July 21, 2012

OH MY!!! Alfredo!!!

I LOVE ALFREDO!!!! I do!! It's so fattening and I know it is absolutely NO good for me, but every now and then, you just need it. Yes, NEED it. I do not like any alfredo sauce I have ever had at any restaurant. It seems a little milky/watery and not cheesy enough and if I am going to eat the fat grams in this, I want it to be cheesy.

It's so hard to pen down a "recipe" for this alfredo because I always just kind of throw the ingredients in the pan and if it doesn't work then I add whatever it needs. I think after making it tonight, I may have some sort of recipe to post. My Mom made this recipe when I was growing up, and still makes it, and now I make it. Actually, my little sister, who rarely cooks can even make this, so that just goes to show that it's EASY. (No offense Bradey!!!)

This recipe will probably be enough alfredo sauce to feed 10-12 people. My Mom and I always cook the pasta in a big pan, drain the water, and then pour the alfredo sauce over the cooked pasta and mix it together. That way, every piece of pasta is covered in sauce. Tonight, I topped the alfredo with grilled chicken that was sliced and fanned out. I could kick myself for not taking a picture! It looked SO pretty!!

1 1/2 sticks of Butter (Do not substitute margarine)
22oz. Sour Cream
2, 12oz cans of Evaporated Milk
8oz of grated Parmesan Cheese

Melt the butter in a medium size pot and then add one can of evaporated milk. Whisk in all of the parmesan cheese and when incorporated, add your other can of evaporated milk. Add Salt and Pepper to your liking. Once all of the ingredients are incorperated and your sauce is hot, remove from the stove. DO NOT BOIL THE SAUCE!!! (Yes, I'm kind of yelling because that is very important!!!) ;)

I like serving it over gluten free penne pasta. It really holds the sauce nicely and is easy to eat. My sister prefers angel hair pasta. Whatever your favorite pasta shape is, I would recommend using that!!!

July 15, 2012

Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls

I guarantee you that by in the morning, I will weigh five pounds heavier than I do right now, and I don't even care!!! (Good attitude, right??) For dinner tonight, I made Gluten Free Calzones and I will just say, YUM! It's something we do not have very often and it's something my 15 month old, inhales! She loves them! Before I even had decided that we were having GF Calzones for dinner, I had already begun the process of Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls. I haven't had a GOOD cinnamon roll in over four years (I have had a frozen one, YUCK) and I was not expecting anything spectacular tonight. I do not get my hopes up about my recipes anymore because too many fail. Well, in my opinion, they fail. My husband loves eating crumbled up cookies that don't come off the pan, and actually our friends Cord and Emily loved those cookies too!! Oh well, back to the cinnamon rolls. I didn't have my hopes up, but man oh man, when they came out of the oven, my hopes were up and I was on cloud 9!!!!

The other day, we went by Whole Foods and I grabbed a bag of Pamela's Bread Mix and Flour Blend. That's the best decision I've made in a while!! I was looking at the recipes on the back of the package and decided the cinnamon roll was going to be first on my list!

*As always, I am telling you up front that this recipe was not created by me. This recipe is from Pamela's Products Inc. I used their recipe to make these cinnamon rolls but I changed a few things to make them better (in my opinion).*

There are four different recipes inside this one recipe. You have a recipe for the actual dough, the yeast, the filling, and the glaze. I will go one by one and break it down easier than the way Pamela's did. I will also go in order of how I did everything!

**You need two sticks of room temperature butter.**

1 packet of active dry yeast (or 2 1/4t)
1t sugar
1/2c warm water

Place 1/2 cup of warm water in a small bowl (or a 1c measuring container) and dissolve the 1t of sugar. Add in the packet of yeast and combine with a fork. Let it sit for about five minutes until "foamy" (as Pamela's said). While the yeast sits and gets all foamy, get the filling ready.

Filling:1 stick of unsalted, room temperature, butter
1/3c sugar
1/8c brown sugar (my addition)
4t cinnamon (I added that 4th teaspoon)
1/3c of raisins &/or pecans (I did not do this step because of my little girl, but I don't think 1/3c
        would be enough. I would probably at least do 1/2c.)

With a handheld mixer, combine the stick of room temperature butter, 1/3c sugar, 1/8c of brown sugar, and 4t cinnamon. Sit the mixture to the side.

Rolls:3 1/2c Pamela's Bread/Flour Mix
1 egg, large
1/4c and about 2T Milk (recipe called for 1/4c water, really!?!?)
1 stick of room temperature butter
1T of Orange Zest (optional, I didn't have an orange, so I didn't)

The recipe says to use a heavy duty stand mixer, but shockingly, I do not have one. If anyone would like to donate one to me, I would be absolutely 100% ready and willing to accept it!!! :) (The kitchen aid light blue/tealish color would match my hand mixer, for anyone who wanted to know!!!)

I have a Ninja Kitchen System so I just used the bowl and the dough attachment to mix my dough. It worked ok. (First time I had used the dough attachment) So, if you have a ninja or a stand mixer, it all works the same. Use the whisk attachment on your stand mixture if you are going to use that, if you are going to use a ninja, use your hand mixer to combine the butter and egg then transfer to the ninja.

Combine the stick of softened butter with 1 egg, and orange zest, if desired. Then slowly add in 1 1/2 c of Pamela's Mix. Add the milk, "foamy" yeast, and the remaining 2c of Pamela's Mix and combine until well incorporated. Once incorporated, place ball of dough on a large sheet of parchment paper. Roll the dough between two sheets of parchment paper, into a large rectangle, about 1/4" thick. Peel off the top layer of parchment paper and spread the filling all over the dough. Spread evenly and make sure you get all the way to the edge.

**This is where Pamela and I are different. Apparently she would rather have done all this work and only get 5-6 cinnamon rolls out of all this effort. In other words, they rolled the short end, to the short end. I on the other hand, refuse to do all this work and get ONLY 5-6 cinnamon rolls. I rolled long end to long end and ended up with a smaller cinnamon roll (exact same size as Pillsbury) and 16!!! 16 Cinnamon Rolls!!!!!**

So, now that I got that off my chest, let's get back to it. After you have spread the mixture evenly, and all the way to the edge of your dough, begin to roll your dough from long end to long end. To get the roll started, lift the parchment paper, and fold 1/4" over itself. It will be a breeze to roll from there. Once you have rolled your dough, you are ready to cut! Get a very sharp knife, I used a big chef's knive and it worked great. Cut rolls about 3/4"-1" thick and place in a greased 9x13 baking pan, about 1/2" apart and 1/2" from the edges. I ended up having a full 9x13 pan and a loaf pan with a few rolls in it.

Now to the hardest part...
Place the pan to the side and let the dough rise for 60-90 minutes. This right here is why I ended up making calzones for dinner!!! Side Note: My dough did not rise. :(

1c powdered sugar
3T milk (recipe called for water, YUCK)
3/4t of vanilla

Combine ingredients in a bowl and mix with a fork. Cover and place in the refrigerator until time to glaze cinnamon rolls. Placing the glaze in the refrigerator helps to thicken it, so it's perfect for a hot cinnamon roll!!! This recipe gives you almost 1t of glaze per roll.

It's almost time to reward your patience!!! Pre heat your oven to 350 degrees and bake for 20-25 minutes. When rolls have been out of the oven for a few minutes, glaze and share!!!
Or eat them all... I won't tell!!!

*This recipe may sound complicated, but I promise, it is much easier than it sounds!!

July 14, 2012

Self Breast Exams

In March of this year, I felt something inside my body I never thought I would feel. I was changing clothes and changed bras and I felt something uncomfortable where my underwire hit. It was a little tender to the touch and I got a little concerned. I called my doctor and got an appointment for the next day. She did an exam and told me it was an inflamed duct. As an overwhelming sense of relief came over me, she continued on and let me know that she wanted to go ahead and do an ultrasound just to make sure everything is ok. I was fine with this idea because it's noninvasive and not a big deal.

 A few days later, I was back in the doctor's office for my ultrasound. As I laid there, the technician asked me to pinpoint the area of concern. She went around the specific area. As she did that, I watched the screen and saw what I now call "the intruder". The technician told me she was going to go get a radiologist to look at my images before I left. A few minutes later, he came in the room and told me that I have a tumor.

Jumping forward to this last Wednesday... I had my follow up ultrasound to check the size of my intruder. Not only has it grown a little but, but it has taken on a whole new shape. The picture below is my first image (top) and my second image (bottom).

(This isn't a size comparison, because the pictures were taken with my phone
from two different types of screens).

As my new radiologist looked at the new images and then took some more images himself, he informed me that the tissue around the tumor is healthy breast tissue, which is very good news. He gave me a few options, a follow up scan in three months, a biopsy, or a lumpectomy. My husband and I decided that we were jumping in head first and taking control of the situation. Like I have said from the beginning, this is an intruder, it doesn't belong in my body and it is coming out. There is no need for us to wait for another scan or go through a potentially painful biopsy when I could just tell this dude "goodbye" forever!!!

There are not but a handful of people in my life who currently know about this little creature living inside my body. I have not brought it to many people's attention because more than likely, there is absolutely nothing to worry about.

I wrote this blog today to share the importance of doing a self breast exam. No matter how old you are, male or female, breast cancer is no joke. It's scary and serious. A self breast exam is so easy and quick.

Here are the instructions on how to do an exam properly, and it's straight from the experts! http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/about-breast-cancer/breast-self-exam.aspx

Do an exam once a month. You may find something, you may not, but if you do, do not hesitate to call your doctor. I was a little concerned that I was going to embarrass myself and it would be nothing, but mine was something. I'm glad I put everything aside, and called. I know it's nothing, I know that I'm fine, but what if it is something? If it is, I saved my own life.

July 12, 2012

Gluten Free Oatmeal Bites

Scrolling through Pinterest and other places, I have seen little things like this. People are calling them all sorts of things but I am just going to call them "Oatmeal Bites". I have been wanting something healty to just be able to grab when I'm in the mood for something salty or sweet.

In some of recipes I've scrolled through, I haven't see many "tasty" ingredients. Some of them just have mixtures of nuts that don't sound tasty together, oatmeal, and then some chocolate chips. I decided, if I'm going to take the time to make a healthy little snack, it is going to be healthy and yummy all in one bite!! I had all of these ingredients on hand (rare), so I decided to throw some things together and see what I could come up with. I am very happy with the results, and I hope you like them! I can't wait for my husband to get home from work and my little girl to wake up from her nap to taste them so I can get the real 411 on if they are actually good or not!!!

These little snacks didn't last very long! Hadley was eating them like they were pure chocolate and Clint loved them as well!!! Hope ya'lls tastebuds danced like their's did!!!

Please enjoy!!!

Gluten Free Oatmeal Bites (Makes 28, 1T size bites)
1c GF Oats (I used Bob's Red Mill Rolled Oats)
1/3c & 1T of GF Peanut Butter (spray the containers with non stick spray before measuring)
2T Honey
1/4c Almonds (I had Honey Roasted Almonds on hand and they are YUM in this recipe.)
1/3c Walnuts
1/2c Milk Chocolate Chips (Use whichever chocolate is your favorite or whatever you have on hand.)

In a small or medium size mixing bowl, combine the oatmeal and peanut butter. Once that is combined, add in the honey.

Finely chop or coarsly chop the almonds and walnuts. I ran them through something equivalent to a "Slap Chop". Add them to the oatmeal mixture and combine, then add the chocolate chips.

Use a tablespoon measuring spoon and dip out some of the mixture. Flatten it into the spoon to where it's flat on top, this helps it to go ahead and start sticking together. Remove it from the spoon and mold it into a ball. Don't roll it, it will break apart. Squeezing it together and molding it works best. I only ended up with 26 Oatmeal bites in the end because I ate one, or three, before I counted. 28 is a good estimate!!! ENJOY!!!

July 7, 2012

Watermelon, Goat Cheese, & Pistachio Bites

Over Memorial Day weekend, we took a little weekend getaway, two hours South to Orlando. I found us a four star hotel on Travelocity for $59 a night, we had free tickets to Sea World and a list of GF friendly restaurants. I was one excited girl!!! Our hotel had several restaurants and one of them was this super nice, semi fancy place so we decided to treat ourselves to that one! (My sister was with us so we had a built in babysitter!) I called ahead to see if they could provide a GF option for me and they said they would cook whatever I requested! Along with this amazing service, since it was Memorial Day weekend, they were giving active duty military FIFTY percent off their final tab. It was so nice!! We ended up paying $60 for a meal that should have been about $140. (We were given complimentary wine for some reason.)

This recipe, is what we had for our appetizer. It was so wonderful and refreshing. I have made it four times since we have been home. Everyone I have made it for, has loved it!! I seriously can not get enough of it!! Please enjoy and note that there are no measurements here! Everything is done according to how big of a bite you want it to be! Any measurements I do give will be estimated on a serving of about four people.

Watermelon, Goat Cheese, & Pistachio Bites

-I use a seedless Watermelon for this, and cut it into small square bite size pieces. Maybe 1/2"X1/2" (You will use less than half of a seedless watermelon.)

-One small package of goat cheese (from Publix). I think it might be 2oz. Maybe 3oz. It's the package that is $3.99.

-Shelled/Roasted/Salted Pistachios. A container of 6oz is MORE than plenty. You can either run them through a food processor or do what I did for the picture above and put them in a plastic bag and beat the mess out of them!! (They are prettier and crunchier this way)

Place your watermelon on a pretty serving platter, or paper plate... Whatever floats your boat.

Roll your goat cheese into small balls, remember, these are best enjoyed when they are "one bite".

Roll the balls of goat cheese in the crumbled/smashed/processed pistachios and then place on top of a cube of watermelon.

If you have toothpicks, stab them through so they are easier to pick up. We did not have time to put toothpicks through these. I barely got the picture taken before they were all snatched up! I hope you enjoy these as much as we do!!

Side Note:
I have paired these with Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc and they have both been quite nice. Sauv Blanc is the recommended if you are looking at a pairing chart tho.