Monday, October 22, 2012


Ah the life of a mom of a corn free kid... My latest venture has been in ketchup making.  Since going corn free, we have found that there is not a commercial ketchup that is safe for Amanda.  What 5 year old can eat fresh french fries or hash browns or tenderloins without ketchup?  I decided to use some of the abundance of tomatoes from our garden to try this recipe.  I am happy to say it was a HUGE hit with Mandie!  It takes a bit of time, but with the last of the tomatoes I am going to quarter them and freeze in gallon freezer bags for our next batch.  As it was simmering, it really smelled like I'd spilled a jug of Hunt's on the floor!  It is a bit thin, but I will play with adding a bit of guar gum.

HOMEMADE KETCHUP – free of gluten, dairy, corn
Makes about 1 pint
1 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
 ½ yellow onion, chopped
4 lbs ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped
½ cup cider vinegar
2 tsp. sea salt
1 ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp. ground allspice
¼ tsp. ground cayenne pepper
¼ tsp. ground ginger
½ cup packed brown sugar*
1 Tbsp. molasses

Heat oil in a wide heavy-bottomed non-reactive pan over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring, occasionally, until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for about one minute, stirring constantly.  Add the tomatoes, vinegar, salt, pepper, allspice, cayenne, and ginger and cook until the tomato pieces fall apart, about 20 minutes.
 Working in batches, puree in a blender until smooth, and strain through a food mill.  Stir in the brown sugar and molasses, return the mixture to the stove and cook again over medium heat, stirring often, until it thickens a bit more, about 30 minutes.  Taste for seasoning.
Let ketchup cool to room temp, where it will thicken a bit more, then transfer it to jars with tight fitting lids.  Will keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.  Can also be canned for longer storage.  I found it not so thick, so I added 1 tsp. of guar gum to thicken it a bit more.

*Domino brand sugar is pure cane sugar and not from GMO beets.

Friday, October 19, 2012

White Bean & Bacon Soup

I was looking through my soup recipes the other night, for something that used ingredients I had on hand (hadn't been grocery shopping in a few weeks), and would be warm, comforting, and yummy on that cold rainy day.  I also needed something that could go in the crockpot, so it would be ready when we got home from work, before we ran out the door again to church.  I ended up finding a very basic recipe and adding a few things til I was satisfied.    My family LOVED this soup!  We ate it with a couple of slices of toast from my bread.  Luckily, Steve and I had enough left for our lunch the next day!

White Bean & Bacon Soup

1 lb bacon, fried until crisp, and crumbled
3 cans white beans
1 vidalia onion, diced
3 large carrots, peeled and diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 potatoes, diced
freshly ground salt, pepper, and fennel

Chop and fry bacon.  While bacon is frying, pour beans into crockpot.  Add minced garlic and spices to taste.   When bacon is done, use a slotted spoon and remove to pot with beans.  Saute carrots, onions, and potatoes in bacon grease until crisp tender.  Add to pot.  Cook on low for 6 hours.  
This is a very yummy, comforting soup.  For a vegetarian option, fry a pound of baby bella mushrooms in a bit of grapeseed oil in place of the bacon.    This is a soup we will be making often! 

Linked to: Weekend Whatever Link-Up #43 

Linked to: Gluten Free Fridays #10 


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Lexie Naturals: Natural Multi-Purpose Citrus Cleaner

This is a phenomenal idea, which I plan to begin making this week!

Lexie Naturals: Natural Multi-Purpose Citrus Cleaner: I love a clean house, but it's always been a love/hate relationship (until recently).   What do I mean by this?  I mean, I've always t...

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Incredible Sandwich Bread

 I don't know about you, but for me personally, nothing hits the spot for lunch like a sandwich.  The challenge with all of our allergies is finding bread that is yummy (they are getting better, but many gluten and dairy free breads are not so tasty) and safe for all 5 of us - which is a challenge with Mandie's allergies.  Luckily, I grew up on homemade bread, and have never really liked much store bought bread.  I have baked bread for YEARS, both with gluten and dairy and now gluten and dairy etc. free.  This recipe is a compilation of multiple attempts with multiple recipes.  It is not only tasty, but holds together well (not dry and crumbly like many gluten free breads), is a wonderful size for sandwiches, and is full of whole grains (my personal fave!). It is very easy to mix up, though I think I will start making bags full of the dry ingredients for use during tax season/wedding dress making season this year!

Best Sandwich Bread
(Large) Bowl 1:
1 cup white rice flour
1 cup sorghum flour
½ cup amaranth flour
1/2 cup millet flour
1 cups tapioca flour
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten free flour
1/2 cup potato starch
3 tsp guar gum
2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp. white sugar
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 cup warm water
3 whole eggs and 3 Tbsp. flax meal + 9 Tbsp. hot water (OR 6 Tbsp. flax plus 1 cup hot water)
3 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
 (Small) Bowl 2:
2 cups warm water (microwave 30 seconds)
4 ½ tsp (2 packets) yeast
2 Tbsp. sugar

   If using flax, combine it with water and allow to gel.   
 Fill an oven safe baking dish (I used my 9x9 cake pan) with warm water and place it on the last rack in the oven.  Turn oven on to warm setting, or 200 degrees.
    Add the sugar to small bowl 2, then add the yeast and the warm water.  Set aside while you work on bowl 1.
    Combine all ingredients in bowl 1 (EXCEPT EGGS or flax AND OIL).  Before adding eggs and oil, make sure that dry ingredients are whisked completely.
    Make a small well in the center of the flour mixture.  Put eggs, flax,  and oil into the well, mixing with a fork.  Slowly pour in foamy yeast mixture, while continuing to stir with the fork.  Add warm water.  Make sure it isn’t lumpy, but do not over mix.
    Turn off the oven.  Spray 2 bread pans (I use the gf bread loaf pans from King Arthur Flour for the best rise) with non-stick spray and pour the bread dough into the pan, smoothing out the top with a spoon.  Place the bread pan into the oven, on the middle rack. Let rise for 30 minutes.
     After rise is up, remove the water, and leave the bread in the oven and turn oven on to 350 degrees.  Bake the bread for 35 – 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center is not sticky and bread sounds hollow when tapped.  If bread gets too dark on top you may cover with foil sprayed with cooking spray.  Cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool on rack until completely cool.  I store mine in Green Bags in the fridge.  

 The yeast when it is ready to pour into the bread.

 The flax gel after it has set up.  It is the consistency of eggs.

 The bread in the loaf pans from King Arthur Flour 

The bread after a 30 minute rise.
Linked to Vegetarian Mama Gluten Free Fridays #9

Whole Intentions Weekend Whatever Link-Up #42

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Chicago FAAN Walk Photos

   The Chicago FAAN Walk for Food Allergy took place on Sunday, September 30th, in Lincoln Park.  It was a beautiful day for a walk, temps in the 60's with a slight breeze, leaves starting to turn beautiful colors.   Six of us walked as part of team Amanda's Allergy Annihilators - the five of us plus my mom.  We wore blue shirts with our team name on them, except for miss Mandie, who had a pink shirt.  It was cute, and fitting.   
    The day started with registration at noon.  After we all got signed in, we headed over to the FAAN table to get our 2012 walk tee's, with the logo "We walk to save a life" on them.  After getting our shirts, we walked around and stopped at all of the vendor and information tables, collecting information and samples from Divvies, MOCHA of Chicago, Surf Sweets, Mabel's Labels, Sunbutter, Enjoy Life foods, Home Free treats, Dr. Lucy's cookies, Udi's, Wowbutter, Cherrybrook Kitchen, Gimbal's, Vermont Nut Free Chocolates, Barney Butter, Allergic Living Magazine, Mylan (Epi Pens), and Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.

   Of course, Mandie could not eat any of the allergy safe treats that the rest of us sampled - due to the extent and number of her allergies, however I planned for that and brought her some Yummy Earth suckers and Surf Sweets Organic Fruity Bears, which are the ONLY gummy candy that is safe for Mandie.  Between those and an apple she was perfectly content.  Of course, having a couple of cashew butter and strawberry jelly sandwiches and pumpkin mini muffins in the van didn't hurt either! 

     At noon, Eleanor Garrow of FAAN kicked off the program and gave out awards to teams and individuals who raised the most money.  She also honored Denise Bunning and Anne Thompson of MOCHA,Dr. Jacqueline Pongracic of Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago - Honorary Medical Chair,

and introduced the junior ambassadors Thomas and Ann Majka (her children).  Next Sara Shannon of Canada talked about Sabrina's Law, as 9/30 was the 9th Anniversary of her daughter Sabrina's death.  The Chicago team exceeded the goal by almost $15,000 to date!  Our own small team raised almost $500, thanks to generous donations.

      At 1pm the walk kicked off with bubbles being blown for Sabrina.  We walked along the three mile course through Lincoln Park, through the zoo, along Lake Michigan, and back through the park.  Everyone walked at their own pace with their teams.  Our team was joined by Team Super Harper, consisting of my friend Hannah Hill and her son Harper, who is Mandie's age. They had a great time as Hannah and I got to chat about life with allergies (Harper also has peanut, soy, sunflower, palm, and coconut allergies).  Mandie was sooooo excited to have a friend with allergies like her!

                            Amanda in her pink team shirt.  Blue ribbons were for people walking with allergies, green ribbons for people walking for someone they love with allergies.
                                           Mandie, me, and Truman before the program started.
                                                             Eleanor Garrow and her children.
                                             My sweet, silly boys!  Steve, Truman, & Hunter.
                      Amanda's Allergy Annihilators:  Truman, my mom Cindi, Mandie, me, Hunter, and Steve.

                         Truman, Mandie and myself, Hannah, Harper (who is being a ghost), and Hunter.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Craving Tamer Chocolate Pudding

If you live with food allergies, especially dairy, soy, and corn, you know how difficult it is to find a delightful chocolate treat that satisfies you in the way chocolate pudding does.  It is comfort food.  It is what I missed most with the dairy and soy allergy.      Not any more!  I have a recipe that is quick and easy and tastes so rich and decadent that you will have no idea that it is dairy, soy, gluten, and corn free - and is even healthy!  Give it a try, even people who say they do not like avocados LOVE this pudding!


2 ripe, medium avocados
1/3 cup cocoa powder (or carob powder)
1/3 cup pure maple syrup (1/4 cup if using carob)
1/4 cup hazelnut or hemp milk (any safe milk works)
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt

Combine all ingredients in food processor, blending until smooth.  May need to add more milk to reach desired consistency.  May store in fridge, or eat immediately.  Chilling adds to the amazing mouth feel of this, and reduces any avocado taste.

             Carob pudding on the left, chocolate on the right.


Gluten Free Fridays #8 

Whole Intentions Weekend Whatever Link-Up #41