Monday, August 30, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: Week of August 30, 2010

We ended up with company over the weekend and never got to the plans for those days.  I sat the children down and asked THEM what they wanted for lunch this week.  The suggestions I got were as follows:

  • Pizza (son only)
  • Breaded Chicken Patty Sandwich
  • Chicken Nuggets
  • Home Made Luncheables
  • Salad (daughter only)
  • Corn Chips and Cheese Dip


Monday:
We found a new sausage at Sam's Club.  It's called Mozzarella & Roasted Garlic Chicken Sausage.  It says Gluten free right on the front of the package, which I love, and looks wonderful.  I will serve it on a bed of Caramelized Peppers and onions and home made Rice a Roni on the side.  Pineapple Upside Down Cake for dessert.

Tuesday:
Sirloin Tri-Tip Beef Roast marinaded in a peppercorn and red wine seasoning. Peanut butter Pie for dessert.  I'm going to have to use cookie crumb pie crust though.

Wednesday:
Spaghetti and Meatballs served with a loaf of fresh baked bread and a Caesar salad.  I even bought the anchovies to make the paste to put into the dressing.

Thursday:
Taco Night.  Taco night is our favorite dinner and its quick and easy.  We will be busy at Cubs all evening for back to school night.

Friday:
Pizza Night.  So far we have tried a Tapioca Starch Pizza crust, Pamela's Pizza crust and Bob's Red Mill GF pizza crust.  I think I like Pamela's the best. The tapioca and BRM both stayed chewy.  I liked the slight crunch that Pamela's baked to.   I don't think the boys like any of them but I guess gluten free is a taste you just have to get used to.  Maybe Pamela's was cooked longer that made it seem more crunchy?  I'm not sure which type we will try this time.

Saturday:
Vegetarian Asian style Fried Rice.  I would love to try my own pot Stickers using an idea I learned here.

Sunday:
I do want to get around to making the ground Turkey Meatloaf with Brown Sugar.  I have an excellent recipe that I want to blog about.


Need more ideas:

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PlanetBox Lunch Box Review

PlanetBox Lunch Box:

Are you looking for lunch box options that are NOT plastic? Well, you just have to see this lunch box! It is made of food grade Stainless Steel and looks almost like a lunch tray that folds in half. The design is simply genius.



The first thing I thought of when I saw this box, was eating out of the mess kits as a Girl Scout while at camp. I get a serious case of the warm fuzzies at the very concept. I could not wait to show my Cub Scout son this new lunch box and get his reaction.



When son first saw his new lunch box it was love at first sight.  He thought it was the coolest lunch box he ever laid eyes on.  He immediately wanted to pack his lunch in it. The unit has 4 nice sized compartments. One main section large enough to fit a sandwich, a fruit compartment, a veggie compartment, and a longer section suitable for snacks such as fruit leathers, cheese sticks, napkin, fork, etc.  Everything you need is built right in.  Just open up and eat right out of the tray.



The complete kit includes containers that are liquid proof and ideal for ketchup, dressing or wet foods.  Just tuck them in the front pocket for safe transport.  The lunch box is not a perfect liquid proof seal so I highly recommend you use the additional leak proof containers for any wet items you may pack.

A note of caution.  Do not overstuff it to where the unit does not seal properly.  I made this mistake on our first use and it resulted in Cheetos in every compartment.  You know how kids hate to have their food touching!  :-)

My son is the kind of kid who likes to eat the same lunch every day, chicken nuggets.  You can not heat these containers up in the microwave so we had to come up with another "green" solution.  We used a small cup sized glass container with lid.  This glass container will also fit nicely in the front pocket.   Just take it out and heat it up. Don't worry about keeping perishables cold.  This unit and lunch bag does an awesome job of conducting the cold and keeping everything safe.



My son had a lot of fun decorating it with the magnetic designs. His choice was the "Under the Sea" design.  Being able to design the box sends the coolness factor though the roof.   It is noteworthy to mention that their magnets are not made out of PVC/vinyl.  Even the magnets are non-toxic!



Junior picked the Green lunch bag to go along with his aquatic theme. They have lots of other lovely colors to choose from, including: Rocket Red, Ever Green, Purple Power, Starry Blue, Awesomely Aqua and Perfectly Pink.



Planet Lunch box is a small family owned business and the brain child of Caroline and Robert Miros.  With small children of their own, they share our passion for promoting the health of our children and our planet. Are you interested in learning more?  Here is some helpful information I found over at PlanetBox.com:
  • Designed to Eliminate Garbage
  • Designed for both Kids and Parents
  • Safe and Non Toxic
  • Encourages Healthy Eating Habits
  • Lunch Box Measures 10 x 7 ½ x 1 ½

The Verdict:

Junior is in love with this bag.  Seriously.  I'm taking my child's health back and packing his lunch now.  Anything that encourages him to prefer packed lunch over school lunch is worth the price.  I personally consider this a top contender in the compartmental lunch box arena.



Check them out on Facebook.  You can find all sorts of lunch ideas on there.  If you are anything like me, you appreciate lunch ideas.






This review is the truth, the whole truth so help me...!  The Extraordinary Life blog received no monetary compensation for this review.  The opinions expressed are my own and were not influenced in any way.  I did receive a free selection of products in exchange for my HONEST opinions.  
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Friday, August 27, 2010

Payless BOGO 50% Off Sale

Today over at Life as Mom, its Frugal Friday.  The topic today is Clothing Your Kids without Loosing Your Shirt  I had to laugh, I'm so familiar.  My oldest seems to be growing two sizes per season.  At first I was not going to link up though.  Figuring I had nothing of the topic to share.  But I did have a frugal moment today.



Right now, Payless Shoesource is having their BOGO sale.  I love it!  Not only are the shoes on Clearance, but they are included in the BOGO sale.  My son has grown OUT of his shoes literally over night.  He says they hurt him and he is actually limping.  Can you believe this?

So we stopped at Payless and picked up two pair and I spent a whopping $25 dollars.  At checkout I received a slip to do a survey and receive a $2 coupon.  I think I'll stop back with that $2 coupon and get a few $7 pairs for my daughter.  There was an abundance of selection in her tiny foot size.



The shoes fit great, my son is super happy with his new "comfy" shoes.  I did not have to break the bank. Print

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Gluten Free Sweet and Sour Chicken

Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe

I never attempted to make this sort of recipe before.  It was always one of those things that we saved to order at Restaurants.  Lately though, is very rare that we go out to a restaurant, so I decided to give this a try.  It was so incredibly good.  I would recommend you play around the the water content to adjust the thickness to suite your preference.  Some like it saucy, some want the chicken to appear glazed.    I think this recipe is a spring board for all the other variations of this dish (Orange, sesame, etc). Next I think I would like to try it with Orange Juice and some red pepper flakes and make it into Orange Chicken.


2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast (diced, bite sized)
1 cup Flour, any (I used GF Bisquick or Pamelas)
1 teaspoon Ginger
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne
2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
2 teaspoons Onion Powder
1/2 cup Oil

2/3 cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
3 teaspoons Vinegar
1 1/2 to 2 cups Water
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce (La Choy)
3 tablespoons Ketchup (Hunts no HFCS)
8 ounces Pineapple Chunks

  • In a dish or ziploc baggie, mix flour, ginger, pepper, garlic salt, onion powder, and seasoned salt.
  • Add chicken pieces and toss to coat.
  • In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.
  • Drop in floured chicken, and fry until chicken is browned and fully cooked.
  • Drain on paper towels.
  • In large saucepan, whisk sugar, cornstarch, vinegar, water, soy sauce, and ketchup.
  • Turn on medium heat and stir until mixture boils (stir constantly to avoid lumps).
  • When mixture is thickened, add chicken pieces and toss to coat.
  • Serve chicken and sauce over hot rice or carb of your choice

I will be posting this recipe to:

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Wonderful Carrot Cake Recipe



http://my-extraordinary-life.blogspot.com/2010/08/lunch-box-experiment-part-3-back-to.html


Occasionally we get the chance to eat at a buffet restaurant.  The best part is always the dessert table.  Everything you could possibly want, all there to choose.  What would my children choose for  dessert?  Why carrot cake of course! This seems odd to me.  I would think ice cream would be first.

Carrot cake is our family favorite cake of all time and is often the cake of choice at birthdays and special occasions around here.  The owner of this recipe is a lady I worked with named Linda.  She would bring this cake in for birthdays if you were on her very special friends list.  I had the privilege of eating a slice once and immediately begged for the recipe.  I have had Carrot Cake before.  It was good, sure.  But I never ate Carrot Cake until I tried Linda's recipe.  It "opened" my eyes to what good cake should taste like.

Batter going in the oven.
Fresh out of the Oven











Its not a great pic I know.  My son decorated it.  :-)


2 cups Sugar
3/4 cup Oil
1/2 cup Yogurt
4 eggs
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
2 1/2 cups Flour
1 teaspoon Vanilla
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Chopped Pecans
3 cups grated Carrots

Optional (my add ins, not Linda's):
1 cup Coconut
1 cup Pineapple

Combine Sugar, oil and yogurt.

Add eggs and beat until combined.

Add all dry ingredients.  Mix well.

Mix in carrots and nuts.

Bake 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Frosting:

8 ounces Cream Cheese (Room Temp)
4 Tablespoons Butter (Room Temp)
2 cups Powdered Sugar

Whip all ingredients until well combined.  Refrigerate until ready to use.


I will be linking this post to:

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Menu Plan Monday - Week of August 23rd, 2010



Monday:
Sweet and Sour Chicken over white rice.  I have not had this since we went Gluten Free.  I decided I can do this.  I am just going to take a regular recipe and follow it gluten free.  I'll let you know how it turns out. I'm making Carrot cake for dessert.

Tuesday:
Taco Dinner.  We never got to it last week.  We switched to ground turkey though for healthy low fat options.  Will my family complain or can I "hide" the difference under all that flavor?  I'll let you know.

Wednesday:
Vegetarian day. We need more of these. I'll serve Fettuccine Alfredo with Mushrooms and Broccoli.  Its my favorite dish.  I'm Italian remember?  LOL.  I found a pack of Tinky fettuccine noodles.  Im so excited.  Serving Peanut butter pie (recipe courtesy of Southernplate.com).

Thursday:
Chicken Cutlets.  Maybe one of these days I'll post that oatmeal parmesan recipe.  It tastes great and makes me feel good using oat meal for added fiber.  i'll serve it with mac and cheese.

Friday:
Home Made pizza.  Going to do a comparative study of Pamela's crust and the Tapioca crust that I like to use also  Several pies, lots of opinions.  I'll serve it with a salad and home made dressing.

Saturday:
Eating out!

Sunday:
I need to work on a Turkey Meatloaf with brown sugar.  I'll let you know.  Rice Pudding for dessert.



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Friday, August 20, 2010

The Lunch Box Experiment - Part 3 - Back to School Lunch Boxes

Back to School Lunch Box Review




It's that time of the year again.....back to school.  It's time to seek out supplies for school: lunch boxes, back packs, etc.

This year, my children will be lunch packers.  I want more control over what they eat and eliminate as much as the processed foods in their diet as possible. Waste in the form of paper lunch bags, plastic sandwich baggies, etc.

Last year, I often visited my son at school during lunch.  One thing I immediately noticed was that the kids that packed lunch would place their food directly onto the less-then-sterile table.  Since they didn't have a plate or tray.  Looking for a solution, I thought a bento style lunch box was the way to go.

So what features did I look for when I set out find the perfect solution for my kids lunch boxes? 
  • Compartmental or bento style lunch box. Not too many parts and lids.  The kids only have a 20-minute lunch. I worry that they will only open one or two of the containers and bring the rest home to be emptied into the garbage.
  • I would like the unit to also serve as a plate so the kids don't place their food directly on the table (as stated above).
  •  Price value for product.  
  • Ease of use. My kindergartner needs to be able to operate this unit herself. Lids need to seal tightly to avoid leaks, but can't be too difficult for her to remove on her own.
  • Packing up to bring home.  My youngest needs to be able to place the lid or cover back on and put it all away so that it does not leak.  This is part two of "ease of use" but important enough to be a line of its own because of gross factor!  It is so disgusting to see old pudding and food crumbs at the bottom of the bag. Especially if you do not get around to emptying it until the next day.  Even after it is cleaned out, it still smells.
  • It cannot be so big and heavy that it is awkward for her to carry independently or must take up most of the room inside her backpack like some of the other compartmental lunch units I have seen.
  • Sturdy and durability is a must.  Frugal is not cheap, there is a difference.
  • I must be able to keep the food items cold.  Meaning that the containers cannot be that the ice pack can't do it's job.
The first item I experimented with was the Ziploc divided containers.  (You can read part one of the Lunch Box Experiment HERE.) They are in-expensive and can be found locally so I can support my local businesses.  We had a few days to test this set up and the container and lunch bag combination for my daughter was not ideal.  She has a hard time getting the container in and out of her new lunchbox without the lid coming off.  I felt like I needed to wrap it in rubber bands to keep it together. 

The container itself is proportioned ok.  The largest compartment fits a full sized sandwich, which is not the case with some of the other lunch units.

The plastic on the Ziploc unit is a little bit on the thin side.  They warp a bit when you wash them. As an adult I have not destroyed a toss away container, but my kids have managed to crack a crease in theirs on the first use by doing so: 



video




Can you see the tiny stress crack there in the center edge?










Easy Lunch Box System





For the next part of the experiment, I wanted to compare the ziploc system to the easy lunch boxes system.  When I asked Kelly from Easy Lunch Boxes if they would like to participate in a comparative study, they were more than happy to oblige.  They were confident that their product would stand up to the test.

We were immediately impressed with the heavy duty quality of these boxes.  I wish there were a better way for you to see just how nice and sturdy they are quality wise. 

The first thing we noticed right away was the nice LOUD snap the boxes made when they were open and shut.  The lid was nice and sturdy that it did not bend when my daughter tried to open it.

video


My daughter loved the colored lids.  She took off playing with bins and I could hear her opening and shutting the containers over and over.  She was putting toys and crayons inside them.  They held up to her abuse without any damage.  In my opinion, you definitely get what you pay for here. 

But does it leak?  Check out this video:


video


Not a drop of the colored water gets into the other two compartments or on the table. I'd say that is pretty impressive.  Do I recommend you put liquids in your container and go crazy?  No. But it's good to know that if your child drops their lunch container, their sandwich won't be ruined by the fruit cocktail you packed in the next compartment. Click HERE to read more helpful information on the topic.

THE VERDICT:


I highly recommend the Easy Lunch Box System.  I find them extremely sturdy and easy to use.  They are also very affordable.  I like the size of the Lunch Bag.  You can pack up to three lunch containers or one container a large drink thermos along with other snacks but not too big and bulky that it becomes an issue for my daughter.


Some Useful information I learned over at Easy Lunch Boxes:

The Easy Lunch Box system is supporting the waste-free lunch movement by offering a reusable, superior solution at a much lower price than other companies. 
 No BPA, phthalates, lead, vinyl, or PVC. Safe for dishwasher, freezer, and microwave.   
Their plastic containers are FDA-approved for microwave use. They are made with the highest grade polypropylene plastic (#5), a plastic that will not leach harmful chemicals when heated or cooled. More info here.
Cooler Bags are made of the highest quality 300D Polyester for premium durability and toughness. Vinyl free (PVC free) & lead free, with an FDA compliant PEVA lining.   
9.38" x 6.1" x 2" Compartment capacities: Large section - 2.5 Cups, Smaller section - 3/4 cup, Smallest section- 1/2 cup.


The Giveaway:




Would you like to win one?  Great!

Enter to WIN a Lunch Bag (color of your choice) and a 4 pack set of containers by following the instructions below.

First entry is mandatory:

Visit EasyLunchBoxes.com and browse their web site. Report back to this blog post and leave a comment about  something you have learned.  Maybe visit their Gallery of Yummy Lunches and let me know which one you think sounds great.

For extra BONUS entries:

Follow this blog (publicly) with Google Friend Connect (see sidebar) and leave me a comment letting me know.  (Current followers, please leave a comment to be entered.)

Subscribe to this blog and leave me a comment letting me know. (Current subscribers, please leave a comment to be entered.)

Blog about this giveaway and leave me a comment with the link to your blog post.

Grab the button to add to your post for an additional entry.  Leave me a comment to for entry.


Please note:
  • Each entry requires a separate comment.
  • Giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only.
  • Giveaway ends on Tuesday, August 31, 2010.
  • Winner will be selected by Random.org and contacted by email.  Winner will have 48 hours to respond to claim your prize!
  • Please do not enter this giveaway if you have won or received free product from Easy Lunch Boxes within the past 3 months.
Can't wait for the contest to end?  Click here to be re-directed to Easy Lunchboxes.com and order today.

    Grab The Button





    I will be posting this to:



    The Extraordinary Life blog received no monetary compensation for this review, only a free selection of products in exchange for my honest opinions.  The words expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way.  No purchase necessary to enter and void where prohibited by law. 
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    Tuesday, August 17, 2010

    The Lunch Box Experiment - Part 2 - Lunch Ideas for Kids

    The Lunch Box Experiment - Part 2


    Looking for a Lunch Recipe or two? Well quick and easy Lunch Recipes are on my mind.  We are headed back to school this week and I do not want my kids to have an ordinary lunch.  I want them to have an Extraordinary Lunch.
    I want their lunch to look good, I want them to have a lunch box they enjoy looking at and carrying and I want them to actually enjoy the lunches I pack.

    I am also gearing up for a lunch box review and giveaway.  Be on the look out next week as I have my kids put the various kinds of compartmental lunch boxes to the test.  But lets get back to inside the lunch box. Today I'm sharing some of my kids favorites.  This is my daughter's first year of school and I really feel the need to have some posted ideas.  As in posted, I mean right there on the fridge.  See:


    What is really important though is that the foods you pack are foods your child will eat.  The nutrition is really not going to do them any good unless they actually eat it.  If I pack my son a "new" food in a lunch box, he would rather starve than eat.  From what I learned, new vegetables cut out in cute shapes still come home in the box uneaten!  So make a list of what your child likes.

    In case you can't read my board, here is my list of lunch ideas below:

    Spaghetti & Sauce to dip
    PB&J (on bread or pancakes)
    Broccoli, Potato and Cheese Soup
    Hot Dogs and Beans
    Lunchable Style Mini Pizza's
    Salad and Dressing
    Home Made Lunchables
    Pizza Sandwiches
    Chicken Salad in Pita Pockets
    Chicken Nuggets (Ian's)
    Tuna with Chips or Crackers to scoop
    Swedish Meatballs
    Chicken Wings
    Bagel with Cream Cheese
    Tortilla Chips and Dip


    Sides:
    Jello (making my own and cutting cute shapes)
    Pudding 
    Cookies
    Brownie Bites
    Fruit Leather 
    Gummy Bears (yummy earth)
    Yogurt covered Pretzels
    Yogurt
    Cheese Stick
    Almonds
    Meat Stick Snack
    Popped Corn
    Pretzels
    Clementine’s
    Carrots/dip
    Celery/dip
    Grapes
    Apples

    Bananas

    Do you have any great ideas to share? Did I forget anything? I would love it if you left me a comment and let me know.



    Some Extraordinary Links with Lunch Ideas for Kids:



    Edited:
    I found another link suggestion this morning.  Click HERE for a list of Allergy Free lunch ideas.  

    Oh, and before I forget.  If you happened to miss Part One of my Lunch Box Experiment Series, be sure to check it out HERE.


     I will be posting this to:








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    Click Image:

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    Sunday, August 15, 2010

    Menu Plan Monday - Week of August 16th



    We are starting with school lunches this week starting Wednesday. How exciting!

    Monday
    Chicken Enchiladas - I'm using up the leftover sandwich petals I have along with come cooked chicken in the fridge from a great sale over the weekend.  Serving it with a new Spanish Rice recipe.

    Tuesday
    Leftover Beef Stroganoff - The leftover roast from last week will make a second appearance served over risotto.  Home Made Lemon Bars for Dessert (recipe to follow).

    Wednesday:
    Lunch: Home Made Lunchable: Low fat, low salt lunch meat and cheese cut into circles and placed on top of crackers. Pudding, cookie, drink and Clementine’s.

    Dinner: Country Fried Pork Chops - Chops are pan fried with a crust and served with cream gravy. Served with Mashed Potatoes.

    Thursday:
    Lunch: Green Salad with Home Made Ranch Dressing, Grapes, Almonds and a brownie bite.

    Dinner: Rosemary Chicken - This is one of our favorite chicken dishes and it is so simple. I’m going to marinade the chicken in Balsamic vinegar, olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper. It leaves a wonderful dark caramelized coating on the chicken. Pan fried and served with rice.  An Extra-ordinary dessert for back to school (pics to follow).

    Friday:
    Lunch: Pizza Sub, sliced apples, yogurt.

    Dinner: Taco Dinner: Friday is simple dinner night; we don’t need leftovers for lunches. Seems like this one keeps showing up right? Well my children love it. It is the one dish I could make over and over and I know that they will eat. And as always, I will serve it with home made refried beans.

    Saturday:
    Pizza – We are going to try pizza crust made from Pamela’s Bread Mix.  Served with a green salad.  Banana cake for dessert.


    Sunday
    Zuppe Tuscana (an Olive Garden Copycat Recipe to follow) – I love this soup. And now that I figured out how to make it at home, I like mine better! ☺ I am going to try my hand at a copy cat recipe of Udi’s Bread to go along with it.

    Need more ideas:

    • Laura at OrgJunkie.com hosts Menu Plan Monday every week. You’ll find links to hundreds of meal plans there.
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    Thursday, August 12, 2010

    The Lunch Box Experiment


    Last year when my son was in school he would occasionally pack his lunch.  When that happened he would always want me to include a paper plate to eat off of.  This year my youngest child with allergies will start school so I plan to pack every day for the both of them.  I started to think about a better solution to the paper plate issue.  A greener solution.

    I really like the looks of some of those "other" 3 compartment lunch box systems.  The first thing I do with any purchase is try to source items locally.  I want to keep my business in my local community.  So I typed in the Google search engine, "3 compartment container".

    Did you know that Ziploc is also BPA and Dioxin free?  I did not realize that at first. I also did not know that they too offer a 3 compartment container.  Both containers have a #5 recycle number on them. I would love to know how Ziploc containers compare thickness wise to that other lunchbox system.  I would also like to know if the other containers are as liquid secure as the Ziploc snap to lock containers. But that will have to wait until another time.  How sturdy will Ziploc be?  I myself have had some of those Ziploc throw away/keep containers for years so I'm not too worried about that.

    I set out to find a good sale at our local store and along with my Ziploc coupons found on the Right at Home web site for $1.50 off 2 products (I printed THIS coupon).  The 2 pack of containers were $4 at Walmart.  $8 for two packs minus the $1.50 coupon.  $6.50 for 4 or $1.62 each.

    See the fit in there perfectly without turning them sideways.
    Plust there is still plenty of room for drinks and snacks.



    Kmart : 
    Arctic Zone on sale for $5.00

    Target:
    Embart on sale for $7.00

    Total Spent: $18.50.


    Stick around and watch me compare the two products in detail.  I will also be hosting a lunchbox related giveaway.



    I will be posting this to:

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    Pineapple Gravy

    This recipe is not a rocket science.  I'ts just a recipe that was created to copy the glaze that forms on the top of your ham when baked with pineapples on top. Because you NEED extra right?  This and a brown sugar glaze are necessities in your recipe file for the holidays.

    OK, so this is not a picture of ham.  LOL.  I happen to think that this is good as a topping for cake too.  Or ice cream for that matter.  Or inside ice cream.  But for on top of ham, I may add some of the ham juices to make it a tad bit savory.



    8 ounces of Pineapple Tidbits (pureed until liquid)
    4 ounces of Pineapple Tidbits left whole
    1 Tablespoon Corn Starch
    1/4 teaspoon Brown Sugar.
    4 Tablespoons Ham Juices (Optional)

    Add 8 ounces of tidbits into food processor and puree until liquid.
    Add pineapple puree, tidbits, starch and sugar to cold pan.
    Add Ham Juices (Optional)  
    Heat on low until thickened.

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    Wednesday, August 11, 2010

    Super Secret Spaghetti Sauce

    Inspired by Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution and the fact that I have more zucchini and peppers now that I know what to do with.  I'm now stuffing it all into my tomato sauce.  If my son even suspected that this sauce had veggies in it besides tomatoes, there would be no way he would eat it.  So I'm going to puree it into oblivion and he will be none the wiser.

    The pictures below I used fresh garden tomatoes. You can click here to see how I preserve those red beauties. I just de-skin and seed the tomatoes, puree them in the blender and add the tomato puree into the crock pot 3/4's of the way up.  Then toss in 3 or 4 cups of the tomatoes whole.  If you do not have fresh tomatoes, do not sweat it.  You can use canned.  I myself have used canned products in the winter.

    All ingredients added to Crock Pot.  Looks nice and chunky.



    Puree until smooth.  All the evidence is gone.
    Notice the darker color. That is the zucchini
    adding its sweetness.


    1 big gallon bag of Zucchini, grated
    4 cloves Garlic, chopped
    1 large Onion, finely chopped
    2 Red Peppers, finely chopped
    2 Carrots, grated
    1 Tablespoon Basil
    1 Tablespoon Oregano
    2 Tablespoons Parsley
    2 Tablespoons Sugar
    1 12 oz. Can Tomato Sauce
    1 12 oz. Can Tomato Paste
    1 12 oz. Can Tomato Puree
    1 28 oz. can Whole Tomatoes
    1/2 cup Water (if using Canned Tomatoes)

    1. Add two tablespoons of oil to bottom of a large dutch oven.  Add garlic, onion, pepper and onion as well as herbs into the pot and sauté on medium low until vegetables are soft.
    2. Add all the tomato products and sauteed vegetables into crock pot and simmer on low 6 to 8 hours.
    3. Add zucchini with 3 or 4 hours remaining.

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    Tuesday, August 10, 2010

    Pineapple Angel Food Cake

    My plan for today was to actually make a pineapple upside down cake.  What I did not know is that I had no gluten free yellow cake mix.  I could have made it from scratch I suppose, but I'm short on flour too and I need what I do have for bread.  What I did have is the Kinnikinnick Angel Food Cake mix.  My husband and I were watching Alton make Angel Food cake in one particular episode.  My husband told me while we were watching that he loved this kind of cake and that his mother used to make it all the time.  The next time I was in the Whole Foods store I picked up a bag of Kinnikinnick Angel Food Cake mix.  This mix does not include the egg so I had to add them in.  There are other very nice Angel Food cake mix's on the market with eggs included already so that step gets skipped.

    OK, so I have this cake mix.  Now what?  I really think this type of cake needs something.  A topping maybe?  Add to that the fact that I really do not like to make things according to the directions on the box.  I'm always adding extras like pudding and fruit.  I was searching the net for ideas when I found this recipe.  This is actually a weight watchers recipe made Gluten Free. Anyway, my husband LOVES Angel Food Cake.  I love pineapples. This cake is awesome!

    It is baked just right when it cracks
    open and is golden brown.
    It should look like cool whip.










    1 box/bag of Angel Food Cake Mix
        *skip egg step if eggs are included in your cake mix.
    8 egg whites
    1 20 ounce Can Crushed Pineapples

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    2. Beat egg whites in stand mixer until stiff peaks are formed.
    3. Add in flour and pineapple and incorporate in.
    4. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

    Final Notes

    I topped this with a Pineapple gravy that I usually make for holiday ham.  This to me was a nice addition and reminded me more like a pineapple upside down cake.

    I baked this in a large round pan that has sides to remove.  My husband suggested that the traditional pan would have been a better choice.  It would have allowed the cake to rise more making it more like how an Angel Food cake should be.
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    Copy Cat Earl of Sandwich Pizza Sandwich Recipe

    Recently during our Disney World vacation, we had the pleasure of dining at the Earl of Sandwich restaurant.  It is located in Downtown Disney and you can use your Quick Service Dining credits for this location as well.  My son fell in love with their Pizza Sandwich.  This concept is not a new one, it is like making pizza on rolls.  It is, however, the first time we have seen it made like a sandwich.  It is a hot sandwich made open face and put though the broiler.  Once the cheese is melted and the bread is crisp on the outside it is placed together like a sandwich. As soon as I came home, I knew I had to duplicate this recipe for my son.  Our plan is to take it out of the oven and place two sides together.  We will let the sandwich cool slightly, wrap it in foil and send it to school as lunch so my son can have something warm and delicious.

    I'm using fresh baked Gluten Free rolls but your options are endless.  You can use bread and your George Foreman Grill or Panini Maker.




    1 half batch of Roll Batter
    2 Tablespoons of Super Secret Tomato Sauce (recipe to follow
    1/4 cup Mozzarella Cheese


    • First, I used my second day rolls as suggested HERE.  I just took the batter out of the refrigerator and baked them up at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  Leave oven on.
    • Leave rolls on cooling rack for a few minutes while you assemble other ingredients.  
    • Slice open the rolls and add a tablespoon of tomato sauce to both sides.
    • Sprinkle on cheese to both sides (careful not to over do it or the sandwich will be sloppy).
    • Bake in oven on a vented pan (see pic above) for 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until roll is crisp and cheese is melted.

    I'm going to share this recipe with:


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    Monday, August 9, 2010

    Gluten Free Hamburger Bun Recipe

    See bottom for a tip on having Quick Fresh Gluten Free Baked Rolls two days in a row

    I have not explored much into the realm of mixing my own gluten free flour.  I heavily rely on Pamela's Mix for my baking needs.  I find bread made from Pamela's mix surprisingly delicious when fresh. When I occasionally do mix my own flour blend, it is usually for cake products.  I like to use high nutrient grains that allow my product to be moist and tender.  I will usually mix up Tapioca flour, Potato Flour, Rice Flour, Surghum flour and millet.  I am more of a mad scientist four mixer right now and have no real method.  So for now, I am going to tell you about Pamela's.

    I will never forget the first time I baked myself a fresh loaf of bread made from Pamela's Amazing Wheat Free and Gluten Free Bread Mix.  It had been over 3 months since I had any bread at all but the taste of wheat bread was still fresh in my memory.  I left for the evening with the hot loaf cooling on the rack.  When I returned and made a sandwich, I was so overjoyed.  Sadly though, like all gluten free bread, it does not keep well.

    Add Batter to Pan
    Smooth with Oiled Hand


    Risen Dough

    Golden and Delicious


    Mostly they turn out smooth topped but this nice crackly look reminds me of Kaiser Rolls!


    I like to have hamburgers on the menu for dinner occasionally. When that happens, I will whip up a batch of hamburger buns.  Sounds super crazy homemaker lady-ish I know.  Something maybe most folks do not have time to do.  It is really not that hard with Gluten free baking.  The whole process from start to in the oven to rise takes only 5 ingredients and 7 minutes.  I have done it so many times now I can tell you the ingredients by heart.  In my 2 cups measuring cup I am going to add (in this order):

    2 room temperature eggs (or refrigerated eggs warmed in some warm water)
    1/4 cup Oil
    Warm Water (110 degrees) - enough to make 2 cups liquid measure
    1 packet of Rapid Rise Yeast
    1 teaspoon Sugar

    Mix well and let yeast proof.

    Turn oven on to lowest setting (170 to 200 degrees).  Once it beeps telling you the oven is preheated, turn the oven off.

    Add:

    3 1/2 cups  Bread Mix

    Into your stand mixer bowl with whip attachment.  Leave to whip 4 or 5 minutes.  Look at your dough and make sure it is not too dry.  It should not all stick up into the whipping paddle.  Add up to 2 tablespoons of additional water as necessary.

    Place heaping teaspoons full of dough onto muffin top pan.
    Smooth out dough with oiled hands.  When smoothed out, you will have just slightly more than the well for the batter.

    Set pan of rolls into oven to rise for 1 hour.  Meanwhile, start on other dinner tasks.  Once risen,

    Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

    TIP:


    Don't bake all the batter at once.  Bake half and leave the rest in the fridge overnight.  The next day you will have fresh made  dough to pop in the oven. It works out just as well. I like to take this opportunity to have fresh baked rolls for school lunches.

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