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GF Harvest Oats

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I found myself craving oatmeal.  I mean, the cravings were so bad that I started dreaming about it, too!  I had been to afraid to try oats once I was diagnosed with celiac disease.  I didn’t trust that they could really be safe.  So, I did a good deal of research and came across the GF Harvest Company.  Honestly, it sounded too good to be true.  Of course I called them up to legitimize my cravings.  Not only did they kindly sent me samples of Steel Cut Oats, Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats, and Oatmeal Cookie Crisp Granola, but they also provided lots of useful information.  (They also carry gluten-free groats and gluten-free oat flour.)  I was overjoyed to have satisfied my craving, with the knowledge that these were gluten-free right down to the ground.

It turned out that Seaton Smith, the owner of this small, Celiac disease-family run company, was tickled pink to talk and tell me all about their oats while assuaging my fears and anxieties.  And, in 2013 they were even awarded the BBB Torch Awards for Ethics.  I learned so much about the processing of their oats and the scrutiny his oats go through to make sure there is no cross-contamination.  Here are a few things I learned and why I am now GF Harvest’s biggest fan:

To read more, click here . . .

This article can also be found on the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness’s Gluten-Free Hot Products Page

A Special Thanks goes out to my friend, Jessica Schaefer, who used these oats to make me special gf oatmeal cookies!

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Apple Crumble with GF Harvest Oats on top

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Cheezy Crisps & Grammy Crisps

Are you always on the hunt for the perfect gluten-free cracker?  Finding them too bland, tasting like cardboard, or flimsy?  Well, I definitely am!  Every time I go to the grocery store, I’m always scanning the cracker aisle, looking for a suitable gluten-free cracker to replace all those buttery, flaky, gluten ones, and yet, I’ve been hard pressed to find a replacement . . . until today!

So, you can imagine my surprise when I ventured to try Crunchmaster’s certified gluten-free Cheezy Crisps and Grammy Crisps and was wowed to the max!

To read more, click here . . .

This article can also be found on the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness’s Gluten-Free Hot Products Page

A special thanks goes out to Stephanie Gill, Pam Vassilikos, and of course my daughter who were instrumental in the reviewing of the crackers!

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The Finished Product

A Quick History of the Vidalia Onion
Growing up in Georgia, Vidalia onions were apart of the spring/summer.  Did you know that they are Georgia’s state vegetable!!??  They are ONLY grown in Vidalia, Georgia, which we southerners call them Vi-day-l-yuhs, NOT Vi-dahl-yahs.   They really came as an accident.  During the depression, farmers in GA were trying to find the cash crop.  When their onions were harvested, they realized they were sweet!  With the birth of the sweet Vidalia onion, the newly built farmers market in Southern GA, and the owner of Piggly Wiggly grocery store helping to market them, they soon became a success around the country.   Though sweet onions are grown in other places, the distinct flavor comes from the sandy soils and milder climate.

Storage Tip:
They don’t tend to last on the shelf very long, but in order to preserve their life, stick them in the leg of a panty hose and put a knot at the end of each onion.  Hang them from the ceiling and when ready to use one, just cut above the knot.

So, this delicious dish came to me by way of my mom.  I can’t say that she really spent a whole lot of time in the kitchen, but this is one of the best dishes she ever made.  I have doctored it a bit and adapted it to the GF life-style, but the truth be told, I can’t really say I notice a huge difference.  When I asked her where it came from, thinking she’d tell me who passed it down to her, she told me she invented it.  My respect for her grew right then and there!!  Thanks mom for one of my favorite dishes!!

This makes a great side dish when invited to a party or hosting your own.  Even if you don’t like onions, you’ll love this dish!!


Vidalia Onion Sweet Surprise

Serving Size: 6 full onions, feeds 6-8 people

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

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Ingredients

  • 6 Vidalia Onions, peeled and half cored; (sweet onions will work, too)
  • 1 cup of brown sugar + 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • (you can substitute the 1/4 cup of sugar for 1/4 cup black strap molasses)
  • 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup of corn flake crumbs or cracker/cereal substitute
    (I usually buy them from Whole Foods or Amazon in bulk – 6 containers.  I freeze what I’m not using.)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of parmesean cheese
  • 1 tsp of salt (I prefer himalayan salt)
  • 1 tsp of pepper
  • pinch of dry mustard

Supplies:

  • large pyrex dish
  • coring knife
  • sauce pan
  • stirring spoon
  • measuring cups and spoons

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425*F.
  2. Core onions from the top so that the root part is at the bottom.  Create a well, so make sure to leave the bottom in tact.  You’re going to put a filling in it later.
  3. Place onions in a pyrex dish.
  4. Chop the onions pieces you cored out and place them in the dish around the onions.

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    Hollowed Out Onions

  5. Fill the dish about an 1/8″ full of water so that the onions won’t burn in the oven.
  6. Meanwhile, on the stove top over low heat (or microwave), melt the butter and brown sugar together, stirring constantly (about 1-2 minutes).  You can always add more of anything.  If you want the sauce thinner, add more butter.  If you want it sweeter, add more brown sugar.  I happen to have run out of brown sugar tonight, so I poured in some black strap molasses, too, and it worked perfectly.  Then we also got the iron benefits of the molasses.

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    Melting Butter & Brown Sugar

  7. Remove from saucepan from heat and add remaining ingredients.  Stir to evenly combine.

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    Stirring all Ingredients together until Combined

  8. Pour the sauce into the wells of each onion, and then pour the rest of the sauce over the chopped onion bits surrounding the onions.

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    Sauce Application

  9. Bake for about 45 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the onions are softened.
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The Finished Onion Product

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The Finished Ball

One day, not long after I had gone gluten-free, my grandma, Honey, called me, to tell me of a recipe she made that just so happens to also be gluten-free.  I couldn’t have been more thrilled to think of a dessert with peanut butter and chocolate all in one that had NO GLUTEN!!  And takes about 10 minutes to make and 10 to bake!

After a lot of playing with the basic recipe my Honey had given me, I perfected a relatively low sugar dessert.  The secret is the chocolate chips stashed in the middle of the ball.

The peanut butter we use just has roasted peanuts and nothing else added.  I have often found that certain peanut butters make me sick and then I wonder if they’ve been crossed processed.  In Philadelphia you can get Crazy Richards, which was actually made by a local Philadelphian who ground his own peanuts.  Roomer has it from a parent I know that Richard use to run a small in-home daycare in the city, all the while, making his own peanut butter.

If we’re looking for an organic one, we have found Santa Cruz makes an excellent one.

Gluten-Free Inside-Out Peanut Butter Balls

Serving Size: about 20 1″ balls

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10-12 minutes

20130522-202617.jpgIngredients:

  • 1 cup of peanut butter – we use peanut butter that just has roasted peanuts and nothing else added
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • about 1/2 cup of chocolate chips – we use Enjoy Life

Supplies:

  • large mixing bowl
  • spatula
  • cookie sheet
  • parchment paper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325*F.
  2. In a bowl, mix egg, sugar, and peanut butter all together until there is a smooth consistency.
  3. Take a pinch in your hand and roll it into a 1″ ball.

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    Rolling Batter into a Ball

  4. Use your thumb to place a small whole in the middle of it.
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    Small Well in Center of Ball

     

  5. Fill well with a handful of chocolate chips.
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    Filling Well with Chocolate Chips

     

  6. Fold over edges of dough around chips.
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    Folding Dough Edges around Chips

     

  7. Roll dough back into a ball.
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    Dough Rolled Back into Ball with Chips inside

     

  8. Bake at 325*F for about 10-12 minutes.  I like mine soft, but if you prefer them crisper, then bake for longer.

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    Ready to Bake

  9. Eat!

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Polenta topped with Ragout

I decided it was time to use a different grain tonight.  I was thinking of rice, but then I realized we should try something else.  Polenta is considered the Italian version of grits.  It’s a super fast cooking grain.  I even took a quicker fix than just using the grain and making a paste with water, I used the tube!!

This dish makes an excellent side dish or hors d’oeuvre for a dinner party.

Gluten-Free Broiled Polenta with Spinach and

Mushroom Ragout

Serving Size: about 20 polenta rounds

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp evol (used for polenta)
  • 1 tube of polenta precooked
  • 2 tbsp evol (used for sautéing)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 package mushrooms, chopped
  • 2-3 cups of fresh spinach
  • generous amount of salt and pepper
  • 1/4 tsp of crushed dried rosemary
  • 4 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2-1 cup water
  • *optional – parmesan cheese (do not use if vegan)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to broil and arrange the top rack about 4″ from the top.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Slice the tube of polenta into 1/4″ thick rounds and lay them out on the baking sheet.
  4. Using the TBSP of olive oil, lightly brush the tops of each round and then broil them until the begin to brown about 10-15 minutes.
  5. While they are cooking, put olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
  6. When the oil is warm, put in the diced onions and as they begin to brown, add the garlic, sauteing for another 30 seconds or so.
  7. To the onion mixture, add the mushrooms and cook on a high heat (or medium-high) until they release their juices.
  8. Continue stirring for another few minutes until all the juices have been reabsorbed.  Then all the handfuls of spinach and toss until wilted.
  9. Add salt, pepper, and rosemary.  Cook for another 30 seconds.
  10. Then add in the tomato paste and 1/2 cup of the water.  (I actually used 4 previously frozen ice cubes of tomato paste.)  Bring it to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.  Continue adding water little by little if the mixture is drying out.
  11. Once water is absorbed (about 10 minutes), remove from heat and add the balsamic vinegar.

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    Mushroom Spinach Ragout

  12. Top the broiled polenta with the mushroom mixture and if desired, sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
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    The Simplicity of Polenta

     

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Delicious Pesto Sauce

My family LOVES pesto sauce.  My daughter prefers to eat it over marinara.  So, I try to keep some in the fridge, but the truth be told is that I never make enough.  The best thing to do is make tons of sauce, and freeze it in ice cube trays to be used later.

Our favorite uses of pesto:

  1. On pasta
  2. On Pizza
  3. Baked on Chicken

What are your favorite ways to use pesto?

Gluten-Free Pesto Pasta

Disclaimer: I did not invent this recipe, but have no idea where I got it from.

Serving Size: 4-6 people, about 1 pint

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Bag of Hydroponic Basil

Ingredients for Pesto:

  • 2 cups basil leaves (I used 2 bags of hydroponic basil)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (I like Trader Joe’s because there’s no cross-contamination)
  • 2/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (any olive oil will do)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (I also use Trader Joe’s grated parm and stash it in the freezer)
  • Salt/pepper

Ingredients for Pasta:

  • 1 bag of gluten-free pasta – favorite brand is Tinkyada
  • 2 heads of broccoli
  • 1 TBSP of olive oil
  • *optional – extra parmesan as topping
  • *optional – handful of pine nuts as topping

Directions:

  1. Get pot of boiling water going for pasta.
  2. Meanwhile, put all ingredients, except the oil in the food processor, and process until blended.
  3. Slowly pour in the oil.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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    Makes about 1 Pint of Pesto Sauce

  5. When pasta water is boiling, put the pasta in the water and follow directions of pasta bag.
  6. 2 minutes before the pasta is done cooking, throw in some chopped broccoli.

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    Broccoli Added to Pasta

  7. When pasta is done cooking and broccoli is done to liking, pour into colander and rinse with cold water.
  8. Coat pasta with the 1 TBSP of olive oil to keep it from sticking together if not serving right away, otherwise, follow step #9.
  9. Toss pasta with pesto sauce.

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    Pasta Coated with Pesto

  10. Bon Appetite!

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My Daughter with her New Glow-in-the-Dark Necklace

Glow-in-the-dark Necklace

made from the $.25 Machine

inspired by a project in the magazine Family Fun

Tools:

  • an awl or nail to piece a hole
  • 2 feet of kite string or some other type of yarn
  • at least 4 glow-in-the-dark beads, to make it glow-in-the-dark, but any kind of bead or button will do.  We used perler beads
  • $.25 machine plastic container

Directions:

  1. Take purchase a little toy for $.25 at the grocery store, but make sure it comes in one of those little plastic containers.
  2. Remove the toy.
  3. Using an awl or some other sharp tool like a nail, pierce a whole through the top of the container.
  4. Cut a piece of string about 2 feet long.  You can always trim it when you’re done.
  5. Thread a bead or a button into the middle of the string.  Knot the string several times just above the bead.
  6. Put one end of the string next to the otherand thread it through the underside of the hole.  This way, the bead will keep the string in place.

    20130418-190756.jpg

    Strung Bottom Bead

  7. Place charms or other beads along each side of the string.
  8. When you’re ready, tie the two ends of the string together in a knot.
  9. Fill the container with whatever excites your child, i.e. glow-in-the-dark beads, bugs, snack, etc.  We filled our with glow-in-the-dark beads, so that the necklace will glow-in-the-dark!
  10. Place the necklace around your child’s neck.
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Our Glow-in-the-Dark Necklace

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