Monday, December 10, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

If there was only one treat I could eat for the rest of my life, I would immediately name these as the one.  My fiance likes to say that he fell in love with me for these - before he had any clue about all of the food allergy business, or had formed any ideas of what "safe" food should or should not taste like.  Anyone who tries these is immediately in heaven.  They are so soft, moist, fragrant, addicting.... lol.             Of course, the advent of Mandie's chocolate allergy in late July put a bit of a damper on these for a while, but we have found that by subbing Sunmaid Cape Cod cranberries for the chocolate chips makes her just as happy. I LOVE making that girl happy with food!  I also love how easy these are to make. I often make these in my mini muffin tins to freeze and later send to school for her snacks for the week.  When I sent these with her for her class snack, she said that every single person and both teachers just loved them and hoped she'd bring them another time! ;) Now THAT is my idea of a successful recipe!  

(makes 12 muffins)
1 cup plain pureed pumpkin (Libby's brand is top 8 & corn free)
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed
1 tsp. pure vanilla
1 cup sorghum flour
2/3 cup BRM all purpose flour
1 1/3 cups pure cane sugar
1 tsp. Hain grain free baking powder
1 tsp. guar gum
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
½-3/4 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips (Ghirardelli semi-sweet chips are also dairy/gluten free)*
½ cup chopped, toasted pecans (OPTIONAL)
Cinnamon Sugar**

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a muffin tin with paper liners. Spray liners with cooking spray.   Put pumpkin, water, oil, flaxseed, & vanilla in a food processor.  Blend for 60 – 90 seconds, until light colored and well blended.  Set aside.   In a mixing bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder and soda, spices, and guar gum.  Add the pumpkin mixture and mix well.  Stir in chocolate chips and pecans.  Using an ice cream scoop, divide batter into muffin papers.  Sprinkle tops with cinnamon sugar.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, testing after 30 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then cool on wire rack. 

*When making these for Mandie, I omit the chocolate chips and use Sunmaid Cape Cod Cranberries instead.  

Friday, November 30, 2012

Pumpernickel Bread

I first made this bread to go in our Thanksgiving stuffing (I use my Grandma's much loved recipe), and also because I was looking for a sub for my much craved rye bread.  I think I found it.  This is moist, fragrant, yummy, and very easy to make. I modified it from this recipe from Living Without Magazine, to be totally top 8 and corn free.  I think you'll agree, it is a hit!

1  Tbsp. caraway seeds
2/3 cup sorghum flour
1 1/2 tsp. Hain Featherweight grain free baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. guar gum
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. dried dill weed
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained OR 2 cups cooked & drained black beans
3 Tbsp. grape seed oil
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 Tbsp. dark molasses
3 Tbsp. flax meal
1/2 cup hot water

Combine flax meal and hot water in a small bowl.  Let stand til set, about 5 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a loaf pan.  In a small skillet, toast caraway seeds over medium heat, stirring constantly, about 2-4 minutes until fragrant. Remove from heat.    In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and powder.  In a food processor, combine rained beans, oil, maple syrup, and molasses. Puree until very smooth. Add flax gel and pulse until combined.  Pour bean mixture into dry mixture and stir well.  Add in caraway seeds.   Transfer batter to prepared pan.  Bake for 35-40 minutes.  When it is done, the top will be firm and a toothpick will come out clean.  Remove immediately from pan and cool on a wire rack. Store in fridge once it is completely cool.

Linked to: Gluten-Free Fridays #16

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Chicken Nuggets and French Fries

I came across the recipe for these nuggets and thought it would be fun to have a typical "kid" meal of chicken nuggets and fries for the kids on Saturday night.  Of course, being gluten, corn, dairy, soy etc. free - NOTHING is easy, not even chicken nuggets. lol     Still, they tasted good, but I was frustrated that the meal took about 2 hours to make from start to finish.  NOT what I call a "quick, easy, kid-friendly" meal!  I baked my nuggets instead of frying them, though I tried frying some also and was not pleased with how the chicken seemed overdone.    I found the recipe, Chicken Tortas  here on The Allergist Mom's website:   

For my fries, I just peeled yellow potatoes, cut them in half lengthwise, then in half again, then quartered them - also lengthwise.  I put them in a bowl, sprinkled them with grapeseed oil and coarse sea salt, laid them flat on a jellyroll pan, and baked them at 450 for about 20-30 minutes. They turned out beautifully!    I do have to say that the kids absolutely loved the meal!  Mandie ate hers with her homemade ketchup, smiling the whole time.      The fries are a staple in our house, but I think I will stick to my simple chicken strips next time! 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Baked Beans

One of our all time favorite side dishes is baked beans.  We have tried almost every variety from the store, and due to allergy issues, used to use plain pork & beans and add our own things to make them baked beans.  However, I knew there was a healthier way to do them, and researched homemade baked bean recipes.  The first time I made them I was hooked!!!  What a difference in taste!!  My kids LOVE baked beans, and these are their favorites.  I do wish that they were quicker to make, as I often miss the convenience of opening a can.  I may make up a huge batch in my roaster oven and can them... when I have a few free minutes, which of course won't be til after our wedding in May! lol           In spite of the time these require, they are not difficult.  Most of the time is in soaking, boiling, or baking.   Give them a try and see if you go back to canned baked beans!

Old Fashioned Baked Beans

1 lb dry beans - I've used cranberry beans, pintos, great northerns, etc.
1/4 lb bacon, cut up (optional)
1 large sweet onion, diced
1/2 cup molasses or maple syrup
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tsp. dry mustard (optional - we omit due to Mandie's mustard allergy)
1/2 - 1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3-4 cloves garlic, quartered
chicken broth (Kitchen Basics brand is gluten, dairy, soy, corn free)
tomato juice

Rinse beans.  In large pot, combine beans with 8 cups cold water.  Leave soak overnight.  (OR: boil, reduce heat, & simmer 2 minutes. Remove from heat & cover for 1 hour)  Drain & rinse beans  Cover with 4 cups chicken broth and 4 cups tomato juice (or 8 cups cold water), and add garlic cloves.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat, & simmer 1 1/2 hours.  Drain beans, reserving cooking liquid.  In an oven-safe covered baker or bean pot (I use the Pampered Chef covered baker) combine all ingredients plus 1 cup reserved cooking liquid.  Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 2 1/2 - 3 hours or until beans are tender.  You can also put the bean mixture in a crockpot and cook on high for 4 hours. 

Linked to Weekend Whatever and Gluten Free Fridays 


Salsa Chicken

The salsa chicken was a recipe I came across on Pinterest, I believe, and modified to be safe for Mandie.  My baked bean recipe is a combination of many I have experimented with over the years, and have made completely Mandie safe.  The chicken is fantastic, as it cooks in the crock pot! This recipe could easily be modified to use your favorite brand of salsa.  I may even play with cooking the rice in the slow cooker with the chicken. 

Salsa Chicken Over Rice

5 chicken breasts
2 cups diced tomatoes
1 diced green pepper
1 diced Vidalia onion
1/2 fish pepper, diced
2 Tbsp. pure cane sugar
3 cups jasmine rice
chicken broth

Combine tomatoes, pepper, onion, fish pepper, and sugar in a bowl.  Mix well. Pour 1/2 of mixture on bottom of crock pot.  Lay chicken breasts on top of salsa. Add the rest of the salsa on top of the chicken.  Cook on high for 4 hours.  After 4 hours, make sure chicken is fully cooked, then using two forks, shred it finely, and mix with salsa.  Leave lid off while you cook the rice. 
In a rice cooker, combine rice and chicken broth.  Cook until done.    Serve chicken and salsa mixture on top of the rice.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Crispy Polenta with Bacon and Baby Bellas

This is a wonderful, yummy meal that we make on our kid free nights, as Mandie can't have polenta (corn), and none of the kids like mushrooms.  It is very easy to do, but requires just a tiny bit of advanced planning, as the polenta has to cool and set up in the fridge before it can be fried.  The taste and texture is incredible.  The polenta is crispy on the top and bottom, and creamy on the inside, making it the perfect pairing for the bacon mushroom gravy. 

Crispy Polenta with Bacon and Baby Bellas

4 cups water
1 cup corn meal
1 tsp salt
2-3 cloves garlic, diced

In a small pot, bring 3 cups of water and salt to a boil.  In a small bowl, whisk together corn meal and garlic.  When water boils, stir cornmeal mixture into boiling water.  Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened.  Cover and cook on low for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Place plastic wrap in and over the edges of an 8x8 baking dish.  Pour hot cornmeal into dish, smoothing the top with wooden spoon.  Cover and refrigerate up to 12 hours.  

Bacon and Baby Bellas:
1 lb bacon, chopped
1 lb Baby Bella or other mushrooms, chopped
1 Vidalia onion, diced
chicken broth
balsamic vinegar 

In a skillet, cook the bacon until cooked, but not quite crispy.  Add onion and mushroom, cooking for about 5 minutes.  Add 1 cup of chicken broth and maybe 1 Tbsp. of vinegar.  Cook another 5-10 minutes, until some of the liquid reduces.   
 While you in the last cook time of the bacon, heat 1/2 inch of olive oil in a skillet.  Turn cooled polenta on to a cutting board, and cut into 4 pieces.  Fry polenta in oil until crispy, flip over and fry other side until crispy.   Serve with bacon mushroom gravy on top. 

Linked to: Weekend Whatever #47 

Linked to:  Gluten-Free Fridays #14


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My version of Maid Rites

Unless you are from IA, you may not know what Maid Rites are.  My parents are both from IA, and my mom grew up near Muscatine, where Maid Rites are from.   Naturally, she figured out how to make our favorite food, which just happens to be totally allergy friendly for us!  

This is what ours look like.  Of course, if you get them at a Maid Rite Diner, they come on a bun, with fries, a pickle, and ketchup and mustard if you like.  I like ours on fresh homemade bread, and I usually top mine with a bit of mayonnaise, and a few dill pickle slices if I am in the mood for them.     

Maid Rites
1 lb ground pork
minced garlic
1/2 finely minced onion
dash of celery salt

Combine everything in a skillet, breaking up meat as it cooks.  

See?  Simple!!!   Maybe it's just an IA thing, but I think they are totally yummy!!!!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Weekly Menu for 11-12-12 to 11-18-12

Since this blog is all about living with extreme allergies, I thought I'd post my weekly menu plan each Monday, and if the meal recipes aren't already on here, I will post them during the week.  This was brought up to me as an idea to help people new to the allergy world figure out what exactly to eat.

Monday: (no kid night) Leftover Maid Rite meat on toast, canned asparagus, canned corn     Free of dairy, soy, gluten, nuts

Tuesday: (Kids eating at Grandma's before church) Crispy Polenta with Bacon and Baby Bellas    Free of dairy, soy, gluten, eggs

Wednesday: Rice Bowls   Top 8 Free, corn free, Mandie-safe with variation

Thursday:  Beef Veggie Stew with toast   Top 8 free, corn free, Mandie-safe

Friday: Chicken Tortas, Baked Fries, Salad w/dressing  Mandie-safe

Saturday:   Shredded BBQ Chicken & Baked Beans     Top 8 Free, Mandie-safe

Sunday:  Spaghetti, green beans, salad w/dressing  Top 8 Free, Mandie-safe


Friday, November 9, 2012

Mock Corn Bread

Since losing corn, one of the things we missed the most was cornbread.  I have spent much time thinking and stewing over this issue, as we LOVE cornbread with chili or other soups.    As I was thinking about the issue a few nights ago, planning to put my White Chili in the crockpot for our Thursday night dinner, it hit me.  Millet!  Millet flour, especially freshly ground in my Magic Bullet, should be an excellent sub for corn meal.  The texture is similar when home ground, the color is fairly similar, and the taste ought to be close.  I found my favorite cornbread recipe, played around with ingredients to fit Mandie's current restriction list, and came up with a HUGE hit!  The kids and Steve all LOVED it, and agreed that it was far better even than corn bread.   We ate it the same way, cut in half and spread with Earth Balance Soy Free Buttery Spread (all except Mandie, as it is not safe for her due to the palm, safflower, corn, and sunflower) and our choice of toppings. Steve, Mandie and I love pure maple syrup, Truman loves honey, and Hunter insists on sorghum.     However you top it, I'm sure this will be a huge hit!

Mock Corn Bread
1 ¼ cups millet flour (I grind my own, to make it a bit rougher texture)
½ cup sorghum flour
½ cup Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free flour
1/3 cup Domino Pure Cane sugar
2 tsp. Hain Featherweight Baking Powder
¼ cup whole millet or flax meal
1 ½ tsp. guar gum
1 tsp. sea salt
2 large eggs (or 2 Tbsp. Flax meal dissolved in 4 Tbsp. hot water)
1 cup hemp or hazelnut milk
1/3 cup grapeseed oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. If using flax, combine it with water and let stand 5 minutes.  Grease and 8” square baking pan with cooking spray.  In a medium bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, flax meal, guar gum, and sea salt.  Make a well in the center.   In a small bowl, combine eggs (or flax gel), milk, and oil.  Stir into dry mixture.     Pour into prepared pan and smooth the top.   Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes, until top is firm and lightly browned and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Serve warm with Earth Balance Buttery Spread and pure maple syrup, sorghum, or honey. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Breakfast Bake


2 cups quinoa flakes/gluten free quick cooking oats
1/3 cup packed brown sugar (Domino brand)
1 ½ tsp. Hain Featherweight grain free baking powder
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. cloves
¼ tsp. allspice
½ tsp. sea salt
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup milk
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts
Milk or syrup or brown sugar for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8”x8” square baking dish with cooking spray.    In a medium sized bowl, combine the quinoa flakes (or oats), brown sugar, baking powder, salt, spices, and nuts.  In a separate bowl, combine milk, eggs, pumpkin, vanilla, and oil.  Stir into the dry ingredients until well blended.  Let stand 5 minutes to absorb moisture.      Pour mixture into greased pan.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a table knife inserted in center comes out clean.   Cut into squares.  Serve with brown sugar or syrup and milk.

A variation of this recipe was posted in a celiac group on facebook, using gluten free oats.  I immediately thought of how easy it would be to use quinoa flakes so that Mandie could eat it.  I was really hoping that it would be something she'd love, since I felt so bad about having to pull her beloved Apple Cinnamon Chex due to corn in them....      Thankfully, I was right!  She LOVED it!!!  An 8" square pan will make enough for her to eat all week for breakfast!         I also love that this recipe is very versatile.  Next time I may try tossing in some blueberries instead of the pumpkin, and add some grated lemon peel. I could add cashews instead of the walnuts.  Another time I may toss in finely chopped apple, and sub pecans for the walnuts.    I also want to try this recipe in mini muffin cups, so I could send it as a snack for Mandie for the school week.  I am also anxious to try it with gluten free oats for the rest of our family.  

Friday, November 2, 2012

Coffee Mug Swap

Last month a friend posted a link to Cook Family Chronicles blog and the Coffee Mug Swap that Heather was going to do.  It sounded like the perfect idea to me, as I really love my hot tea 2-3 times a day, and ADORE fun, meaningful mugs.   I also really enjoyed reading Heather's blog and Twitter feeds.    I was so excited when I got the e-mail with my swap partner's name, Christie Hill.  I found her blog, Satisfaction Through Christ and immediately loved what she had to say.  I friended Christie on Facebook, and followed her on Twitter.  The more I got to see of who she was, the more I got excited to find a wonderful mug for her.    I saw a beautiful mug in a catalog, and went online to order it.  It was a beautiful nativity scene, which seemed to be perfect for my new friend. I tried for three days to order it online, but every single time, something went wrong and it would not work.  Closing in on the deadline, I went to one night and searched for coffee mugs.  The selection was overwhelming, but I asked God to help me know when I saw the right one.  After searching multiple pages, my eye kept being drawn to a beautiful sunny yellow mug that said blessings. Both the color and the verse from Psalms seemed to be a perfect fit for Christie's inspiring blog, so I had it sent to her with a note, praying that I'd picked the right one.  A few days later I heard from her and found out just how much she loved it.  :D Obviously God knew what she needed and loved much better than I did.
The day after I sent out Christie's mug, I got a phone call after my morning bus route that sent my world into a tailspin.  My best friend Becky, who was closer than a sister to me, and was the ONLY one (including my family) who saw the troubles in my marriage and helped me make the decision to leave  and supported and helped me through everything, had passed away suddenly from a blood clot in her lungs.  The day afterwards, which happened to be my birthday, there was a box at my door. I honestly didn't even think about the coffee mug swap. I just figured my mom had sent me a birthday gift, instead of waiting til our family dinner that coming weekend.   I was so excited and moved to tears when I opened the box to find the sweetest note from Christie, and this beautiful mug

I was moved to tears.  How totally perfect for me!  The verse is Matthew 6:8 "Remember, your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask Him!"  This verse has proven true so very many times in my life, in my dangerous marriage.... in the lives of my kids and them coming into my life.... in how I met my fiance and how God has worked all of those circumstances out before I even knew what or how to pray...    God also blessed me by having it be delivered as a bright spot in that most difficult day.  Every time I use my mug (multiple times all day long) I think of how the yellow matches Christie's mug, and of how God always knows what we need and is always there for us.    I am certain He directed me to the mug swap in the first place, for this and myriad other reasons which we can't yet see.  I don't know about you, but I am excited each day to see how God is going to speak to me and use me to bless others.

Check out Christie's post here Satisfaction Through Christ Mug Swap and all of the other wonderful swap stories here: Cook Family Chronicles Coffee Mug Swap Link Up

Linked to Weekend Whatever Linkup #45