Where Whine Meets Wine

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!


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



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!


Spicy Mama

You would think my husband would know my cooking by now, right? You would think that after all these years he’d know to take a “taste test bite” before he starts shoveling it in like someone who’s never tasted the wonders of food before. Well, apparently, when hungry, that goes out the window. I had gotten this amazing cheese at the grocery store and was excited to try it out! I made “macaroni” (or my homemade version of) for the kids and so I was able to pull this amazing dish out of the leftovers that are currently taking over my fridge. Which brings me back to my original point- the food shoveling. You see, the cheese I used was cheddar. Habanero cheddar. And since both hubbyman and I are spice enthusiasts, I thought this would be a great way to spice up plain ‘ol macaroni. (pun not intended, but what a happy coincidence! *wink*) I was so excited to see his expression! Unfortunately, he though it was just plain and shoveled it in, only to have his mouth catch on fire, and exclaim, “What did you put in this?!” I’m not sure if he thought it was another prank or not (see here, here, and here), but I just about cried because I’d been so excited about my new twist on a classic that I did not see this coming at all! I probably should have gone with it being a prank.

Spicy MamaRoni

noodles (I used rice)

Parmigiano Reggiano (or whatever kind of parmesan you have on hand)

Habanero Cheddar (for a little kick but less overall spice, you could use pepper jack)



flour (I used coconut flour)


cracked pepper


seasoning salt

It’s really, really, really simple. Boil your water, cook your noodles, and while noodles are cooking in a sauce pan over med. heat cook 1 cup of milk, 2 tbs butter, and 2 tbs flour. Bring to a boil, about 2 min. Add in cheese. O used about 1/2 cup of the habanero cheddar and 1/2 parm. Add in seasoning (I just used pinches of mine because the cheese already had so much flavor). I also added in about a cup-cup and a half of cubed chicken, because I had it on hand. I think it would be really great with spinach and maybe even broccoli. That’s how I’ll try it next time. I garnished with some diced red onions that needed to be used up and it added a nice crunch!  This was seriously, so, so, so good! And once he knew it was spicy, hubbyman also agreed it was good. And he had some for lunch the next day and declared it really good. As in something he’d like to eat again…when he’s been properly informed of the spice factor.

(end note: I highly recommend going to your local grocer and get the most flavor infused variety of cheese you can find, and then coming up with ways to use it! Put it in a recipe that you already make that maybe could use a little excitement!  Plus, cheese freezes pretty well, so cut it/shred it up and freeze it in “this is how much I’d use before it goes bad” amounts!)

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Spring Meltdown

When you live in the frozen tundra, as my family does, by the time Spring has sprung I’m left in a permafrost funk. Thankfully sunshine helps. But after months of being stuck in the house with three small children… I’m a little bit antsy. Thankfully the warm up has officially started and the snow is FINALLY gone! Unfortunately, for my children, that want to spend every last moment of this new found warm weather OUTSIDE… I have got the organizational munchies. I love organization. And before children I was known to go as far as to refold towels my husband had folded, because they weren’t quite right. 6 years and three kids later, I’m just thankful if any towels have been cleaned and are in need of folding, let alone getting folded- by anyone!

Because of littlest E’s birth last July, we didn’t get things as unpacked and organized as we otherwise would have, so we’re dusting off the cobwebs and picking up the slack now! We’ve filled our whole big trash bin with things we’re tossing and it’s not even trash day (we never do that!). Declutter!! I just can’t stand that “little bit everywhere”…in fact, it makes me a little crazy. And let’s face it, I’m already headed down that lane, so you can see why this would be a problem. So for me the first couple weeks of warmer weathers- they motivate me! I have to force myself to stop and let the kids run and play outside because I just want to keep going!

And since Monday has been dubbed, “Monday Funday” (I’m still trying to work out the rest of the days… if you have suggestions- let me know), it is our “electronic free day.” At least for the kids, and I try to at least keep mine minimized for their sake. Since it means no TV, no movies, no computer games…. we play. Outside, inside… wherever! We play. So things don’t really get done around the house on Mondays, but happiness occurs anyhow. Since we’re over that hump, today I’m attempting to get going on the re-organizing business full force! Today I have become Operative Mother of All Organization. Ok, maybe not that extreme, because I still have baby to nurse, kids to feed, dinners to make (hmm… my days often seem to focus on feeding people…). I seem to be having trouble staying focused on one subject here, so I should make this quick. Go. Do. Organize.

Another goal of this mass organization is to find my stinkin’ camera adapter so that I can actually post pictures! Other than my phone’s pictures! I have some fun spring/Easter crafts and really tasty meals that I would like you to see!

Want to know what I’m having for dinner tonight? A family favorite! I usually just make this quick on the stovetop (takes the same amount of time as making a box of Hamburger Helper!) but in honor of being reunited with my crockpot, I may just throw it in there! This truly is a family favorite, and is also spouse-friendly! One of the first meals I made after throwing out all the boxed, packaged kinds! I didn’t know what I was doing, but threw things together…and voila! It was proclaimed delicious! Since then (I’m hoping!) it has been honed and tweaked just enough to make me feel like it’s no longer in the experiment stage.

Burgers a la Pasta!

  • 4 servings of pasta (any kind- my kinds prefer “the noodles that look like phones” aka elbow)
  • *Homemade tomato sauce (I’m all out of the stuff I made and frozen in serving-size packages last fall, so I use plain tomato sauce and make it my own… adding in whatever tomatoes I have laying around, oregano, garlic, thyme, pepper, salt, pinch of sugar, and a pinch of whatever flour/starch I have on hand to thicken it just a bit. Don’t worry if you end up with more than you need with this recipe! Save it to use later this week or freeze it and use it next time!) You can of course use any kind of tomato/spaghetti sauce
  • 1 lb hamburger, browned (I add whatever I would add when making normal hamburgers. So I add some Montreal Steak Seasoning, Garlic Salt, Pepper, Lowry’s, and salt… just pinches of each. And if I have any, I’ll mince just enough onion to taste like it’s got a little bit of onion in it, but not enough to be seen)
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar (or whatever kind you like on your burgers) cheese
  • Parmesan cheese (if you don’t have this, don’t worry. I keep the grated kind and the real, aged, parmigiana reggianna shredded kind on hand, so I always throw in a little of each.)
  • Splash of milk (maybe 1/4 cup if I had to guess)

*Like Ranch burgers? Stay away from tomatoes? I have to for my girl’s sake, and so I either A)omit the sauce for her and just make hers extra cheesy or b)make a ranch sauce (plain white sauce: 2 tbs butter, 2 tbs. flour, 1 cup milk. Boil 2 minutes and add whatever seasoning sounds good to you. I use a buttermilk ranch seasoning.) Don’t want dairy? Skip the cheese all together. Still very good!

side note: You can do this all in one pot, but I had hungry people so I boiled the water, then put the noodles in as I browned the ground beef (so they’d be done simultaneously).

After hamburger is browned (and drained! PS. if you cook it at a high heat, it gets more of the fat out!), add in the  noodles. Add the cheese slowly, while stirring, so that it melts and doesn’t turn into one big clump. If needed, adding in milk. (my kids like it just like this! no sauce needed!) Add in tomato sauce (about 2 cups. I always use more because my family likes things “saucy.”). Stir so noodles are coated and in the sauce. Once boiling (med-high heat) turn heat down and simmer (with a lid!) until noodles are thoroughly cooked, stirring occasionally. About 15 minutes (but that will depend on the kind of noodles you use, so keep an eye on them). Let sit about 2 minutes (will thicken up some). And eat! Enjoy!

I was starting to think my crock pot has long gone since I haven’t seen it since we moved, last summer. I came home from an outing with the kids to it sitting on the counter! My husband had found it! He walked in the door just in time to see me discover it! I literally jumped in his arms! (He threatened to hide it again based on my enthusiasm! But he also found my food puree-er that I’ve been searching for to make baby food with, so I was doubly excited!) In honor of that, I think tonight I will attempt throwing all the ingredients in the crock pot and seeing how it turns out!

I am going to take pictures of tonight’s meal…hopefully the process and not just the end results. And will add them to this post as soon as I can! THE CAMERA ADAPTER WILL BE FOUND! Hopefully before I get a chance to go out and buy a new one and not momentarily afterwards, like the Wii remote I just replaced, and was found within minutes of me walking in the door with the new one. *eye roll*

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The Leftover Mama

I have at least 3 other posts in the works… but I’m just not feelin’ any of ’em. At least at this particular moment. In fact, the reason I haven’t done any new posts for about a week, is I haven’t been feelin’ any topic! I’m not sure what that’s all about, but I’m going to attempt and muddle my way through to break the spell.

I stay busy…pretty much all day, pretty much every day. And I am guilty of snack meals. I make the kids lunches and yet I just grab something quick. If at all. Sometime in the afternoon, the cups of coffee without any food jitters start to set in… and then I grab something. For me the worst is when the husband is working late… I make the kids dinner and sometimes will eat with them. But I’m very much less into making a family meal, when we’re not eating as a family. Which is silly because by the time I’ve searched through the pantry or fridge trying to decide on something that sounds good… I could have actually made something that tasted really good. Last night was a victory for me, small, but a victory none the less! You see, I’m kind of queen of the leftovers! I LOVE finding random things left over from meals that don’t have enough left to be a meal itself and finding a way of combining and making it new!  Especially when it’s just the kids and I (they’re much less picky!). So this last week or two we’ve had: chicken sausages (the yummy kind from Trader Joe’s), cannelloni (ricotta filled!), pizza (Chicken, spinach, white ranch sauce), and of course various forms of noodles, just to name a few.

So night-without-daddy #1: There were only 2 chicken sausages left. Sweet Italian and Jalapeño. I put them in the food processor, mixed with some ricotta (left over from the cannelloni and ravioli) and put over noodles. (note: I always make at least one extra serving of all meals so that there’s enough for hubby’s lunch the next day). The kids ate THREE whole bowls full- each! I repeat: 3!! I barely had any, and there was none left for Daddy! But the kids were happy and full, and let’s face it, we wouldn’t trade that for all the lunches in the world!! Night #2: Also inspired by leftovers. Made rice noodles (that taste like wonderful egg noodles- seriously, so, so good!). Used leftovers from pizza! Ranch sauce had been thrown in the fridge in a dish with the spinach and chicken, so I put it all in a pot. Sauteed some more spinach, threw a small dish of leftover breakfast sausage in the food processor, and added in some of my “add to everything” almond flour… it was so yummy! Night #3: Made kids their favorite kind of sandwiches: gluten-free waffles (used just like 2 slices of bread) filled with nutella, a dollop of peanut butter, and a drop of jelly. Just as I was thinking about eating a waffle myself… I looked at the breast and a half of thawed chicken that needed to be cooked anyway. And the leftover mama (how many names can I make up out of this?) opted for delicious! And all but the almonds were left over from previous meals: spinach, blue cheese crumbles, chicken, toasted almond slices, and strawberry poppyseed dressing. So good.

We are hoping to start eating more fish… here is what I’m making this weekend:

Chili-Seared Salmon

  • 2 Tbs chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 4 (6 oz) salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Sweet Pepper Salsa

Combine chili powder, salt, and pepper; rub evenly over salmon fillets. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add salmon, cook 4 minutes on each side or to desired degree of doneness. Serve with Sweet Pepper Salsa.

sidenote: For an easy but delicious salmon dish with crispy skin, be sure to use “pure” olive oil, not extra-virgin olive oil, which burns more easily.

Sweet Pepper Salsa

  • 4 plum tomatoes, seeded and julienned
  • 2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1 lg yellow bell pepper, seeded and julienned
  • 1 sm red onion, julienned
  • 2 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tbs fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground red pepper

Stir together all ingredients. Let stand 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

I may double it, just so I have leftovers I can work into another recipe! What are your favorite meals to make out of leftovers?

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I’ve been working through a post about WHY we eat and cook the way we do…but it’s not quite *there* yet. So, until it is, just know, my recipes will be gluten free, or how to make them gluten free… And usually, easy. I really enjoy cooking, but mainly only have time for easy. And I want to share recipes that other people would actually use- within the amount of time a normal parent has to get dinner going and on the table! That being said, I’m going to share 2 noodle recipes. Each are good, easy…and gluten free. Hubbyman even made the noodles yesterday!

Version 1 (from Gluten Free Italian)

  • 2/3 cup brown rice flour *
  • 1/3 cup tapioca starch (plus extra if needed)
  • 1/2 tsp xantham gum
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 lg egg
  • 1 lg egg yoke
  • 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 tsp for cooking the pasta
  • 1 tbs water

Combine the rice flour, tapioca starch, xantham gum, and salt in food processor and process to mix. Combine the egg, egg yoke, and olive oil, and water in a small bowl, and whisk.

With motor running, pour the egg mixture over the flour and pulse until the dough forms into a rough ball. (If it’s too wet to roll out, add about 1 tbs tapioca starch; if it’s too dry, add a few drops of water.)

Turn out, crumbs and all, and pat together into a disk. Cut the dough in half and work with one half at a time. Enclose the other one in plastic wrap. Place the ball of dough between two sheets of plastic wrap and roll into a very thin, even rectangle approximately 10×12 inches, turning the sheet of dough several times. Repeat with 2nd ball of dough.

If using immediately, peel off plastic, and cut into strips of desired width. Lay strips on clean kitchen towel and let dry slightly, for about 10 minutes. If freezing the dough, leave the sheets inside the plastic wrap and cut later.

to cook: bring 2 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add 1 tsp of salt and the pasta. Stir occasionally, until pasta is al dente, about 2 minutes. Drain and toss with butter and Parmesan (3 tbs butter and 2 oz Parm), or sauce of choice.

*Italian cooks say you should be able to read a newspaper through it- hubbyman says then put a light behind it! We used white rice flour instead of brown, because it’s what we had! And no food processor, because it was less to clean! We also doubled the recipe and rolled out the two extra sheets and froze. They thaw in about the time it takes water to boil. This time we used it in a pasta salad and it was so good!

Version 2:  (my version)

  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  • 3 tbs potato starch
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 4 1/2 tsp xantham gum
  • 1 1/2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs

Mix dry ingredients together. In separate bowl beat eggs oil, then mix with dry ingredients. Work dough into a firm ball, kneading for 2 minutes. Roll out as thin as possible (using potato starch instead of flour to prevent sticking). Cut in size/shape desired.

Salt boiling water with 1 tbs oil and add noodles.

*these ones came out very thick. I’m not sure if it was because I didn’t roll them thin enough or just how the noodle is. (my first attempt at pasta and my only try with this recipe) Would make excellent noodle for soup! (reminds me a lot of traditional chicken noodle soup noodles) And they were so, so, SO yummy!


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