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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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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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Gluten-Free Renegade Latkes

Photograph taken by Brittany Sanford

At the last minute, I decided to throw a very small gathering Hannukah Party.  And of course, what’s a Hannukah party without Latkes.  I usually make sweet potato latkes, but this year I decided to get a bit more rebellious and cook with my most favorite ingredient . . . MOLASSES!  If you want to read more about the health benefits of molasses, check out the Frankenstorm Chocolate Chip Molasses Brittle Cookies Recipe.

My specialty is sweet potato latkes.  When I realized I only had two sweet potatoes in my kitchen, I knew creativity was to be born!  I decided to mix the sweet potatoes with butternut squash, but that would cut the sweetness.  I then decided to add apple to give it a sweet burst, and upon looking in the fridge, I had this burning desire to use my parsnip.  Well, then I concluded I needed it to be a bit sweeter, which gave me an excuse to use my favorite ingredient.  That’s right!  You guessed it . . . BLACKSTRAP MOLASSES!

Personally, I thought the latkes were sweet enough without the molasses, but my guests thought the molasses really hit the spot.

Gluten-Free Renegade Latkes

Serving Size: about 22 2″ in diameter latkes

Ingredients:

2 cups of grated sweet potato, skins scrubbed
2 cups of grated butternut squash, peeled and seeded
1/2 cup of grated apple, skins scrubbed and core removed
1/2 cup of grated parsnip, skins scrubbed
6 scallions chopped
1/2 onion chopped
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tbsp of blackstrap molasses
1/2 cup of gluten-free flour* (see #6 below for more details)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Frying Oil – Coconut, Canola, etc.

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 200*F

2. Grate the potato, squash, apple, and parsnip and put in separate containers.

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Grated Sweet Potato (front) and Butternut Squash (rear)
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Grated Apple (left) and Grated Parsnip (right)

2. Grate the potato, squash, apple, and parsnip.  The apple will need to be squeezed out.  I used a ricer to squeeze out the juices, which I caught in another cup and drank!  Then mix all the food you grated together in a large bowl.  If you decided to create your own base ingredient mix, then make sure that together it weighs about 1 lb or 16 ounces.

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3. Chop onions and scallions and toss them into the mix.

4. Add salt and pepper and toss.

5. Add slightly beaten egg and molasses and toss to mix evenly.

6. Add 1/2 cup of your gluten-free flour blend or 1/4 cup of a gluten-free 1/4 cup of a starch.  I use my hands to mix this in really well and make sure the consistency is just right.  If not, I add about a teaspoon at a time of more flour.  For one batch I used a gf flour blend, and another batch I mixed 1/4 cup of brown rice flour with 1/4 cup of tapioca starch.  As for flours, just pick one with a milder flavor and any starch will do.  Some people like to use potato starch, since you’re cooking with potato.  Other recipes call for only starch, but I really prefer the starch/flour combo or gf flour blend.

Latke Mix

7. Add oil to your pan so that it comes up about 1/4 of an inch high.  I set the burner to right below the highest heat setting and wait about 5 minutes to make sure my oil is good and hot.

8.  While the oil is heating up, I put parchment paper on a baking sheet, and set that in the preheated oven.

9. Then, I use my hands to make about a 2″ in diameter flat pancake.  I lay that on a spatula, and gently put it in the oil.  I put about 4-5 latkes in the oil so as not to decrease the heat too much.  You want the oil to bubble when you put it in.  I cook it for about 1-2 minutes per side.  When the edges start to brown, then you know to flip it.

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Frying Latkes

10. When the latkes are done, I transfer them onto the baking sheet in the oven.

11.  When all the latkes are completed, I turned my broiler onto low and just finished them off in there so that they would be super crispy.

12.  You can top with applesauce, sour cream, or some other fun dip!

The latkes turned about to be  AMAZING!!!  I was so glad I made 3 batches for 7 1/2 people.  I would not have had enough!

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My Little Family

I had been planning this day for many, many months. As my husband, a non-athlete, took up running almost 2 years ago, I never thought he would stick with it, and as it turns out, he just completed the Philly Marathon less than a week ago. I am so incredibly proud of him and honored to know him, that I had to come up with a way to support his dedication and honor his perseverance . . . A surprise 35th (gluten-free) birthday party with a running theme!
If there’s anything to know about me, it’s that I LOVE surprises, and I LOVE themes. So, with my dad’s help, it all began.
The theme: a 3.5 mile run for my husband’s 35th birthday. His last name starting with a K, the race was titled:

The BEN K 3.5 mile Run

1. We sent out Evites

Invitation

2. We began designing our race shirts. We first designed them with photoshop and then ironed on each one. I ordered iron-on transfers in bulk from amazon.com (18 for around $18) and the shirts from http://www.shirtsupplier.com (around $2/shirt). Since my husband is from Atlanta, I was able to create the old GA license tag with his birth county on the bottom,  the year he was born, and the year it is now on either side of the tag. All the “sponsors” were places that held importance in my husband’s life, whether it was the brand of shoe he wore (or had worn – my mistake!), his favorite breakfast place, or his alma matter.

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3. It was time to think about ordering the bibs from Athlete Race Number:

Of course Ben got the # 35 bib!

ben’s race number

(The bibs we got were a bit pricier, because my dad agreed to get those if we put him as a sponsor. We got 100 bibs for $45.52, but you can just order 100 plain numbers for $22.43)

4. We then drove around to map out the race course that started and ended at my parents’ house. We made maps of the course. We decided to have a 1.1 mile option as well for walkers and kids.

Benk 3.5 mile loop map

5. I ordered the 2 gluten-free cakes from Sally’s Gluten-Free Bakery in Atlanta, Ga. A 13″x9″ sheet cake came to $35. I also ordered a half-sized cake that came in the round. They iced the cake, but couldn’t decorate it. So, I called on my mother-in-law for her cake-decorating help! (By the way, the cakes are amazing!!! None of the guests knew the difference! And my MIL is amazing!!)

GF B-Day Cake from Sally’s GF Bakery

MIL Decorating Cake

6. Ordering the Food – ALWAYS LOOK FOR COUPON CODES!! I learned the hard way, that there are cheaper ways to do things. I decided to have bagels, veggies & dip, fruit, and water. Since I didn’t have enough time to chop the veggies myself due to the fact I was flying in for this, I called Publix (the grocery) who makes wonderful GF platters. (However, if I’d know, you could pick up platters in the grocery store that weren’t part of the catering for half the price. They didn’t look as nice though.) We got both GF bagels and gluten bagels, because they were cheaper and there was no need for everyone to eat GF.

Publix Fruit Platter (M) feeding 16-20 people = $36.99
Publix Veggie Platter (M) feeding 16-20 people = $29.99
Udi’s GF Bagels – 4 bagels for at least $6
Einstein’s Bagels (with 20% whole order coupon) – 13 dozen with 2 containers of spread for $14.50 (pre-coupon)


7. Making the Medals – I made witty race medals for everyone, but the birthday boy. Ben got a 1st place medal from TrophyPartner.com.
The other medals I made using an exacto knife and cardboard. Then I printed up labels with the race date info, slapped them on the back, punched holes with a hole puncher, threaded ribbon from the dollar store through it, and wrote on the front, i.e., from my architect friend I wrote “Fastest Leed Runner”
labeled benk medal

8. The Dollar Store Run – table clothes, platters, cups, napkins, cutlery, bubbles, candles, chalk

9. Creating the Silly Liability Running Waivers for all the many lawyers in the bunch, and whoever signed “agreed” that if they did not cross the finish line, they would pay for our daughter’s education (among other things). That was my dad’s cute idea.

brother-in-law (lawyer) carefully reading the liability waiver with dad

10. Chalking the Race Course – We chalked the whole race the morning of so people wouldn’t get lost.

Dad Chalking Start

11. The Surprise – Priceless!!

Surprised Husband

So, you want to know how I pulled it off? 

I told him that I was going to let him sleep late, and I’d take care of our daughter.  He had no problems with that.  We got up extra early, did everything we needed.  I had the guests arrive in the front to wait in the patio area.  Once they had all assembled, I woke Ben up and had him put on some clothes.  I told him I had made him breakfast and we were going to eat it on the patio outside.  So, this is his face when he made it outside .  .  .

12. The Start of the Race

At the Starting Line

13. The Award Ceremony – At the end of the race, each guest received their special medal and their t-shirt.

14. Ben K Trivia – Food and dessert were complemented by funny trivia all about my husband. We had door prizes to give out with my dad’s logo on them for the winners. One of the questions asked how tall Ben was. We measured him, and the winner got the tape measure!

It was truly an amazing morning! I found this the most fun, because it gave people a reason to be social and get to know one another (and all with-in budget).

Happy Birthday to the most Beautiful Man that I know!

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My daughter & Me at Thanksgiving Dinner

Autumn is one of my favorite times of year because it speaks to cool, crisp air, falling leaves, harvests, family gatherings, and lots of food.  This all sounds great!  Then the reality of the situation hits; my imagination runs wild and I see a playground for gluten: The slide is a big wet lasagna noodle, the swings seats are plump, cushy pumpkin muffins, the dirt is stuffing giving way under the shuffle of feet as animals, adults, and kids slurp and slide all over, smearing gluten from one play structure to the next.
Then the chilly fall air blows across my face and I’m back to reality – gobs of friends and family hovering over the food, fingers picking, serving spoons jumping from one platter to the next. . . This could end up as a regular old disaster, but I then I take hold of my imagination and decide to control the situation with ORDER.

To read more, click here . . .

This article can also be found on the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness’s Celiac Central: Bits and Bites Page

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