Monthly Archives: December 2014

Menu Plan Monday, December 29!

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Merry Christmas! Our Christmas plans got somewhat derailed by more sickness, but we still enjoyed the day together as a family. The Princess unwrapped her presents and mostly unwrapped all of ours! Her excitement is catching!

The theme for the Gluten Free Menu Swap over Celiac Family is cloves. The only recipe that I can remember using cloves for is my favorite cookies: Molasses Crinkles. I use the recipe from the “More With Less” cookbook, but I haven’t found a satisfactory gluten-free recipe yet.

gingerbread house 1

Above you see a gingerbread house made by the Princess and her daddy. (I was at work!) The only thing that got made last week was the Dairy Free eggnog and it was certainly delightful on my sore throat! I’m going to try again this week for the fudge, but the main theme for our menu this week seems to be soup!

Sunday
Breakfast:
Leftover sticky buns, grapefruit
Lunch:
Out–dinner and a movie
Dinner: Creamy carrot soup from “Clueless Vegetarian” and Rustic French Bread from “Vegan Gluten Free Bread Cookbook”

Rest of the week:
Breakfast Choices:
Grain Free Coffee Cake
Grain Free Pumpkin Bread
Pancakes
Eggs, sausage

Dinner:
Fish sticks (modified to be gluten-free!), sweet potato fries, veggie (got skipped because we were sick–going to try again!)
Portuguese Soup
Easy Clam Chowder
Spaghetti with meatballs and meatless meatballs
Smoothie, Healthy Caramel popcorn
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!

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Frugal Christmas Activities

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Christmas
I love Christmas and I love it even more now that I have a five-year-old who constantly reminds of the status of our Advent calendar. She loves the traditions that we’ve already established and she’s always up for a new adventure!

Here are some of the frugal activities that we enjoy doing during this season.

1. Visit the library! Our library has all sorts of activities during the year, but this year they had a special reading of the Polar Express. Everyone came in their pajamas, there was crafts to do, and an excellent reading of the book. Cost: absolutely free!

2. Living Nativity: Every year there are a couple of living nativities put on by churches in our area. This is a new activity for us this year as bedtime was a priority in previous years. I expect that it will be a wonderful experience. Cost: absolutely free!

3. This past weekend the local art museum had a family day which meant free admission for everyone! They had special Christmas displays and special crafts for the children. We enjoyed walking around and exploring! Cost: absolutely free!

4. One activity that we always enjoy doing is looking at Christmas lights. Usually we walk around our neighborhood at least once (and deliver gifts to the neighbors!) and then drive around. Our town has lovely lights downtown and several neighborhoods around have wonderful displays. Cost: just the cost of gas!

What are some wonderful (and frugal!) Christmas activities you enjoy before Christmas or during the 12 days of Christmas?

Menu Plan Tuesday, December 23!

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Whew–last week was a blur! School, Christmas parties, work–we were kept very busy. I am looking forward to slowing down this week and enjoying some quiet pursuits including some cooking!

The theme for the Gluten Free Menu Swap over Celiac Family is peppermint. My husband isn’t a huge fan of peppermint because he says it makes him sneeze! One thing he won’t say no to is peppermint patties…so if I get time and the fudge disappears really quickly I might try making some of these Vegan Gluten-free Peppermint Patties!

spiced pumpkin bread

I was too hungry to take a picture of my Sunday dinner, so here’s a picture of my breakfasts for the week! This Grain-Free Spiced Pumpkin bread is delightful with some butter, tea, and fruit for breakfast! The other fun things I’m planning to make this week (that don’t really fit into a menu) are Forgotten Kisses, Easy Dairy Free Fudge, and Dairy Free Egg Nog! This past Saturday we made some grain free sugar cookies! They were soooo good we all wished we had tripled the recipe instead of just doubling.

Merry Christmas Everyone! And remember: Unto

    YOU

a child is born!

Sunday
Breakfast:
Protein Bar, fruit
Lunch:
Lemon Chicken (salmon for me), mashed potatoes, asparagus
Dinner: leftovers

Rest of the week:
Breakfast Choices:
Grain Free Coffee Cake
Eggnog Smoothie
Grain Free Pumpkin Bread
Apple Cider Donuts, sausage
Eggs
Leftover waffles to clean out the freezer!

Dinner:
Fish sticks (modified to be gluten-free!), sweet potato fries, veggie
Irresistible Shrimp, Sweet Potato Casserole, veggie
Tomato Soup
Anything I can find in the freezer to clean out!
Smoothie, Healthy Caramel popcorn
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!

Christmas Gifts for Those People

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You know the ones…the ones that have everything which makes them impossible to shop for! Or maybe you are trying to shop for a minimalist and you are being sensitive to their lifestyle…or maybe you just know someone who needs so much you don’t know where to start! You are out of ideas, Christmas is in a couple of days, and you have no clue where to get started.

Something I’ve noticed is everyone eats at some point. So, here are a couple of ideas for gift baskets that you can put together during your weekly shopping at the grocery store or if you have more time you can make some of the items yourself.

A food basket is always a great gift! Don’t just stick to the prepackaged stuff in the store though. Here are two gift baskets that I’ve made in the past couple of years. They were well received and enjoyed!
General Specialty foods:
Canned stuff: olives, pickles, crushed tomatoes/tomato paste, canned fish, unusual dried fruit like blueberries or cherries!
Spaghetti noodles (gluten-free) or a spaghetti squash
Flavored, self stable non-dairy milk
Gluten-free Crackers
Citrus fruit
Specialty beverages (these can be soft drinks or alcoholic)
Seasonings/Spices: special olive oil, vinegar, salt or other spices
A grocery gift card so they can pick up the essentials that weren’t included

Another fun basket is an ice cream basket:
A couple of fun toppings (chocolate is a must!!)
Some ice cream cones
Possibly some root beer or other soft drink so they can do a float
A gift card so they can buy some ice cream!

All or even just parts of it put in a basket or box can brighten someone’s holidays.

You could even do this for a food pantry. Besides being low on food around the holidays there also tends to be random cans of stuff that no one wants to eat. Consider donating some food allergy friendly items or a gift card so that those who are having a tough holiday have something special to eat.

This is a great way to include your kids in gift giving also. Explain to them what the plan is and have them help in the grocery store. They can also help with the packaging and card to go with it!

Menu Plan Monday, December 15!

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December can be a really busy month, except maybe when you get sick. I came down with that horrible flu last week and it knocked me flat for the whole week. I was kept busy canceling all activities by email because I couldn’t talk! Thankfully, the weekend before I got sick we inventoried our freezer. That way I had proof and a list of what we had frozen to eat and it wasn’t a huge deal that I couldn’t cook. I also drank a lot of this tea! I’m thankful that I’m better now and looking forward to some fresh yummy eats!

The theme for the Gluten Free Menu Swap over Celiac Family is nutmeg. Nutmeg is my favorite spice. I used to drive my family nuts when I stilled lived with my parents by sprinkling nutmeg on most everything that sounded good to me! I would go through a lot of nutmeg when I bought it pre-ground because it seemed like I could never get enough. Now that I buy whole nutmeg I find it is a lot stronger and even better smelling and I only go through about 4 nutmegs per year. I’m looking forward to some vegan eggnog (I still have to find a recipe!), and maybe I’ll make some custard this week and sprinkle nutmeg on top.

Sunday dinner dec 7

The picture above is my Sunday dinner from two weeks ago. I was particularly proud of it because I made my own sauce for the salmon with some apple cider and spicy mustard and it turned out very well. I also grabbed some mashed sweet potatoes that no one had eaten leftover and made potato cakes out of them. They turned out pretty good and tasted a lot like sweet potato french fries–just a little flatter!

It’s the last week of school before Christmas break! It’s sure to be a busy one!

Sunday
Breakfast:
Scrambled eggs
Lunch:
Husband’s famous Chili, cornbread
And Gingerbread cookies for dessert!
Dinner: leftovers

Rest of the week:
Breakfast Choices:
Cherry smoothie
Maybe this eggnog as a smoothie…
Grain Free Pumpkin Bread
Apple Cider Donuts, sausage
Eggs
Leftover waffles to clean out the freezer!

Dinner:
Mushroom stroganoff (with ground beef added to my husband’s portion) from “Clueless Vegetarian” cookbook
Shepherd’s Pie with a meat version for everyone else
Leftover Chili and cornbread
Anything I can find in the freezer to clean out!
Smoothie, popcorn
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!

Gluten Free Christmas Treats Round-Up

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ChristmasA friend of mine asked for favorite gluten-free treats recently and I thought…where do I start? I realized my list of favorite Christmas treats was from 3 years ago–before I was gluten-free and dairy free. So since it is time to think and plan and grocery shop for the things you need for Christmas baking, here’s a new list of some of the things I enjoyed last year and some I plan to make this year as I transition to more grain free goodies.

This is my new favorite quick bread: Spiced Pumpkin Bread. I’ve been eating it every morning for breakfast and I think it would make a lovely gift in a small loaf or even a big loaf for really good friends!

Pumpkin Pie Pudding that is just amazing! I don’t have a vitamix, but it turned out mostly smooth anyway. I love how quick it is to make and I honestly had it for dinner and breakfast in the same 24 hours. You could easily give someone the components for making it in a gift basket.

Almond Butter Chocolate Cups…I haven’t actually made these yet, but they are on my to-do list. They look so yummy and they are grain free and pretty low in sugar!

Here’s two bars that would easily go in a gift basket: Cherry Chocolate Chip “Kind” Bars and Homemade Chocolate Chip Larabars. I haven’t tried the Cherry Chocolate Chip ones yet, but the larabars are amazing!

This Homemade Bittersweet Chocolate Syrup is the best thing ever! This would be a terrific addition to an ice cream gift basket (just add a gift card for the actual ice cream!) or even by itself.

I don’t think I even have to talk about how much Creamy Dreamy Vegan (and GF) Peppermint Patty bars are one of the best candies for Christmas Cheer!

We make these Grain Free Chocolate Chip Cookies all year-long, but they are great addition to your Christmas Cookie List!

Gluten-Free Gingerbread Men were the best cookies I ate last year. They were a huge hit with the Princess even without icing!

What is Christmas without a good fudge? This Really Nice Dairy Free Fudge is terrific. I made it last year and I’m planning on it again this year!

We usually use an all-purpose gluten-free flour to make our regular sugar cookie recipe, but this Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies are always a big hit too.

I plan on making some dairy free egg nog and posting the recipe later in the season! Enjoy your gluten-free cheer!

Menu Plan Monday, December 1!

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So apparently, I took a whole month off. First the internet went down during the only time I had to write. It got fixed quickly, but then the Princess got sick. Really super sick and remained so for a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, I tried reintroducing some chicken into my diet with very poor results, so taking care of family became all I could handle for a while. Then the internet went down again! (We think the squirrels ate the DSL line–it would be just like them.) And because we were going to have a normal week this week–the first one in about a month–my daughter got sent home from school because they found nits in her hair. When things like this happen I try to think like Laura Ingalls Wilder and say, “There’s no great loss without some small gain,” but today my small gain must be so tiny because I am having a hard time seeing it.

The theme for the Gluten Free Menu Swap over Celiac Family is cinnamon. I do love cinnamon! The easiest way for me to eat it lately is some sautéed apples which are a delightful warm way to eat some fruit for breakfast. I will also be making some apple cider donuts per request of the Princess for her breakfasts. I am enjoying some grain free Pumpkin bread which has some cinnamon in it, and I added some to the mashed sweet potatoes I made for lunch yesterday! I’m glad I purchase cinnamon in bulk because it certainly disappears quickly this time of year!

Christmas

I’m working a lot this week, so meals are simple as usual. I think that I like to keep meals simple even when I am not working outside of the house just to keep kitchen time to a minimum. I enjoy cooking, but I like eating better and cleaning up is at the bottom of the list!

Sunday
Breakfast:
Apple Cinnamon Waffles with bacon
Lunch:
Pork Chops (salmon for me), mashed sweet potatoes, asparagus, and three bean salad.
Dinner: snacks

Rest of the week:
Breakfast Choices:
Some sort of Cherry smoothie…haven’t had a chance to look up a recipe yet
Mini quiches

Grain Free Pumpkin Bread
Apple Cider Donuts, sausage
Overnight Egg Salad

Dinner:
Clam Chowder
Fish, sweet potato fries, veggie
Apple Ginger Carrot Soup
Veggie soup from freezer and anything else we can find in there to clean out!
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!