laborofwonder

Where Whine Meets Wine

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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I Make Donuts. Call Me WonderMom.


So…. I’m pretty behind in posts in general, I know. And food posts, I’m sure I’m behind by like a month. Whoops. I have another confession- this is not going to be one either. Well, not completely. Even though I haven’t been doing posts about food, we still have been cooking, and even eating. Shocking, right? Really, there’s been lots of foodie stuff going on here… for Christmas I got a pasta extruder (you have no idea how happy this made me!).

I’ve made lots of yummy pastas, some new pasta sauces (including a pink garlic sauce- so good), sugar cookie cut outs galore, and donuts. I bought a specialty cookbook (for gluten free) specifically because it had a donut recipe in it. And I’ve been looking longingly at the donut making machines over the holidays… and then, during some post-holiday shopping, I found a set that had two donut trays. One for your regular circle donuts, and one for long john style donuts!! I was practically giddy. Ok, there’s no practically, I was giddy. You see, January marks one year of us being gluten free. It feels like it’s been much longer, but a year it’s definitely been. And we have come a long way since those first weeks. We were given a lot of discouraging advice, encouraging advice, and a lot of mixed signals. Thankfully, we were able to weed out the good and the bad and trudge on through. We did have some things going for us already. We already ate little to no processed foods, and I was already making/cooking most things… so I ordered some all-purpose GF flour on-line (because you can get it WAY cheaper and in bigger quantities) and just kept on cooking as usual. I really lucked out. This all-purpose mix is still by far my favorite. We thought it might be a fluke that the first brand we tried was so awesome, but I have not been impressed with any other brand we’ve tried.  While we still have our areas that we could improve upon (I need to make and freeze more pasta sheets on a regular basis, so they’re always available in a pinch. I also need to get back into making bread on a regular basis.), but we have certainly come a long way. We now know so much more about the little changes we can make to keep gluten out of the house and home and tummies. We have found new family favorites and ventured into foods we never otherwise would have. Plus, we feel better! We made “Mexican pizzas” (tostadas), we have sandwiches made out of waffles (the kids’ absolute favorite), we make our own pasta, we make our own sauces, we double our recipes so that we can freeze half for an easy/quick meal another night, and we do lots of experiments!

You know what the best part is? Knowing that one year ago, we were trying everything we could think of to help our sweet little girl. Who had awful tummy issues from midnight exorcism-style vomiting, to much less pleasant potty issues that I’ll save you from the details, to hives attacking her face with each and every meal. We’d gone a year trying to figure out what was causing the hives, we’d thrown out processed foods, stayed away from anything with preservatives or food coloring, gave up tomatoes and anything with citric acid… to no avail. In fact, her hives were getting worse. They were no longer just showing up around her mouth with a meal, they were staying on her sweet little face all the time, and spreading to her neck with meals. Now I know there is some controversy in the needing to be tested. But in order to do that she’d have to continue eating gluten for 2 solid months and then undergo a big-deal time of invasion to her body, which is is teeny-tiny. And the test often comes out with a false negative. Yeah, I’m not down for that. Especially, when after being gluten free for only a month, her hives went away. And they haven’t been back. And we’ve been able to add back in some of the foods that we avoided previously. Like tomatoes. Hello, ketchup! She was so excited to be able to have the ketchup that her brother shovels onto just about every food. (Except rice, because apparently that’s gross. But ketchup and anything else is totally acceptable. And I mean anything else.) Really, to me, my daughter feeling better (you know it’s a big deal when you could tell a 3 year old that she can’t have the cookie being offered because it’s one that will make her tummy hurt, and she just says, so what can I have? without getting upset at all. Or when offered something she’ll ask, will this make my tummy hurt? She feels that much better, and that’s sayin’ something.) And the diet change has caused us to look more closely into the things we’re eating and to become more intentional with the things we eat along with where they come from. Plus, now I make my own donuts. My life is now complete.

See that, a real, homemade (by me!) donut... Gluten free, and it's vegan too!

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I Am A Rock Star


I was sooo excited that my favorite all-purpose (Gluten free) flour came in the mail in time for Christmas cookies! No matter how I feel, or have felt, about this season, I always make Christmas cookies. When I was pregnant with Biggest E, Christmas was just a couple weeks before my due date and I was in full nesting mode. I made cookies until every single surface in my kitchen and dining room were covered in cookies. I sent some in with hubby to work, I sent some to a friend in Iraq, I even sent some home. I brought them into work, and I gave them to everyone I knew. There were that many. And in the years since, I have continued to make them by the tin full. I even collect cookie tins just for this purpose. Well, this year I was excited to find another GF family to exchange cookies with! So I set out to make my traditional sugar cookie cut outs and to try my Grandma’s famous recipe (seriously, we’ve all tried copying it, but no one’s ever taste just like Grandma’s!) for molasses cookies. I know this doesn’t sound like a feast, or something to turn into a blog post, but here’s the catch. We’re a gluten free household (no cooking with gluten in this house. period.) and this is our first Christmas gluten free. January will mark a year gluten free, and really in the world of cooking, one year is not that long. So while I feel I’ve mastered lots of different ways of cooking and have gotten my family to try (and enjoy!) lots of new things, baking is always touch and go. I’ve made some cookies and some cakes with some success, but nothing exceptional. And baking has never really been my thing, even before going gluten free. So enter a world with whole new flours, and gums, and weirdness… but me being me, I just expecting it to turn out. Enter my first batch, the molasses. Flop. They tasted good, but did not look good. These were definitely not the puffy, chewy goodness my grandma makes. More like ginger snaps than anything. So I tweaked it a bit and threw it in the fridge to chill. Then they turned out. Not quite the same as Grandma’s, but waaay better than the first batch! And three cookie sheets in, I think they’re started to taste more like Grandma’s!

I started on my sugar cookies, which I thought I’d made before… apparently not, or at least not the way I did tonight. They were a bigger disaster than the molasses. I coulda cried. I didn’t, but I coulda. So, I poured over hundreds (ok, maybe not hundreds, but seriously, like fifty, maybe a hundred. I don’t know. It was a lot.) of recipes and gluten free cooking how to sites. I tweaked my recipe, I chilled it, I prayed. And hallelujah! Out came beautiful, puffy, perfect, yummy, just-like-normal sugar cookies! Perfectly formed Christmas trees, four-legged ginger bread men, and stockings that actually look like stockings! Pleased as punch does not begin to describe my elation! I am a gluten-free super mom! I even made a giant train cookie (for Biggest E) and a giant turtle cookie (for Miss E)! And in all honesty- I’ll probably make more of these cookies before the week is out! Or maybe next week, I’m trying not to get carried away! So I couldn’t find my camera to take a decent picture (or at least attempt to), but I grabbed my camera and at least you can see these beauties in all their glory! (And mine!)

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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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(Simple) Game Day Foods!


To go along with my football post this morning, today’s Simply Impressive recipe will be game time foods! Which is one of my favorite things about football season! One was a first time taste-testing and the other I’ve made several times, but always forgot to post it on here…and I was having a hard time deciding which to post! But after some encouragement from my facebook wall (haven’t “liked” labor of wonder on facebook yet?! Well, get on over there and do it!), I decided on both!!

The first is my trusty jalapeno popper dip! This is seriously easy and seriously good! I’ve made it a handful of times, and find myself craving this anytime there is football on! (Yes, I crave it a lot) I found it/created it when I was really craving some actual jalapeno poppers, but it sounded like a whole lot of work and time to make… naturally, I searched for an easier way to fulfill this craving! I got the basis of my recipe here, but of course, made it my own way! Not a whole lot different, but just enough that I feel more like it’s mine! (When I googled this dip this morning, a flood of websites and blogs came up, each with a little different twist. So you can do it basic or find something fancy-shmancy if that’s what you’re looking for!)

I used peppers from my garden!

2 packages (8 oz) cream cheese, softened

1 cup mayo

6 oz jalapeno peppers (I found this amount to not have much heat to it, so this last time I used a whole 12 oz jar of them plus about 2 tbs of the “juice” but we like heat!)

3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Optional Topping:

1 cup of crushed croutons/breadcrumbs (I used chili cheese GF “protons”/croutons with lots of protein)

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

2 tbs melted butter

 

Preheat oven to 350. And spray pan. (I use a square 7×7 or my deep dish pie pan)

I do this all in my food processor so that I don’t have to chop anything, but you certainly can chop the jalapeno by hand. (If you bought whole jalapeno, remember to seed them! If it’s canned, don’t drain! If they came in a jar, use about 2 tbs of “juice.”) So, I throw in my jalapeno for dicing, and then I add in the cream cheese, and cheddar cheese until well blended. You can add more “juice” if it’s very dense, as you want it to be nice and creamy!

Now for the topping. I find it kind of unnecessary, as does my hubby, but if we’re going for more of a traditional jalapeno popper look and taste, then you might want to do it. (If you do skip the topping, I’d still sprinkle the top with the parmesan cheese.) In a small bowl, mix the croutons or breadcrumbs with the parmesan cheese and melted butter, then sprinkle over the top.

Bake for 15-20 minutes. Until dip is bubbling and top is browned! My hubby prefers it served with tortilla chips (which is also an easy way to keep it GF and simple). If you want to gourmet it up a bit, I’d serve it on top of some really yummy bread! (All this talk of it, is having me reheat it for lunch!) *One note, if you’ve used the topping, when you reheat it, for the love of all things tasty, do so in the oven! Just throw it in (even as it preheats) and it’s done in a couple minutes (like 5ish).

I couldn't find a "end result" photo... but it's pretty hard to do wrong!

 

Now for the simplest, easiest, mini pizzas you’ve ever made! While cruising through some blogs, I came across this article from This Italian Family, showing where she’d made these mini deep dish pizzas from Dashing Dish (both of these blogs are wonderful! I also kind of hate them for the amazingness of their photos. Let’s just say my camera is less than mediocre and in dire need of replacing! Most people’s phones take better pictures than my camera…that’s just sad. If any of you ever hear hubbyman griping about not knowing what to get me, have him refer to this post!) Back to the pizzas…. they remind me just a little of my lasagna cupcakes, due to their saucy-ness (which is what -obviously- makes them like a mini deep dish) but they were really, really yummy. The kids were not sure about the looks of them, but when biting into it, Big E exclaimed, “This is delicious! Were you trying to trick me?” They each requested more and more.  There were no leftovers!

  • 3-4 tortillas (I used GF tortillas and threw them in the microwave for about 15 seconds so they’d be soft. If you can do wheat, go ahead and use regular flour tortillas, or make it even healthier and use whole wheat ones!)
  • 1 (15 oz can) pizza sauce- you may have some leftover (I used our homemade spaghetti sauce! sooo good! If you have spaghetti sauce on hand, just use that!)
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • mini pepperoni (or large/regular cut into 4 pieces)
  • If using already seasoned spaghetti sauce, you can omit these. If using plain pizza sauce: 1 tsp basil/oregano mix (or Italian seasoning), 1/2 tsp garlic powder, pinch of sweetener (I added one packet of stevia)
  • pinch of black pepper

*Add in whatever your favorite pizza flavorings are! (I added mushrooms to the sauce of half of the pizzas!)

Preheat oven to 425 and spray a 12-muffin tin. Lay each tortilla out individually, cutting out medium circles. (I used the lid to my jar as a guide, and the original poster used the top of her can. Can also use the top of a cup or a circle cookie cutter.) It doesn’t have to fit the entire side of the tin, just fit snuggly!

Pour pizza sauce into a med. bowl, add in the parmesan cheese, and the rest of the seasonings. Stir until well combined. Spoon (about 2 tbs) into each tortilla. Top evenly with mozzarella cheese and top cheese with the mini pepperoni!  (I did about 6)

Bake about 12-15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and starting to brown. Wait for pizzas to cool (not cold, but cool enough to touch and kids to eat- they hold their form better if you’ve waited for them to cool.) and then they just pop right out! And I’ll just mention once again- these aer ridiculously easy as well as ridiculously good!

They looked cuter than the photo portrays! Unfortunately, they were eating them before I could get an out of the pan shot!

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Lasagna Cupcakes!


I almost posted a recipe for my quiche, but it’s not exactly perfect. And I’d really rather not share it with you until I can come up with the exact way I’d like to share it with my family. If it’s not how I want it to be for my family, why would I let you test out a version that’s less than? Don’t get me wrong, it is sooo yummy. But I just need to have better ratios for the crust to eggs. I am excited to figure it out and share it with you! It met rave reviews from hubbyman and my daughter- so it will be coming to you soon! In the meantime, since I combined my Wednesday and Thursday dinner plans (spinach and mushroom quiche and pumpkin waffles) into one meal, tonight when I was thinking about what to have for dinner, I felt at a loss. I’ve been craving lasagna and so I decided to try something new. Now to make gluten free noodles, I have 2 recipes. One is in a recipe book and the other is one on a post it note, attached to the recipe books version. I lost my post it note! I have no idea if I found it somewhere online or if I made it up! I was so disappointed, and I didn’t have 2 of the necessary 4 flours (that’s right, four!) to make the noodles from scratch. So I decided on lasagna cupcakes. I’d made a new pizza crust a week or two ago, and I decided to try that as the noodles. So it’s not quite a noodle, and that did throw my husband off a little, but it was still good. And he if I’d of thrown in the elbow noodles I’d made for the kids (I was not sure how it would turn out, so for the first time in my cooking career, I made a back up meal) that it would have been perfect. When making these in the past, I cook lasagna noodles (for those of you lucky wheat eaters, you can use your normal lasagna noodles, for those of you who cannot, can make them -that’s right make them- from the noodle recipe I posted in this post here. Hey wait a minute! There’s my long lost pasta recipe! Whew!)

It’s really very, very simple. I like to use my large muffin pan for this. I spray it and then put in cooked noodles in an x pattern (start with 2 and you can add a 3rd if 2 doesn’t cover the base). Then I add the layers- Parmesan, mozzarella, ricotta cheese, and sauce (with or without browned hamburger meat). I only use a couple tbs per layer. Just enough to cover. Top with the parm and mozz. Then fold the noodles that are hanging out over the top (so it’s basically enclosed). Bake at 375 for 25 minutes, or until cheese is brown and sauce is bubbling. If you want to make it just the way I did, you can either throw in some noodles or not, and make the crust I made from this cookbook.)

How I made my crust:

1 1/2 cups almond flour, 1/4 tsp sea salt, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1 egg, 1 tbs grape seed extract

Mix egg and grape seed extract and add to dry ingredients. I sprayed my tins with olive oil (I’m not sure it’s necessary, but I figured it was better than finding out the crust was impossible to get out of the tin) and then press dough into each muffin mold. I didn’t make it very thick, but didn’t want it to be thin enough to see through either as I wanted it to hold its form. So about 1/4ish inch thick (I know, I’m so precise- sorry!).

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

Spoon filling in. (you can do it in layers or mix it all together… either way would be delicious!)

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, or until cheese browns and sauce is bubbling.

It is delicious with noodles, and with the crust! It’s more like a lasagna pie with the crust, but it was still delicious! Unfortunately, I left my camera at my parents’ and so my only picture (I really am very sad about this, because it just looked so pretty every step of the way) is from my camera. Next time I will well document my steps!

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Seasonally Impressive


These are some of my seasonally favorite foods: acorn squash, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins. Last week I made sweet potato mash (1/2 sweet potatoes, 1/2 regular potatoes) as well as maple acorn squash (just cut it in half, pour in some maple syrup and bake for 1 hr @ 350). Sooo yummy. Up next? Pumpkin butter and roasted pumpkin seeds!!! Never tried pumpkin butter? It is seriously delicious! I love all things apple and that includes apple butter. But every time I’ve canned pumpkin butter, I am out in no time…and I always have some apple butter left. So that’s sayin’ something! Plus it makes such a fun gift too! I may make it tomorrow… in my crock pot. Which works famously if you have a busy household (and really, who doesn’t?! If you don’t, I’m sorry, but I’m just not sure we can be friends.). I’m actually sad that I didn’t get more sugar pumpkins (or pie pumpkins) before the farmer’s market ended. Sadly, we missed the last week because Littlest was not feeling good. Boo! Hiss! On seasonal allergies and the genetics he gets it from (mine!). Anyways, just in case you felt like making something extra special, I am going to share my recipe with you! It’s really easy (and you can even used canned pumpkin puree which makes it basically a dump-everything-in kind of recipe!)!

For 6 pints you will need:

3 pie pumpkins (or 2 29 oz can pumpkin puree)

1 tbs ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp allspice

2 cups sugar

*Clean pumpkins, cut in half, and deseed (but save them for roasted seeds!). Cook pumpkins (microwave, steam, or oven) until  soft and gut. Throw in the crockpot with the rest of the ingredients over low for about 6-8 hours.  If you like a creamier texture, throw it in the blender. And if the consistency is too thick (especially if you used canned as fresh is a little runnier), add in some apple juice/cider. And if it needs more of a certain spice, you can add it in! Want to make more? For 6 qts. use 5-6 pumpkins and double everything else! Can, bottle, freeze, whatever…. it is incredibly delicious!

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Simply Impressive


Ok, I have a confession to make…while I don’t normally loooove lots of fried food, there is one thing I’m addicted to. (Or at least one that I’m willing to admit to!)  Onion rings. A week or two ago, hubbyman came home from a boys’ night out and was famished, so we looked through the cupboards and the fridge, deciding what to make. Then he looked at me with those blue puppy-dog eyes and asked that I make him some breaded chicken and onion rings… thankfully, he was willing to help! I made them again last Friday because they were just that good!! In fact, last week hubbyman dubbed them “the best he’d ever had.” And those are big words from him! I even bought some more huuuuge onions this week so that I could make them again! I’m also thinking mozzerella sticks… but all this fryin’ just seems not so healthy. But when paired with the fact that we normally don’t eat it very often and the rest of what we normally eat is really healthy… I’ve decided I’m not going to feel guilty about it! I will warn you… they’re so good they’re definitely habit forming! I may look into a way to bake them instead of fry them, so they’re a little healthier. But I just love the flavor and taste and crunch!

I’ve tried many different things to make batter to fry in, but so far, this has been the best, I think. It’s really pretty hard to make a bad batter though (in my opinion)… so if you interchange a different flour, it’ll probably turn out fine.  Just keep in mind that different flours (like almond meal) may brown faster or slower than all-purpose, so just keep an eye on it.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lg sweet onions
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (I used GF)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk, as needed (my first batch i needed the full cup, the 2nd I didn’t. Pour in by 1/4 cup)
  • Seasoned salt to taste (I used Lowry’s)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 qt. oil for frying, or as needed (I used half veg/half olive)
Heat oil to about 350 degrees. Cut the onions into strips/rings about 1/2 inch thick, and set aside. In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Next, coat the onion slices in the flour mixture. Whisk the egg and milk into the flour mixture. Dip the floured rings into the batter to coat. Set on wire rack (I used a cookie rack with a cookie sheet underneath for easy clean up) until batter stops dripping.

Deep fry, a few at a time, for about 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove and place on paper towels to drain. Season with seasoning salt and serve!! Yum! And then to make the breaded chicken I did the same process, exactly the same, with the exception of cooking/frying it for about 3-3 1/2 minutes. (Make sure to cut one at the widest to make sure it’s done! If not, add more time to your batches, if it’s done, continue on!) They were sooo, sooo yummy. When I make these, I normally make enough of them to freeze half, but my children ate soooo many of them, there was enough for next day leftovers, but that was it! Did I mention that next time I want to try making mozzarella sticks?? (I’d use the same recipe!) They are a favorite of mine! Friday’s are kind of our make something super yummy night and I look forward to it every week! And I have a great idea for tomorrow….and I’ve already bought the onions!

I like this one, because one of the chicken pieces looks like a peace sign!

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Macaroni Twist (Simply Impressive)


Ok, so I don’t have pictures to include with this post (yet!), but I will this evening! I have gotten out of the habit of my Impressively Simple Thursdays, and I am wanting to get back into the habit! So today I am just starting doing it! (It can’t be a habit if I don’t ever start, can it??) Because I’m hoping to get a ton done today (I’ve been hiding from the mountain of laundry screaming my name.), I want a meal that’s simple, and doesn’t require a lot of time or effort… which is why this wonderful, yummy casserolesque dish gets the pick! I got an email (click here to see original recipe) that I got the base from, and of course, adapated to make it my own.  It’s incredibly yummy and incredibly heavy (so not something I’d make on a weekly basis, but a wonderful comfort food!). Perfect twist on plain old macaroni if you ask me! And hubbyman loves any recipe that includes bacon!

Some things to know before hand: They used penne pasta, but my children loooove “phone noodles” (otherwise known as elbow) and so that’s what we’ll be using, but I of course recommend using whatever your favorite kind of noodle is (or even better, let your kids pick out what their favorite kind is- they’re waaay more likely to eat and enjoy it!). Also they said a serving size of 12 and since I’m only feeding 5…. 12 seems unnecessary. So this is for a family of five and you can reduce it still if necessary, or copy their ratio (or just double what I have listed here) and freeze the leftovers (or make it in two dishes- one for tonight and one for another night!). Anyways, here’s what I did:

Ingredients:

pasta (about 5 handfuls or whatever equals 5-6 servings)

bacon (I used 3 pieces of bacon)

1/2 cup crushed protons (gluten free croutons- you can use panko or whatever breadcrumbs you normally use, or even a little almond meal instead. whatever you have on hand!)

1/8 cup butter, melted

1 tsp parsley (fresh; use less if dried)

1 1/2 tbs olive oil

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 small onion, finally chopped

1 tbs flour (I used coconut flour with an extra pinch or two of almond flour, but you can use all-purpose or whatever your favorite flour/thickener is)

1 cup heavy cream (the recepiet called for 4 CUPS of heavy cream… yikes! I happened to have a small amount left, so I used it up because otherwise it would go to waste, but I’d really just use milk otherwise. That’s alotta cream! And between the bacon and the cheese, heavy cream just seems above and beyond!)

1 cup milk

1/2 tsp thyme (fresh, less if using dried)

1/2 cup cheese (calls for monterray jack but I had pepperjack and mozzarella… so I did half and half)

1 cup cheddar cheese

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 350.

Now, go ahead and cook your noodles (boil slightly salted water, add noodles, bring to a boil again. Now you don’t want these all the way mushy, you want them still slightly firm to the bite. So if you think they’re not quite done enough to eat, they’re done.) and drain well.

Cook bacon until evenly browned, reserving (saving) the drippings in a small bowl. Drain bacon on towel-lined plate, and then crumble bacon into a bowl, mix in the breadcrumbs (or in my case the crushed GF protons/croutons), butter, and parsley.

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium, adding in onions and garlic. Cook and stir until they’ve softened; 3-5 minutes. Stir in bacon drippings and flour. Cook and stir for one minute and then whisk in the cream/milk and thyme. Continue cooking and stirring until reduced by about 1/3. Then add the cheeses, stirring until melted. (I find it clumps less if you add it in slowly rather than all at once.) Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the pasta. Transfer mixture into an oven-safe dish. Sprinkle with the breadcrumb/bacon mixture and bake until crumbs have browned and sauce is bubbly. About 15-20 minutes.

Seem like a lot to do? Here’s how I simplified it. Instead of doing it one at a time, I did it all at once. I promise it’s not as complicated as that may sound.  Get water going for noodles. While water is boiling, cook your bacon in a skillet (or something similar that you can then use for cooking the onions and garlic = less dishes). Yes, your noodles will probably be done before the full cheese mixture is done, but it will save you time in the long run. This way too if your noodles are not as firm as you need/want them, you have time to run some cold water over them or throw some ice cubes in with them and let them firm up before baking. As far as reheating, it’s not quite the same when microwaving (especially if you used all that heavy cream)… but you can reheat it in a skillet with a little extra milk/butter) for just a minute or two and voila it’s yummy!

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Simply Irresistable!


This is so, so yummy (and so, so simple)… and those that know me that this time of year is a busy time in my kitchen. Salsa making and canning will occur and end shortly and then the fall season will start. Which brings apples galore! My grandparents have an apple orchard and lots of friends with apple orchards. Which for me, equals- I get lots of apples! I make (and can) applesauce, apple butter, and send hubbyman to work with countless batches of one of my personal favorite treats- apple crisp! It’s actually one of the few desserts that I can make a whole pan of and not have to throw any out! (We’re just not big dessert eaters, hubbyman and I.) Plus, this is one dish that always says home to me. And have always made it no matter where we lived!

My brother and his new bride have apple trees in their new yard and my dad brought back a bun was thoughtful enough to share them with me! There was exactly enough for each of the kids to help themselves to one and for me to make a (7×7) pan! I know what I will be having for breakfast the next couple of days! The recipe is so simple, truly! For a 7×7 pan this is what I used: 6-8 small to medium apples (peeled and sliced in wedges- uniform size is best so they all cook the same) Drizzle cut apples with splash of lemon juice 1/4 cup of sugar 1/2 cup apple juice (you can use water and it will still taste good!)

Next (this is the topping) you will combine 1 cup of flour (you can also use oats. I used too many oats/not enough flour… I think a 3/4 c flour to 1/4 c oats would be a better consistency than my half and half- but it still tasted good.), a cup of butter (2 sticks), and 1/3 cup of sugar in a small bowl. I usually start with the butter and soften (not melt!) and then “cut” the butter into the flour/sugar, (Which means I take a knife and fork and act like I’m literally cutting it) until it’s in about pea size balls. I love the topping so I make sure that it covers the whole thing. Top it off with cinnamon and bake at 375 for 35 minutes. And voila! You have an amazing dessert! Serve it hot and top with vanilla ice cream (especially if you’re trying to impress someone!) or cold with a dollop of cool whip! Yum!

 

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