A Birthday Treat!

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My mom’s birthday is in February and the time we picked to celebrate this time was earlier in the month. Her favorite dessert is lemon meringue pie. Usually we manage to make some sort of something resembling the pie for her birthday treat, but some years it just doesn’t work out.

Pie crust has never been my friend and I haven’t even attempted a gluten-free pie crust in the past almost 4 years. This year the plan was to make some sort of almond crust but that fell through at the last-minute due to time constraints.

I remembered an impulse purchase at Wal-mart that had sat in my cabinet for a while. Dark Chocolate Dessert Cups that didn’t have milk listed on the ingredients. I took those, made my mom’s favorite lemon curd and served the curd in the cups topped with some powdered sugar. Since they were small and I had egg whites leftover from making the curd I also made some Forgotten Kisses to go with them.

The result was a light dessert that everyone enjoyed. There were a few leftovers because some crazy people didn’t care for the lemon curd (more for me I always say!) and it tasted even better leftover. Even my husband who dislikes almost everything except ice cream ate some and went back for seconds!

Happy Birthday Mom! Hope you have a splendid and wonderful celebration!

New Gluten Free Dairy Free Products

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I’m not a huge fan of processed products. If I had the time, I would probably make everything from scratch! However, since I work a couple of jobs plus ferry the Princess around I have to be reasonable and know my limitations. When I do use processed products I can’t always recommend them, but recently I found two products that made the cut.

Dairy Free/Gluten Free Cheese & Yogurt

When I stared using the meal plan in January a couple of recipes called for dairy-free yogurt. I once tried some almond milk yogurt and it was so bad that I couldn’t even convince myself that I would get used to the taste (which is what I usually try to do with dairy-free/gluten-free foods that don’t taste the best). I decided to look around the dairy case at our local natural foods store and see what I could find just in case. I found some Greek Plain Coconut Milk yogurt that actually didn’t have carrageenan in it. I brought it home and tried it and it was good (especially in recipes). The color is a tiny bit gray, but I wasn’t able to tell the difference in taste from traditional yogurt! I was so surprised and pleased that I’ve bought it several times since. The price is crazy, but I see it as an occasional treat. The So Delicious brand frequently has coupons available, so I’m able to use those.

Then the other night I was browsing the cheese area of the same store. This is always a dangerous pastime, as I’ve always been a cheese lover and I usually end up disappointed. This time I found some aged cashew cheese. Again, it was fairly expensive, but I thought I would at least try it once. I was impressed beyond belief! It actually tasted like real cheese–something like a goat or feta tangy cheese. It was amazing with bread and soup and then again in the morning with an english muffin with egg for breakfast. I’ve tried making cashew cheese myself, but it never turned out hard and tasty like this one!

I’m excited to occasionally add these two new products to my menu!

Menu Plan Monday, February 16!

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It’s been rather brisk around here and I was super cold when I was planning menus as you can see from the excessive amount of soup we’ll be eating this week!

The theme for the Gluten Free Menu Swap over at Celiac Family is kiwi fruit! I love to make a fruit salad with strawberries and kiwis with a tiny bit of dairy free coconut vanilla yogurt drizzled over the top. YUM!

Saturday Baking

It’s a busy week again, so I did a bunch of baking on Saturday so we would have bread for the week. I made two loaves of Vegan Rustic French Bread, a batch of English Muffins, and a batch of Grain Free Banana Bread (I didn’t have any pumpkin thawed). The Princess is really enjoying the Vegan French Bread–I can even get her to eat 3 small slices for breakfast!

Saturday
Breakfast:
Cereal with strawberries and almond milk
Lunch:
Valentine’s Meal! We decided to share with the Princess instead of going out to eat.
Steaks with bacon wrapped around them, lobster, steak potatoes, corn on the cob, onions and mushrooms
Dinner:
Not hungry! Just a couple of veggies and humus and some fresh bread
Sunday
Breakfast:
Cranberry and pecan Breakfast bun, coffee, 1/2 veggie omelet
Lunch:
BBQ Bean Stew, corn bread
Dinner:
snack/smoothie dinner

Rest of the week:
Baked potato with salsa
Sweet Potato with almond butter and applesauce
Smoothies
Rice Pudding
Vegan English Muffins
Eggs

Dinner:
Veggie soup (from freezer)
Potato soup
Tomato Soup
Tuna Apple Salad
Curried Chickpea Wrap
Veggie (Lunchmeat for others) sandwiches
Pizza, salad
Leftovers!

For more menu ideas check out Org Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday! Or for gluten-free menus check out Celiac Family and the Gluten Free Menu Swap!

Happy Heart Day!

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valentines 2014

Here’s a cute picture of the Valentine’s the Princess made for her friends and classmates. We got the idea from this website.

I know they look kind of fancy pants, but they seriously aren’t complicated. After last year and making 20 plus heart-shaped melted crayons with a mold that only made 6 at a time and peeling each individual crayon…this seemed like a walk in the park! The Princess is always happy with a project and since it involved a lot of gluing she did most of it herself. We did the cutting out as she still isn’t allowed scissors at home due to cutting her hair at the beginning of the school year.

So I hope you have a Happy Heart Day, and don’t forget what I mentioned last year around Valentine’s Day!

A Clever Way to Clean

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When we first moved into our house the appliances all had issues. The fridge was the smallest I had ever encountered, the stove only heated up some spots hot some of the time, and the dishwasher was on its last legs. The fridge was the first thing to get replaced, but second was the stove.

I thought I would like a flat top stove because they looked so shiny in the store. Surely that would be easier to keep clean!

Alas, it wasn’t … and I’ve tried various things to clean it and I just ran out of elbow grease.

Then I saw an idea, and I figured…what do I have to lose?

I sprinkled baking soda on my stove top, got a slightly damp rag and laid it on top of the baking soda for a couple of minutes. I then used some slight scrubbing motions and then wiped up all the baking soda. My stove top looked like this: 10835260_10152676224208450_8295485193730668253_o

Woohoo! No elbow grease involved!

Menu Plan Monday, February 9!

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clementine Feb 9
It was a good week, but a blur! I had to work extra, but it was wonderful to once again have all the meals cooked Monday afternoon for the week.

The theme for the Gluten Free Menu Swap over at Celiac Family is clementine’s! We love clementines just to eat. My siblings and I used to have challenges at lunch time to see who could peel their clementine skin off in one piece. I don’t have any recipes in mind to cook with them, but we did have fruit salad for lunch on Sunday and part of it was some blood oranges. It was super yummy! I also don’t have any special plans for Valentine’s Day. I guess I’ll be seeing what others are planning so I can get on the ball! I did consider making some fudge since it never got made in the Great Sickness around Christmas or some peppermint patties, but before I decide I will see how this week turns out. We’re operating on one car for probably half the week as one is in the shop and I don’t want to overdo it!

Best breakfast ever

We used up most of our grocery budget already for the month, so we’re using what we have on hand and in the freezer. Simple, quick, budget friendly meals are the order of the day!

Saturday
Breakfast:
egg on English muffin
Lunch:
Curried Veggies over grits
Dinner:
A large side salad with honey and balsamic vinegar dressing and freezer dairy free, soy free, gluten-free mac & cheese
Sunday
Breakfast:
cereal with strawberries and almond milk,
Hot Cocoa with coconut whipped cream, English muffin with orange marmalade
Lunch:
Happy Birthday Mom Lunch!!
Taco Breakfast Casserole
Potatoes
Fruit salad (made by my sister with a honey and balsamic vinegar dressing)
Biscuits
Dessert (I will do a separate post on the dessert later in the week!)
Dinner:
snack/smoothie dinner

Rest of the week:
roasted pear (never had time for this last week!)
Leftover Taco Casserole
Smoothies
Vegan English Muffins
Eggs

Dinner:
Spaghetti & meatballs (I will probably make zucchini noodles and use some leftover sweet potato black bean burgers instead of meatballs for mine)
Sweet potatoes & apples casserole
Fried rice with extra veggies
Chipole Copycat Beans and Rice
Pizza, salad
Leftovers!

For more menu ideas check out Org Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday! Or for gluten-free menus check out Celiac Family Gluten Free Menu Swap!

I Miss My Grandma

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Last visit with Grandma

Last visit with Grandma


My Grandma was an amazing person. She was a short (under 5 feet tall) bundle of energy. She grew up on a farm with lots of siblings. When she and my grandfather got married they bought a house in the suburbs of Philadelphia and lived there for the rest of their lives.

Grandma was always happy to see you and she loved to talk. She never talked down to me and would always include me in whatever she was doing (laundry, errands, etc.) which made me feel grown up. Grandma grew up in the Great Depression and was a saver. She had closets of clothes, and things stored under beds. She hung her laundry out to dry and made her own freezer jams. I like to think that some of her frugal habits rubbed off on me! Grandma was an awesome letter writer and I could always count on a lengthy note in my birthday card every year.

I have lots of memories of time spent at their house, but some of my favorites were the big dinners, the game playing after the meal, and being compared to my grandmother.

Every time we got together there would be a big dinner. It amazes me looking back how she would always use her good dishes and everyone sat down together. The table was always loaded down with food and somehow she managed to cook it all in a kitchen that was the size of small hallway!

My dad’s side of the family is competitive. Any kind of board game or card game was played after the table was cleared and the dishes were done –all by hand! The M & M’s would come out and the teasing and game playing would go on for hours.

As we grew we would always compare our increasing height to Grandma. You felt like you had reached a milestone when you were taller than her! My mom would always comment how I looked like Grandma. My Grandfather had a picture of her on his dresser from when she graduated from high school and I was honored to be compared to someone who looked so beautiful and well put together.

I saw Grandma one last time in 2010. She was still the same Grandma and she recognized me, but she was the quietest I had ever seen her. The dementia was starting to make her forget her words and made it hard for her to put sentences together. I think she thought the Princess was a cute bundle of energy. I knew it would be the last time I would see her, and I was (and am) thankful for all the wonderful memories I had with her.