Monthly Archives: October 2009

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

DSC_1287These pumpkins are steaming mad.  They spent all that time in their pumpkin patch dreaming of the day when they’d get to spill their innermost guts to the special person they’d pick to take them home, only to find out that most people just cast their insides out to the trash.  What a waste!  Poor pumpkin souls!

Well, I say we end their misery and care for their tender insides.

Let’s put those pumpkin guts to use and roast those seeds.

Did you know that we’ll not only be making the pumpkins happier, we’ll also be making our bodies healthier?



As you scoop out the pumpkin innards before carving, put it all in a big bowl.  Add enough water to cover, and the seeds will rise to the top.  Spoon out seeds, separating them from the stringy stuff.  This part is more fun for some than others.


Place seeds on a rimmed cookie sheet.  For 2 pumpkins worth of seeds, mix together 1 T. olive oil, 2t. Lea and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce, and 1-2 cloves minced garlic.  Pour mixture over seeds and stir.  Sprinkle Lawry’s Seasoned Salt on to your taste.  Roast in oven at 300 for about 45 minutes- 1 hour, or until golden brown.  These are great on salads, soups, or just by the handful.



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Meal Plan 4


Day 1:  Sausage Lentil Soup

Day 2:  Beef Stroganoff, grapes, and peas

Day 3: Chicken Strips, corn, and green beans

Day 4:  Cheese Enchiladas and salad

Day 5:  Pasta with Meat Sauce and broccoli

Day 6:  Corn Dog Muffins, raw carrots and dip, and sliced apples

Day 7: Tacos and applesauce

picAR3MVJDay 1: Sausage Lentil Soup (use Hot Italian Sausage that you already browned last week)

Cook lentils according to directions on bag.  Saute 1 C. chopped onion and several cloves of chopped garlic in skillet until soft, then add then to the soup pot.  Add in 3 sliced carrots, salt, pepper, sausage, and some dashes of Tabasco.  Cook until lentils and carrots are soft.  Add more seasonings as needed.  If you need more specific directions, go to this recipe.


Day 2:  Beef Stroganoff

1 lb. ground beef

1 can Health Valley Cream of Mushroom Soup

1 C. sour cream

12-14 oz. rotini pasta, cooked

McCormick’s Grill Seasoning (or just salt), pepper, and garlic powder

Brown beef.  (Brown 2 pounds if you can, as we will use the other pound for tacos later this week.)  Drain off fat.  Reserve the extra meat for later.    Add the soup, sour cream, and seasonings to skillet with the meat and stir.  Serve over noodles.  Add Parmesan Cheese to the top.

DSC_1066Day 3: Fried Chicken Strips, OH MY!!!!  These are so good, I’ve been dreaming about them!!!  I can barely look at this picture without running to make some more!

All I did was follow this recipe from The Pioneer Woman, replacing the wheat flour with my standard baking mix of brown rice flour, tapioca starch, and potato starch.  I also never buy buttermilk and just used regular milk with a tablespoon of vinegar added.  The trick is in adding a little milk to the flour before coating AND smashing the chicken into the flour as you coat it to make sure it sticks.  Then, you flip it over to coat the other side and smash it down with a fork again to really get it to stick.  Also, put them right into the oil to cook after coating them and do this quickly.  The gluten-free mix can only sit there for a little while before that rice flour starts to get impatient and absorb the milk too much.  This would be easy to make dairy-free too using an unsweetened milk replacement.  Happy cooking on this one.  🙂

enchiladas-thumb-180xauto-753Day 4: Cheese Enchiladas

I loved this recipe from Simply Recipes!  You can link it here.

I used half the onion they called for, and I love onion.  It just seemed too much for me.

penne-meat-sauce Day 5: Penne Pasta with Meat Sauce

This is from Simply Recipes too, and it was yummy.  The way you cook the meat is the key, so obey these people.  They know what they’re talking about!

Go visit them here.

DSC_1045Day 6: Corn Dog Muffins

I thought I was so clever in making these up, until I searched it on Google.  Apparently, I’m not the only smart one.  I may have the only gluten-free version though.

Use the very yummy cornbread recipe from Meal Plan 3, but pour it into 12-15 greased muffin tins.  Fill them only 1/3 to 1/2 full.  Stick pieces of hot dog in there, cut into 1/3s.  You could also use Lil Smokies from Hillshire Farms.  Bake for about 15 minutes or until done.  Dip into mustard, just like the fair!  Yum!

DSC_0832Day 7: Tacos

I use McCormick Taco seasoning or just make my own with garlic, chili powder, salt, pepper, cumin, and a little oregano.

Happy Cooking this week!  Let me know what you think!


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My Favorite Gluten-Free Products

DSC_0852Gluten-free products are expensive, so I try to use them sparingly.  But, I do have a few favorites for special treats or recipes or substitutions.

Envirokidz Koala Crisp Cereal makes chocolate “Rice Crispy Treats”

Health Valley Rice Crackers can be used for s’mores, a graham cracker crust, or miniature gingerbread houses.

K-Toos “Oreos” are wonderful on their own or as a pie crust.

I use the Animal Crackers by K-Kritters or Envirokids as the Nilla Wafers in banana pudding.

Those pretzels are going in the classic Chex Mix I’ll be making shortly.

DSC_0849I use these soups from Health Valley to replace Cream of Chicken or Cream of Mushroom Soup in recipes like Potato Casserole, Breakfast Casserole, Beef Stroganoff, or Chicken Tetrazzini.

DSC_0853My favorite brand of flours is Bob’s Red Mill.  I really like Mr. Bob.  I use these 3 flours for my baking mix.

DSC_0854See these?  They’re dangerous.  They’re my weakness.  I’m warning you not to buy them.

DSC_0864I’ve tried lots of pasta, and Tinkyada is the best.  It is just like regular pasta in taste and consistency, except that you will need to spend some of your kids’ college fund to buy it regularly.  I think it’s worth it.

DSC_0866And speaking of spending big bucks, to me sometimes my money isn’t really buying the food.  It’s buying the joy of seeing my kids delight in a donut like any other kid.  Sometimes those smiles are just worth it.


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Gluten-Free Macaroni and Cheese

DSC_0845It is just as easy to make Macaroni and Cheese gluten-free as it is to make it from “the box”.  I think it tastes better too.

Cook gluten-free noodles until al dente and drain in a colander.  Add milk, shredded cheddar cheese, and a little salt to the pot, and heat until cheese is melted and creamy, stirring constantly.  Add in noodles, stir, and VOILA!  You just made a yummy lunch!

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DSC_0840Nuts and seeds are such healthy snacks.  They are full of nutrition and they fill you up.  I stock up on trail mixes, plain nuts, banana chips, corn nuts, raisins, popcorn kernels, yogurt covered raisins, dried peas, and dried fruit from our local Sprouts’ bulk section.  I keep some in containers and some in baggies, so we can just grab them on the go.  It’s much cheaper to buy things this way than to try to find special gluten-free bars, and they taste better too.

Our favorite snack ideas:  popcorn, fruit, peanut butter on a banana, apples dipped in peanut butter, rice cake with cottage cheese on top, chocolate rice cake with strawberry cream cheese and strawberries, smoothies, cheese sticks, yogurt and fruit, popsicles made with yogurt, deli meat rolled up around red pepper slices, veggies dipped in hummus or salsa, baby carrots dipped in bean dip, Chex Mix, or an Almond Bar from Nature Valley.

I’d love to hear your ideas too!



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Meal Plan 3


This is the week of double casserole cooking.  For Days 1, 3, and 5, you can make double batches and freeze the casserole right in the pan to pull out for another dinner.

Day 1: Taco Soup  and Cornbread

Day 2: Pork Chops, Sauteed Zucchini, and Baked Apples

Day 3: Lasagna and Green Beans

Day 4: Twice Baked Potatoes and Salad

Day 5: Chicken Tetrazzini with Broccoli

Day 6: Pesto Chicken, Pasta, and Salad

Day 7: Huevos Rancheros and Fruit Salad

DSC_0880Day 1: Taco Soup and Cornbread (make double to freeze)

Taco Soup:

  • 1 pound ground beef, cooked
  • 1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 (15 ounce) can mild chili beans
  • 1 (15.25 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chile peppers
  • 1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies
  • 1 (1 ounce) package ranch salad dressing mix
  • Mix all ingredients in a crock-pot.  Cook on low for 4 hours, or however long you need to.  Or cook on stove until heated through.

Southern Cornbread (this is the BEST CORNBREAD I have ever had – gluten-free or not!!)

It’s from  I’ve already told you about her cookbook, and you can also sign up for her weekly emails.

1 cup milk (or non-dairy alternative)
1 egg
1/4 cup vanilla yogurt (dairy or soy)
1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup Nearly Normal All Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbs. baking powder
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 – 3/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 375 F. Mix the liquid ingredients then stir in the other ingredients, mixing until the lumps are removed. The batter will be thin, but not watery.

Pour the batter into an oiled 8 x 8 baking pan, and iron skillet, or into oiled or lined muffin pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes for the cornbread, less for the muffins, according to your oven.

The bread will be done when the top is lightly browned and a cake tester or toothpick in the center of the bread is clean; do not over cook!

And, here’s what you can do with the leftover cornbread…

DSC_0883You could also broil until heated and a little crispy and eat it for breakfast with syrup on top.

DSC_0873Day 2: Pork Chops, Sauteed Zucchini, and Baked Apples

For Pork Chops:  Mix a gluten-free baking mix or just plain brown rice flour with Lawry’s Seasoned salt or McCormick’s Steak seasoning.  Dip the pork chops in to coat and fry them in oil until done.

For Baked Apples, I cut up several apples and added brown sugar and cinnamon, then cooked in the microwave for 5 minutes, covered.

My family loved this.  I even used a gluten-free flour mix to make gravy and it turned out fine.  I’m not going to show you that picture though, because gravy is very yummy, but very ugly.

images-2Day 3: Lasagna (make 2)

I have found gluten-free lasagna noodles at Wal-Mart.  You can also buy them on Amazon.  I like the Tinkyada brand.  If you don’t want to mess with lasagna noodles, just use whatever pasta you have and layer it the same way.  You can make gluten-free lasagna just like the regular version.  My only tip is that it tastes a thousand times better if you use Hot Italian Sausage instead of ground beef.  If you brown some of it for lasagna this week, cook double, so we can use it in a soup next week.  Just a heads up.  🙂  Also, go for the Ricotta instead of cottage cheese.  It makes a difference.

imagesDay 4: Twice Baked Potatoes and Salad (you need a break from all that cooking!)

Twice baked potatoes just means you scoop out the insides, mix them with all the potato fixings, put them back in, and them put in the oven just to melt everything.  So easy!  I even throw in pureed cauliflower to the mix for added veggies without anyone knowing.

images-4Day 5: Chicken Tetrazzini (make 2 for freezing)

You’ll need GF spaghetti noodles, 2 C. cooked chicken (diced), a can of Health Valley Cream of Mushroom (or chicken) Soup, 1 C. sour cream, Parmesan Cheese, and salt and pepper.

Cook noodles until al dente and drain.  Right in the baking dish, mix the rest of the ingredients (except the Parmesan) for the sauce.  Add more sour cream if you need to.  Mix in noodles.  Sorry I don’t have exact measurements here; I just do it until it looks “saucy” enough.  Top with Parmesan – however much you like, which for us is a whole lot.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until bubbly and slightly browned.


Day 6: Pesto Chicken

You’ll need chicken breasts, a jar of pesto sauce, and mozzarella cheese.  Spoon pesto on chicken.  Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until done.  Top with cheese and bake until melted.  Serve with buttery pasta or pesto pasta.

DSC_0892Day 7: Huevos Rancheros and Fruit Salad

You’ll need eggs, refried beans, tostada shells (I use Mission), cheese (I used Muenster, but you can also use cheddar or feta, my favorite), and salsa.  On top of the shell, you’ll layer the beans, then the cheese.  Put in the microwave until heated.  Fry the egg to put on top, and add salsa to taste.

Buen Provecho!


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Chocolate Chip Cookie Contest

DSC_0785And now…. the bake-off we’ve all been waiting for……the quest for the best……Chocolate Chip Cookies!

The 3 competitors:


Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix

Betty Crocker Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix

a homemade recipe similar to the one on the Toll House Cookie bags.

DSC_0787According to the scientific opinions of 5 adults and 2 kids, all of whom eat gluten, the winner is………….

Betty Crocker’s Normal Cookie Mix.

However, according to the gluten-free tasters and my husband, who has his tastes set as high as his Grandma’s famous cookies, the homemade recipe won, so that’s what I’ll be making most of the time.  I have to give Betty Crocker a huge, thankful cheer though, b/c her version is very easy, especially if you don’t want to mess with special flours like potato flour.  So, I’ll always have a couple of boxes of her mix to make in a pinch.  It’s so easy, that my 7-year-old could make these cookies all by himself too, and I’m all about boosting his self-esteem so I can have some cookies.

The Homemade version and the BC Gluten Free version were very closely tied, depending on which you like better, taste or texture.  The Betty Crocker GF cookies had a great taste, but they were a little grainy and about as flat as a cookie can get without being a crepe.  That could be the baker’s error.  The homemade version had a very normal texture, but had a hint of the potato flour taste.

The bottom line (and since doing all these taste tests, mine had gotten larger), is that either gluten-free option will give you a very good cookie.  Try them both to see which you prefer.  And, don’t forget to make a lot and freeze them.  30 seconds in the microwave, and it’s like they’re just out of the oven.  Or, you can eat them frozen right out of the bag several times a day.  And, if you’re like me, you’ll be justified in eating 2 of the Betty Crocker ones at once, since they’re so thin.

Here’s the recipe for the “Troll House Cookies”


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