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Cheesy Chicken and Ranch Potatoes

This is an easy meal that I love. It makes a great casserole but if you are pressed for time you can cook the whole meal on the stove top. I have taken to using a few major short cuts in the kitchen that save me soooo such time. Generally speaking, we get our chicken breasts from Sam’s Club in the freezer section 6 lbs. for just under 12 dollars. That’s cheaper than Aldi so it works for me. When I get them home I take 4-6 chicken breasts and wrap them in foil lightly sprinkled with adobo or whatever gluten-free season all I am using and bake them on 275 until cooked completely.
Yes I pop them in still frozen. The foil traps in the moisture and the low temp makes sure they cook completely, if slowly. Anyhoo doing this one short cut I almost always have cooked chicken breasts on hand and this saves a lot of time when cooking dinner. Another time saving measure? I keep ranch dressing mix dairy free, cashew sour cream and coconut milk cheese in my fridge. I don’t let them run out. They are wayyyyyy to useful in making quick meals to ever run out.
This is the whole ranch dressing recipe:
http://www.adventuresofaglutenfreemom.com/2011/08/ranch-dressing-dairy-free-egg-free-corn-free-nut-free-and-soy-free/
the part I keep handy all the time is the dry ingredients. I make big batches and use 2 ¼ tsp at a time added to ¼ c nondairy buttermilk as per the recipe and then stir the mix in to the cashew sour cream.
• 1/2 tsp. dried Parsley (or 1 tsp. fresh)
• 1/2 tsp dried Chives (or 1 tsp. fresh)
• 1/2 tsp. dried Dill (or 1 tsp. fresh)
• 1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder
• 1/4 tsp. Onion Powder
• 1/8 tsp. Sea Salt
• 1/8 tsp. Black Pepper

Ingredients
6 sliced potatoes
2 chopped chicken cooked breasts
8oz cashew sour cream w/ ranch dip stirred in
4-6 oz coconut milk cheese finely cubed or shredded
1/2 cup green onions chopped
¼ red onion diced
3 Tbs olive oil
Daiya cheddar shreds if desired
Adobo to taste

For stove top preparation
In a 5 qt pot (Dutch oven) on medium heat add olive oil, potatoes, red onion, and adobo. Cook until potatoes have softened about 15-20 min
Once the potatoes have begun to soften add ¼ cup green onion, cashew sour cream, coconut milk cheese.
Mixing well to ensure ‘cheese’ and sour cream are well mixed.
Add chicken, once again mixing well. When completely mixed simmer on lowest heat setting for 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally.
Garnish with additional green onions and Daiya if desired

To prepare as a casserole pour all ingredients except for green onions into a large casserole dish (9×13 or larger) stir well to evenly distribute seasonings and ingredients.
Bake @400 for 45 min or until potatoes are tender. Remove and garnish with green onions and extra daiya if desired then bake for an additional 5-10 minutes.
Remove from oven serve warm.

My family hasn’t had chicken and dumplings  in 2 years because I didn’t have a good sturdy gluten free dumpling recipe. We will be having this often this winter. Dumplings are generally just biscuits added to the stew in the last 10 minutes or so of cooking but none of the gluten free biscuits held together well until now. Nicole has several yummy gf biscuit recipes. If you cant do dairy you will need to make substitutions.
http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/gluten-free-biscuits-and-gravy
I used 4 TBS of brown rice protein powder instead of dry milk.

32 oz chicken broth Pus more as needed
3 Stalks of celery chopped
3 carrots sliced
7.5 Oz corn ( half a can)
1/2 a bell pepper finely diced
1/2 a small red onion very finely diced
1.5 cup Dairy free milk ( I use coconut)
1/3 cup Gluten free flour
1/4 tsp basil
1/8 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
about 1/2 tsp adobo sin pepper
2-3 cubed chicken breasts cooked

First make the biscuits but do not bake. place the rounds on a cookie sheet and cut the raw biscuits in to 6 or 8. these are now your dumplings. place in the fridge while making stew.
next cook the chicken breasts in a skillet and season with the adobo. set aside.
Then place chicken broth vegetables, herbs and seasonings in a Dutch oven. Bring to a boil.
In a separate small bowl mix flour and dairy free milk.
Add chicken mixture to Dutch oven.
Add milk and flour mixture to Dutch oven.
Cook until thickened stirring constantly, on high heat for appx 3 min
Lower temp to lowest setting and allow to simmer until veggies are tender.
Add additional broth to thin soup base if desired
One veggies are tender bring stew to a boil again and add dumplings all at once stirring constantly.
Allow dumpling to cook on high heat for 5-10 minutes or until toothpick inserted in dumplings comes out clean

Names, they are an integral part of our identity. They are one of the first impressions a person receives. It can tell of our culture, of our home. Our names can have weight and meaning. They set us up for various stereotyping both positive and negative.  There are numerous studies on names. For instance people with names beginning with the letter “A” tend to receive more “A’s” in school. Conversely people with names beginning with the letters “c and D” tend to receive lower grades than average.
A child’s name on a class roster is the first meeting that teacher has with their soon to be student. It is the first impression of their family. The spelling and structure give and idea of the parents level of education at the time the child was born….and let the teacher know how much support or struggle they may have from that parent.

Resume’s with ethnic names get fewer call back’s and interviews than mainstream names with traditional spellings.
Of course these are not hard and fast rules I know several very successful and well educated Shaniqua’s and Jamarion’s (with a variety of spellings) and other equally highly ethnic names.

I have also encountered a host of Arabic and Hebrew names that people think of as “ghetto” but are not. These names are full of history, meaning and beauty. But, our culture has placed a judgment  upon them. made them second class, taboo even.

What do you do? simply being aware of the power of a name is the first place to start.

I am overwhelmed. Drowning in the autism, ADHD, giftedness, exuberance, love, joy laundry, dishes, sleeplessness. Dinner. It’s all on this lady’s rather broad shoulders. And buddy it’s a big heavy load. I am however lucky I have help a mom who retired and moved in to care for her grand babies so no more daycare is needed. Who cooks meals when i am not here. Who loves them as much as I do.
Never the less, I am overwhelmed. sigh.

Insanity

%ow so much on my mind, lets stick with I am being driven insane. Slowly but surely I am being driven bat-shit crazy. People I am really loosing a grip here. I have to  interact with someone so stupid I wonder daily why their autonomic nervous system doesn’t shut down. Seriously evolution how could you let this happen??!!?!?!?! I have decided to simply write down some of the stupid and present it to all. Someone convince me it is not just me. Please!!!!!!

Anyone who has met me knows stupid is not something that sits easily with me. That is because true stupidity is absolutely willful. We live in the freakin’ information age. Anything you want to know is just a Google search away. No home internet? Go to the local library. Er My Gosh!! What shocking revelations!! In order to remain stupid one my fight for this. disavowing all research and written media. Fighting valiantly against new knowledge or wisdom entering their life.

Now Willful stupidity is not to be in anyway confused with ignorance. Ignorance is simply a lack of knowledge and can be educated away. Most people have many subjects they are ignorant about either due to a lack of interest or lack of exposure. Most people are ignorant of the intricacies of neurosurgery, but most of us could with hard work, study, and acceptance in to a medical school and following internships learn. That is ignorance. Stupidity is refusing to understand that we humans use more than 10% (most) of our brain every day. People who still utter this little gem are willfully stupid. Just think about it for a minute. When was the last time a neurosurgeon said “Thank God She was shot in the 90% of her brain she wasn’t using!”

And that is not to say we don’t all have stupid moments. I’ve had some real zingers haven’t you?

Yet there are moments we encounter such needy stupidity one much wonder is God personally testing you? Is this a cosmic joke n the universe? Does evolution apply to everyone but this shockingly stupid individual? Am I becoming unhinged, unbalanced and imagining this crap because surely no one can survive this level of idiocy?

We received an email clearly stating that no prior year insurance elections would roll over. You must re-enroll. If you do not re-enroll you will be uninsured.

then after reading this email I was asked, “But don’t our insurance just roll over?”

the f@*#$ing email clearly said no election would roll over. Why are you speaking. Why are you still breathing?

On small talk and movies

“Hey you now that guy that plays Thor’s unadopted ( is that even a word?) magic brother?” asks Mororn.

“Uh yes” me

“I’m the same age as him!” said with a vacuous grin that was somehow full of excitement

“And the guy who plays superman?” moron says again

” You mean Henry Cavill?” I ask

” No it’s some British guy, ” (Wtf does this mean? Does this negate Henry Cavill as being a British name?)”I’m the same age as him too” again with the vacuous grin.

Everyone  we work with is from mid twenty’s to mid thirties. the same age as the actors in these films. Duh you are going to share birth years with a few other people in the world. Er My Gosh. more brilliance tomorrow

Hair care

I should probably mention  my hair is natural. By that I mean unrelaxed, un dyed basically no permanant chemical alterations. I do flat iron my hair no more the twice a month and it usually last for 1-2 weeks when i do flat iron it.
For my daughter’s hair i recetly got back into researching natural hair care, new products, old product, theories on hair care etc. We are back to our staple oil/moisturizer and sealant Raw Shea butter. I bought it in a 5 lb tin from Soul Shea. This makes the basis for almost every hair or skin care concoction I make. I have an excellent deep conditioner the just makes my hair so so soft.

recipe

1 eggs

3 tbs melted shea butter

2 tbs extra virgin oilve oil

2 tbs coconut oil.

mix well and allow mixture to cool. It will be a little liquidy. After washing our hair we soak, completely super saturate the hair with this mixture. Put on a processing cap and sit under a hair dryer on low for 15 min. Make sure you have a towel around your neck as it will melt.  To avoid heat altogether wrap a towel around your processing cap and wear for 45 mi  to an hour.

Rinse out with warm water. Then Wash your hair with a sulfate free shampoo again.  Condition, leave in condition, then proceed with styling as normal. My hair and my daughters hair are soo00000 soft and easy to manage now.

Currently my Fave Sulfate free shampoo is Shea Moisture Moisture Retention Shampoo. Best conditioner Shea Moisture Restorative Conditioner.  I Love the pink line which is for curly hair bbut due to the extreme dyrness my daughter and I faced we are fosucing on moisturizing, sealing and protectiong for the next few weeks the I will go back to the curly hair shampoo and conditioner. But from the pink line I have become quite the fan of the curling smothie, and curling souffle combo with the Hold and shine spray. The hold and shine spray is not a stand alone spritx or curl definer it works best if you have used the smothie and souffle to define your curls and the next day need a spritz to refresh your hair. The name on that one is a little deceptive but the ingredients will tell you before you buy it that it has no holding power.

But I still want t make most of our hair and body products really uder the assumption that if you can’t eat it it sholdnt do on your hair and skin. I will always keep exceptions to the hair protecants I use when straightening my hair. I really wan to make sure It doe not get heat damaged. But when wearing a natural, or twist out or any of the many styles that do not require heat, the end goal is to make most at home.

On that note I am in the process of making a curl souffle tye product, I’ll let you know how it goes.

Salvaging a BIG mistake

Here I was being all supermom (da-da-da-da!!!) and making pancake muffins for my daughter to have as breakfast on her all day field trip. (6am-7:30pm) When making pancake muffins I usually  put sausage in them by fully cooking the sausage patties, cutting them into fourths, then putting 2 tiny sausage pieces into each muffin tin full of batter. I was thinking i am fabulous. Got the pancake muffins baking, w/ apple slices, and almond milk she will have a rock star breakfast. Go family!!!

Then I realized I put NO sugar, not one single drop, into the pancake batter. NOOOOOOOOOOO!

How can I salvage them? I can’s send her with syrup, they are eating on the bus. I don’t want to inject  them with syrup or some such. What is a forgetful mom to do? Treat them like doughnuts. Put about 1 cup of powdered sugar in a gallon sized ziplock ( or other plastic) baggie. Drop your finished pancake  muffins in the baggie. Shake vigorously ensuring each muffin is covered well. Ta-Da! You too have just Saved Breakfast.

Curious what pancake muffins are? Just what they sound like. Make up some pancake batter and bake it in a Muffin( Cupcake) Pan

 

Preheat your oven to 350

Grease and flour 2 muffin tins ( cupcake pans) doubles this pancake recipe makes 18-19 muffins

or place cupcake papers in your muffin tin and spray with non-stick cooking spray so the liners do not stick to the muffins. I personally prefer just greasing the pan.

 

This recipe calls for a doubled batch of my pancake batter. The recipe for a single batch can be found here

Doubled is as follows:

Ingredients
2 c gluten-free all-purpose flour
4 TBS sugar
1 tsp salt
2 TBS baking powder
2 TBS cinnamon ( optional)
2c non dairy milk
4 TBS oil
4 large eggs.
Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl whisk together wet ingredients. Once well mixed, pour wet into dry ingredients and whisk together.

Place 3 tablespoons of batter in each well. Get Away from the measuring spoons. I mean tablespoons from your cutlery set.

At this point once all the muffin wells are full add sausage, fruit or anything you want to your muffins, I push the meat all the way down so you can’t see the sausage but like to leave blueberries near the top.

Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350.

Allow to cool in the pans for 5 min then place on a cooling rack to finnish cooling.

These freeze very well and can be microwaved

OMG I’m in love!!!

                             perfect english muffins

 

I just made these english muffins courtesy of Karina at the gluten-free goddess and  may have felt the earth move.

I have been trying various gluten-free english muffin recipes but none were quite right. I didn’t make my own recipe because……. Well, okay here comes the confession. I never cooked with yeast before going gluten-free. I tried repeatedly and my wheaten flour never ended up soft and delicious. After many, many hockey pucks and even more wheat based paper weights; I gave up. ( Many years later the realization that the dough had consistently been overworked dawned. Hindsight, right?)

And that brings me back to the english muffins by Karina. They are fabulous. They are better than any wheat based english muffin i have ever tried. So there you have it I am in love.  Mine turned out a bit softer that i expect from an english muffin. A drop biscuit is the closest comparison. To make it chewier simply replace 1/4 c of the sorghum flour with gluten-free cornmeal.  So use the recipe,  go forth and enjoy.

Tonight we are trying Nicole Hunn’s ,from Gluten Free on a Shoestring, yeast free english muffin recipe. I have good luck with many of her recipe’s in the past and one or two are my standards.

ANd I wanted to share one or two more blogs that have great recipes for those living without _____.

http://angelaskitchen.com/

http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com

and lastly

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/

Ree’s recipes are not allergen free but most are very easy to adapt and adapt well. use a good gluten-free flour blend, a nice dairy free milk (but not one that is non-fat) and egg replacer work wonders.

ADDENDUM!!!

There are no english muffin rings owned by anyone on this family. So how you may wonder, how did I make them with such a wet dough? So began my search for english muffin rings. Everywhere, there were mention of just using tuna cans take off the top and bottom and there you go cheap-o rings. Just one problem. The invention of the stackable can.

alas a curved unstacable, un can openable bottom

With a rounded bottom like that the can will no fit any can opener in this house. That did it for Tuna can muffin rings but the I heard about foil rings but also heard a lot of bad reviews by blogger ladies that i really trust. So foil was scrapped too. Then I saw a photo of one of the bad foil rings and realized why it behaved so poorly, they were much to thin.

This is how I made the muffin rings currently being used. You will need:

foil sheets

reynolds wrappers made this really easy but any foil will do

Small paper clips

IMAG0616

a basic 12 in ruler made from wood or plastic silicone won’t work very well for this

your basic 12 in ruler wooden or plastic doesn't matter but for these purposes i don't reccomend silicone

and a tuna can

and the tuna fish can

Step one lay your foil sheet flat on your table with a landscape orientation. You know sideways. Then line your ruler up with the bottom edge of the foil with an inch of ruler hanging off the edge like so. Don’t worry the ruler isn’t long enough to go all the way across the foil. there will be 1-2 inches on the other side with no ruler on it.

lay your ruler on the foil sheet leaving an inch or so hanging off

Now you are going to fold/roll the ruler up in the foil.

then fold and smoothe the other side

and smooth the other end of the foil with no ruler after each turn/fold.

fold and smooth again

until the ruler is completely wrapped in foil.

until you have this

next, you will grab the overhanging inch of ruler, and pull the ruler free from the foil sleeve then smooth the foil sleeve out.

slide the ruler out leaving only the foil

Take the foil sleeve and wrap it around a tuna can. Make sure the seam from the last foil fold is on the outside

shape it around the tune can leaving the seam on the outside

and remove the foil from the can while holding it in the shape and size of the tuna can.

hold the size and remove from tuna can

there will be 2-3 inches of overlapping foil. paper clip the overlaps down using 2 small clips like so

using 2 paper clips clip where the foil overlaps and like so clip the other overlapping side

and TA-DA English muffin ring.

ta-da english muffin ring

 

and what else does an english muffin rind lead to but delicious english muffins??

perfect english muffins

Through my childhood journey with multiple food allergies ( milk,eggs,wheat,and fish), I knew i could eat baked in eggs and milk. By the time i was in highschool I was eating omelets, frenchtoast, scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, cheese baked on pizza etc with no problem. Imagine my surprise when I found most people didn’t know that baked in eggs & milk  are okay for most people with an egg or milk allergy and that the repeated exposure to baked in egg  is thought to help the allergic child “outgrow” the allergy faster. The same is generally true of Milk.

The following is a very cogent link from about .com on baked in eggs and the NIH for Milk.  Sharing about .com’s article means everyone has access to it but if anyone is coping with multiple food allergies I recommend joining FAAN (Food Allergy & Anaphalylaxis Network). They have great article and help for adjusting to the new diet.

http://allergies.about.com/od/eggallergy/f/cookedeggaller.htm

 

http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/foodAllergy/research/Pages/bakedMilk.aspx

Hot chocolate.

This recipe comes  from my mom. She learned it from her older brothers Uncle Herman and Alvin. They learned it from Grandmommy. Uncle Alvin and my Grandmother have passed away and I live hundreds, well, over a thousand miles away from  Uncle Herman. This recipe is, however, a little way my mom remembers her childhood. A tiny piece that keeps our family close at heart.

She has taught my children and myself this simple but yummy way of making hot cocoa. Originally this recipe was done in parts.

1 part sugar to 3 parts milks to 3 parts water to ½ part cocoa and vanilla to taste. While a recipe in parts is uber easy to increase and decease, very few people cook in parts so sharing a recipe in only they format would be difficult for some to implement.

So here the recipe is in cups. I hope this brings as many happy memories to you as it has to our family.

Ingredients

1 c sugar

½ c baking cocoa

3 c non dairy milk. Something thick and full works like cartoned coconut milk

3 c water

1 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan add cocoa powder and sugar. Stir together until cocoa is evenly dispersed in the sugar.

Add water. Stir until well mixed.

Turn saucepan up to medium high heat and add the non dairy milk of your  choosing.

Continue stirring on medium high heat until just before boiling, when steam is rising from the surface.

Add vanilla extract and reduce heat to just keep the cocoa warm.

You can adjust the sugar to taste as well as the vanilla. Stove top hot cocoa has a full flavor and a depth of taste that “just add water hot chocolates” can’t match