On The Menu: Amazing Cheese-It’s-Stars

  • Gluten free cheese crackers

Hello, hello hello!

One a personal note since many are wondering why I was M.I.A.: I just had to this past month to sort the crazy in life and really prioritize. I think when we get caught up in the every day, one can easily get lost in the routine of work, play dates/activities (for those of us with kids) and social media and become someone that they never wanted to be. So before I even get remotely close to a bad place, I have to check myself real quick and remove myself from the situation so I can re-focus and be the best me for God, my family and friends and ultimately myself. I’m still a work in progress but many of my long time family and friends would probably agree that I used to be a person that jumped to the worst possible case, filled myself and everyone else around me with anxiety/stress and felt the need to be competitive or better than. Ugh, I look back and I’m disgusted. It reminded me of an e-card I saw the other day:

anxiety

Life is just way too short to be caught up in negativity. With that said, I still don’t have a filter…heh…heh…

One MAJOR change has been my discovery of a gluten sensitivity. My WHOLE life I have been so constipated. Like stupid, haven’t gone, backed up for 6-7 days constipated (told you I have no filter). Yes, I have been miserable and I have tried everything under the sun. I drank lots of water, ate fiber, took supplements and even resorted to eastern medicine stuff and no success. I was even prescribed a medication but my body adjusted to that in one week and I was backed up once again. So after doing paleo for about a month, I started noticing that when I ate breads or pasta, I was a lethal gas producing machine with a stomach ache for days. Hubby quickly looked it up because he was suffering with me and found that it’s common for a sensitivity to show up around your late 20’s and early 30’s. Needless to say, I have been pretty much gluten free for a solid month now. I take bites of yummy treats here and there but boy do I get the “stank eye” from Hubby because he knows what’s coming. Hubby has been great and has totally adjusted to a mostly GF lifestyle but still enjoys pizza and subs occasionally.  We are also flexible with Abby when out but at home, she’s pretty much GF. The best part has been that I have been pretty regular in the toilet department so it’s been a true victory for me. Actually, I look at it as a victory for our whole household since gluten isn’t all that great for you anyways (for mommies: while I was doing research for myself, I found lots of stories of success in calming tantrum/bad behaviors of toddlers by eliminating gluten from their diet. Just FYI).

I present to you a wonderfully easy snack recipe that we all LOVE. It’s so easy to make, quick and so freakin’ delicious. We finished the first batch in 2 days!

Gluten Free Cheese Stars (or whatever shape you wish) *copied from Fields of Green blog

  • 1 block of sharp cheddar (8oz) grated
  • 4 tbsp of cold butter
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 3/4 cup of sweet rice flour (for Koreans, it’s chap ssal flour)
  • 1/4 cup of corn starch
  • 1/2 tsp of xanthan gum (binder)

 

IMG_8446

Sweet rice flour and corn starch

IMG_8443

Pulse all of the dry ingredients together first, then add the cheese and water until the dough comes together.

IMG_8444

Wrap in plastic wrap and chill dough for at least 30 minutes.

At this point, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

IMG_8445

Roll the dough out as thinly as possible and cut out desired shapes. I found that the thinner I rolled it, the much crispy and crunchy the cracker.

IMG_8447

Bake for 7 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for another 7 minutes.  The crackers puff up beautifully!

IMG_8449

I pulled them out because they had browning on the edges. If you want a super crispy cracker, I found that a minute more does the trick. They may be a bit more brown but it’s so good.

IMG_8450

Yes, she absolutely loved them. Don’t mess with her.

Enjoy!

On The Menu: 1 Healthy Dessert & 1 Not So Much

  • Fresh Strawberry Pie
  • Chia Seed Pudding

There’s this place called Marie Callender’s. You might know the name because there are frozen dinners with that name everywhere. But no, you don’t know Marie Callender’s until you’ve actually been in the restaurant and have had their fresh strawberry pie. Every summer, my family and I would have it at least once. Fresh whole strawberries piled high with an unusually red glossy glaze, which then are all placed in a buttery pie shell. Red coloring sort of freaks me out but it’s ok in Sprinkle’s Red Velvet Cupcakes (found out they’re opening a location in Lenox with a cupcake vending machine and ice cream!!!!), red gummy bears and Marie Callender’s Strawberry Pie. So, the other day I was craving it and although I’m trying to be really really good with my eating habits, I just had to find a recipe and make it. Almost all of the recipes I came across added way too much sugar and strawberry jello powder or gelatin for the glaze. Ok, let me be honest. I don’t like fake strawberry crap so that was out. I tried the first batch with gelatin and ugh, it was disgusting. There’s a certain smell/taste that comes with gelatin and it did not belong in a strawberry pie. Also, why mask the wonderful taste of ripe organic strawberries with a ton of sugar?? I guess I felt daring that night so I decided to make my own pie shell (haha, I really don’t bake). It actually came out pretty decent so if I can bake it, anyone can bake this easy peasy crust. I lost my pie tin so I had to use my tart tin but it all worked out.

But I will start with the chia seed pudding recipe since it’s so ridiculously easy. This recipe isn’t only for the baby because I eat it and enjoy it. Sam tried it once… that’s it. It may sound gross but it’s pretty good and dare I say kind of “fun” to pop the seeds in your mouth. The texture resembles tapioca. Well, Abby LOVES it but I have to control her portions because the first day she had it, she pooped 4 times. I was happy and surprised because she usually deals with a bit of constipation but this had things moving along! Sorry, I’m very blunt about poop now. I think it’s a mom thing. Anyways, I looked up the nutritional facts on the chia seed and it’s packed with crazy goodness. It’s loaded with protein, fiber and good fats. Plus it’s paleo, gluten free and vegan so major bonus points there. Did I mention how easy it is to make??

Chia Seed Pudding

  • 2 cups of coconut milk (or almond milk)
  • 1/2 cup of chia seeds
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • if you want it on the sweeter side, add honey or maple syrup

Pour the seeds, milk and extract into a bowl with a lid. Mix thoroughly, cover and place it in the fridge for at least 4 hours with occasional stirring. I made this after dinner and stirred it right before going to bed.

IMG_6682

In the morning, I stirred it once more it was done! Sorry for the picture quality. Yes, those little hands wanted that pudding so badly!

IMG_6718

Fresh Strawberry Pie

PIE SHELL:

  • 1 1/4 cup of flour
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 8 tablespoons of really cold butter diced into small chunks
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1/4 cup of ice cold water

Put half of the flour and the rest of the dry ingredients into a food processor and give it a couple of pulses. Add the butter and give it a go until the mixture is crumbly. Add the rest of the flour and pulse a couple more times until everything is still crumbly and the flour is mixed in. Take the mixture out and place it in a bowl. Add the water and start pushing everything together to form the dough. It should come together rather quickly.  Press it into a flat oval shape and keep it in the fridge for at least 1 hour (you can leave it overnight). Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Take the dough out and form it into the pie shell. Place it back in the fridge for 30 minutes. Then take it out and prick the bottom with a fork. Place a piece of foil over the pie crust and use pie weights or beans to weight it down. Bake for 15 minutes then take out the foil and weights and bake for another 5 minutes or until it’s golden brown. Cool while the filling is prepared.

FILLING:

  • 2-3 pints of strawberries
  • 1/2 cup of sugar (sounds like a lot but you don’t end up using a lot of the glaze)
  • 2 tablespoons of corn starch
  • 1 cup of water
  • Juice of 2 strawberries mashed through a sieve

Clean and cut the strawberries

IMG_6691

Put the sugar and water into a pot and cook on medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Once dissolved, add the corn starch and whisk until smooth. The mixture will become thick rather quickly. The mixture should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon without running down.

IMG_6697

This is the mixture with the strawberry juice added

IMG_6698

When the mixture is cool, add the strawberries and toss to coat

IMG_6700

Scoop the strawberries into the baked and cooled pie shell. Feel free to pour the remaining syrup on top but that’s where I cut a significant amount of sugar.

The end product! It was so pretty and so good!

IMG_6709

Enjoy!

On The Menu: Paleo and Gluten Free + Baby Pouch

  • Almost Mexican Style Chicken
  • Chicken Dinner Pouch

When I was trying to look my best for my wedding 5 years ago, I ate this meal a lot. I also grew up eating it so for me, this is comfort food. When my mom comes and visits, we make and eat this at least once. It’s that good and that simple. Perhaps it’s so good because it’s so simple. This is also the chicken you’ll find when you go to your local Americanized Mexican restaurant and ask for a chicken salad, chicken quesadilla or chicken tacos. If your chicken isn’t grilled, this is the same shredded chicken but mine is better. Seriously. The stuff at restaurants almost always lacks flavor because it’s so watered down. This meal is also incredibly figure friendly and there’s absolutely no guilt with this meal. I make a huge batch of this but it only lasts for 2 meals because my hubby and I love it. We also found out that Abby loves it too.

Almost Mexican Style Chicken (salad or tacos)

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 7-8 cloves of garlic finely minced (this is what makes this dish… do not skimp out on the garlic!)
  • 1 head of iceberg lettuce
  • jalapenos (optional)
  • cilantro (optional)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Corn tortillas if you want tacos

Boil the chicken breasts in water until cooked through. Save about 2 cups of the chicken broth and set aside. While waiting for the chicken to cool, chop the veggies.

IMG_6020

IMG_6024

Cut the lettuce pretty thinly so you can use it either for a salad or tacos. You need to use iceberg. The crunchy-ness of the lettuce goes really well with the chicken. I have also been pretty lazy and just used iceberg lettuce cups with the chicken.

IMG_6023

Shred the chicken

IMG_6026

Toss the chicken back into the pan (do not use oil… this recipe does not need ANY oil) along with the broth that was set aside. Toss in the garlic, onion and tomatoes. Salt and pepper the mixture and toss once more.

IMG_6027

Then cover for 15 minutes and cook in medium heat while stirring occasionally. The mixture will cook and all the veggies will have melded together to create a wonderful smell and taste. Check for seasoning once more. If you do add more salt, let the mixture cook for another minute. At this point, I set aside a small bowl for Abby before adding in the jalapenos. If you choose not to add the jalapenos, it’s done! If you do add them, cook for another 2-3 minutes.

IMG_6028

Warm corn tortillas for tacos or make a bed of lettuce and scoop the mixture on top. Garnish with cilantro or add as much cilantro as you like. My mom adds a whole cup of it. She loves cilantro. I actually got seconds because it hit the spot! Abby enjoyed alternating taking bites of the chicken and tortilla. She wasn’t a fan of the lettuce at all.

IMG_6032

I even ate leftovers for breakfast this morning with 2 eggs and avocado after my workout at Crossfit Reliance. I was starving and this only took 2 minutes!

IMG_6038

Baby Chicken, Peas, Corn and Squash Dinner

  • 1/2 cup of chicken mixture
  • 1/2 cup of peas
  • 1/2 cup of corn
  • 3 oz. of squash

Toss the chicken mixture into a blender. Add the peas, corn kernels and squash. Then blend. I had to add about a tablespoon of water to get it to somewhat of a smooth consistency.

IMG_6034

IMG_6036

Enjoy!

On The Menu: Hubby’s Cooking!

  • Breakfast Scramble Tacos
  • Soba

I am truly blessed to have the best hubby! Being together for over 14 years definitely has had it’s fair share of ups and downs but I wouldn’t change any of it. He’s so amazing and I’ve fallen in love with him even more after seeing him with Abby. He always told me he never wanted to be the kind of dad who just took a back seat and let the wife do everything. From day one he has been so proactive in Abby’s life and has done anything and everything to help the both of us. Ok, ok, enough of the mushy stuff. He also loves cooking and made brunch and dinner last week. These meals so simple and easy. The dinner is really something you throw together.

Breakfast Scramble Tacos

  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 an onion diced
  • 1/2 a bell pepper diced
  • 1/2 a russet potato or 3-4 fingerling potatoes cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 sausage patties
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • Cheese is optional
  • Corn tortillas

We cooked the bacon separately because my hubby always loves extra bacon on the side. We get applewood smoked bacon that’s locally made at Whole Foods and the sausage is from Thompson Farms in Dixie, GA.

IMG_4721

IMG_4722

After the bacon is done, set that aside. Saute the veggies in some oil (or you can use the bacon grease) until it’s cooked through. Add the sausage to the veggies and cook until done. Then add the bacon and eggs. Gently fold the mixture around so that you have chunks of eggs instead of an egg paste. Sam didn’t add any extra salt since the bacon and sausage were already salty.

IMG_4733

Warm the tortillas and serve! I assembled mine and put lots of hot sauce… yumm! Gluten free deliciousness!

IMG_4742

Abby enjoying hers!

IMG_4740

Soba

  • 1 pack of buckwheat noodles
  • Green onion
  • Seaweed sheet
  • Soba soup base

We always have a couple of quick meal options in the fridge. One of them is soba. It’s quick, easy and good! Just boil the noodles, chop some green onions, cut the seaweed into little strips and follow the directions of the soup base bottle. That’s it! Takes 15 minutes.

IMG_4811

We used two bundles for our dinner.

IMG_4822

Just dip the noodles and slurp away!

IMG_4844

Abby’s portion barely had any broth in it due to the salt content. I would say for that bowl we put a teaspoon of broth in. She liked it! She actually likes anything that has to do with noodles and slurping.

photo copy 2

Enjoy!