Monthly Archives: April 2013

Menu Plan Monday April 29th!

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I can’t believe it’s Monday again and time for another menu plan! For some reason we had a lot of leftovers floating around in the fridge last week so there were several meals we didn’t get to. I also had a gluten reaction so I didn’t eat a whole lot or feel like cooking a whole lot. We did have the spaghetti and it was wonderful! And my lovely husband grilled some salmon on Saturday while I was at work and it was a great relief to not have to worry about the responsibility of cooking when I wasn’t home. Now onto this week’s menu:

The theme for the GF Menu Swap over at Celiac Family this week is Mexican food for Cinco de Mayo. We will be having Tacos. As usual it get a little complicated for me when making meat based meals for my family as to what I should eat myself, but I did find a recipe for Spicy Smoked Portobello Taco filling from a cookbook I got out of the library called, “Quick Fix Vegan.” We usually have corn chips instead of corn tortillas and guacamole is a must for me! Here’s the rest of this week’s plan:

Paleo Cinnamon Rolls with Blackberries

Paleo Cinnamon Rolls with Blackberries

Grilled Portobello Steaks, Sweet Potato, Roasted Broccoli, Grilled Zucchini & Onion

Grilled Portobello Steaks, Sweet Potato, Roasted Broccoli, Grilled Zucchini & Onion


Sunday
Breakfast: Paleo Cinnamon Rolls with blackberries
Lunch: Steaks for the family and grilled Portobello steaks for me with grilled zucchini and onion, sweet potatoes, and roasted broccoli for me.
Dinner: Rhubarb and Strawberry Crisp (it was for dessert, but everyone was stuffed after dinner so we saved it for later!) I was so excited to find this recipe because I didn’t have to make any modifications to it to be able to eat it and it was delightful!

Rest of the week:
Breakfasts:
Low Sugar, Whole Grain Blueberry Orange Muffins
Leftover Paleo Cinnamon rolls
Smoothie–Maybe a mixed berry smoothie
Waffles…I somehow doubt I will change from my favorite recipe: GF Vegan Waffles
Eggs of some sort or other
Pancakes if I have time: Banana “Oat” Pancakes

Lunch/Dinner:
Hippie Loaf with my mom’s special meatloaf sauce, hot potato salad, and a veggie (Bumped from last week)
Chef salad (with croutons, bacon, boiled egg, and all sorts of veggies) (Bumped from last week!)
Tacos/Taco Salad: regular ground beef, and Spicy Smoked Portobello Taco filling for me and Refried Beans
Grilled Vegetable Wraps (with a homemade Flax Seed Wrap from “Wheat Belly”)
BBQ Chop Wrap from “Happy Herbivore”
Pizza, Salad
Smoothie, Popcorn
And of course…LEFTOVERS!

For more menu ideas check out Org Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday! Or if you are interested in some gluten-free menus check out Celiac Family and the Gluten Free Menu Swap!

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Homeschool Memories: A Vacation of A Lifetime!

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When I was 15 my parents took us on a vacation of a lifetime. No, it wasn’t Walt Disney World! In my opinion it was better: Williamsburg, Virginia. Williamsburg was founded as Middle Plantation in 1632 and later served as the capitol of Virginia Colony from 1699 to 1780 and is the home of William & Mary College which was founded in 1693. In the early 20th century Williamsburg was restored through the efforts of Dr. Goodwin and through his influence John D. Rockefller Jr. Together they created what is called Colonial Williamsburg, a 301 acre historic area. Today Williamsburg is part of the Historic Triangle along with Jamestown and Yorktown and attracts millions of tourists each year.

In 1995 we as a family rented a condo (with a hot tub!) and bought yearly passes to Colonial Williamsburg. It was a day’s ride from where we lived in Pennsylvania with a generous stop for lunch. The first afternoon we visited Basset Hall which was the residence of John D. Rockafeller. We also visited the Virginia jail. The jailer lived in a house that had a door that led to the jail. The debtor’s prison didn’t look so bad. It had a fireplace and a bed; however, the other section where the murderers were kept was just awful. One of the cells even had a coffin in it.

Governor's Palace with a view of the maze!

Governor’s Palace with a view of the maze!

Another day we visited the Governor’s Palace. It was impressive. The governor had a lot of weapons on the ceiling and the walls and in the stairwell. The gardens were even more extraordinary! We went through the maze in the garden. I would have been happy to browse quietly through the garden with a book for probably weeks.

Workshop on Duke of Gloucester Street

Workshop on Duke of Gloucester Street

After the gardens, we listened to a wheelwright. One of the neatest things about Williamsburg is the amount of people dressed in period costumes just walking up and down the Duke of Gloucester Street or working in shops just like they would have in the 1600-1800’s. The wheelwright told us how he would have made wheels for wagons and carriages.

After that we headed towards the tavern where we were going to eat lunch. We stopped at the apothocary shop where my dad bought some chocolate. On the way down the Duke of Gloucester Street we stopped at the stocks in front of the courthouse where people were punished for wrongdoing. My mom insisted that all three of us kids get in the stocks for a picture. I was reluctant, but she insisted we would not get lunch until we complied. Being hungry I dutifully posed for the picture.

The tavern was called Chownings and it was authentic–maybe a little too much so. I remember there being lots of flies and thinking that would have been normal for the 1600s, but I wasn’t a fan in the 1990s. I ordered beef stew with a roll, root beer and vanillla ice cream for dessert. The root beer tasted different from what I was used to, but I enjoyed everything else.

Pictures via Wikipedia
Governor’s Palace by Sarah Stierch
Workshop by Fletcher6

To Be Continued…
And Part III

Simple Ketchup

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My assistant!

My assistant!


My relationship with ketchup has been anything but simple since my daughter discovered it and started eating it almost exclusively. First we tried organic ketchup, but when you are going through a bottle a week it tends to overpower the most generous of grocery budgets. Then I discovered Hunt’s. Hunts used to make their most sold bottles with no HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) and I was delighted to buy it. However, suddenly and without warning they changed their mind and only started making their larger bottles without the HFCS. Of course these never go on sale! I was annoyed and set out see what I could do about.

Of course I could make my own–why didn’t I think of that before?! So I found a recipe that said it was simple and made it with crushed tomatoes that you blended after cooking down. Well, I don’t have a food processor and my hand blender left some chunks. The Princess was not a fan and I went back to the drawing board.

I did my research and there are many different ways of making ketchup! You can purchase some seeds, grow your tomatoes, process your tomatoes, and finally they will end up as ketchup. People with toddlers should not try this method at all! Then after reading lots of recipes and finding none of them exactly fit what I wanted my ketchup to taste like or how long I wanted to take to make my ketchup I came up with this simple method that occasionally my daughter will eat. She still prefers the store-bought stuff, but I have hope that she will eventually adjust her taste buds. When she really wants ketchup she eats my homemade ketchup and says it is good.

Ingredients!

Ingredients!

Simple Ketchup:

Stirring ketchup!

Stirring ketchup!

1 15 oz can organic tomato sauce
1 6 oz can organic tomato paste
1/2 cup organic apple cider vinegar
4 T honey
1 T molasses
1/2-1 t freshly ground pepper
1/2 t allspice
1/4 t Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t onion powder
salt to taste

Combine everything in saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until flavors are combined about 15-20 minutes. Let cool and then store in container of choice.

Menu Plan Monday!

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mealplanmonday_v2 Whew! What a busy week–it just flew by and I can’t believe its time for another menu plan already. I had a delightful week in spite of its busyness. One morning I had a lovely kid-free baking visit with a friend. We made Paleo Cinnamon Rolls and Pitas from “Gluten Free On A Shoestring, Quick & Easy”. The cinnamon rolls were super yummy and the pitas were pretty good. Then yesterday we celebrated a birthday and I made a brownie cake with whipped cream and Kahlua! I’ll be sharing my recipe soon! Now onto this week’s menu:

One of the cinnamon rolls and an apple and salmon fillet for breakfast last week!

One of the cinnamon rolls and an apple and salmon fillet for breakfast last week!

The theme for the GF Menu Swap over at Celiac Family this week is peas. Peas are a staple around here. I don’t have any recipes that actually have peas as the star but its one of the only veggies that the Princess will eat so we have them here maybe every other day. I love throwing some frozen peas into a creamy casserole to boost the veggie content! Here’s the rest of this week’s plan:

Sunday
Breakfast: A modified version of Healthy Monkey Bread and some fruit salad
Lunch: An appetizer lunch for the birthday party (everyone but us had to go out to dinner later that evening!) Sweet and sour meatballs with rolls (bought the meatballs, used this sauce), Irresistible Grilled Shrimp with fruit salsa (if you have never tried this you should! It gets RAVE reviews every time I make it!), Potato “skins” (thinly sliced potatoes topped with cheese and bacon), roasted broccoli and carrots. I had the potato skins dairy free and meat free. I used Daiya cheddar “cheese” and “bacon” bits. We had my own spin on this cake for dessert. I couldn’t figure out how to make it nut free and dairy free so I just made it nut free and skipped trying it. I was told that it was quite delightful!
Dinner: No one was hungry for dinner!

Rest of the week:
Breakfasts:
Never made these muffins last week so they’re back: Banana Apple Muffins
Maybe the Paleo Cinnamon rolls again
A smoothie–haven’t decided which one I feel like yet!
Probably these waffles again. They are AMAZING!
Eggs of some sort or other

Lunch/Dinner:
Grilled fish, grilled corn, grilled asparagus
Tomato Avocado Salad This is one of my favorite salads/dinners! Everyone else will be having steak sandwiches.
Hippie Loaf with my mom’s special meatloaf sauce, hot potato salad, and a veggie
Spaghetti, salad
Chef salad (with croutons, bacon, boiled egg, and all sorts of veggies)
Pizza, Salad
Smoothie, Popcorn
And of course…LEFTOVERS!

For more menu ideas check out Org Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday! Or if you are interested in some gluten-free menus check out Celiac Family and the Gluten Free Menu Swap!

Addicted to Shiny Things: The Local Farmer’s Market!

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My latest pile of goodies from the Farmer's Market

My latest pile of goodies from the Farmer’s Market


I have a problem. When I go to the Farmer’s Market and see all the shiny, multi-colored, beautiful produce I go crazy. I immediately want to buy and/or eat all of those lovely looking veggies and fruits and we wouldn’t want to leave out the freshly made triple berry almond butter or the local honey in various flavors. When you walk into the farmer’s market on Saturday morning you are immediately bombarded with a cacophony of visual and audio stimulations that is now a regular part of my Saturday mornings.

My preparation for the Farmer’s market begins the night before. I gather my bags: a large bag to carry all my goodies and various smaller bags to house individual produce that likes to roll away and some extra bags in case my big bag gets so full that I feel like my shoulder is going to fall off! I also gather any recycling I might have: those little green baskets that housed wonderful strawberries or grape tomatoes, an empty egg container, maybe a glass honey jar to turn in for a deposit or some plant containers.

I have my regular stops where I am able to buy organic produce for less that looks and tastes millions better then anything I have found in the supermarket. Some of my weekly “habit” veggies are strawberries, peppers, carrots, mushrooms, potatoes, kale, lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, and various other in season produce that seems to easily jump into my bag. The strawberry season is almost over in Florida (boo!), and the red peppers are so sweet that they almost taste like candy!

The kale is always trying to trick me. It looks so lovely and green and leafy at the stands and I get tricked into thinking that I will have oodles of time that week to do frittatas, kale chips, a nice soup, and millions of other things with my kale; however, the reality is that the silly kale will start to wilt by the time I get it home. And then begins the taunting as it stars at me from the refrigerator EVERY time I open the door. I am always excited when I manage to use it up before its completely worthless and I found that sautéing is a quick effortless way to put an end to the taunting from my fridge.

Every week around Wednesday when most of my fresh produce is gone and I start to think about the next week’s menus I think longingly of my next trip to that wonderful rainbow of vegetable nirvana in just three days. Yes, I am as excited as my young daughter is when she wakes up Saturday morning and says, “Mommy is it Farker Market day? I LOVE going to the Farker Market!”

Guest Post: Orange Jell-O Salad Taste Memories

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Please welcome my mom as she share her memories about one of her favorite special occasion foods: Orange Jell-O Salad!

Orange Jell-O Salad and the Little Church on the Prairie

My mom with her parents on the left and her grandparents on the right

My mom with her parents on the left and her grandparents on the right

I was four years old when my parents moved us out of the only home I had ever known. We moved 1800 miles away from everything and everyone I knew. My dad had gone to a Bible institute and prepared to be a pastor and that was where the church who called him was located.

We had lived in my grandparents’ home in a suburb of Philadelphia. Their front door faced on a street with many homes and neighbors; their back door looked out on a Jewish cemetery and every Sunday Hebrew families dressed in their best dutifully came to visit the graves of their deceased. My life was full of people who knew me, and whom I knew. If I picked a neighbor’s flowers, my grandmother, who cared for me during the day, knew it before my little red trike rolled back into the yard.

Miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles...

Miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles…

Pleasant Heights, Colorado was a small farming community 40 miles from the nearest town. The daily dust storms kept my mother busy. In our yard we had tarantulas and rattlesnakes. Under the house we had a storm cellar in case of tornadoes. But there were some gorgeous sunsets and rainbows.

Rainbow on SE Colorado praire

Rainbow on SE Colorado praire

The only buildings as far as I could see were the parsonage where we lived, the little church on one side of us, and the one-room schoolhouse on the other. Oh, and the two outhouses on the school grounds. They were three-seaters; one for the boys and one for the girls. I remember my mom lamenting that all she could see was miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles.
Pleasant Heights Baptist Church’s congregation couldn’t have exceeded 30 people. Maybe thirty-one after my brother was born. But those farm people took good care of us. One lady had us over to eat one Easter Sunday. I suppose there was ham. But the pièce de résistance was the Rice Salad. There was just something…dare I say it…addictive… about that combination of orange Jell-O, cooked rice, grated carrots and pineapple in a Miracle Whip dressing.
My daughter who can’t eat anything makes it for me regularly on holidays or just for when the family gets together. ‘Cause she’s good like that. Here is the recipe:

Rice Salad
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup finely grated carrots
1 cup cooked rice
1 cup crushed pineapple
1 small box of orange Jell-O
2 cups of hot water
When the above gelatin mixture begins to set, fold in ½ cup of Miracle Whip. Leave in refrigerator until firm.

Menu Plan Monday!

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mealplanmonday_v2 My meals this week were well received all around! Thank goodness! The Bok Choy Brown Rice Salad had to be adjusted for others, but I found it delightful as it was. The shrimp stir fry was wonderful. I keep forgetting how easy it is to make sweet and sour sauce. So onto another week!

My mini pizzas from last week!

My mini pizzas from last week!

The theme for the GF Menu Swap over at  this week is rhubarb. I haven’t actually cooked with rhubarb ever, but I will be experimenting sometime soon as my hubby says he loves rhubarb. I can’t decide if I should do a strawberry rhubarb jam or a crisp! Here’s the rest of this week’s plan:

Sunday
Breakfast: Healthy Banana Breakfast donuts and some eggs
Lunch: My hubby will be spoiling me with lobster, scallops, baked potatoes, salad, and corn fritters!
Dinner: If I am hungry I will have my usual snack dinner with maybe some pickled beets.

Rest of the week:
Breakfasts:
Leftover waffles
This smoothie (minus the pomegranate for budget reasons)
Banana Apple Muffins
Eggs of some sort or other

Lunch/Dinner:
Fish of some sort
Tomato Avocado Salad This is one of my favorite salads/dinners! Everyone else will be having grilled cheese.
Veggie Pot Pie with mashed potatoes instead of biscuits and baked chicken for everyone else.
Hawaiian BBQ Teriyaki Chickpeas
BBQ Chop Wrap (or salad) from the “Happy Herbivore” cookbook
Lasagna Buns with a salad (adapted to be gluten-free/dairy free/meat free for me!) This is an awesome freezer meal too. I will make the full recipe even though we probably will only eat about 1/3 to 1/2 of the servings and freeze the rest.
Pizza, Salad
Smoothie, Popcorn

And of course…LEFTOVERS!

For more menu ideas check out Org Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday! Or if you are interested in some gluten-free menus check out Angela’s Kitchen and the Gluten Free Menu Swap!