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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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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.

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    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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Fridgigears

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Playing with Newly Acquired Fridgigear!

It was one of the first beautiful, warm, and sunny days outside, so why I ventured to the basement to find this newly acquired toy from a swap, I have NO idea!!  We still did make it outside to play.  I guess I was super excited about this toy myself.  (A good sign in my opinion).

Nevertheless, this fridgigear toy is made up of magnetic gears that double as a puzzle.  It also comes with one gear that’s a motor to operate the gears.  It was a good hour of GLUTEN-FREE entertainment!  Not only did we experiment with the gears, but the next level of fun was rearranging the puzzle pieces to form newly colored gears.

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Rearranging the Puzzle Pieces to form New Gears

After much searching, I have been unable to find the puzzle gears.  I have found fridgigears that glow in the dark and double as a picture frame, but no puzzle pieces.  I still highly recommend this toy as great entertainment in the kitchen while you’re cooking!

I just bought some extra sets for presents.  I found an AMAZING deal at www.scientificsonline.com for $19, and you can get another 12% off if you use the code TY2.  It’s also free shipping if you choose the slower route.

Let me know if you’ve come across other types of refrigerator fun that you love!

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Our Kid-Friendly, GF/DF Seder

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Having Fun with Friends and Family

Passover is one of my most favorite holidays.  It’s the celebration of the Jewish People leaving Egypt as slaves.  We get together to sing songs and eat and celebrate our freedom.  With several little people at the seder (the passover meal), we revised the way we did things.  We brought in Sammy the Spider’s Passover Haggadah, (the book we use for the order of the seder and the songs).  It was a big hit!!

The Haggadah with Sammy the Spider

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Sammy the Spider Haggadah

We will confess that though it was the perfect dinner, the haggadah was missing the 4 glasses of wine and the majority of the plagues, that we will add in next time.

The Seder Plate

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The Seder plate has food on that is symbolic of the Jews leaving Egypt:

  • matzah – is the cracker like bread that the Jews made before leaving Egypt, but didn’t have time to let it rise.  It baked on their backs.
  • the “roasted” egg (though this one was not) – symbolized the renewal and cycle of life generations later
  • an orange – symbolizing solidarity with the LGBT community
  • bitter herbs (usually horseradish) reminds us of the bitter times when we were slaves in Egypt
  • the shank bone (a bone from a lamb, but you can see the dog bone for this one) – represents the lamb that was the special  sacrifice the night before the exodus from Egypt
  • Charoset – the apple, nuts, and wine mixture that represents the mortar of the bricks the Jewish had to make as slaves in Egypt
  • Parsley or Celery dipped in salt water – to symbolize the tears shed by the Jews in slavery

The Matzah

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Yehudah GF Matzah

The best GF Matzah out there is Yehudah matzah.  It was marked on our table, because it technically can’t be used for sacrimental purposes since it does not contain any wheat.  However, it tastes far better than the gluten matzah (like potato chips) and doesn’t make you constipated!!

Lighting the Candles

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Lighting the Candles

It is customary to light the candles to welcome the holiday into the home.  Here my daughter and nephew were helping my mom.

Breaking the Middle (GF) Matzah (Afikomen)

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Breaking the Middle Matzah with Bop

During the Seder, from the stack of 3 matzah on the table, you take the middle one and break it in half.  The larger “half”, called the Afikomen, symbolizes the lamb sacrifice (which is sacrificed no more since the Biblical Jewish Temple was destroyed.  The Afikomen is then wrapped up in a napkin and hidden for the kids to find after the Seder is over.  It’s like their incentive to sit through the whole Seder.  Once it is found, money is usually handed out.  When my mom told everyone they would get a present, my daughter was super excited.  My mom handed out $2 bills and my daughter says, “This is not a present!!”

Appetizer: The Matzah Ball Soup

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Using Stickers while Awaiting the Soup

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Yum! The Delicious GF Matzah Ball Soup!

Matzah Ball Soup is on of the traditional foods served at Passover.  A thin chicken stock is used and the balls are made out of matzah meal (ground matzah).  These GF matzah balls were served to all the guests and no one knew the difference.  They were light and fluffy.  They were the best GF matzah balls I’ve had yet.  (See recipe for Gluten-Free Matzah Balls below).

The Meal

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Utensil-less Eating of the Delicious Passover Meals

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My Sister and Niece Eating a Yummy GF Meal

The whole meal was gluten-free (and dairy-free), and why not?!!  We had brisket, turkey, carrot souffle, green beans with almonds, and wild rice.  Feel free to ask for any of the recipes.

The Modern Seder

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My Gma Video-Chatting with her Newest Great-Grand Child

Write and tell me about your Seder traditions and experiences and ways of making it gluten-free and/or kid-friendly!

Mother’s Matzo Balls

adapted from Keneseth Israel Sisterhood Cookbook out of Louisville, Kentucky 1971

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GF Matzah Ball Soup

Serving Size: about 30, 1.5″ in diameter balls

Ingredients:

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  • 3 tbsp of chicken fat (skimmed off of the top of homemade chicken stock)
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup matzah meal
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp of soup stock
  • pot of stock (we use chicken that we made)

Directions:

  1. Mix fat, eggs, seasoning and liquid.
  2. Add matzah meal and mix lightly until blended.
  3. Cover the mixing bowl and place in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.
  4. Bring stock to a brisk boil.
  5. Make matzah balls using about a tsp to scoop them out and drop them into briskly boiling stock.
  6. Cover pot and simmer for 40 minutes.
  7. Enjoy!

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Finished Growth Chart

I LOVE to craft and especially for my friends who have just had babies.

My criteria for making things:

1. It needs to be useful
2. It needs to be something that will be used for more than just a few months
3. It needs to be personal

I decided that I wanted to make something I’d never made before.  So, after doing lots of research, I came across this amazing growth chart from Whipperberry.com, in which the height is pinned on by tags (not featured in the picture above).

The instructions were not as clear as I would have likes, and finding the supplies definitely proved more challenging.  This is what I did and what I’ve learned:

DIY Jute Growth Chart

Supplies:

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– *Jute (burlap) webbing (it’s about 3.5″ wide), at least 6.5 ft long = 78″ long = about 2.5 – 3 yds if wanting to make the numbers up to 6 ft (.85/yd)
– tape measure (or ruler)
– tape (if using tape measuring to hold it next to chart
– *black shower curtain grommet (1″ in diameter for pack of 8) – from Hobby Lobby 6.99

3 1/4" Round Glass Jar with Flip Lid

3 1/4″ Round Glass Jar with Flip Lid

1" Matte Black Curtain Grommets

1″ Matte Black Curtain Grommets

– hammer (to secure grommet)
– sharp scissors (to cut hole for grommet)
– 1 fine point black sharpie (came in 2 pack for about 2.99)
– 1 ultra fine point black sharpie (came in pack of 2 for 3.99)
– *1 set of stencils with letters and numbers (mine were 2″ sized by C-Thru Better Letter in the “Marker” font) – I got mine at Michael’s, but can’t find them online.  I also recommend getting a smaller size as well.  Hobby Lobby has some fun ones and you can sort by size of the stencil.
– *key tags (from hardware or office supply store) – I used 1/2 the box (7.79 for 50 tags)

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Book Box

– *extra large safety pins (from craft supply store, the brand I got was care & repair) – about 2.99 for 50
– *3 1/4″ Round Glass Jar with Flip Lid – from Hobby Lobby 1.99
– *box to put finished chart in – I found these cute book boxes at Michael’s (8.99, which I got for 6.29 on sale)

Total Cost*: $34.25 (the items are an investment, but once you have them, then you don’t have to purchase many of them again.

Price of items per chart (dividing everything into individual items): $22.75

Directions:

1. Layout jute and use measuring tape to cut to length you want.  My first one was too short at just 6′, so I would cute it to 6.5 ft or  about 78 inches.

2. Put your grommet in next by lining it up in the center at the top and tracing around it.  I found that I kept having to make my whole a bit wider than I thought.

3. Cut out the hole with your scissors.

4.  Place front and back of grommet around hole.  I tried to use a hammer to get them to snap into place, but I actually found that I had to stand on it with my heel.

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Measuring Tape Taped to Chart

5. Line up your measuring tape along the side of the jute.  I used clear tape to tape it into place.

6. With my ultra fine point marker, I started by marking all the feet first (i.e. at 12″, 24″, 36″, etc.).  I made about an inch long horizontal line across and it’s about 1/8″ thick.  I did an outline of the rectangle and went back later to fill it in.

7. Then, I used my ultra fine point marker to make small (about 1/4 inch long)  horizontal lines at all the odd numbered inches, starting at 1,3,5, etc., and I made about 1/2 inch long lines at the even numbers.  The even numbered line with all the way to the red stripes.  Again, about 1/8″ thick.

8.  I went back to shade in all the marks with the thicker of the sharpies.

9. Then, I used my stencils and lined them up at the foot marks.  I used my ultra fine sharpie to trace it and the thicker one to fill them in.

10.  Finally, I chose to put the family’s last name on the chart so that both boys could use it.  That was a bit trickier, because I realized I was running out of room between the 6th and 5th foot.  Another reason to make your chart longer so the grommet doesn’t interfere.  I used my stencils with the ultra fine marker to trace the letters and then I filled them in with the thicker one.  I also noticed that I couldn’t use large letters the whole way down, because I was running out of room.  I had to use smaller stencils. 

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Completed Chart Package

11.  When I was done, I flipped it over on the back to write a personal message.

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Personal Message on Back of Chart

Please tell me what kinds of creative additions you made to your chart or anything you learned while making it!

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Klehr Dough and Supplies

It was another cold and blustery day here in Philly.  Terribly bone chilling, that I just couldn’t force myself to take my daughter outside.  We called over a friend, and I decided to make some gluten-free play dough.  Well, of course, I was somehow out of rice flour, but found Pamela’s gf flour blend that was past its prime, and decided to try it out.  (Normally I would never use an expensive gf flour blend, but this seemed totally worth not wasting!)  The best part was that my daughter asked if she could eat it, and I made food-grade play dough, so yes, it’s totally edible!

*BIRTHDAY IDEA*:  We made this as give-aways for my daughter’s 3rd birthday.  We bought little containers at the dollar store, and each child got to add colored glitter of choice to his/her container.

When playing with our play dough, we bring out all sorts of utensils from both her kitchen and mine, along with cookie cutters, and b-day candles.  It really adds to the fun!  Tell me what you like to use with your play dough.

Gluten-Free Play Dough Recipe

The Recipe is adapted from Kids with Food Allergies Foundation

Serving Size: 1 batch = will fill a 16 oz container. A double batch will fill a 32 oz yogurt container.

Ingredients:

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India Tree All-Natural Food Dye

– 1+1/4 cup of rice flour or gf flour blend (I have done both and come out great!)
– 1/2 cup of salt (I used Himalayan salt, and it turned the dough a light pink)
– 2 tsp cream of tartar
– 1 cup water
– 1 tbsp oil
– 1/4 tsp gf vanilla (I use frontier vanilla flavor, so there’s no alcohol involved)
– glitter or sparkles (optional)
– food coloring (optional) – I like to use all natural (GF) food coloring from India Tree

Supplies:

– large pot
– mixing spoon or spatula
– measuring cups and spoons
– airtight container to put play dough in
– cookie cutters (optional)
– b-day candles (optional)

Directions:

1. Mix dry ingredients in large pot first: flour, salt, cream of tartar
2. Add water and oil and mix
3. Heat over the stove top at a medium heat.
4. Stir constantly for about 5 minutes, until mixture pulls away from sides.
5. Add vanilla and mix thoroughly.*
6. When cool, place in air tight container. (We like to reuse old yogurt containers.)

*Options:
1. You can add food coloring to the water before you stir it in.  You can always add it after you’ve made the dough, but it will stain your hands.
2. You can add sparkles or glitter to the batch once its made.

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