Monthly Archives: May 2013

Fun Seasonal Activity: Berry Picking!

Blueberry Picking!

Blueberry Picking!

I remember berry picking when I was younger. Picking strawberries in PA was a hot, sticky, prickly pastime. When my sister suggested that we pick blackberries last year I was rather reluctant. After all it seemed a most difficult way to obtain those desirable berries when I could just buy them in the store for a little more money. And I had an unpredictable two-year-old that I didn’t want to be chasing all over the berry field. However, my sister can be persuasive and so of course we went berry picking.

It was a great day. My young daughter ran and ran without harm coming to her and later took a wonderful nap! We purchased quite a few berries for quite a discounted price compared to what we would have paid in the store and we had a nice time chatting while we picked over the bushes.

This year I made sure that we went berry picking again! First we picked strawberries at a local farm in late January/early February. We easily picked 10 pounds in a half hour! Picking strawberries there was lots of fun since they farm hydroponically and the strawberries are stacked up instead of down on the ground. My daughter had so much fun that she continually asked to go back and pick some more. I had a delightful time freezing some for smoothies, enjoying some strawberry shortcake, and making some strawberry freezer jam.

DSCN3051A few weeks ago we picked blueberries at Abshier Blueberry Farm in Belleview. Again we easily picked quite a few blueberries although I think we spent more like an hour this time. I ended up freezing a lot of the blueberries as I had a house guest and no extra time in the kitchen. We did eat a lot fresh and I enjoyed using up the last of the fresh blueberries in these tasty waffles: Lemon Blueberry Gluten-Free, Vegan Waffles. Those disappeared in no time at my Bible Study brunch!

In the next few weeks we plan on picking blackberries again at Blues Brothers Farm in Anthony, FL. I can hardly wait to taste some fresh blackberries and experiment with some diary-free, gluten-free blackberry treats. Again I will freeze some for smoothies and treats throughout the coming year, but I doubt I will make any jam. It is hard to get rid of those pesky blackberry seeds, but I sure enjoy eating the fruit anyway!

So if you are looking for something to do with your kids this spring/early summer why don’t you check out berry picking in your area? It can be a novel way to break out of the “everything is always the same” rut!


Healthy Breakfast Apple Casserole


Back in the day (before Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free!) I used to love to make breakfast casseroles. There is something very appealing about making breakfast on Saturday night and having it ready to go on Sunday morning without having an extra thing to fuss about (or dishes to do!). Then there’s the leftovers that are super welcome for quick breakfasts for several days in the coming week. Once I stopped eating gluten, dairy, and meat–well it seemed very difficult to figure out how to make a casserole that I could eat! I finally came up with this adaption that turned out delightful. It’s not the most frugal of options, but as a special and occasional dish it works well.

Healthy Breakfast Apple Casserole


Adapted from The Kichen

1 loaf of gluten free bread (can be either store bought or homemade–if homemade be sure and slice very thin or cut the crusts off the bread)
8 eggs
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup coconut sugar
3 teaspoonds vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or more to taste
About 3 apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced (My favorite type is macintosh, but a mixture of a sweet apple like yellow delicous and a sour like granny smith work well.)

For the Glaze:
1/2 tub dairy free cream cheese (about 4 ounces)
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Some more freshly grated nutmeg (optional)

Grease a 9×13 pan. Layer as many bread slices as will fit on a single layer on the bottom of the casserole. Layer the thinly sliced apples on top, and then put the remaining slices of bread on top of that. It should look like an apple sandwich that would be hard to pick up and eat!

In a medium bowl lightly beat the eggs. Add the milk, sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and nutmeg and beat until combined. Pour the mixture over the bread in the casserole dish. Cover the dish and refridgerate overnight.

In the morning remove the casserole dish and cover with foil if that’s not what you used last night. Turn the oven onto 350 degrees F and place the casserole on the middle shelf. Cook for 45 minutes covered. When the time is up remove the cover and cook for another 15 minutes. Now is the time to make the glaze. Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and stir over a medium low heat until melted and combied. You can use a microwave if desired, but be sure and only do it in 30 second increments. When the time is up on the cassrole check for doneness: a knife inserted in the center should come out clean. Once done remove from oven and spread the glaze over the top. Let it sit for about 10 minutes to cool before serving. It will be hot!

This casserole isn’t overly sweet like most breakfast casseroles. If you have a real sweet tooth you might want to make some extra glaze for on the side or serve maple syrup on the side.

Menu Plan Monday May 27!


Does anyone else have a really empty fridge at the end of the month? That was what it was like for us here at the end of last week. Summer seems to have finally hit Florida and with warmer temps I am looking for lighter meals to prepare. Salads seems to be a logical choice, so we have several different types planned this week.
Now onto this week’s menu:

The theme for the GF Menu Swap over at Celiac Family this week is chicken. We don’t really have anything planned with chicken; however, our one salad with strawberries, melon, and spinach needs a side dish. We might have a chicken breast or tuna or maybe both.

We were hit by the stomach flu so our menu throughout the day consisted of toast, applesauce, and other bland things!

We’re hoping to have a breakfast casserole (recipe coming this week!)
For lunch we’re planning Irresistible Grilled Shrimp, simple Macaroni salad (with gluten free pasta), and green beans.
We’ll have a light snack-type supper. This is supposing that everyone’s tummy’s are cooperating!

Rest of the week:
Leftover breakfast casserole
Smoothie, toast
Egg Salad
Leftover pancakes/breakfast casserole

Zucchini Frittata
Bacon, Broccoli, & Tomato salad with gluten free pasta and homemade ranch dressing and for me “Bacon” bits from the “Happy Herbivore” cookbook
Possible Quinoa/Turkey/Beef burgers with corn on the cob & baked beans
Fish, rice pilaf with peas and corn
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!

Avocado Salad


One of my favorite side dishes or even just a meal is Avocado Salad. It’s a recipe that my mom made when I was growing up and amazingly I can still eat everything in it. During the great Detox of 2013 I ate a modified version of it, but I still fall back on my old favorite recipe copied from my mom’s memory.

I don’t know about you, but I always struggle for a side dish with tacos. I know tacos usually have pretty much everything wrapped up in the tortilla, but in my mind I should have an extra side or something. This is usually the recipe I use to fill that need.

Avocado Salad!

Avocado Salad!

Avocado Tomato Salad

1 Avocado
1 Tomato
1 lemon, juiced
1 t salt
1 T of olive oil (or more to taste)
1 T chopped onion, or 1 scallion (or more to taste)

Chop the onion and add to a medium bowl.
Cut open the avocado, remove the seed and remove the fruit. Chop into bite sized pieces and put into the bowl.
Cut open the tomato and cut into similar sized pieces and put into the bowl with the avocado & onion.
Squeeze the lemon over the bowl (if you don’t mind fishing seeds out!) or pour the lemon juice over the avocado and tomato.
Sprinkle the salt over everything. Add the oil. Mix and stir until combined.
Makes 4 side servings or 1 meal sized salad.
Can add other veggies such as peppers if desired.

Menu Plan Monday May 13th!


Last week just flew by! I stuck pretty closely to my menu plan in spite of the crazy schedule. We did miss a couple of meals though. It wasn’t anything we can’t reuse this week!
Now onto this week’s menu:

The theme for the GF Menu Swap over at Angela’s Kitchen this week is strawberries. Strawberries are one of my favorite fruits! Florida strawberry season is long over, but we seem to have a plethora of California strawberries right now. This strawberry shortcake seems appealing for breakfast one day this week, and I have been wanting to try this Strawberry Chia Seed Jam.

First breakfast with my Mother's Day Flowers!

First breakfast with my Mother’s Day Flowers!

Breakfast: Paleo Cinnamon Buns with strawberries before church. Baked eggs with toast after church!
Lunch: I was invited out to a Mother’s Day Lunch and my quest was to make a fancy cake. I chose to modify this recipe for the cake, use coconut whipped cream for the topping, and use the fruit toppings from this recipe to make it look fancy.
For the main course I had Portobello mushroom steaks, potatoes, green beans, corn, and tossed salad.
Dinner: Still pretty full from the large dinner, just some leftover lunch I couldn’t finish at lunch.

Rest of the week:
Strawberry shortcake
Waffles…still using my favorite recipe: GF Vegan Waffles
Roasted Red Pepper and Kale Frittata
Leftover Paleo Cinnamon Rolls
Antioxidant Smoothie
Either these leftover Blueberry Muffins or pancakes from “Gluten Free On a Shoe String Quick & Easy!”

Bok Choy Brown Rice Salad (mine will be modified without the chicken!)
Fried Rice–haven’t decided if we will have it with chicken or shrimp
Grilled veggie wrap with a flax-seed wrap (adapted from “Wheat Belly” to be made in the oven/stove top)
Maple Lentil Sweet Potato Bake
Fish (our favorite fish is on the grill right now topped with a little lemon pepper!), sweet potatoes, roasted beets, brussels sprouts
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!

Homeschool Memories: Williamsburg Part III


On one of our last days we visited the other parts of the Historic Triangle: Jamestown and Yorktown. Jamestown was first.

First stop was the Powhatan village. They lived in big round white houses that were thatched. The beds and houses looked remarkably comfortable. The Powhatans were planters and their villages were small with 50 to 1000 people at the most. They tended large gardens. Girls didn’t get their first set of clothing until they were about 11 years old.

Susan Constant

Susan Constant

Next stop was the ships whose names were The Discovery, Godspeed, and the Susan-Constant. Susan Constant was the largest and we were allowed to board and view the accommodations. The voyage to get to Jamestown took about 5 months and after looking at the beds and cabins I decided I would never travel this way.

Next stop was the fort. There were quite a few cabins in the fort along with two storage buildings and a church. You were required to attend church twice a day. If you happened to miss as much as three weeks the punishment was severe: death. We enjoyed watching the chickens take dust baths, especially a handsome one named Bob.

After lunch we took the Colonial Parkway over to Yorktown. It was a delightful drive, but rather tortuous for those of us who were thirsty as there were no convenience stores along this route! In Yorktown we saw more details leading up to the revolution, what a camp would have looked like on a smaller scale, a doctor’s instruments (including a saw!), what farming was like after the revolution, how to make soap, and the Yorktown Victory Monument. Then it was back to Williamsburg to finish off our day by viewing the Fife and Drum Core march down the street. The music was so thrilling we were compelled to follow down the street. One of my favorite parts of the whole week!


The next day we visited the Raleigh Tavern. I was surprised to learn what staying in a tavern actually meant back then. We viewed the public room first. It cost about a day’s wages just for a meal and you took what you got. Good taverns were required to provide four things: food, beer or spirits, beds, and stabling for horses. Private rooms were pricier, but there were only two to a bed and you would meet who you slept with. Common rooms were cheaper and anyone could sleep in there!

We also visited the Getty House. Getty was a silversmith. He wasn’t rich, but he was comfortably off. He had five children, three girls and two boys. His bother’s had a foundry in the back and he had swings and see-saws in his yard. Next was the garden tour and Williamsburg’s gardens are most amazing although they require a lot of walking to see them all! We finished up our visit with a trip to the Capitol and of course a visit to the gift shops.

After that we worked our way back home by way of Washington, D.C. It was a wonderful vacation where I learned so much I would have never gotten from a textbook and enjoyed it. Years later I still dream about being able to go back someday to travel back in time to Colonial Williamsburg!

Susan Constant picture via: By Warfieldian (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
Did you miss Part I or Part II?

Leftover Platter


Leftover bowlI know it happens to a lot of people who are gluten-free: You are suddenly hungry and you look in the fridge and it seems like there is no food. If you happen to be dairy free also it’s not like you can just grab some cheese and fruit and call it a day. This has happened to me more than once, but I have found a quick solution to my dilemma. A leftover platter! I usually have some leftover rice either in the fridge or already cooked in the freezer. There are usually some peppers in my fridge, onions in my pantry, and mushrooms either canned or fresh. In 15-20 minutes I am able to have a yummy hot meal that is satisfying.

Leftover Platter

1 pepper
1 onion
1 can or as many mushrooms as you can find in your vegetable drawer
olive oil

Chop the onion and the pepper while the olive oil is heating in the pan. While the pepper and onion are sautéing start chopping the mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, and your favorite herbs. If you desire you can add some fresh spinach! Cook until they are done and spinach is wilted. While those are cooking warm up the rice in another pan.

When the rice is warm and the veggies are cooked, put the rice in a bowl and top with the veggies. Then choose your toppings depending on your tastes and pantry. These are some of my favorites:
–Olives: black and.or gree
–canned herring or sardines or that one tiny bit of leftover fish!
–fried egg
–chopped tomato

Add these seasonings as desired:
–nutritional yeast
–italian seasoning

When all of this is in your bowl sit down and enjoy your delightful treat! All this from a fridge that was “empty!”