laborofwonder

Where Whine Meets Wine

Simple and Impressive


For a fantastic dinner, first you start with…

One very delicious margarita.

Next you get the main course going…

Yes, it did taste as good as it looks!

1 whole chicken (3 1/2 to 4 lb)

2 tbs butter, melted

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp pepper

1 tsp brown sugar

2 tbs soy sauce

1 tbs worcestershire sauce

2 tbs orange muscat wine (you can use 2 tbs frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed)

1. Heat oven to 375. Brush whole chicken with butter; sprinkle with salt, garlic powder, pepper, and half of the ginger (1/2 tsp). Place chicken in shallow roasting pan. 2. Roast chicken uncovered for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the other half of the ginger (1/2 tsp), brown sugar, soy sauce, worchestershire sauce, and the orange wine. (Don’t forget a sip for yourself, you know, just taste testing.) 3. Remove chicken from oven. Brush mixture over chicken. 4. Return to oven; roast uncovered 20 minutes. Brush remaining mixture over chicken and squash; cover loosely with foil, and roast 30 minutes longer. (Until thermometer reads 180 and legs move easily when lifted or twisted.)

While the main course is going, you get some sides together:

Really yummy ears of corn.

And…

Watermelon, Cantaloupe, and Strawberries. Served with an incredibly delicious cream cheese fruit dip.

And it was fantastic! We’d had so many grey days that I need a meal to make me feel like it was summer- and this did the trick! And I loved it so much that I’ve decided not to wait until Thursday to share it!

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Monkey Bread Madness


Do to my love of all things Pinterest, I have an ever growing list of foods I want to make. Well, after looking through my fridge, I decided on pizza… and then I remembered this. Monkey breadish pizza. (Seriously, the pictures are so good it’s no wonder they’re on pinterest for the rest of us to drool over!)

Looks fantastic, right? Photo Credit: Confections of a Foodie Bride. (You can go there for the original recipe too.)

In the morning, Big E had called one of his uncles asking him if he could come over and play. So just as I was gathering up things for dinner making, I got a phone call asking if I’d mind some visitors for dinner time. And we were so happy they could join us.

photo credit: Biggest E

I will admit that this took a little longer to make than I originally expected. With some organization -or an extra pair of hands- it could be done a lot more seamlessly. Overall, I did find this a great way to use up some leftovers! The original recipe used cubes of mozzarella, and pepperoni. I had neither. I did have shredded mozzerella, bacon, and chicken… all just sitting in my fridge, begging to be used before they went bad.

First things first, though… the pizza dough.

  • 2/3 cup brown rice flour
  • 2/3 cup white rice flour
  • 1 1/3 cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp xantham gum
  • 2 cup water
  • 2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp cider vinegar

Combine the flours, salt, baking powder, and xantham gum in a large bowl. In another bowl, blend the water, olive oil, and vinegar and whisk to mix. Pour the liquid ingredients of the flour mixture. Stir hard, briefly, to make a smooth, soft batter. Occasionally, I have to add a little more flour to get the batter so that it holds it’s shape. If more flour is necessary, I use tapioca flour, and add it in a tbs at a time.

Step Two

  • 4 tbs butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 6 oz mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup shredded/chopped chicken
  • 1/4-1/2 package bacon
  • 3 cups marinara sauce, for dipping

Heat garlic and butter over medium heat just until the garlic begins to brown. Remove from heat and let sit. Lightly brush the inside of a bundt pan  with garlic butter. Pull off large marble-sized balls of dough and flatten- trying to stay consistent with the size. Top with a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese (I used shredded but you could certainly use cubes. Might be easier to seal with cubes instead of shredded.), chicken, and bacon. Wrap the dough around the toppings, pinching well to seal. Very lightly brush the pizza ball with garlic butter and place into the bundt pan. Repeat until all of the dough is used. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes, while preheating the oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the top is very brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a platter and serve with warmed marinara sauce for dipping.

Not a terrific picture, but you get the idea.

These were so good… super filled. And they went fast.

Ok, so I have a confession- the photos, and story, are actually from December… but for some reason I never posted. So, today seemed like perfect day to get back in the foodie saddle! Because a)it’s cold and grey out today, which makes me think about warm, yummy food. And b) my 3 little ones are all cuddled in a blanket together on the couch. Their being so sweet I’m a little worried they’re plotting something. Seriously, they’re all snuggled in, sharing a blanket and pillow. Giving each other hugs and occasional kisses on each others’ cheeks. So I’m going to be spending time soaking all this sweetness in.)

*I just wanted to add that I made this recipe again tonight and it was even better than I remembered. Biggest and Miss helped me, and I’m not sure if they added more water/oil or what, but I did end up adding about a full cup extra of GF all-purpose flour before I could actually get it to be the consistency I needed. But they weren’t too dense or too floury or anything. They were perfect. That said… after hubby helped himself to them right out of the pan (hence no new, great photos), I discovered the bottom layer ones were not cooked through all the way- they were still a little doughy, so I threw them in for about 5 more minutes. I just didn’t want anyone trying this out and feel like I sold ‘em a bag of worms! (Because that would be just gross)

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Cream Cheese Delight


Hubbyman was home early today, and since I stayed up late and got caught up on household things…today I could do what I want. Relatively. We played games, we cuddled, we read books. And then they requested “girl cheese” (grilled cheese) and toast with cinnamon.  It’s been months since I’ve made bread and so I decided today was the day for it! I used a recipe I found on Our Best Bites last August. (I blogged about it, but it went largely unnoticed.) They’re still rising, but I can tell you they’re going to be equally as fabulous this time!

I turned the rolls into bread…and it was fabulous!

Last time I made the frosting pink for Miss E since lots of times she gets left when it comes to deserts. This time I couldn’t bear to let the “filling” go to waste (since I’d forgotten to halve it, due to not making a full batch), but I still wanted it to be kind of glazed (versus frosted) so I added a good amount of milk, and then a little powdered sugar. Which also helped it to be not quite so rich since it already had the rich filling.) Perfect. Delicious. Even better than the first time around!

If you want to try them, go here for the full recipe! Or go to my link for my version of them (their recipe makes them rolls- I turned them into bread and used the extra dough to make a few of the cream cheese delights. Just enough to enjoy without them going bad as lots of desserts do in our home.) Oh, and the recipes are easy and other than the time for letting them rise, they take hardly any time!

I know, I normally (ie. when I remember) do recipes on Thursdays, but I decided these were too yummy to wait! That and my *&$#% keyboard has yet to be replaced.)

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Kidtastic!


Ok, so some of you may remember this year’s Christmas cookies, or my first Gluten Free Christmas cookie experiment. Thankfully there were only a couple of batches that went to the birds (literally). If you are gluten free, then you know sometimes cooking gluten free is a bit of an experiment. Especially if you’re like me and tend to make up your own recipes. Thankfully, in the last year, there’s only been one meal that I would consider inedible. And hubbyman still ate it. After the first cookie flop and my heart sinking to my toes (it’s a yearly tradition that I have done since being a little girl.). I mean like real disappointment. Not only are Christmas sugar cookies a tradition, but the kids and I love to make them during other times of the year. Dinosaurs and trains are not just for Christmas! So I needed to figure out how to make them work! I opened a million and two windows of baking gluten free tips and read and read and read… and picked a couple things and decided to go from there. Thankfully, the next batch turned out perfect. I’m not sure what exactly made them go from flop to perfection, but I am so glad they did! So, if you’ve been looking for a fun cooking expedition to go on with your kids- this is it my friends! If your household does wheat/gluten then by all means use any old sugar cookie recipe! If you’ve been looking for a good gluten free recipe- here you go!

trains, turtles, strawberries, bears, snowflakes... there were some actual Christmasy ones in there too

Ok, let me preface this by saying that these do take up some time, say an afternoon, or an evening. That said, they are not difficult to make. Really, the kids have so much fun with the cut outs and decorating… we made three batches this year!

my sous chefs!

SUGAR COOKIES

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 cup butter, softened

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 large egg

2 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten free flour

1/2 cup tapioca flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cream of tartar

  • Beat powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, almond, and the egg. (With an electric mixer or by hand) And then stir in the remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. I wrapped it in saran wrap and put it in the freezer for an hour. I put away all the ingredients and did kitchen clean up, by the time I was done and the oven was hot, it’d been an hour!
  • Heat oven to 375. Lightly grease cookie sheet. (I used a spray)
  • Divide dough into sections. I just grabbed a size that looked like a snowball to me (apparently I really am a northern girl). I kept the rest of the dough in the freezer. Roll out until the dough is about 1/4 inch thick, on a lightly floured surface. And then cookie cutter time! Sprinkle with granulated sugar or leave plain to frost and decorate!
  • Bake 7 minutes, or until edges are light brown. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack to cool. (They must cool before frosting!)
  • Repeat!

Note: It really seemed to make a difference that I kept the dough in the freezer in between batches. Especially after being rolled out and cut, the dough then gets really soft and squishy and you don’t want the flat sheets of flop that I made- so keep ‘em cold!

soooo many cookies

 

If you’re needing a frosting recipe, all I do is take about a cup of powdered sugar and add one tablespoon of milk. (That was really technical, I know.) Mix. Add more powdered sugar if it’s too runny and more milk if it’s too thick. You can always add food coloring as well. And then decorate with sprinkles or whatever your heart desires- before the frosting sets!

*Sorry the pictures are not terrific… my lens was dirty and I didn’t know until it was too late! Hubbyman cleaned it, so here’s hoping for some better pictures in 2012!

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Season of Thankfulness


I can hardly believe we’re just a couple short days away from Christmas! Seems like last week we were still waiting on Thanksgiving! But that’s how it goes every year, isn’t it? And sadly, I missed out on yesterday’s “Simple” post… I seem to have been doing that a lot lately. And if I’m honest, I’ll admit that I sat down to do it, loaded all the necessary photos, and just didn’t feel like it. So the kids and I made another round of sugar cookies instead. And I don’t regret it one bit! But I am hoping to start doing  more recipes again! So that’s something you can be looking forward to (or not!). I have pictures and recipes just waiting to be shared! Everything from monkey bread pizza, sugar cookies!, and mug cakes (they take 2 minutes to make! seriously!). And more!! And they’re all gluten free! And soooo delicious! And since today is FRIDAY (duhn, duhn, duhn) and the fact that this is a season where we are bombarded by things to do, things to make, things to buy, things to give, things to get, and people to see…  it’s easy to get lost in all of that and forget all the things that are really important during Christmas, and always. Along with being thankful. For friends, family, jobs, homes… here are some things I’m  incredibly thankful for!

  • For a hubby who will have TEN DAYS IN A ROW off!! I’m so excited about this I can hardly contain myself! And my mom said that they’ll take the kids for a day during Christmas break, so we’ll actually get a day together! That’s really something to be thankful for!
  • For my Christmas present. Yes, I know it’s just a thing, but it’s a wonderful, pasta extruding thing that I’ve been wanting! And hubby was thoughtful enough to think of it and get it for me! (And let me use it before Christmas even! I did have his permission to open it, but I’m not sure how he would’ve stopped me since I was home when the Williams-Sonoma box arrived!)
  • I take great joy in finding “perfect” gifts for people! I am thankful that I have wonderful, beautiful people in my life to love and appreciate!
  • I am thankful for my NEPHEW that’s a’growin’ in my sister-in-law’s growing  belly!!
  • I am thankful for the sensitive side of hubbyman that who admitted he’d hoped it was a niece, because he thought it would be fun to have a cute,  little niece! (But it will be fun that Littlest with have a cousin close enough to his age that they’ll be playmates!)
  • I am thankful for surprising the kiddos with the arrival of their cousin and aunt and uncle from China!
  • I am SO THANKFUL that we got a dusting of snow this week… and that there’s lots coming down now! (please, keep snowing! please, keep snowing!)
  • I am thankful for every person that stops by here! The ones who read it occasionally, the ones who read it regularly, and even the ones who just skim through. (*ahem*hubbyman*)

And I’m off to go decorate some gingerbread men, snowmen, Christmas trees, dinosaurs, monkeys, elephants, and strawberry-shaped cookies!  What you don’t think dinosaurs or strawberry shortcake land berries are Christmasy? Well, you obviously haven’t seen our nativity then!

Merry Christmas, my dears! And may you accept all the love and hugs a little more graciously than my little ones!

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Simply Delicious


Now if you’re anything like my husband, you may be a little bit afraid of things (foods) you haven’t tried. Especially if you’re a visual person. I completely understand how the way something looks can totally throw you off, but how many times have you judged a person, a store, or a book by the way they looked only to find yourself completely surprised? This is especially applicable to vegetables.

Anyways, so I have been stocking up on veggies (the ones that are hard -or non existent- to come by during the winter) and cubing, pureeing, and freezing them! Last week I got a bunch of different squashes, along with some brussel sprouts (they are so good for you!). Now I love squash and hubby merely accepts them as good for him, but I finally found a meal chock full of veggies that my family loved and ate!!! I should really word it to say that I finally found a meal chock full of veggies that HUBBYMAN will not just eat because it’s good for him, but because he likes the way it tastes! (my kids already love vegetables, their favorites being spinach and broccoli.)

Now for the meal! It wasn’t totally meatless this time (I was trying to warm my hubby up to the idea of brussel sprouts, which he adamantly claim to dislike), but it had little meat, and we’ve since had it without. I took one spaghetti squash and about a l-2 lbs of brussel sprouts and made a delicious dinner!!

That’s right.. the way I convinced my family they loved brussel sprouts after all, is by using bacon! Want to convince your family (and maybe yourself too) to eat brussel sprouts? Try it this way!

What you’ll need:

Brussel Sprouts

3 strips of bacon

Olive Oil

Salt

Pepper

Preheat your oven to 350. Cut the brussel sprouts in half and throw in a pan (the recipes all call to throw them in a bowl for this step, but really it’s not necessary and just adds extra dishes). Drizzle with olive oil (over all of it!!), sprinkle on the salt (more than you think is necessary, like it’s popcorn of french fries!) and some pepper. I added some Lowry’s seasoning salt, because I know that’s a flavor my hubby likes. Stir in up, toss it, coat it! Make sure they’re all well-coated in the olive oil. Then make sure the halves are all faced down. I only used 3 pieces of bacon because eventually I’d like this to be eaten without! But you can use more or less (it’s good even without!). Anyhow, I just cut the bacon into  small pieces and layered in randomly through the sprouts.

Put it in the oven for about 20 minutes. Stir/shake every five minutes after until they’re nice and crispy, browning but burnt! Mine took about 30-35 minutes total They’ll be a little crunchy, but trust me, this is a good thing!

I actually did this part before the sprouts… I took one large spaghetti squash and cooked it until soft. (you can do this a variety of ways from crock pot, to oven, to microwave. I used the oven- it takes about an hour, but all you have to do before hand it wash it, cut it open, scoop out the seeds and stick it in. So you can have it cooking well ahead of time.) While the brusell sprouts were a’cookin’ I threw some olive oil in a skillet, threw in some peas (my kids -and I- love peas), some chopped spinach, a little bit of chopped garlic cloves, and just a little onion and sauteed. Next I added the spaghetti squash.

All you have to do is take a fork to the squash and it comes out all stringy and spaghetti noodley like (hence the name). I only used one half- the other half I scooped out and froze for a quick, easy, gluten free spaghetti night!!) I sauteed, then threw in my homemade spaghetti sauce! Hubbyman likes spaghetti to have a good amount of sauce so I used a whole jar! I added a small amount of pepper, seasoning salt, and basil. Stirred it all up, and voila! It was delicious! And best of all, you could really throw in whatever veggie you like best!

I also made a super yummy fruit salad! Yum! This was a delicious, healthy meal that my whole family loved!! And those brussel sprouts? Hubby and kids ate them like candy! MissE declared them, Really nummy!

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Something Fishy Is Going On


This year’s April Fool’s pranks have become the never-ending-prank! Since that fateful day hubby tied the hose down with a string, the hose now likes to “stick” as if being held down. About once a week you turn on the faucet and the hose starts spraying… all of these times it happened to me! Never to him! And a couple of times there’s been witnesses to these water drenching attacks! Now I hadn’t told hubby about it, because (obviously!) I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction that would go along with it! Until yesterday- he witnessed it. Boo! Hiss! But, he was nice enough to make dinner and do clean up so I guess I won’t hold it against him. At least not today.

We know lots of fisher-people (both men and women) and so we have lots of potential for (free!!) fish, especially over the summer! While we previously haven’t taken full advantage of this, this year we definitely plan to! Anyhow, I had a walleye in the freezer, just awaiting the hubs to skin and bone (I just can’t)… and he went ahead and did it all! Yeah hubby! Ok, I did make the batter… just so you know I wasn’t laying out, drinking mimosas in the sunshine while he slaves away or anything.

Anyway, this fish is so good, the kids love it, we love it… and if you’re starting to know me and my cooking at all, you know I always make enough for a)hubby to take to work tomorrow and b)at least one lunch for the kids (I try and only really cook one meal a day), so when I say there were NO leftovers- that’s a big deal.

Finger lickin’ Fish Bites Batter

1/2 cup flour (I used GF all-purpose)

2/3 cup corn starch

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

3/4 cup water

Stir the flour, starch, sugar, salt, and pepper together. If you especially like a certain seasoning- add it in! I added extra salt, pepper, and some Lowry’s seasoning to the mix as well. Because we like it (obviously!) plus the all-purpose flour we have has garbanzo beans as a main ingredient and I wanted to help hide some of the “vegetable-y-ness” of it. (*note: could not taste it -the beans- at all! The best batch we’ve probably ever had!) Add in the water stirring thoroughly. I had to add in a little extra water to mine because it just seemed a little thicker than normal, but I normally make it with all the gluten-free flours and not the all purpose, so I’m thinking that may be the difference. Anyhow, if you find it to be too thick, just add in water by the tbs.

I’m a new fan of grape seed oil. It’s pretty flavorless, but much better for you. You can, of course, fry it in whatever your oil of choice is. If you do use something like grape seed oil, you can always drizzle some olive oil over afterwards for the taste.

side note: this was enough batter for a whole walley plus two chicken breasts cut into strips. I wish I would have done another two chicken breasts so we would have had leftovers!


Totally Rockin’ Tartar Sauce

1/2 cup mayo (homemade or otherwise)

2 big, juicy pickles (or 2 tbs relish)

2 good squirts of lemon juice (or 1 tsp if you need specifics)

Mix it all up and enjoy! It is so yummy! There was enough to cover all the food plus have a little left over! I know I’ve said this a couple of times already, but I can’t emphasize this enough…I wish we were having it for lunch today, and as Erik’s probably currently scarfing down the yogurt he got instead, he’s probably thinking the same thing!



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We’re expecting


As I sat out on my deck enjoying the beautiful weather yesterday, I couldn’t help but thinking, I’m going to cry if it snows again. Leave it to my husband to burst my bubble, but… we’re supposed to have snow this weekend (Ok, so he didn’t choose this weather, but because he informed me, that really becomes a moot point.). And I really may cry if we do see snow. We have, after all, had snow since October.

Anyways, this had me thinking about expectations… we expect spring to follow suit and spring into summer, but here that is not always the case.  It likes to dabble it’s way in and out until we’re in full meltdown, and then it’s winter again. Aren’t there many things in life this can relate to? We have expectations about so many things, both realistic and unrealistically. Like the expectation so many have that you’re going to live happily ever after, because you have found the one. My brother is getting married in less than a month and he and his fiancée spent the weekend with us, which also got me thinking about expectations. There was a little squabble about him not being willing enough to continue helping with the projects that are of course leaving this soon-to-be-bride a little frantic. Erik and I laughed and said, You think it’s hard now, just wait. (We’re so encouraging, right?) And we both reiterated that the first year or two or three… are spent learning each other in ways you maybe thought you already knew. And most importantly, you will learn how to fight with each other. I don’t mean you’ll learn how to defeat each other with one fell swoop (although you will learn which button to push to do just that). What I mean is that you will learn the way each other fights (this was a point from our pre-marital counselling that really was so helpful to us). You may learn that he needs to work issues out immediately or that she really needs to be given some space before being able to talk through an issue. Either way, you learn, and you adjust.

What does this have to do with expectations? Well, we expect things to be easy, we expect to continuously feel love, we expect to always feel/work/live/love as we do now. Unfortunately, what people often fail to take into consideration is this simple fact: Life does not just happen. We make choices. I think what it all boils down to, and what much of the last weeks’ Love Dare has been talking about, is that we can choose. We can expect the worst or expect the best, but if we’re not actively choosing the best, we’re not going to get it. Expectations are not the enemy, lack of choosing to pursue them, is. Especially in our relationships. As most newlyweds/new relationships of any kind (whether dating or friendships) you have this rush, this glow that you may feel defines your relationship and surely you will always get butterflies whenever you see them. I’m not saying you can’t have a great relationship throughout the years, what I am saying is that you have to actively pursue that. Because even though I have known my husband for hundreds of years (ok not that long, but 1/2 of my life! That’s gotta count for something!) he cannot read my mind! No matter how badly I want him to. He knows everything about me, all my secrets, all my fears, hopes, and dreams… and yet he cannot read my mind! And your other half can’t either. No matter how many sentences you can finish, no matter how many times you find the thing they were looking for (before they asked for it), no matter how much you can convey through looking at each other… Because he cannot read my mind, and because I often don’t speak what’s on it…we run into problems. And sometimes that leads me to days where I don’t particularly enjoy being his wife. And I think I can say with some authority, that on those days, he’s probably not enjoying being my husband either. But we choose to continue to be. Year five of our marriage was a bit tumultuous for us, as individuals we’ve had hard things emotionally and physically, and as a couple we’ve struggled between how to be a loving couple while working and raising children, very young and close in age children. And on the days that we weren’t really feeling like being active participants in this marriage, we choose to do it anyways. We chose to kiss each other goodnight, good-morning, and goodbye every day, even when we don’t really feel like it. Which is why, as we’re gaining on year 7… we’re not itching (you know, the 7 year itch). In fact, because we CHOSE to push our way through, to love our way through, to pray our way through…we are probably in the best place of our marriage, thus far. We are leaning on each other more, we trying to voice our feelings (especially the good ones) more, and we’re loving more thoroughly. But it is not by accident.

We believe in living with intention, and not just in our food. In our lives too- in our parenting, in our interactions with each other and with those around us, and in the way we love and show love. We don’t just believe in living that way, we practice it. It’s not perfect, and it’s not easy, but it is why I have the expectation that we’ll continue living and loving together as a family for as long as God allows.

 

Better Than Expectations Pizza

I know I mentioned previously doing pizza fridays (and I still really want to do that!) but because it was so good, I’m going to share this recipe with you now, on a plain old Wednesday! Friday I’m going out to buy an adapter for this stupid camera! So maybe Pizza Friday will be pictures! Anyways, the hubs texted me a couple weeks ago saying Buffalo Chicken Pizza sounded good. We’ve never had one before or made one, so I did what I do when something sounds good that I haven’t made before… I google as many recipes as I can. And then I make something completely different! Here is what I made:

Super Yummy Pizza Crust (Makes 2 small pizzas- fed four)

  • 1/3 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/3 cup white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch/flour
  • 3 tbs dried milk powder
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp xantham gum
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbs olive oil (evoo)
  • 1 tsp cinder vinegar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray sheet for easiest crust removal. Combine flours, dried milk, salt, baking powder, and xantham gum. In a separate bowl, whisk the water, oil, and vinegar. Pour the liquid ingredients over the flours, mixing slowly with a spatula until it is a smooth and soft, that just holds its shape (more than pancake batter but less than cookie dough). Transfer about 1/3 of the dough to a pastry bag, or resealable bag (what I used) with one corner snipped off. Divide remaining dough between the two pans, spreading it thinly with a spatula- about 7inch rounds. Pipe a raised, “rim” around the edge of each one. *Brush all over with egg white (1 egg white, lightly beaten) to help sealing and browning. Bake until puffed and starting to brown, about 20 minutes. Cover with pizza toppings, return to oven for another minutes, or until bubbling hot.

*This crust was SO good! I think next time I make it I will double the recipe to make bigger, and a little thicker crusts.

Flying Buffalo Chicken

  • 3 cups of chicken breast, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (or whatever your favorite hot sauce is)
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 2 tbs flour (I used tapioca flour)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tsp buttermilk ranch seasoning
  • Shredded Cheese (I used mozzarella and cheddar)

While pizza dough/crust is in the oven (you can of course buy or make whatever kind of crust you like best), I do the topping: cook chicken over medium-high heat. When a little over halfway cooked, add in hot sauce. Stir to coat chicken thoroughly.

My husband isn’t a big fan of blue cheese, but you could always do the “sauce” with a blue cheese dressing, or ranch dressing from bottles. You could also use the hot sauce as the pizza sauce if you wanted a stronger taste/flavor and then have something for dipping. I make my own sauce:

Combine butter, flour, milk, ranch seasoning (the only mix I could find that is MSG and food coloring free!) in saucepan over med. heat. Boil two minutes, stirring frequently. If seems too thick add milk (by the tsp) if it’s not thick enough add flour/starch (by pinches).

Spread sauce on crust (as much or as little as you want), spread chicken generously over pizza and cover in as much, or as little, cheese as you like.

Stick back in the oven for about 7 more minutes, or until cheese is thoroughly melted and bubbling.

Enjoy! I’m not a big “buffalo” flavor lover, but this was really good- we’ll definitely be making it again!

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Revenge of The April Fool


While I’m not sure I feel avenged, I have had some form of revenge on my hubby who thought it was oh-so-clever to attack before I’d had coffee. First of all you should know something about that husband guy of mine- he thinks I’m pokey. In truth, sometimes I can be. People in my circle (you know the four and under circle) tend to be very pokey…I may have joined their ranks.  Anyhow, he thinks I’m pokey. His basis for this is that he can get ready faster than I can. And what that really means is that in the time it takes him to get ready, I have to get three children dressed, redressed, and redressed again. And then try and get myself ready. Clearly, the odds are not in my favor. For my revenge against this ruthless prankster (seriously, you have to be pretty ruthless to rage war on someone before coffee… are you getting the gravity of coffee’s importance?!) I figured I’d use my “pokiness” to my advantage. I’d just claim that the prank was returned in “my time” and therefore could still fall under the safety of April Fools.

So I’d saved the thread that matches our hose identically and positioned a few dishes in the drying rack, just to be safe. And I figured that I might need some assurance that he’d be pranked one way or another, so just in case the hose didn’t get him (if he happened to position himself just right)… I took his canteen/thermos/metal water jug (apparently I don’t know what to call it, but you get the point) and placed it on the counter, the way I normally do, so he’d know it was a clean one. And then I poured a teaspoon, or two, of salt into the bottom.

I was giddy with excitement as I went to bed! And as I waited in the dark of the morning, listening for signs of a prankful success… I heard him turn on the water, followed by some louder-than-normal banging around as he headed out the door. (I knew if he’d managed to escape the spray he’d have come down and gloated about it, so the fact that he just left… music to my ears! ♫♪♫) Just thinking about it makes me smile. The point wasn’t really to actually drench him the way I’d been… it was more of less just to prove that I could get him if I wanted to! And the salt…well, that was just for good measure. *grin*

Unfortunately, we both had rather craptastic days… so by the time he’d gotten around to drinking his salt-laden tea, I’d forgotten about it. I’m not sure it created as much of an emotional reprieve for him as it did for me. But when he texted me to ask just what form of poison I’d put into his tea, well, I don’t want to gloat, so let’s just say I enjoyed that moment thoroughly.

While I don’t claim all of the pranking to be over… I do think we were about even. At least he’d had his coffee by the time he hit the salt.

So after the craptastic-ness of the day, coupled with the fact that it’s killing the children to have it LOOK like spring and yet not FEEL like spring (we attempted a walk to the park, but even they admitted it was just too cold)…I decided a little comfort food was in order. And for me, nothing says cozy comfort like grilled cheese and tomato soup! It’s about the only soup my husband will actually eat, and that’s only when coupled with grilled cheese. Plus, I had a bunch of tomatoes that were about to go bad so they needed to be used up and so tomato soup was perfect! I made a super yummy almond bread (I’m so proud of myself for this one, because I made the recipe up!) the day before and used that for the sandwiches. The kids had nutella, PB, and jelly sandwiches earlier (hubster is still working way past their dinner time). So I made a grown up version of grilled cheese. So good… I might make one for lunch.

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The Flip Side


So the two questions I’m finding that I get asked the most is how can we afford to cook everything homemade and natural/organic, and how do I have the time? …but basically the REAL answer to both questions is that I can’t afford NOT to. My little MissE is allergic to… a lot of things. Food coloring, preservatives, tomatoes, citric acid, MSG, wheat… and those are just are “for sure” ones. It was to the point that no matter how careful we were or what we didn’t give her, she had hives with every meal. Eventually they were just always present around her mouth. So we gave up. We gave up over-processed, over colored, and over preserved foods. We started making things from scratch… like really from scratch. What we filled in it’s place was fresh, tasty, healthy food. We are healthier for it, and so are our children. And for the first time in MissE’s little life, she is hive free.

It started with when we moved from the apartment (affectionately dubbed “the little house” by my children) to “the house.” We started a garden and we practically have a farmer’s market in our backyard (I know, how great is that?!)… and so we made the decision, for both health and financial reasons, to go scratch. Threw out all the boxes and over-processed crap, and never looked back… well, maybe an occasional glance, but only to say, can you believe we ever ate that stuff?! Yes, the initial set up of buying all the cooking and baking ware and goods will cost you something, but we cut our grocery bill in half, therefore quickly recouping the initial costs. And then there’s the, “I wish I had time to cook. You’re so lucky you have all this time to cook since you’re home with the kids.” (insert irritated-by-your-condescension laugh) First of all, because of my daughter, I really don’t have a choice, I HAVE to cook this way, and number two…it actually doesn’t take as long as you think it does. Seriously. I can MAKE noodles/pasta in the amount of time it takes to boil the water. And in the same amount of time it would take you to make a box of hamburger helper, I can make a homemade version. And it will be so much better for you, and it will taste so much better too. Seriously. Plus, since I’m making it all from scratch and have the things necessary to do so at home… I go to the grocery store WAY less. And I LOVE not having to do that so often! Plus, the less you go, the less you’re tempted to buy things that you don’t need! For me, the key to the time I spend cooking, is organization. Keeping my supplies…supplied. And having things that can have multiple purposes. Or doing things in advance. Or whenever you have a few free moments. Already making an alfredo/tomato sauce for tonights meal? Double it and put the rest in the fridge/freezer for next time. (Frozen sauce really take very little time to thaw.) Cooking up some chicken to throw in that alfredo sauce? Cook some extra to go on salad for lunch tomorrow. Easy things like that. And when you’ve done some of these steps, when you have nights where you just don’t feel like cooking…you’ll have something easy to throw together. Or simple enough your significant other could do it! Really. And trust me, hubby cooks breakfast on the weekends…and that’s about it (at least during the winter- during the summer he does quite a bit of grilling, when he’s home before dinner time anyhow), so I make the meals myself, so I know some days we just don’t wanna do it! But anytime we’ve “taken the easy route” and gone out to dinner 3 things happen: 1) by the time we get to the restaurant and receive our food- we could have cooked and eaten a meal at home. 2) we’ve paid for food that in general would have tasted better if I’d of made it myself. 3) we have to deal with the kids in a restaurant.

Now, how do we afford to do this? (Again, really no other option, but…) There are lots of helpful hints. Buy in season. Buy in bulk. (we ♥ Costco and on-line… lots of good deals there, and lots free of charge shipping) Buy local. Freeze, dry, can, store… figure it out. And do it. You’ll never regret it, and as it is with lots of things, you will be pleasantly surprised by how easy it is. Seriously. And make the most of what you have. Yogurt on sale? I’ll buy a ton and make frozen yogurt popsicles (my kids prefer them to actual ice cream or regular popsicles, which they can’t have anyways!), or fruit roll ups. Also a great idea for when you have yogurt that is about to expire and you don’t want it to go bad- freeze it! We try to waste as little as we can, so if I have a bunch of tomatoes about to go bad- I make tomato sauce, and freeze it or can it. Spices I’ve boughten fresh over the winter and don’t use up- I dry it. Which basically saves you twice. Because you got the fresh spice and then when cooking you don’t have to buy an expensive bottle of anything, because you’ve already got the fresh/recently dried, better tasting stuff anyhow. Another great tip that I’ve learned is stocking up on things that are naturally (or regularly) made gluten-free. You’ll be surprised by how many things there are (Trader Joe’s even has a list in it’s store -that you can take home- that has all of it’s products that are gluten free). We were so thankful that our favorite (as a household) snack is chips and salsa. Bread (for sandwiches and toast) is the thing we miss most. In the beginning I was pretty good about making bread weekly, but haven’t been so good about it lately. Although we’ve learned other tricks, like PB&J roll ups on corn tortillas. Add a little nutella and they think it’s a special treat!  PS. trader joe’s is a GREAT find! Things are so reasonable that you’ll want to buy everything! And they have a great selection of gluten free things (including one of my favorite things- Almond meal… double the amount of what you’d find at the store for less than half the price! Score!).

Another thing that really helps -that’s SO simple- is: make friends! Farmer’s markets are great for that! We (truly) go every week, so by the end almost of the summer almost every stand would have some little treat waiting for my kids every week, because they knew we’d by, and they’d come to know us. We buy our beef from a hobby farm (which is a great money saver on organic, hormone-free, icky-stuff-free beef) that’s owned by a friend of my mother-in-law. We get eggs from *a guy through hubbyman’s work who raises chickens. We get corn from a friend of my Grandparents who farms. Seriously, people are willing to share- if they know you’re interested. Our neighbor knows we love veggies and such and so whenever people give her things from their gardens- she brings it over to me! So reach out- post a facebook status that says, who knows where there’s a crop share available? Or who has extras from their garden? I bet you’d be surprised with the responses, I know I have been. Farmer’s markets are my favorite way of buying produce, and the cheapest as far as buying organic and pesticide free go too. Yes, organic food stores (and even organic in your neighborhood grocery store) can be spendy, so you should figure out what’s in season (it’ll be cheaper) and stick to the most important ones to go organic on. They’re commonly referred to as “The Dirty Dozen.” (think- celery with no protective “skin” against pesticides vs bananas with a peel you don’t eat anyways.) Another thing, make cyber friends too! I was amazed with how many blogs and sites I found with people with similar ideas and lifestyles as my family. Support and good ideas all in one! Plus, real mom recipes are the best kind- you know, ones a real person has actually made. Someone who maybe has a bunch of kids running around and a husband and a life and still cooked a meal, and was willing to share it… chances are, it’s gonna be a good one. (plus that takes so much of the guess work out on your side!)

When we first started making things from scratch, and then again when we went gluten-free, we got lots of comments about how much time it would take, how hard it would be to find anything to eat, and how expensive things would be. We muddled through anyways. And through intentional shopping and eating, we’ve found it to actually have been a really good experience. And we believe our kids will be healthier for it. Which in today’s society, is unfortunately becoming more and more rare. I have a lot more to say about intentional eating, and living… but I’ll save that for another day. Monday Funday means no TV/DVDs/Computer Games for my kids and so… it’s interactive, which requires my participation!

Maybe later I’ll let you in on our afternoon’s adventure- making cannoli! I loved when my mom would make it growing up, and so now I’m continuing the tradition! Plus, my kids love cooking along side of me! I love traditions and getting my kids involved- so it’s a double bonus for me! And them!

 

*we now get beef, pork, and hopefully soon- chicken from him too!

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