August 31, 2016

One of Those Days...

You know when you have one of those days, and you just want to get back in bed and start over? That is where I am today, and here lately, it is where I have been almost everyday. Most days you would not know, because I hide it well. My five year old does not listen anymore, my nine month old is going on almost three weeks with ear infections, the dog is, well, she is the dog, and she is like having another child in and of itself. Then there I am... The one who is supposed to be holding us all together. "The Glue" they call us, the strong one. Whoever "they" are, "THEY" have no idea, because I am struggling. Some days I am struggling to the point of tears, other days I am struggling to the point of curling up in a ball and calling it a day, and that is before dinner. But everyday, somehow, I hold it together, that 'glue', holds tight and stays strong. I swear it's Gorilla glue.

"They" never told me how hard motherhood would be, but motherhood is hard. Motherhood with a spouse deployed is even harder. Motherhood with a deployed spouse, sick kids, and running your own business... Now that is just crazy, but I am doing it. That is where my amazing support system comes into play, and saying they are "amazing" is an understatement.

I have been diagnosed with a new (to me) and rare heart condition, so my husband moved us to my parent's house, before deployment. If it were not for their support, and their help, I would have lost my sanity and given up on this deployment, the minute he walked into that airport. You see, a support system is so important, as a military family. MY support system is amazing and I could not do it without them. I know I do not tell them nearly enough, but I am so grateful and so thankful to be here this deployment.

I know I am not the only one, but on days like this, I have a crutch. A big crutch. I think to myself that my crutch is the only way to get through the day. My head tells me that if I do not get that crutch, I may not make it. What is your crutch? We all have one. For some people it is coffee. Coffee is what I kept saying yesterday, would make the whole day better. For some people it is a glass of wine. For others it could be a Xanax and a nap. For few, it is just ending it all, which is sad, because even though they may not think so, there is always something worth living for.

All of this has been going through my head today and right before I sat down to write it all, the dog, remember the dog? She had some sort of asthma or breathing attack. When that happens, I drop everything and rush to her side. It is a very scary situation for her, because lets face it, she is like a baby, she has no idea what is going on. If it was my five year old, I could explain it, promise it would be over soon, and be a huge comfort. But for Koko, all I can do is hold her, or let her sit in my lap. You know what I was thinking during her attack? I was thinking, "OMG I NEED COFFEE!!!!! TODAY IS ROUGH!!!!". That is what I was thinking. I went straight to my crutch. You know what I should have been thinking? "I need Jesus. I need Jesus to take this stress from me." I need Him to be that crutch I lean on. Forget the coffee, it is only temporary. Jesus is forever.

My kids are sick, He is there.
My husband is deployed, He is there.
The bank account is emptier than it needs to be, He is there.
My business has taken a set back, He is there.
My health has taken a turn, He is there.

My worldly crutch? I have to go get it when I need it. I have to make it, or I have to beg for it, but my Jesus, He is always there. I don't have to beg for Him to come, I don't have to make Him come, He comes on His own. He never leaves. One of my new friends told me today, "Not today Satan." (And actually right now, she text me checking on me. She's a keeper! <3)

For too long, I've been letting him steal my joy, and I've been leaning on the wrong crutch. Well guess what Satan, I'm done. I'm done letting you make me think other things are my crutch, and those things are what I need to get through. Am I saying that I'll never have another cup of coffee?!? HA!!! OH NO!!!! I love a good coffee, but I'm done letting it be the thing I turn to, or letting it be the thing that I think I need. I just need Jesus.

1For the choir director; on a stringed instrument. A Psalm of David. Hear my cry, O God; Give heed to my prayer. 2From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.3For You have been a refuge for me, A tower of strength against the enemy.… Psalm 61:1-3

February 25, 2016

Sweet Potato Muffins

I do not know what has happened to my four and a half year old all of the sudden, but it is like her taste buds have come to the realization that there is more to life than grilled chicken, rice, broccoli, and protein bars. Ok, that is a little bit of an exaggeration because she also loves all sorts of fruits, eggs, pancakes, waffles, and of course cheese quesadillas, but one thing she has never really been a fan of, is sweet potatoes. Growing up, I was never really a fan of them either, so I have never pushed them on her, except when she was an infant, but still, it is like a switch was flipped, and all of the sudden, she is eating avocado and sweet potatoes by the spoon full. It is amazing, and I for one, am thrilled.

I have no idea what on earth inspired me to write this recipe, except for the fact that I had one lonely sweet potato sitting in a bowl on my counter, and it needed a purpose. I decided to peel it, shred it, and toss it in some muffin batter with cinnamon and hand it to my kiddo, and she ended up eating three. Yes, three. When I took pictures for this recipe, I ended up dicing it, and it was delicious, but the sweet potatoes still had a tiny bit of firmness to them, which we were all totally fine with, and-you could taste the sweet potato more than just when they were shredded. How you dice, shred, slice, whatever, is completely up to you. I usually do it different every time, because you know, I am no chef, I am just a home cook who likes to keep things fun, and "throws it all together". I hope you enjoy these as much as we do. Breakfast, snack, dessert, they are good for anything.

Sweet Potato Muffins
Yield: 8-10

2c. Pamela's Baking Mix
1/3c. Sugar
1T. Cinnamon
1 Egg
1/2c + 2T Water
2T Honey
1c. Peeled, Diced/Shredded/Chopped Sweet Potato (One small/medium Sweet Potato)

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine Dry ingredients in a mixing bowl with a fork. Mix in wet ingredients and then fold in sweet potatoes. Spray muffin tins or lined muffin tins with non stick spray and fill to the top of the liners or almost to the top of the tin. Bake for 16-18 minutes until muffins are just firm to the touch.

Sautéed Kale

For some reason, here lately, I am extremely obsessed with Kale. When I say obsessed, I mean obsessed. Like, I need the t-shirt, the car decal, the tire cover, the face tattoos, the phone cover, I know, it has gotten very out of hand. I feel like I have been blessed with the ability to take a vegetable that has the potential to taste like dirt, and make it taste delicious. I can take it the Italian route or the Asian route and on New Year's Day, it was our "Green" and we had it with pork, black eyed peas, and corn bread and it was delicious. I have no idea how I did it, but I feel like if you will take the leap of faith and trust me, and try it at least two of the few ways I have created, I really do think you will like it, and then you will be on your way to being a whole new healthier you! Kale is packed full of so many amazing nutrients and vitamins. If you don't believe me, just google. You know Google doesn't lie. :-)

Tonight, I will share with you one way we love to eat it, and then hopefully tomorrow, I will share another one of my many secrets to finding your obsession with KALE!

Side Note:
The key to purchasing kale. If you choose kale on your own, and you do not choose a bag of pre-washed and packaged kale, choose a bunch that is firm and dark green. You do not want a bunch of kale that is limp and light green or even limp and dark green. Dark green AND firm is your perfect bunch of kale. I have found that Whole Foods has the most amazing bunch of kale and it is perfect every time and it is the better bang for your buck. At least here on O'ahu it is. The bunch is large, and it is organic and dark green and crisp and firm every single time. At the commissary, I never know what I am going to get. Most of the time it is half the price of Whole Foods, but it is maybe enough for one person for one meal and it is limp and light green, when Whole Foods is enough for two people for two meals. Find your best bang for your buck in your neighborhood and stick with that. Just because the organic may be a tiny bit more, you may be getting a bigger bunch and a whole lot better quality. I have also found that the flavor of organic compared to the flavor of the other kale is a whole lot better too. And for the record, I normally buy whatever is best for my bank account. Produce in Hawaii is definitely no help in that department.

Sautéed Kale

One bunch of Kale
1/3c Red & Yellow Bell Pepper Diced (Mixed, NOT of each)
1/4c Olive Oil
1/2t Fresh Garlic
1t Dried Minced Onion (I never have fresh onion, commissary is usually moldy-Yay Hawaii!)
Salt & Pepper to taste, usually at least 1/2t of each
Gluten Free Soy Sauce (For a drizzle)

Separate kale from stalk, wash and pat dry. Set to the side.

In a large sauté pan, on low-medium heat, combine olive oil, onion, bell peppers, salt, pepper, garlic, and let peppers cook. Do not let onions burn. Stir frequently.

Once peppers are soft, place kale on top and let sit for about 30 seconds. Stir kale and peppers together, getting kale covered well with olive oil and combining well with peppers and onions. Keep stirring and combining so that kale does not over cook. You do not want kale to go limp like sautéed spinach. Once combined well, and cooked for about 1-2 minutes, take your soy sauce, and drizzle around the pan, quickly, 2-3 times, then combine again.

Combine kale with quinoa or rice as a side dish or an array of other vegetables (mushrooms, asparagus, tomatoes, larger cut bell peppers, and rice or quinoa) and it makes an even better side dish.

February 10, 2015

Asian Quinoa Salad

My tastebuds are dancing right now, as I think about this dish. It is my new favorite and I think I cook it once a week. (I'm not kidding) It has everything I need in a full meal. You do not have to cook it as a full meal, you can always do the chicken on the side, but I had to take a dish to a meeting and I needed to provide myself with a full meal since I knew there would be nothing else there for me to eat. I wish I had the words to describe this dish, oh my goodness it's amazing! It's sweet and spicy and savory with a crunch from the toasted almonds and then you get hit with the chewy quinoa and the broccoli. Ok, really, I need to stop because it is not doing this one any justice. It's amazing. Make it and you will see! Have I ever let you down? Ok, don't answer that...

I really hope you take the time to make this one! I promise you will not regret it! If you do not like this one, then you don't enjoy Asian flavors because they are ALL HERE!

Asian Quinoa Salad

1c. Quinoa
1c. Water

1/3c. GF Soy Sauce
1/3c. Sweet Chili Sauce
1t. Sesame Oil
1 TINY dash of Rice Wine Vinegar, Maybe 1/8t. (it is very strong!)
1/2T. Sriracha
1/2T. Garlic (grated)
1/2T. Ginger (grated)

Mix together with whisk.

1 1/2c. Steamed Broccoli
2-3 Cooked & Chopped Chicken Breasts
1/4c. Toasted Slivered Almonds
3/4c. Finely Chopped Red Cabbage

Make your sauce and cook any ingredients that need to be cooked. Before you add any broccoli, chicken, almonds, or cabbage to the quinoa, add your sauce. DO NOT ADD ALL THE SAUCE. Take about 5T of your sauce and mix it with your cooked quinoa and taste it. You may want to add more, I usually do. After you've added your sauce to your quinoa, add your chicken and combine. Then add your broccoli and combine. The picture above has the cabbage and almonds layered on the top, because I was taking the dish somewhere and added the cabbage and almonds when I got there so they would still be crunchy. Feel free to do whatever you would like! After all the ingredients are combined, dish that puppy up and enjoy!!! I usually use some of my extra sauce and drizzle it over the top, I really could almost drink it. Really.


November 24, 2014

Gluten Free Cream of Celery Soup

One of my all time favorite casseroles is called, Vegetable Casserole. It is one that I feel like I MUST have at Thanksgiving. I can not tell you how amazingly delicious it is. The ingredients seem a little strange, but do not let that hinder you from creating one of the tastiest casseroles you have ever had!!! I am hoping to get that recipe posted soon, but for now, the "cream of" soup that you need in Vegetable Casserole is Cream of Celery. 

Cream of Celery Soup

6 Stalks of Celery, Diced (Aprox 2 1/2c.)
1/2c. Yellow Onion, Diced
1/2T Salt
1/2T Garlic
1t. Pepper
1T Olive Oil
-Combine above ingredients into a large stock pot. Sweat out celery and onions until they are soft. 

-Add in:
3T Butter or Olive Oil
1/4c. Gluten Free Flour
-Combine all with a spatula and let cook for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally so that it does not burn. 

-1c. At a time, with a spatula, add in:
6c. Milk (Coconut Milk, Almond Milk, Cows Milk all work)
Before you add anything beyond the first cup of milk, make sure all the lumps of roux are smoothed out and all is combined well. 

Let cook for approximately 30 minutes on medium heat. If you are unhappy with the thickness, add in a mixture of cornstarch and water. Allow soup to set for at least 24 hours so flavors can "marry" and the soup can thicken more. 

Side Note:
The Vegetable Casserole is a combination of green beans, corn, cream of celery soup, diced green bell pepper, and cheddar cheese. I top mine with a crumbled biscuit and slivered almond mixture, drizzled with olive oil or melted butter. Exact measurements coming soon!!! 

Holiday Turkey Compound Butter

If you are looking for an easy way to get flavor and crispiness onto your Holiday Turkey, look no further. This recipe is absolutely delicious! I really have nothing else to say about it. It is SO GOOD!

Holiday Turkey Compound Butter

2 Sticks of Unsalted Butter (Make sure it is unsalted)
1T Salt
1/2t. White Pepper
2t. Garlic Powder
1 1/2t. Thyme
2t. Sage
1T. Parsley
1T. Dried, Minced Onion

Combine all together and put in a covered/sealed container for at least 24 hours. Rinse your turkey and dry it off. Separate the skin from the turkey and apply some of the compound butter up under the skin, between the skin and the meat. Apply liberally. Use the remaining butter to cover the outside of your turkey. Follow the instructions from your turkey's manufacturer to make sure you cook it on the proper temperature and for the correct amount of time, per pound. Make sure to cook your turkey to 165 degrees. Use a meat thermometer and stick it into the thickest part of the turkey breast. Let your turkey "rest" under a tent of aluminum foil, for thirty minutes before "trimming". 

Gluten Free Cream of Mushroom Soup

When I was growing up, Thanksgiving wasn't "Thanksgiving", without my Mom's Green Bean Casserole. I'm sure it is just like your Mom's recipe, cream of mushroom soup, green beans, a boiled egg, and French's fried onions on top. When I was diagnosed with Celiac, I really thought my days of a delicious Thanksgiving meal was over. I discovered the canned cream of mushroom soup at Whole Foods, but honestly, who can really afford that stuff? That is when I was inspired to write my own recipe for cream of mushroom soup. Not only is it dairy free, gluten free, and nut free, but it's healthier than the canned stuff. 

This recipe makes nine cups, yes, NINE! You can always cut it in half, if you need less, or you can make the full recipe, use half of it at Thanksgiving, then freeze and save the other half for Christmas. If you have a gluten free flour, salt, garlic powder, butter or olive oil, and an onion already on hand, then this recipe will cost you less than $10. I've found that an 8-10oz container of Gluten Free Cream of Mushroom soup is approximately $3.00, depending on where you live and where you are shopping. In order to get nine cups of GF cream of mushroom soup, you would have to buy 7-8 containers. That is a total cost of $21-$25 and with the cost of the Thanksgiving meal, I like to save wherever I can! 

Even if you aren't gluten intolerant, this recipe is easily made with normal flours and milk. Just substitute it all out! This recipe is healthier and contains less sodium than the leading can or container of cream of mushroom soup. The sodium and calories alone is a good enough reason to make your own. My cream of mushroom soup, contains 960mg of sodium per cup. A leading brand can of cream of mushroom soup contains 1740mg of sodium per cup. My homemade cream of mushroom soup is also 45 calories per cup, compared to 200 calories per cup of the leading brand. We consume so many empty calories at Thanksgiving, this is a good place to fix that! 

Cream of Mushroom Soup

2, 8oz Containers of Mushrooms, diced
1/2c. Yellow Onion, diced
1/2T. Salt
1/2T. Garlic
1T Olive Oil
-Combine ingredients above in a large stock pot and cook down the mushrooms and onions until soft. 

-Add in:
3T. Butter or Olive Oil (Let butter melt before adding in the flour)
1/4c. Gluten Free Flour
-Combine with a spatula and let cook for about ten minutes. Stir occasionally so that it doesn't burn.

-Begin to add in Milk, using a whisk, one cup at a time. 
Half Gallon of Milk (I used coconut. You can also use Almond or Cow's Milk)

Let the soup cook and thicken on medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally so it does not burn. If you have not reached your desired thickness, use cornstarch and water mixture to thicken. 

I like to make this a couple of days ahead of time, that way, the soup has enough time for the flavors to "marry", and it will also thicken as it stands in the refrigerator. 

Use this soup in any of your favorite casseroles that call for "Cream of Mushroom Soup" and you will forget that you were ever diagnosed with Celiac Disease!!!

August 12, 2014

Gooey Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Am I the only one who feels like I can make a great chocolate chip cookie and then on day two or three, they are hard as a rock? I've been wanting a good gooey cookie that will stay gooey until they are gone. I'm hoping I've finally figured it out.

I have taken Pamela's Gluten Free Baking Mix's Cookie Recipe and I've added extra flour, extra baking powder, and the more noticeable one, rainbow sprinkles (just for fun).

Pamela's Recipe

7T Room Temperature Butter (I always use 1 stick)
1/4c. Light Brown Sugar
1/4c. White Sugar
1 Egg
1t. Vanilla
1 1/2c. Pamela's Baking Mix
1c. Chocolate Chips

My additions:
2T. Baking Mix
1t. Baking Powder
1/4c. Sprinkles

Cream together butter and both sugars, add in egg and vanilla. Slowly add in baking mix. When all is combined, fold in the sprinkles and chocolate chips.

This time, instead of baking the cookies right away, I let the dough refrigerate for about 15 hours (overnight, plus some) before I baked my cookies. 350 degrees for 9 minutes and then I let them sit on the baking sheet for about 3-4 minutes before I moved them to a cooling rack.

June 29, 2014

Domino Cookie Copy Cat Recipe

Before I was diagnosed with Celiac, I absolutely loved these super chocolaty cookies from The Great American Cookie Company. They are such a rich chocolate and chewy cookie with white chocolate chips. The past few weeks I've been looking for a recipe for these cookies, but everything I've seen didn't look like it would work with gluten free ingredients. I finally pulled few ideas together and decided I would just "wing it".

I wish I could explain how AMAZING these cookies are! I mean, holy cow, I can't get enough of them. I seriously think they taste almost exactly like what I remember The Cookie Company's tasting like. To be completely honest, they don't taste gluten free, at all. If someone else would have made these cookies for me, I would have been very nervous about thirty minutes after my first bite. They are THAT GOOD! Make them and let me know if you agree!

Domino Copy Cat Cookies

-2 Sticks of Softened Butter (1c)
-1 1/2c. Sugar
-2 Eggs
-2t. Vanilla
-2c. Pamela's Baking and Pancake Mix
-3/4c. Dark Chocolate Cocoa Powder
-1 1/2c. White Chocolate Chips

Combine the flour and cocoa powder in a separate bowl with a whisk, set to the side.

Cream together the butter and sugar. When it's well combined, add the eggs, one at a time and then add the vanilla. Get all of these ingredients well incorporated and then start to add the flour and cocoa powder mixture. After all ingredients are well mixed the dough will be very thick. At this time fold in the white chocolate chips.

Place 2T. size dollops of cookie dough on to parchment paper lined cookie sheets (I used my silk mats) and place in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes. Let them cool on the cookie sheet for about 2 minutes and then move them to a cooling rack. Enjoy them warm or cooled. Either way, they are incredible!!!

June 26, 2014

All Natural Popsicles

My sweet Hadley absolutely LOVES popsicles. I haven't really found a good all natural popsicle on the island that is low in sugar (besides natural sugars) and isn't packed full of artificial flavors and colors. A few months ago, we decided to try making our own and I can not tell you how much she loves them! The last batch I made, I used all the strawberries and bananas I had on hand, and it didn't make enough "popsicle batter" to fill up our six molds, so I added some of her apple juice to be a filler. This go round, I had plenty of everything so that I didn't have to put anything else in this batch except for fresh fruit.

These popsicles are 100% gluten free, dairy free, nut free, and all natural. Including, no extra sugar added. You really can't beat these popsicles, they will cost a little more to make (versus buying at the grocery store) but they are a guaranteed crowd pleaser and you know that they are 100% safe for your kids!

All Natural Popsicles

3 Bananas
2c. (Aprox. 20) Dieced Strawberries
1 1/2c. Blueberries

Place in a food processor and combine fruit until desired consistency is reached.

Makes 3 1/2c. of  "Popsicle Batter". For the size molds we have, it made six popsicles with about 1/3c. left over for us to eat.

Gluten Free Meatballs

I wish I could tell you that this is a meatball recipe that has been in my family for "years", but it has not. Growing up, we didn't eat a lot of spaghetti. My Mom was (and still is) a wonderful cook, she was very creative and we always had something delicious on the dinner table, but we didn't eat a lot of tomato based sauces because my Dad had a bout with stomach ulcers when I was in the first grade. I remember when my Dad would be out of town at a conference or mission trip, we would ALWAYS have spaghetti one night. Funny how little things like that, stick in your memory, even 20 years later. Being the lucky one that I am, I inherited my Dad's stomach and bouts of painful acid reflux, so I usually have to stay away from heavy tomato based sauces. There are times though, where I keep the acid reflux meds in my pocket and eat it up!

Clint loves spaghetti and meatballs, so every now and then, I pull out all the stops and throw together these meatballs. I use all dried ingredients when I make these because I let them sit overnight after I have rolled them together. In my opinion, letting all those dried herbs sink into the meat overnight, makes a huge difference.

Gluten Free/Bread Free/Flour Free Meatballs

1.25lb Ground Turkey
1/2-1t. Sea Salt
1/2-1t. Freshly Ground Pepper
2t. Dried Minced Onion
2t. Dried Oregano
1/2t. Dried Sage
1/2t. Dried Thyme
1T. Dried Parsley
1/2t. Dried Red Pepper Flakes (Optional)
1/2t. Dried Garlic Powder
2T Batch 501 Original Sauce
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1 Egg Yolk

LIGHTLY Combine together all ingredients, do not "over mix". Once all ingredients are combined, scoop out a heaping tablespoon of meat. It is basically 2T of meat mixture. Lightly roll into a ball and place in a 9X13 baking dish that you have drizzled with olive oil. Continue until all the mixture is gone.

Makes approximately 15 meatballs, depending on size.

Let meatballs sit in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, bake for 45-60 minutes at 350 degrees. Once the meatballs have reached an internal temperature of 165, place them in your spaghetti sauce and let them sit there until dinner time.


June 1, 2014

Banana & Blueberry Muffins

It has been almost six years since I've had a blueberry muffin and before Celiac, they used to be one of my favorites!!! I was at Sam's a few days ago, and decided to grab their 2lb. container of fresh blueberries. It's probably the cheapest place on the island to buy ANY fruit, and it still isn't that cheap. Clint and Hadley both love fresh blueberries, and my parents are coming to visit this week, and they do too, so I figured, "why not?".

Clint had to work Saturday, and when I asked Hadley what she wanted for breakfast, she said, "muffins, but not the apple ones". That's when I remembered I had all those blueberries! She got excited when I told her we would make blueberry muffins and that's when I started to think about my Dad. He's recently found out that he is just borderline diabetic (it's a family thing). I wanted to see if I could make these without any refined sugar so that I could make them again this week. I almost did, but then added some brown sugar. When my Dad is here, I will probably use honey instead, and I think they will still be delicious! ENJOY!!!!

Banana & Blueberry Muffins

For this recipe, I used my KitchenAid Stand Mixer. I kept the motor running and added everything in the order as listed below. I think the order is very key in these muffins, so try to make them in this order!!!

1 Banana
1 Egg

**Combine until smooth**

1/4c Brown Sugar or Honey

**Combine until smooth**
1/3c. Coconut Milk or Regular Milk
1t. Vanilla
1t. Cinnamon (optional)

**Combine until smooth**

1 1/2c. Pamela's GF Baking & Pancake Mix
(1/2c. At a time)

**Combine until smooth**

Turn off mixer and remove from base.
Fold in 1c. Fresh Blueberries.

Grease muffin tin and fill 3/4 full with batter. Bake on 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

OPTIONAL (But delicious!!!!)
Brush with melted butter IMMEDIATELY after removing from the oven. Let muffins stand for a few minutes and then remove from muffin pan and ENJOY!!!!!!! These are even delicious the next day! I could taste the cinnamon more on the second day, so if you aren't a cinnamon fan, don't add the cinnamon!