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. :)