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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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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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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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Loaf Cooked to Perfection!

After being gone for 10 days, I had these very sorry black bananas staring at me. Out of guilt for not wanting to waste them, I decided it was time to make banana bread. Then, I remember all my squash I roasted and froze in the freezer. I took it out to thaw, and decided to add it. These always come out amazing every time!! No one even knows they’re GF or DF for that matter.

There are TWO secrets to gluten-free cooking:

  1. Weigh your flour!! I like to use the conversion chart to convert regular recipes to those gluten-free.
  2. Always add extra moist ingredients to breads, whether it be more bananas or (cooked) winter squash or applesauce. It gives it the moisture that’s often lacking in gluten-free baking.

Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Banana Squash Bread

(this recipe can also make muffins as well)

adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book 1996’s Banana Bread Recipe

Serving Size: 3 small loaf pans or 1 8x4x2-inch loaf pan

Preheat Oven to 350*F

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Finished Loaf

Ingredients:

  • about 1 1/4 gluten-free flour blend = 187.5 grams
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 egg (at room temperature)
  • 4 brown to black bananas (or about 1 cup. You can’t go wrong if you throw in more.)
  • 1 cup of roasted squash or pumpkin
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup sugar (with super ripe bananas, I find that 1/2 cup is perfect)
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla *optional* – use Frontier Vanilla Flavor which has no alcohol
  • 1/4 cup of chocolate chips (Enjoy Life are free of top 8 allergens) or nuts *optional*

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F
  2. Put parchment paper in the inside of the loaf or grease the loaf. If using muffin tins, grease the muffin tins or use muffin cups.

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    Combined Dry Ingredients

  3. In a medium mixing bowl combine and mix together
    all the dry ingredients:

    • GF flour blend
    • baking powder (GF)
    • baking soda
    • cinnamon
    • salt
  4. In another bowl, combine and whisk until blended:
    • egg
    • bananas
    • squash, pumpkin
    • sugar
    • cooking oil (I use safflower, because I prefer non-genetically modified oils).
    • vanilla
  5. Add moist mixture to the dry one and stir until just moistened and blended. Batter should be lumpy.
  6. Fold in optional ingredients.
  7. Divide batter equally among loaves and bake at 350*F for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center. If using different sized pans, then see note at bottom of recipe.*

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    Bread Divided Between 3 Loaves

  8. Cool and eat. Store in refrigerator in airtight container.

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    3 Loaves Ready to Eat!

* Pan Size Baking Time

One 9x5x3-inch loaf pan 1-1 1/4 hours
One 8x4x2-inch loaf pan 50-60 minutes
Two 7 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 2-inch loaf pan 40-45 minutes
Six 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 x 1 1/2-inch loaf pan 30-35 minutes
Twelve 2 1/2-inch muffin cups 15-20 minutes

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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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