands of the City as a result.¬†¬† Here¬†and here¬†are a¬†couple¬†links to local and national news clips¬†about the story.¬† And click here for this citizen’s own account of her “adventure” so far in blog format:

Although I personally don’t live in a subdivision, and don’t have to worry about complaining neighbors,¬†in addition to the huge garden and greenhouse we plant, we are also Front Yard Gardeners.¬† Here’s a shot of our house taken last summer:

Tomatoes and Peppers and Basil, OH MY!!!  :-) 

Please stop on over to Julie’s Blog or her Facebook Page and show your support!¬† I know I’ll be watching the outcome of¬†this story closely!¬†¬†¬†GO, Julie!!!

Mystery Mocha (Sans Gluten)

Once in a great while, I see a recipe over at Tasty Kitchen that I need to make immediately.¬† Don’t get me wrong, I see recipes on TK that appeal to me all the time and I file them away in my “Recipe Box” online for future use.¬† But¬†today, when I¬†saw that¬†Pioneer Woman had featured this particular recipe which had been¬†contributed by one of my fellow-members¬†at TK, I knew it would be on our menu tonight.¬† Here is PW’s photo that lured me in:


I know…you are drooling about now too, right?

This is called Mystery Mocha.¬† The “Mystery” is the gooey goodness underneath the crunchy brownie-like surface.¬† The “Mocha” refers to the subtle flavoring of coffee that comes from the cup of¬†java that is poured over the batter before baking.¬† It sounds weird, I know…but the results are nothing short of amazing.

I followed the recipe which Pioneer Woman has step-by-step photo instructions for here, except I substituted my favorite Brown Rice Flour Mix (see proportions below*) for the all-purpose flour, and I added 1/8th tsp Xanthan Gum in with the dry ingredients. 

This is what it looked like when it was finished baking.

We scooped Vanilla Ice Cream atop each serving while the cake was still warm.

(Sorry for the inferior photos but the daylight was fading and I was drooling waiting to take a bite!)

Here’s a¬†peek at¬†the gooey goodness beneath the crust.

This would make the¬†perfect Valentine’s Day dessert and is guaranteed to put your sweetie under your spell!¬† Unless, of course, your beloved isn’t into chocolate.¬† Then again,¬†WHO doesn’t like chocolate?!?!? :-)

*Brown Rice Flour Mix: 2 parts Brown Rice Flour, 2/3 part Potato Starch, 1/3 part Tapioca Starch Рwhisk together and store in a sealed container.

Homemade Date & Nut Energy Bars

Let’s call them “Carobars”.¬† :-)

This recipe was really ridiculously easy to formulate.  After all, the (incredibly simple) ingredient list on the package practically gives away the whole recipe! 

My very good friend (who is gluten intolerant) brought my son a handful of Larabars one day so he could try them out.¬† He liked them and I¬†sneaked a bar¬†and liked them too!¬† Purchasing a few each time I make a trip to Whole Foods has become a habit I just can’t break.¬† But at over $1 a piece,¬†it was wearing on my frugal nature.

So, when I saw a big package of dates on sale at Costco recently, I picked them up determined to give making my own a try.¬†¬†I didn’t take photos of the process, because frankly I just wasn’t sure how they would turn out.¬† But they tasted phenomenal so I decided to just go ahead and¬†give the recipe¬†to you sans the step-by-step photos.¬† I just could NOT wait to share the secret!¬†

This recipe is the mock version of the Cinnamon Roll Larabar, which is my personal favorite flavor so far. :-)

You’ll need:

1 to 1 1/2 cups pitted dates, roughly chopped

1 cup walnuts

1 tsp ground Cinnamon

What to do:

Process nuts in bowl of food processor until coursely chopped.  Remove to a bowl, add cinnamon to nuts and toss together well.

Add 1 cup of dates to bowl of food processor and pulse until chopped.¬† They may clump together in a lump.¬† That’s okay.

Add nut mixture to processor and pulse just a couple times until combined. 

Remove mixture to bowl and work together using your hands or a wooden spoon.  If it seems too crumbly, chop a few more dates in the food processor and add to bowl as needed until mixture holds together well.

Line a baking pan or cookie sheet (I used an 8 x 8 square pan) with parchment or waxed paper, coming up the sides of the pan. 

Press mixture into pan by covering mixture with another sheet of parchment or waxed paper and using your hands to apply pressure.¬†¬†Smooth the mixture¬†until it reaches the edges of pan (or about 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick if your pan is larger than 8″ x 8″).

Place in refrigerator for a few hours, then cut into rectangles or squares using a sharp knife.

Store bars in the refrigerator in a covered container or wrap each bar individually for easy on-the-go snacking!

I’ve been exercising a lot more lately¬†(there will be more about that in a later post), and I love these bars because when it’s been a couple hours since a meal, and I’m heading out the door to go to my class, it’s great to be able to grab something quick that gives me energy but isn’t too heavy and won’t weigh me down or leave my stomach too full.¬†¬†These bars fit the bill!

Enjoy! :-)

A Recipe For Fun: The Super Secret Surprise Sampler

Who doesn’t love to trick their kids?¬† Especially when it comes to eating a healthy balanced diet!¬† This trick is an old one for us, and it originated when my Mother-in-law would make these plates up for the boys’ during their overnight visits.¬† Although both my spawn have aged into the double-digits, they still enjoy it when¬†I (or their Granny) makes them up a “Super Secret Surprise Sampler” plate to nosh on for old times’ sake.

Start with a plate.  Any plate will do, but a sectional one, or even a muffin tin is especially nice. 

Wash and cut some fruit and/or veggies: carrots, cucumbers, apples, bananas, oranges, whatever.

Add a dipping cup (or two) of peanut butter, Nutella, or ranch dressing.

Include whatever sweet or salty snack you have around like cookies, chips, nuts, or pretzels.  This is a great way to get rid of those nearly empty containers of stuff in the cupboard!

How about a cup of applesauce, yogurt or cottage cheese with some candy sprinkles on top sitting in the center of the plate?

I always make sure there is something chocolate in the mix too!  M&Ms or a fun size candy bar are perfect!

You’ be surprised to know that the¬†sweet stuff¬†is¬†not always¬†the first to be eaten,¬†and you’d also be amazed¬†at what new (or usually shunned) foods the kids will try when it’s presented in this manner.

They also¬†can get quite¬†creative with¬†the “recipes” they invent from the ingredients at their disposal.¬† How does a ranch and M&M sandwich on crackers sound?¬† Ewwww!!!

If you’ve got really little kids, you can even shape the foods into a face, or something artsier if you possess such talents.¬†

You might encourage¬†the kids to play with their¬†food,¬†or to build something using peanut butter or hummus¬†as the “glue”.¬† Above all, have fun!

These plates are an even nicer treat when the kids aren’t feeling too great.¬† My baby has a cold right now and he enjoyed his most recent sampler plate snuggled on the couch in his jammies.

Oh…and this is probably¬†THE most important thing: Do NOT let the kids see what is going¬†onto the plate until they sit down to eat it!¬† That’s where the “Super Secret” part comes in!¬†¬† After all these years, my kids still excitedly anticipate what they’ll find when I tell them that I’m making them up a Super Secret Surprise Sampler! :-)

Worlds Best* Gluten Free French Toast

When I made the new bread recipe yesterday, I immediately thought that it would be perfect for French Toast, so this morning the boys enjoyed one of their favorite breakfasts! 

Growing up, French Toast was one of the¬†few things my mother made from scratch, if you can call dipping slices of store bought bread into beaten egg “from scratch”!¬† I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s¬†and boxed mixes¬†and frozen dinners were di riguer for us when¬†“eating in”,¬†but¬†I really remember us subsisting¬†mostly on fast food: takeout pizza, Jack In The Box, McDonalds, Taco Bell¬†and Chinese carry-out.¬† At least I can say that our fast food diet was varied.

Anyway, Mom always told me that the reason her French Toast was better than others was the Nutmeg –¬† just a dash¬†-that she added to the egg mixture along with the Cinnamon.¬† I don’t really know if its true that most recipes for French Toast don’t already call for Nutmeg, since I guess I’ve never searched for a replacment.¬† I’ve just always made it Mom’s¬†way, and now I can carry on the tradition to my kids by making the claim that my French Toast is The Best and passing along the family secret to them.¬†

To make the Worlds Best* French Toast, you’ll need:

1 Tbsp Butter

4-6 slices bread, White or French (Gluten Free or Regular)

2 Eggs

1/4 cup Whole Milk (Half & Half or Cream would work well, too)

1 tsp Cinnamon

1/4 tsp Vanilla

Dash (or two) of Nutmeg

What to do:

Break eggs into a shallow dish and add milk, Cinnamon, Nutmeg & Vanilla.

Combine together with a fork or wire whisk until frothy.

Melt butter in skillet or griddle over medium heat.

Dip each slice of bread into the mixture, first on one side,

then the other.

Lift carefully onto prepared pan.

Cook each side until crispy and browned, then flip to cook other side.

Serve hot with butter, powdered sugar, and syrup or any other of your favorite toppings!

*According to Mom. 

Oh…and if any of you are inclined to set me straight on this, I really dont wanna know.¬† I’d like to remain blissfully¬†oblivious, thankyouverymuch! :-)

Gluten Free “White” Bread

I haven’t tried any new bread recipes in a while, but I think my son has been growing bored with the selections I usually bake to keep on hand.¬† We’ve actually been buying Udi’s Gluten Free Bagels¬†quite often lately.¬† Have you tried these yet?¬† They are expensive (about $7 for a pack of 4 at Whole Foods) but they are really, really good.¬† I’ll have a great sandwich recipe featuring those posted here on the blog¬†soon.¬† In the meantime, I have a new bread recipe to share with you.¬† I just tried this for the first time today, and this is a very close adaptation of a recipe from Easy Gluten Free Baking, by Elizabeth Barbone.¬† I’ve tried her recipes before, and they always turn out fabulously.¬† One of my very first posts here was her Gluten Free Sandwich Bread, and recently we tried (and loved!) her Belgian Waffles.¬† My Mock Wheat and Mock Rye loaves are both adaptations of¬†that Gluten Free Sandwich Bread recipe.

The only modification I made on this particular recipe was the omission of the Sweet Dairy Whey Powder.¬† I subsituted more nonfat dry milk in it’s place and although I don’t know how it would have turned out as written, I am very happy with¬†my results!¬† So is my son, and that is the most important thing! :-)¬†

To make this, you’ll need:

1 1/2 cups Brown Rice Flour

1 cup White Rice Flour

2/3 cup Nonfat Dry Milk Powder (original recipe calls for 1/3 cup of nonfat dry milk and 1/3 cup dry sweet dairy whey)

1/3 cup Cornstarch

1/3 cup Potato Starch

2 Tbsp packed Brown Sugar

4 1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum

1 1/2 tsp Salt

1 3/4 cups Warm Water (110 degrees Farenheit is perfect)

2 large Eggs

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted Butter

1 pkg (2 1/4 tsp) Active Dry Yeast

What to do:

Lightly grease (use nonstick spray or canola oil) a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan and line bottom with parchment paper.

Place brown and white rice flours, dry milk powder, corn and potato starches, brown sugar, xanthan gum and salt in a medium bowl. 

Combine with wire whisk until well incorporated (you might have to use your hands to break up any brown sugar lumps).

Combine wet ingredients- warm water, eggs, melted butter and yeast  Рwith a whisk in bowl of stand mixer until yeast is dissolved. 

Place bowl on mixer stand, add flour mixture to bowl and combine using beater attachment for one minute on low speed. 

Scrape down sides of bowl.

Mix on high speed for 5 minutes.

Spread into prepared pan, using a wettened metal spatula to smooth the top.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap which has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, and let rise for 40 Р60 minutes, until dough reaches just past top of pan.

Remove plastic wrap and bake at 350 degrees for 55 – 60 minutes (or until quick read thermometer reads 208 degrees).

Let cool in pan for 5 minutes, then remove from pan to wire rack and let cool completely before slicing.

I think this bread will make a fabulous French Toast, so I am going to put that on the menu for our Sunday breakfast tomorrow!¬† I can’t wait!

Have a wonderul weekend, Everyone!

A New Year & A New Recipe: Fiesta Black Bean and Corn Salad

Happy New Year, Everyone!

How did YOU spend your last evening in 2010? 

We celebrated at home with a little party just for us, teaching the kids to play poker and eating snacks.¬† I made Layered Fiesta Dip and The Evil Dip¬†for all of us to enjoy with Tortilla Chips while we homeschooled the kids in¬†the fine art of bluffing and knowing¬†when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em.¬†

It’s kind of fun to take advantage of the rookies.

We stayed up until Midnight, pouring glasses of “Champagne” just before the ball dropped.

When 2011¬†made it’s debut, it was time¬†for a¬†toast and kisses all around, and¬†then we were all off to bed.

I started off the New Year the next day with a new recipe that was good enough to share.  Simple, too!

Unfortunately, there are no Black Eyed Peas in this one, so I’m not sure how our luck will¬†run for 2011, but the Black Beans were delicious when combined with corn¬† (leftover from dinner a few nights ago), red pepper, green onion,¬†cilantro and lime juice.¬† I’d say that’s a lucky combination anyday!

To make this, you’ll need:

1 cup cooked or canned Black Beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup Corn, canned or frozen, drained

2 Green Onions, chopped

1/3 Medium Red Sweet Pepper, chopped

3 Tbsp chopped fresh Cilantro

Juice of 1 Lime

1/4 tsp Salt

What to do:

Place Black Beans and Corn in a medium bowl.

Add chopped Green Onion, chopped Cilantro, chopped Red Pepper and Salt.

Add Lime Juice.¬† Don’t be like me and try to take a photo while pouring or you’ll end up with Lime Juice on your counter like I did!¬† Oops!!

Stir to combine all ingredients together.

Place in serving dish, and enjoy!

This salad is great all by itself, or served beside a sandwich (try it next to a veggie burger topped with melted pepper jack cheese, salsa, shredded lettuce and guacamole) or as a component of an awesome Taco Salad. 

May your New Year be as wonderfully colorful as this salad! Cheers!!!

Holiday Cookie Swap and Ugly Sweater Party – A New Tradition

Have you ever been to a Cookie Exchange?¬†¬† I attended an event many years ago at a friend’s house (Hi, Michele!) and it was a blast.¬† The premise is that each guest brings several dozen cookies,¬†to match the number of attendees, and an extra dozen to share.¬†¬† Each participant then only has to bake one variety of cookie, but goes home with several different kinds!¬†¬†¬†

We decided to combine the Cookie Exchange with an Ugly Sweater Party.  Have you heard of these?  Apparently, there are entire websites devoted to the topic and to the purchase of the most hideous holiday garments you could ever imagine.  Who woulda thunkit?

Anyway, none of us went the route of the $15 hideous sweater from a website…we all picked up our garish garments at the local Salvation Army Store for a mere couple dollars or borrowed one from¬†a friend or¬†family member.¬† This is one of the cases where the less you spend, the better.¬† After all, we are going for UGLY here.¬†

Each of us enhanced our gaudy garb with varying degrees of holiday baubles. 

In addition to voting on the most awful outfit, we’d also¬†be awarding prizes for the best dressed cookies.¬† Each dozen had to be individually packaged and guests were told to be creative and original!¬† We had some really nicely packaged entries covering the table.

My friend Kelly commissioned her two girls’ to help with¬†her packaging (below back left).¬† My sister-in-law’s amazing biscotti were beautifully displayed in these mesh and metal baskets (below middle back).¬† My niece and I were both very surprised to find that we used the same style tins for our cookies (below front left)!¬†

My tins contained Gluten Free Peanut Butter Blossoms.

We also awarded a prize for the best tasting cookie.¬† It was a really, really tough competition!¬† Everybody’s entries were¬†freshly made¬†and really, really¬†delicious.¬†¬†¬†


My niece went home the winner of the cookie contest!

Her Almond-Raspberry Jam Thumbprints were to die for!

My sister-in-law took home the prize for Ugliest Sweater!

It’s not that her sweater was really terribly¬†ugly,¬†but it was over-the-top cutesy and required no embellishment to standout!¬† Her outfit did not come from the second hand store or a trashbin either¬† – it¬†came from¬†our Mother-In-Law’s closet!¬† My father-in-law (bless his heart) bought my MIL this sweater not too long ago.¬† Yes, he was serious.¬† He has such a knack for fashion, doesn’t he? ūüėȬ†

We all had a good time and agree that we need to make this an annual tradition.  The really cool thing is that there are now enough cookies in the house to get us through Christmas without additional baking!  The only trouble is not all of the entries are gluten free so I will be attempting conversion of these recipes soon Рespecially the Biscotti and Jam Thumbprints Рso Spawn #1 can enjoy them, too!

Thanks to all my wonderful girlfreinds for participating in the Cookie Exchange, and for your photo contributions for this post!  Happy Holidays!!!

Why I Love T.J.’s Giveaway

First, I think it’s important to tell you that this post is in no way sponsored by Trader Joe’s.¬† I just love shopping there¬†and – especially for those of you who may not have yet had the experience – I want to share with you what I love about the store and the products that are always in my cart on the days I visit –¬†like today when I picked up a little¬†something extra¬†specifically for this giveaway!

We’ve been shopping at Trader Joe’s for a few years, from around the time our diet became more “specialized”.¬† It’s one of¬†a few places we make a nearly weekly visit to for groceries.¬† We don’t buy many prepared foods, but of the few that we do, most come from TJ’s.¬† I love that they are great about listing ingredients specifically.¬† I rarely see those vague words like “natural flavors” or “enzymes”.¬† When I do have a question about a product, the staff is incredibly helpful about finding the answers I need.¬† But usually, their labeling makes it very easy to figure out what isn’t in the food, without even having to read the ingredient list.¬†

They’ve got this cool symbol system:

  • No GlutenNo Gluten
  • VeganVegan
  • VegetarianVegetarian
  • Fat FreeFat Free
  • Quick MealQuick Meal
  • KosherKosher
  • Low SodiumSodium
  • There are some foods that might fall into the No Gluten, Vegan or Vegetarian category that aren’t labeled, sometimes just because of the contamination concerns there may be.¬† Those are the¬†products on which you’ll typically see the statement “Processed in a facility that also processes…”.¬† But they also have specific product lists to help you shop if you have dietary concerns.

    Are You Avoiding Gluten?

    Are You Not Eating Animals and/or Animal Products?

    They even have a Vegetarian (Non-Animal Rennet) Cheese List:

    There are also product lists for Fat Free, Low Sodium and Kosher foods.  Joe makes it easy for everyone. 

    Okay, now that you have been through orientation, let’s check out some of what’s in my bag from Joe’s.

    First, we have Gluten Free Rice Mac and Cheese.  No artifical colors or flavors and easy enough for my kids to make for themselves, which is a great thing!

    In my humble opinion, TJ’s is the best place to buy all your Gluten-Free Pasta.¬† There’s¬†Spaghetti, Fusilli, Penne and Asian-Style Rice Noodles available.¬† All in one-pound bags for under $2/bag!¬† Gluten-Free Pasta doesn’t get any cheaper than that!

    My favorite healthy and great-tasting rice comes from Trader Joes as well.  This is what usually sits beneath my Spicy Lentil Dal. 

    Got a sweet tooth?¬† Their Cocoa Powder, at $1.99, is a great deal.¬† Midnight Moo Chocolate Syrup is one of my kiddos’ favorite ice-cream toppings, and check out these instant puddings!¬† Not only are they great-tasting, easy and gluten-free, the boxes are super cool and retro-looking!¬† Try this pudding spread¬†atop¬†chunks of¬†Gluten Free Brownies, and topped¬†fresh whipped cream for a great fancy trifle dessert for your next party!

    These Rice Noodle Soup Bowls are great for lunches at work, or take-alongs just in case¬†there are no¬†gluten-free foods available at your destination.¬† My son frequently carries these along when we are dining at others’ homes.¬† He can add water and microwave a meal all by himself in minutes.¬† And they are only 99 cents each!

    I like Joe’s cheeses and we recently started buying the Applegate Farms Lunchmeats at Trader Joes.¬† It had been a very long time since we’d eaten any kind of¬†lunchmeat, but these are all nitrate-free, gluten-free¬†turkey meats, all from vegetarian-fed birds.¬† These make great sandwiches, especially on the Multi-Seed Flatbread Wraps that I make.

    I love Trader Joe’s Caesar Dressing drizzled over Romaine Lettuce with a little Parmesan Cheese, freshly-ground Black Pepper and Gluten-Free Croutons (made from my Gluten Free Sandwich Bread) on top.¬† Joe’s has a nice selection of Olive’s too.¬† These Kalamata Olives are great atop my Mediterranean Restaurant Style Greek Salad, and the Coconut Milk is an important ingredient in my Spicy Lentil Dal.

    Trader Joe’s isn’t a large store, but a large portion of the store is devoted to Beer and Wine.¬† The selection is HUGE.¬† My choice is always the Two-Buck Chuck (really it’s $2.99 a bottle where I live, but I think¬†it still runs $1.99 in California where TJ’s originated and the wine is bottled).

    Even though they’re inexpensive, Charles Shaw wines have actually¬†won taste-test awards when pitted against much more costly wines.

    They have a great selection of cheeses and crackers that would be  perfect served alongside that bottle of wine, too.

    Not a wine drinker?¬†¬†There’s a¬†big selection of nuts that would work really well beside one of their Craft Beers.¬† Barring any allergies, you MUST try the Blister Peanuts!¬† The Honey Roasted ones though, I recommend you¬†not try, because they are highly addictive!

    It’s¬† not just about the food and the drink either.¬† TJ’s carries fresh cut¬†flowers and potted plants at really good prices.¬† They have¬†green cleaning products and even pet food.¬†¬†

    They also have vitamins and natural health and beauty products for the cost-conscious consumer.

    So, there you have it.¬† Of course, this is by no means an all-encompassing list of¬†the great finds at Joes.¬†¬† There are also quite a few non-gluten-free items I love from there (Everything Bagels!!!¬† Frozen Garlic Naan!!!¬† Seeded Flatbread Crackers!!!) but I don’t want to torture the gluten-intolerant among you.¬† I’m considerate like that.

    I could go on and on about TJ’s.¬† I know…I already have.¬†:-)¬†¬†But go see for yourself if you aren’t already a Joe’s shopper.¬† I think you’ll thank me.

    For your chance to¬†try a few of these and other great T.J.’s products on my dime, you must:

    1) Leave a comment to this post letting me know which items I’ve shared about sound good to you.¬† If you have been to Trader Joes before and have your own favorites already, you can tell me about that instead.¬†


    2) Subscribe to this Blog by entering your e-mail address at the top right of¬†my home page.¬† This way you’ll¬†know when the winner is annouced.¬† Don’t worry, I won’t share or sell your e-mail address with anyone.¬† Please be sure to complete the activation of¬†your subscription when you receive the confirmation e-mail!¬† (If you are already an activated¬†subscriber, you don’t need to complete this step.)

    The winner will receive a $10 gift card to Trader Joe’s, and I’ll even throw in a copy of the latest Fearless Flyer (Described by¬†Trader Joe himself as a “Cross between¬†Consumer Reports and Mad Magazine”)¬†for your reading pleasure.¬† One entry per e-mail address, please.¬† All entries must be completed by Midnight ET on Friday, September 3rd.¬†¬†I’ll randomly pick the winner, lottery style, and will announce the results on Saturday September 4th.¬†

    Good Luck and Happy Shopping!!