Monthly Archives: May 2014

Family Favorite Cornbread

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I had some issues with cornbread after I went gluten-free. I wanted to make the kind that just used cornmeal because it was a cheaper way to go, but it only ever came out okay. My family would almost refuse to eat it even just out of the oven, so after a few tries I decided to try revamping my favorite cornbread recipe my mom always used. This recipe is almost more like a cake then a bread and there’s nothing better on a rainy day (or any day really) then some chili and cornbread!

yum yum!

yum yum!

Cornbread

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup gluten-free flour blend (I used Better Batter)
3/4 t salt
1/4 cup sugar (I’ve used turbinado and coconut sugar with good results)
2 t baking powder
1/4 cup oil
1 cup milk (Dairy free is fine, but I find kefir to add a wonderful zing to the finished product.)
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 400 degree F. In a mixing bowl combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the eggs, kefir/milk, and oil. Beat until just moistened. Spoon into a greased 8 inch square baking pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until brown around the edges.

As with all gluten-free leftovers be sure and freeze promptly and then reheat for the best results unless eating the next day.

Menu Plan Monday, May 19th!

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We stayed fairly true to our menu plan last week, except I decided I wanted to try to make lasagna! I made the cashew ricotta, bought the mushrooms, and got the spaghetti sauce out of the freezer and layered everything together! It was better than I expected and with a bit of practice and some tweaks will be super-duper. The last time I made lasagna it was less than stellar, so I’m delighted to add another favorite food to my once in a while stash.

The theme for the Gluten Free Menu Swap over at Celiac Family is honey! Honey is super yummy and is one of the sweeteners I keep stocked up on since I no longer buy white sugar. It is very sweet, but is a delightful addition to some baked goods. I think my favorite discovery this year is that it is helpful when you are sick. Sore throats, colds, and coughs have all been treated with a spoonful of sugar or mixed with something else to create a health restoring drink. Maybe Mary Poppins was on the right track, but instead of helping the medicine go down honey can be the medicine!

I keep getting so hungry that I am almost done eating before I realize I haven’t taken a picture of food. Here’s a picture of the Princess after she enjoyed the brownie bar for dinner yesterday. (Notice the coconut whipped cream in the hair after licking the plate!)

The Princess and the Brownie Bar

The Princess and the Brownie Bar

We had a busy weekend, and I know I am already looking forward to a three-day weekend at the end of this week. Here’s our simple, easy menu plans!

Sunday
Breakfast:
Protien bar, egg, coffee
Lunch: Chili, cornbread (recipe coming this week!), coleslaw, brownie bar
Dinner: Popcorn and smoothie

Rest of the week:
Breakfast Choices:
5 Ingredient Detox Smoothie
Eggs
Lighter Gluten Free Chocolate Muffins
Mini Cinnamon Rolls (Something like that link anyway–I used the recipe from her book without pumpkin and I will be attempting to make them smaller so I can bring them to the school for the Princess’ summer birthday celebration.)
Paleo Chocolate Breakfast Cookies

Dinner:
Breakfast for dinner: Oven baked pancake with more blueberries! and sausage for the meat eaters
Tuna Apple Salad (The Princess made this for dinner for the first time last week! It was yummy!)
Fruited Spinach Melon Salad (tuna or other fish added for protein)
broccoli quesadillas
Pizza, salad
Random special smoothie (with blueberries), popcorn
pan cooked fish, pan roasted potatoes, roasted broccoli
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!

Routines

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I’ve always enjoyed a good routine, even while I liked deviating from it. When I first got married I was super into FlyLady until it got super annoying. All those reminders telling me what I ought to do was more than I could handle. The concept behind it wasn’t that bad, but I wanted to decide to do it on my own. This was all before the Princess’ arrival.

Routines just laughed at me after the Princess’ arrival. I tried multiple times to establish some sort of routine and it would work for maybe a week or so and then something would change. I gave it up after a while.

This year I noticed that things weren’t changing as rapidly anymore, so I decided to give my old morning routine a try. I always write my routines down because as much as I go over them in my head, I tend to forget a step if I try to do it from memory. Here’s a picture of the routine I came up with (using pretty markers and things that make me smile always helps with the fact that I’m doing something that isn’t particularly thrilling):

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— Get up
This particularly un-thrilling activity always seems to be at the beginning of everything.
— Make coffee and do various chores while it brews.
It only takes about 5 minutes to brew the coffee, but in that 5 minutes I can start a load of laundry, fix some juice and applesauce for the Princess, and empty out the dish drainer to help breakfast and the rest of the morning go smoothly.
— Coffee/journal/devotional
My fun and important beginning to my day. I am finally able to tolerate coffee again and I enjoy it in the quiet of the morning while writing in my journal and doing devotions.
— Work on blogging/exercise
I rotate the days that I blog and try to get some exercise in. I enjoy blogging and I don’t enjoy exercise much, but I am happier when I get both done. In the quiet before the Princess wakes up is the best time for both of these.
— Dressed/Shower/Make-up
It’s sad that I have to write these down to make sure they get done, but I do. I always feel better if I do my make-up I try to make it part of my routine.
–Cook/eat breakfast, do dishes, get ready to head out the door.
These probably don’t need any explanation!

So there it is…a simple list that I try to follow most mornings. Having it written down means I don’t have to think about it, which means it actually gets done early in the morning before I start thinking!

What about you? Are there some things that you HAVE to do in the morning to wake up, or are you the type to just roll out of bed, into the car, and off to work?

Homeschool Memories: The Art of Fine Dining

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During our high school years when we were homeschooled we joined a group where we engaged in creative writing and some acting. I’ve talked about the acting here, but I thought I would share some of the writing I did.

Since my food allergies/intolerances got out of control we have rarely eaten out. Now, since I’ve gotten a bit better and with an additional job we have a little more leeway in the budget and I’ve gotten a bit more brave about venturing to a restaurant. Recent experiences reminded me of the following piece.

The Art of Fine Dining

Today I’m going to give you some suggestions on how to eat out elegantly. The following instructions should be followed closely if you would like to get the most out of your evening.

First, make sure you have had a long, active day. This will give you a good appetite and a good appetite is the best sauce for a meal! Then wait until you are genuinely hungry–at least an hour past your usual meal time. The rumbling of the stomach should be a good indication. Next, choose a crowded restaurant where you will have at least a 15 minute wait for a table. It may not be easy to follow this next suggestion, but for an unforgettable evening, request a table with a waiter/waitress in training who is on their own for the first time. They would need to be slow and somewhat clumsy. This ensures that you will have a decent waiting period before you have to order and another half-hour or so to anticipate your meal and enjoy the entertainment. Your entertainment will include watching your waitperson try to carry four plates of food to the table behind you and in the process drop one of the plates. Additionally at your table you will hear one of your fellow diners exclaim, “I will be an old man before my dinner gets here!” Don’t forget to hold your breath when the waitperson finally comes with your dinner and then breath a sign of relief when he makes it safely. Then when the waitperson thinks he is safe, you can call them back to point out that he left half of two dinners as well as a few minor items in the kitchen. (We won’t even go into his adding up of the bill!)

If you will carefully follow all of my hints, I guarantee you will have an unforgettable evening!

Menu Plan Monday, May 12th!

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It’s my favorite time of year: berry season! Strawberries are already done in Florida, but we are getting some California ones in already. Blueberry season is winding down a bit, but we did go blueberry picking and picked almost 6 pounds in about an hour between the three of us. In a few weeks blackberry season will start and then that will be it for the berries around here.

The theme for the Gluten Free Menu Swap over at Celiac Family is almonds! I am so thankful that I’m not allergic to almonds. They make my life a lot easier. Almond butter and jelly sandwiches are a yummy and filling lunch. I enjoy almond milk in my coffee and smoothies and I use almond meal in my baked goods all the time. In fact, our favorite breakfast cookies contain almond flour. We’re almost out of dessert cookies so I will be making some Grain Free Chocolate Chip Cookies with almond flour this week!

Since I forgot to take pictures of food this week, here’s a cute picture of me and the Princess enjoying a picnic in our yard last year!

A cute picture of a picnic!

A cute picture of a picnic!

It was a fairly quiet weekend around here and that was nice! I’m hoping to get some raspberry mango jam in the freezer this week, but no other no big plans.

Sunday
Breakfast:
Oven Baked Blueberry Pancake
I just subbed Better Batter for the flour, and Keifer for the milk. I skipped the blueberries in hopes that I would get the Princess to try it, but she didn’t. It was super easy and baked while I got ready for church. Definitely add some berries though!
Lunch: We had a huge special lunch for Mother’s Day. Corn on the cob, asparagus, baked potatoes (I was too full to eat any!), lobster tail, scallops, steak for the meat eaters
Dinner: strawberries and cream with chocolate chips, Almond butter banana snack cake

Rest of the week:
Breakfast Choices:
5 Ingredient Detox Smoothie
Eggs
Lighter Gluten Free Chocolate Muffins
Chocolate Protein Bars (I think my mom used a recipe from Gluten-free on a Shoe String–one of her print books)
Paleo Chocolate Breakfast Cookies

Dinner:
Breakfast for dinner: Eggs & Vegan Hash
grilled cheese
Tomato avocado salad
Pasta Salad (with whatever veggies are languishing in the fridge!)
Sweet Potato Bean casserole
Some sort of lasagna–I’ll update next week when I figure out what I’m going to do
Pizza, salad
Mango Marriage Saver Smoothie, popcorn
fish topped with potato chips and remoulade sauce, sweet potatoes, veggie
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!

An Unexpected Encouter With…Head Lice!

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Our hair things bagged up for a couple of weeks.

Our hair things bagged up for a couple of weeks.

When you google head lice you get all sorts of advice from how to spot them, what their life cycle is like, and everyone has a different opinion on how to get rid of them. These are the different things I tried. (Please feel free to take a break to scratch your own head at this point. Whenever I talk about head lice everyone starts feeling itchy!)

We had our suspicions for a couple of days (lots of itching), but we didn’t see the little buggers until Easter Sunday of all things! Both the Princess and I have extremely longish, thick hair and we were not happy campers to have this to deal with.

I would prefer to do things more naturally, but on Easter Sunday there weren’t many choices. So we purchased lice shampoo. We also started washing all our clothing, bed sheets, pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals. Some of them we just put into bags because I had also read that keeping things in an airtight bag for two weeks would work as well as drying them on a hot cycle for 30 minutes.

We merrily went off in our separate directions the next day thinking the problem was resolved. It was not. The Princess got sent home from school and when I got home from work I helped with laundry that my husband had already started. Since the shampoo didn’t work we decided to try Neem oil. Neem oil is pretty smelly, but everyone left it on for a while before washing again and heading off to bed. Next morning we still had a problem. I combed out the Princess’ hair before I left for work and started all the laundry AGAIN.

At this point I was completely exhausted. I called my salon and they suggested olive oil with cedar oil. After work I applied it to everyone’s head along with a shower cap before we crashed into bed. (This way we didn’t have to do laundry again if it didn’t work!) The next morning I was stuck home with the Princess alone again and wondering how in the world I was going to comb out my own hair. I googled it again and I came up with the Nice Lice Lady. Apparently, in Canada there are people you can hire to comb lice out of your hair!

Her suggestions were completely opposite of most of what I read before. I’d pretty much tried everything else, I was still itching, and I was exhausted so I decided to give it a try.

She doesn’t suggest shampoos, “natural” remedies, or even doing your laundry. She just suggests getting a good lice comb and using it! By applying conditioner to wet hair and combing it out everyday for two weeks you will have success in eradicating the head lice. The conditioner “freezes” the bugs so that they can’t move and it also makes the combing process much smoother. She does suggest a blowdrying method also that was proven effective by the University of Utah. She even outlines how you can do this to yourself!

It’s been over two weeks now since the Princess has gone back to school and we’ve both noticed that we’ve been scratching less and less everyday. It’s interesting how the simplest thing is the most effective. What have been your experiences with head lice (if any?)

Eating Together: Outdoors!

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There are various studies that say that eating together as a family is important. Better manners, more well-adjusted kids, and a sense of belonging are some of the benefits that I’ve read. I do love eating meals with my family, but sometimes just sitting at the table can get boring. So we change it up several times a week and one of our favorite places to eat is outdoors!

Sometimes it is at home, so all we have to do is load up our plates and carry them outside where we already have chairs and other needed things for a spontaneous picnic! Sometimes (at least once a week!) we eat at the park, or we go on vacation and it is easier to pack a lunch then to try to rely on finding food suitable to our various food allergies.

Setting up a bag or a designated spot with all the picnic stuff packed can make this a reality even if you only have time to throw some leftovers or sandwich fixings into your cooler!

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Above is a view of our picnic kit. I keep everything we might need together: silverware (purchased from the Dollar Tree!), napkins, plastic plates, plastic bowls, and a cutting board. Add a couple of plastic bags to carry everything in (besides the cooler with the food) and you also have a trash bag and an extra bag to carry the dirty dishes back in! We usually have some bottled water or juice boxes for the drinks. Having reusable plastic ware means that is always there and we are not left hanging because we used up the last paper plates and no one has been to the store yet. (Not that that would happen around here!)

This kit allows me the freedom to decide the morning of to be the spontaneous and fun mom, while being organized and prepared. There is nothing worse sitting down for a picnic and finding you forgot something vital like silverware!

So gather your stuff together and get out and enjoy the weather! Here in Florida it will be too hot or buggy to enjoy a nice picnic before we know it! Do you like to picnic?