Sunday, November 28, 2010

Country Creamy Potato Soup Mix

This potato soup mix exceeded all my expectations. It was thick, creamy, and full of taste.

Each year at our state fair, Darby Creek has a booth where they sell dip and soup mixes. I've had them before and any that I have tried, have all been great. I love dipping veggies in their dips. yum!

They only use all-natural ingredients and there are no preservatives. Unfortunately, not all their products are GF, but two of their soups are: French Onion, and Country Creamy Potato. I'm not a fan of french onion soup, so I can't vouch for it, but I'm sure it's very tasty.

This soup states that you can add ham, vegetables, whatever you want to the soup. I did add cubed ham, but I was too lazy to cut up vegetables to put in it, and I'm glad I was. I wouldn't have wanted anything to take away the taste.

It made 8 cups of soup. Enough to freeze in baggies for a quick lunch. It is very filling and it keeps you full and satisfied for hours.

The best part is that I don't have to wait until our state fair to order more. They have a website and you can order soups and/or dips online. Score!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Blueberry Muffin Mix

 I'm having to cook more now than I ever have, and while I still am not thrilled with it, I'm thrilled that I'm finding some shortcuts that get me out of the kitchen as quickly as I can. lol

However, I am also now avoiding preservatives, so when I find a mix that is all-natural, I'm extra happy.

I recently found this mix and it made light, moist and delicious blueberry muffins. But, don't take my word for it, take the word of Jay and a couple of his friends...

The mix made 12 large muffins. I had 2. Jay took the rest to the "man cave" to see if his buddies wanted any. That's the last I saw of the muffins. :)
Now for the bad news. This was a brand I've never used before, and unfortunately I threw out the package and it's already in the dumpster, and I don't remember the name. I tried zooming in on the picture, but that didn't work. So, if this mix interests you, keep checking back. I will be making this mix again, and I'll be sure to remember the name and post it here.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Udi's Granola

I love yogurt. When I want something sweet, it's one of my favorite things to have.

My absolute favorite way to have my yogurt is with granola stirred in. The crunch mixed with the sweet is uber yummalicious!

Since going GF, I've struggled to find a yogurt I can have, that I like the taste of. I finally found one, and the best part is that it has no added sugar in it. But, I missed my granola.

On my last shopping trip in the all-natural food store, I made a wonderful discovery - Udi's makes a GF granola!!

Oh was my mouth and my tummy happy, and it tastes great just li like the non-GF granola!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Crockpot Lasagna

You'll see that I have a lot of crockpot recipes. I LOVE my crockpots - all 3 of them, and I use them frequently. :) Here's a great recipe that is super easy and a crowd pleaser for sure:

12oz pkg lasagna noodles
1/4c butter
1 1/2lbs ground beef
1 qt. Spaghetti sauce
1-2c Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Cook noodles according to directions. Drain.

Return noodles to  pot and stir in butter until it's melted.

While the noodles are cooking, brown the ground beef. Drain off the drippings.

Layer into the crockpot:
  • 1/4 of the sauce
  • 1/3 of the browned beef
  • 1/3 of the cooked noodles
  • 1/4 mozzarella cheese
Repeat these layers two more times. Top with the remaining sauce and cheese.

Cover and cook on low for 4 hours, or until heated through and cheese has melted.

GF noodles get mushy when over cooked, so I under-cooked mine by about a minute or two before putting them in the crockpot.

I used ground turkey, but you could also use pork or chicken.

This is a great make-ahead recipe. I made it up the night before and had it in the fridge waiting to cook it. It still turned out great!

Crockpot Sloppy Joes

You seriously can't get much easier than this recipe. Especially if you already have the meat browned ahead of time like I've said I do.

3lbs ground beef
1lg onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2c. GF barbeque sauce
1 (28oz) can tomato puree
1 (6oz) can tomato paste
2T. packed brown sugar

Brown meat, drain and add to crockpot.

Stir in remaining ingredients.

Cook on low for 6 hours.

Serve on GF buns or toasted GF bread.

I have also used ground pork and ground turkey when making this recipe, and all are tasty.

Freezes well!

Friday, November 12, 2010


Since most days I don't know exactly how I'll feel, or if I'll be up to cooking, I tend to make up 4-5 recipes at a time on one of my good days. To help accomplish that there are a few things I do to make it easier:

I buy ground meat (beef, turkey, chicken, pork) in larger quantities because it can usually be found cheaper. When I get home I divide it up on my kitchen scale into 1lb sections. I brown and crumble each 1lbs and put it in a labeled freezer bag. The bags go into the freezer to pull out for recipes. Saves a bunch of time.

Cutting up vegetables and fruits takes forever. Even if you have all the latest gadgets, it still takes time. When I buy groceries, I usually plan the next day to cut up all vegetables and put them in little containers in the fridge. I also cut up fruits for recipes or snacking. When I go to make a recipe, I just pull out and measure the amount I need. Easy peasy.

I actually prefer to mix food ingredients with my hands. I've always preferred this. I just enjoy getting my hands in the really mixing it up. However, my skin is already dry enough, and the last thing I need is to have to wash my hands multiple time while cooking. To solve that problem, yet still enjoy mixing by hand, I bought disposable rubber gloves. To me they are as important as any utensil in my kitchen, and I use them constantly.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Applesauce Cake

This cake is great. Not only does it taste good, but it's wheat free, sugar free, and fat free! Score!

1 3/4c unsweetened applesauce
3/4 heaping cup of agave nectar
1c. raisins
1c. chopped & peeled sweet apples
1/2t. allspice
1c. potato starch
1 1/4c brown rice flour
2t. baking soda
2T. boiling water
1c. walnuts (optional)

Mix applesauce and agave together.

Add raisins and apples. Mix well.

Stir in allspice, potato starch, and flour.

Dissolve baking soda in boiling water. Add to mix and stir well.

Stir in nuts.

Spray a 9x13" pan with Pam.

Spread mix evenly in pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 min, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

When done, let cook 30 min before serving.

This cake is so good you don't even need icing!

Best if eaten within 24 hrs and kept in the refrigerator.

This cake freezes well, so usually I will make it in 2 smaller pans. We'll eat one now and put one in the freezer for later.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Apricot Chicken

Another easy peasy recipe to make, and it has such a unique & delicious flavor to it.

3/4c chicken broth
2T. apple cider vinegar
2T agave nectar
6 chicken breasts (obviously I only did 3)
Dry chicken rub, or chicken seasoning
Sugar-Free Apricot jam or preserves
chopped dried apricots
2T brown rice flour
1T dijon mustard

Rub the dry rub or seasoning into the chicken and place it in a preheated pan. Lightly brown on both sides.

Mix together the chicken broth, vinegar and agave and pour it over the chicken, and bring to a simmer.

Top each chicken breast  with jam and dried apricots.

Reduce heat to low. Cover, and simmer about 45 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink inside (at least 160 degrees).

When chicken is done, remove from the pan. To the liquids in the pan add flour and mustard.

Whisk over medium heat until the sauce thickens (about 5 min).

Pour sauce over the chicken to serve.

For a serving variation, you can place the chicken on top of brown rice or pasta and then top with the sauce.

Or you can do as we did and have a potato side dish (we also put a bit of the sauce on the potatoes - yum!)

We had a breast left over since Austin happened to be gone. I cut up the chicken and added it, as well as some of the apricots, to a salad the next day for lunch. It was great!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Farmer's Breakfast

This is one of my most favorite breakfasts. Seriously. It is low in fat, sugar-free, gluten-free, and it keeps me full all morning long.

1 bag cubed frozen hash browns
6 slices turkey bacon
1/2c finely chopped onion
1/2c finely chopped green peppers
1c. shredded cheddar cheese
4 eggs

Drizzle just enough olive oil in a pan to cover the bottom. Add potatoes, onions & peppers and cook until done.

While the potatoes are cooking, cook the turkey bacon on a skillet (or you can use your george foreman grill like I do). When done, cut the bacon into small pieces.

Add bacon to the potato mixture and stir well.

Scramble your 4 eggs and cook in skillet. When done add to the potato and bacon mix. Stir well.

Sprinkle cheese over the top and let sit, covered, with the heat turned off to let the cheese melt.

You can also use 4 cups diced fresh potatoes instead of the frozen if you choose. The thought of peeling and chopping all those potatoes makes me cringe, so I'll stick to the frozen. ha

I have also made this recipe using sausage instead of bacon. Yummy!

If you want to add more color to your breakfast, use red, yellow, and/or orange peppers along with, or instead of the green peppers.

This recipe is great to make up the night before and then reheat in the skillet in the morning. Top with cheese, and voila, a great breakfast for the family.

Or, if you're really pressed for time, or just want individual servings, I have made the recipe, minus the cheese. I then divided the food in the skillet into 6 freezer baggies and freeze them. In the morning I pop one in the microwave oven for 1 minute so the food will come out of the baggie easily. Then I put it back in the microwave for 3-4 min, until heated through. I sprinkle the cheese on top and put back in the microwave for 30 seconds to melt the cheese. It tastes just as good as when first made, and in less than 5 minutes it's ready, which is great for those crazy busy mornings.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

These days I stay away from pre-packaged foods that are full of preservatives. If I do buy something pre-made, it's found in the all-natural section at the store, or at a health food store, which is where I got this cookie dough from.

It's gluten-free and you just pull apart the 12 pre-formed dough chunks and bake. Easy peasy!

They are a little more expensive than I would like to spend all the time, but I will buy another package to keep on hand in case someone comes over last minute or something like that. I always keep some regular cookie dough on hand for that same reason, but now I can bake up a couple of cookies for myself as well.

The best part about these cookies is that no one in my family believed they were gluten-free. They were light, moist and chewy, and until I showed Jay, Austin & Austin's girlfriend the package, they had no idea. I think that's the best compliment this company could ever get.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Crockpot Italian Dish

This is a recipe I threw together one night when I was in a rush, and it's quickly become a family favorite. It's super easy, and super quick, which makes it perfect on those nights when you never seem to have enough time.

Crockpot Italian Dish

1lb Rotini, Mini Lasagna, or Elbow macaroni
1lb pork sausage, browned and crumbled
1-2 large jars of your favorite pasta sauce
1-2c. Mozzarella cheese

Prepare pasta according to package directions - minus 1-2 minutes (GF pasta gets mushy if over cooked, and putting it in the crockpot will cook it a bit more).

Put pasta in crockpot.

Add sausage and stir.

Add pasta sauce (add as much as you prefer, plus a little extra as the meal will get more "dry" as it sits in the crockpot). 

Stir well. Cook on low in crockpot for 1-2 hrs to let the flavors blend. Sprinkle Mozzarella cheese on top a few minutes before serving to let it melt.

You can also serve the dish immediately and not put it in the crockpot, but I feel the flavors blend so much better and therefore increases the yumminess.

Depending on what's on sale, I will use either corn or rice pasta.

I brown and crumble several pounds of sausage up at one time and freeze them in 1lb bags. Makes a quick dish even quicker when all I have to do is pull out a bag in the morning and put it in the fridge to thaw. (I also do the same with ground beef & turkey)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Banana Muffins

While I'm getting used to GF cooking/baking, the one thing I truly despise is all the different GF flours there are out there, and there are just as many websites that have recipes calling for all of them.

For starters, it's expensive buying all these different flours, plus, who wants to take up valuable pantry space with 10 different containers of flour? Not me!

Thankfully, I recently found 2 different flours that I really like. The best part is they can be used exactly as you would use regular flour in any recipe, and you don't even have to add xanthan gum (unless using yeast)! Cool beans!

In the recipe below, the recipe calls for regular flour. I used one of the GF all purpose flours, and it worked great. Even the picky eaters loved them, and in my opinion, they tasted just as great and moist as regular muffins.

GF/SF Banana Muffins

4 large very ripe bananas, mashed
1c. Splenda
1 slightly beaten egg
1/3c. canola oil
1t. baking soda
1t. baking powder
1 1/2c flour

Mix the mashed bananas, sugar, egg and oil together. Set aside. In a separate bowl, mix together baking soad, baking powder, and flour. Mix wet and dry ingredients together, beging careful not to over-stir.

Pour into greased muffin tins and bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20min.

The original recipe called for Sugar, but as you can see, I used Splenda instead, since I prefer to keep my sugar intake as low as possible.

These muffins freeze well. Pull one out, pop it in the microwave, and it'll taste like it just came out of the oven.

You can also switch up the bananas for a can of GF pumpkin puree, and adding 1tsp. cinnamon, and 1tsp allspice. Yum!

Can't you just imagine sitting out on your porch on an sunny early morning having one of these delicious muffins?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Spice Cupcakes

I have a hard time controlling myself when it comes to sweets, which is why I like to make cupcakes. I can freeze them and pull them out one at a time to thaw for a treat when I am wanting one.

If I didn't do that, I'd eat them all at one sitting. Seriously.

I tried this mix recently, "Spice Cake Mix by Namaste Foods" because well, it was on my shelf, and when my mom was here recently organizing my pantry, she informed me it was about to expire. I'm not going to let my mom think I didn't pay attention, so there you have it.

I have become a big time skeptic when it comes to GF mixes, because some are just icky. Yes, that is the technical term for it.

I was pleasantly surprised when making these spice cupcakes. They were moist, light and oh so yummy. Yummy enough that they had to be frozen as quickly as possible.

I am fortunate that I don't really care for frosting, so that helps keep the calories down. That having been said, while I did truly enjoy these cupcakes, I probably won't make them again (unless making for a group) because they do contain more sugar than I choose to have in my diet. But if looking for an excellent treat you can whip up quickly, this one gets my vote!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Shepard's Pie

A GF version of an old classic.

3 1/2c mashed potatoes (you can use real or instant)
1lb ground beef
1c diced onions
3/4t dried basil
1/8t garlic powder
1/2t dry mustard
1 (2.5oz) jar of beef and gravy baby food
2 large eggs
2 kinds of sliced cheese such as Colby, Mozzarella, Farmers or Swiss

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare the potatoes in advance and set them aside.  Brown the ground beef and onions.

When fully cooked, add basil, garlic powder and dry mustard. Mix well.

Then add baby food and mix it in well.

Turn off heat and add eggs, one at a time, stirring briskly so the eggs won't scramble.

Spray a 9" pan (or pie pan) with Pam and pour in the ground beef mixture.

Next add the mashed potatoes and spread them smoothly across the top of the meat.

Arrange slices of cheese in a colorful arrangement over the top of the potatoes.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly.

Let set for 10 minutes before serving.

This was a nice supper, however there are a few changes I will make for the next time...

1. I will use less potatoes. There was so much potatoes that it sort of over powered the taste of the meat mixture.

2. It bordered on being a little bland, so I will add vegetables to it. That will not only add more flavor, but the bright color of green beans or carrots will brighten up the dish.

 Also, I use shredded cheese instead of sliced. It's what I had on hand, and I didn't feel like going to the store for just one item. It worked just fine.

Crockpot Potato Soup

This is a nice, simple potato soup that can be made up ahead of time, and when you stop home during your lunch hour, you can turn the crockpot on and it'll be ready when you get home.

1 1/2c chopped celery
1c chopped onion
2 minced garlic cloves
5 peeled potatoes, cut into 1" cubes
5c chicken broth

Saute the celery and onions for 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and saute for 1 more minute.

Move those items to your crockpot, and add the potatoes and broth.

Cook on low for 4 hours.

Before serving, mash with a potato masher or puree with a hand blender.

I really liked this soup, however the next time I make it, I won't puree the potatoes. I prefer to leave them in soft small cubes. Just a personal preference.

Along those same lines, the next time I will cut the celery back to just 1c. I love celery and peanut butter, but I'm not a huge fan of eating it cooked.

I made a double batch and froze one batch in single serving baggies for quick lunches.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Apple Muffins

I am a self-proclaimed bread snob. I love a bread that is super soft and tasty. For the most part, that is non-existent when it comes to GF breads (at least by my standards).

A while ago I found a brand of bread mixes that I thought I'd try, and while I wasn't 100% sold on the plain bread, it was much better than others I'd tasted. However, they had a banana bread mix that was superb! I couldn't believe how good it was.

That brand is Breads from Anna.

Just recently I tried another variety of hers, and it was an Apple pancake & muffin mix. I haven't made the pancakes yet, but I love the muffins. They were soft, and not heavy at all. I was very impressed. Plus, they are super easy to make. Add a few simple ingredients to the mix and you're ready to bake.

By filling the muffin tins 2/3-3/4 full I was able to make 15 muffins. Again, I was impressed. I thought maybe I'd get 6 or 8.

Check out how delicious these look!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Taco Soup

I am willing to bet that you will fall in love with this soup as much as I have!

1-2lbs ground beef (can also use pork, turkey, bison, ostrich, etc)
2 medium diced onions
3 cans of beans undrained (can be pinto, kidney, black, or garbanzo)
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 large can diced tomatoes
2 small cans of diced green chilies
1 bag frozen vegetables (let them sit on the counter and thaw a bit while getting everything ready)
1 envelope GF taco seasoning mix
1 envelope GF ranch salad dressing mix

Before I do anything with my crockpots I line them with a wonderful recently new invention: crockpot liners! They are awesome and make clean-up a snap. No more scrubbing baked food off the inside.

Brown the ground meat and onions in a skillet; drain. Pour into a crockpot.

Add all remaining ingredients to the crockpot and mix well.

Cook on low for 6-8 hrs

Optional garnishes: sliced green or black olives, shredded cheddar or jack cheese, pickled jalapenos, crushed tortilla chips, diced avacado, guacamole, sour cream, chopped onions or green peppers.

I got this recipe from a woman I know on a weight-loss forum I'm a member of, and it is one of my favorite soups. My Father-In-Law, who has Celiac Disease loved it and was thrilled when I made another batch just for him.

After it was done cooking, I dished up the soup into 8 freezer baggies and put them in the freezer. They are easy to pull out and pop into the microwave for a quick, healthy meal.

Italian BBQ Sandwiches

Super easy recipe that makes for a great quick meal that you can throw together before going to work. Brown the meat the night before, and it's even easier in the morning.

1lb ground beef (can also use pork or turkey)
1c. tomato sauce
1 envelope GF dry spaghetti mix
Salt and pepper to taste
8oz cubed cheese

In a non-stick skillet, brown the beef. Drain.

Place meat in crockpot.

Stir in sauce and seasonings.

Cover and cook on low for 2-6 hrs.

One hour before serving, stir in the cubed cheese.

Stir well before serving on GF bread or buns.

When I made the recipe I browned the meet and drained it. Then I mixed the tomato sauce and seasonings right in the pan with the meat. I put the meat mixture in a ziplock freezer baggie and put it in the freezer for later use.

When ready to use it, I put it in the microwave for 1 minute, so it would be able to come out of the baggie. Then I poured it into the crockpot (yes, it's still frozen) and let it cook for approximately 4 hrs and it was awesome! Don't forget to add the cheese when there's about an hour left.


Why I Started This Blog

Let me start by saying I am not a chef/cook. I am a woman who was diagnosed in 2009 with many food allergies, including wheat and gluten. I was officially diagnosed with Fibromyalgia just a few months later, although I had experienced symptoms much longer. I ignored the food allergy part for a while, because learning to deal with Fibromyalgia took up much of my time.

For those who don't know much about Fibroymyalgia, you have constant, never ending pain throughout your body. You also deal with migraines, loss of concentration and/or the ability to focus, and you are forgetful (aka: Fibrofog). On top of all of that, you have unending exhaustion. I'm talking about feeling like you haven't slept in days, when in fact you slept all night and have taken one or more naps. Somedays just taking a shower makes you as exhausted as if you had just run a race. Therefore, learning to cope with all of this consumed most of my time and thought.

It was while I was reading a Fibromyalgia article on the web that I came across an article that talked about how they are now finding links between food allergies and the levels of symptoms Fibromyalgia patients feel. It is believed that for some patients, eliminating those allergens could eliminate all symptoms.

That finally convinced me to work to accept a new way of eating that was free of my allergens. I also am glucose intolerant, so I work hard to have very little sugar in my diet. When baking/cooking, I always use Splenda.

Eliminating my allergens wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be, except for the wheat/gluten part. I love bread. A sandwich is always a perfect meal. Subway was my favorite restaurant. But, if it was going to help my pain or energy levels, then I owed it to myself to go for it. In July of 2010 I committed 100% to a gluten-free lifestyle.

Problem - have you ever tasted most gluten-free foods or recipes? They are bland, boring, and many taste just plain awful. I hated making GF foods when I knew they were going to be bad, so I went on a search. I have tried many recipes from either websites or cookbooks, and found some that were actually really good.

When I say they are good, trust me...they are really good. I am married to and am also the mother of the two pickiest eaters on the planet. I don't like making two different meals, so I know I have to find things that are easy to make, and that taste good. All these recipes have passed the test by them.

I have made a list of those recipes and will share them here. I plan to include a picture with each recipe I list, so you can see the finished product (which I have always appreciated). I also found some mixes or ready made products that were pretty good too, and I'll share those as well.

Also keep in mind that I am not a photographer. I will be snapping photos in my kitchen, so I will apologize up front for informal shots that were taken with regular ol' kitchen lighting. lol

I hope you feel inspired to try these recipes, and if you do, please drop me a line to let me know what you think of it. :)