Monday, February 28, 2011

Nicoise Salad Recipe

When I was young I lived in an urban area with lots of shopping opportunity. Shopping as a teenager or young adult was not what you would initially think of. It was not so much the pursuit of materialistic goods.  The mall is where you would meet your friends, socialize, walk, eat lunch/dinner, stay on top of the latest fashions and bargain hunt for clearance deals.  Going to the mall was almost a weekly thing for me and my friends and my all time favorite place to eat was Saladworks (yes, its a link to their site, but they are not a sponsor...I promise).  My favorite Salad was the Nicoise (Pronunciation: nee-SWAHZ).  I live in a rural area now, going to the mall is an all day affair that includes 2 or more hours of drive time.  Even if I still lived close to a Saladworks, our allergies would probably prevent us from eating there because they put pasta in everything.  So please allow me to present to you my copycat recipe for their wonderful Nuevo Nicoise Salad.



  • 1 head Romain Lettuce, leaves washed & dried and torn into bite sized pieces
  • 1 head Ice Burg Lettuce, leaves washed & dried and torn into bite sized pieces
  • 8 ounces of Pasta, cooked until al dente and drained (I like to use spiral)
  • 2 or 3 8-ounce cans Tuna
  • 3 or 4 Roma Tomatoes
  • 4 to 6 Hard Boiled Eggs, peeled and quartered
  • 1/4 cup Black Olives (Nicoise is traditionally used but I am using either Kalamata or black)
  • 8 ounces Green Beans, stem ends trimmed and each bean halved crosswise

I like to layer salad in a large bowl in the order listed. It makes for a beautiful presentation and is very filling.  You will notice the rather large range difference in proportions of ingredients. This salad is not an exact science.  Add the ingredients more or less according to your taste.  At Saladworks they have all the ingredients separate and every ingredient was added in equal proportions via scoop.  That is pretty much how we do it too, set out all the ingredients and add.

I will be linking this recipe to Gluten Free Homemaker's Gluten Free Wednesday. Print

Menu Plan Monday: Week of February 38th, 2011


Nothing new and exciting to report this week.  No further gardening adventures this week.  We had plenty of rain so the potatoes at least had plenty to drink.  Last week's Church dinner went well I think.  The biggest favorite was the Cheesecake Cupcakes.  Something tells me that I am going to have to bring those to all the events.  Now to find a tiered dessert holder since I'll most likely need a lot!  This week at Church we will celebrate Mardi Gras.  Mardi Gras this year is Tuesday, March 8th but since we only serve dinner at church on Wednesdays this will be the closest Wednesday.  Our Lovely Children's Program Coordinator who is a Louisiana native will be in charge.  I can't wait! :-D. OK, back to why I'm telling you all this.  I have spent some time putting together some copycat recipes for what will be served and will be posting it for all of you to enjoy in time for the holiday!!!!

Monday:
I'll be trying out a new pork recipe this week.  I am going to simmer medallions of pork loin in a mustard white whine sauce. Served over rice with a side of broccoli.

Tuesday:
Mozzarella and Roasted Garlic Chicken Sausage served with a side of Gluten Free Rice a Roni and mixed vegetables.

Wednesday:
Mardi Gras: I am recreating a Muffuletta Sandwich and King Cake for the festivities.

Thursday:
I am going to try and duplicate the Chicken Tetrazzini that is served at my son's school.  He loves that dish.  I suspect it is made with canned cream soup, which is a no-no here but I can make that part from scratch.

Friday:
Pizza and Salad

Saturday:
Chicken Dish (TBD)

Sunday:
Italian Dish (TBD) Print

Monday, February 21, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: Week of February 21st, 2011


We got out in the garden this weekend and started to work on the soil. We actually planted the potatoes and it felt real good to get my hands in the soil again.  We planted twice as much potatoes as last year.  Last years harvest was super awesome.  We got a late start for potatoes last year so this year we did it right timing wise.  We picked up some organic celery and carrot seeds so we should get started on those real soon since they are another example cold tolerant veggies. We had more tomatoes last year than we knew what to do with so I think less tomato plants will be in order.  I mean seriously they got to be over 8 foot tall and were all too close together.  They were so dense that you could not get to the middle tomatoes.  Definitely going to fix that this year.  We kinda get overwhelmed with the massive amounts of tomatoes and got sort of lazy about plucking them in time.  These plants were over achievers and literally had tomatoes rotting on the vine.  Seems like maybe I should be picking them before the ripened to avoid this.  If we put less plants in and pluck them in a timely manner then the plants we do have will produce better too.  We picked up some summer squash too (yellow and green).  No zucchini this year.  Im all burned out from too much zucchini.  LOL.  We think the basil should come back, waiting to see if this happens.  Otherwise, I need to plant one of those too.  I want a WHOLE STRIP of Cilantro.  Man I love that spice.

I'm not really motivated about my menu plan this week.  I have no clue what I feel like serving.  Below is what I have available yet in the freezer.  Im still working on making space for my half a cow.  We are even considering now getting a half of pig.

Monday:
I need to make something with that leftover pile of ham in the freezer.  I just don't know what.  HELP!  LOL.

Tuesday:
Grilled Kielbasa, sauteed cabbage.

Wednesday:
Church Dinner. Im cooking again, Roast and mashed potatoes.  My turn last time was cancelled due to snow.

Thursday:
Baked Chicken Legs, mashed potatoes and veggies.

Friday:
Pizza and Garden Salad.

Saturday:
Chicken Pot Pie.  I am going to cook up enough chicken on Thursday to have enough leftovers for this dish.  Im going to post that new pie crust recipe soon.

Sunday:
Fresh tomato sauce with garlic and butter served over spirals. Print

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup

This soup is so rich and flavorful.  It is not much to look at, but make no mistakes...the taste is incredible.  I am not using cream as traditionally called for.  Instead I'm using pureed beans and I swear you can not tell the difference between the two.  I'm tossing it all in the crock pot so no muss or fuss.  I just toss it all in at 7:30 am just before we get dressed for church and return home to a lovely lunch.  The soup was nicely thickened without added thickener.  I think the low and slow cooking of the rice must have something to do with this.  If you are doing this on the stove top, I would suggest adding some flour.


1/2 (one stick) cup Butter or Margarine
     (I have used Fleischmann Salt free or Earth Balance sticks for the margarine)
1 finely chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup sliced carrots
     (or one 16 ounce bag of frozen Onion, Celery & Carrots diced)
1/2 pound fresh sliced mushrooms
     (I sometimes use an 8 ounce can of sliced mushrooms)
6 cups chicken broth (48 ounces)
2 cups cooked wild rice
1 pound boneless skinless chicken, cooked and cubed
     (I usually use two leftover chicken leg quarters)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons dry sherry
16 ounces (one can) of Navy Beans or White Beans, pureed
1 cup broth (any, I used beef to add more flavor)


  • Add everything except beans to the crock pot and set on high for 6 hours.  
  • Add beans to food processor along with the included juices its packed in.
  • Add some broth if necessary to puree until completely smooth.
  • Add pureed beans with remaining broth to hot soup mixture.  
  • Serve and enjoy!
Print

Saturday, February 19, 2011

It feels like Spring around here lately....

We have had a lovely break in the weather lately.  It has been 62 and above all week.  I don't think spring is here to stay just yet, but I really truly appreciate the mini break from winter.


We have done things like wash the cars in our driveway, go for walks and bike rides and think about plans for the summer.  There are no kids in our neighborhood for my little ones to play with.  With the warm weather setting in, I have started to think about purchases that will  keep my little ones playing outside and together.  We have not lived in this house long and had to leave most of our fun outdoor activities behind in the move.  Things like our wonderful swing set and our Trampoline.



I noticed that CSN is having a sale and is offering free shipping.  I may have to head on over there and window shop and dream about summer.  How about you?  Have you had any daydreams about your summer plans yet? Print

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

House Party ~ Lisa's PHILLY Dinnertime Dilemma House Party™



Have you passed up the opportunity to sign up for one of these House Parties? I know I have. Well I can officially tell you that it is not all hot air, I actually was chosen to host a House Party. At the end of March I will be having some folks over to try out several new dishes featuring Philadelphia Cooking Creme. As a Philadelphia native, so I am especially honored. Just think....good food, good friends and when your guests leave they will get to take home with them a parting gift sponsored by Kraft Philadelphia Cooking Creme.

Stick around! Once the party is over, I will share the recipes I served and how it all turned out.
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Monday, February 14, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: Week of February 14th, 2011


Hope everybody had a wonderful Valentines day full of friends and family.  Every event that involves food I always duplicate what is being served for my daughter so she does not feel left out.  And since a box of cake mix makes dozens of cupcakes, I always bring enough to share.  Well I must say, my chocolate cupcakes were a HUGE hit at Christmas time in my daughters classroom!  My daughters teacher approached me and said why don't we just share what you bring and not bother to have somebody bring in the wheat duplicates.  I know my face must have looked shocked.  In fact, this WAS a shocker for me.  Most folks act as if Gluten Free food has bugs in it.  So I went all out and made a super fabulous chocolate chip roll out cookie and did my best to decorate them in royal icing.

Monday (Valentines Day):
Crock Pot Roast Beef, Mashed Potatoes, Broccoli and Mammoth Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache and mouse topping.

Tuesday:
Oatmeal Parmesan Crusted Chicken Cutlets, Leftover Mashed Potatoes.

Wednesday:
Church Dinner

Thursday:
Hard Shell Corn Taco Dinner

Friday:
Pizza and Salad

Saturday:
Chicken Legs, wild rice, veggie.

Sunday: Fettuccine Alfredo with Mushrooms and Broccoli Print

Happy Valentines Day

Happy Valentines Day
From my house to yours!
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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Chocolate Chip Roll Out Cookies

This cookie is basically a roll out textured cookie with chocolate chips inside.  My plan is to decorate the tops with red royal icing and send them into school for Valentines day.  Considering they have no baking soda or powder in them at all, I was pleasantly surprised at how nice they turned out texture wise.  Not too chewy, not too dense.  They turned out to be a very nice cookie indeed.  We have tried them out on several "wheat eaters" so far and none of them could tell the difference!  And I'm telling ya, if they could they would tell me for sure.

This recipe idea was adapted from a recipe originally given to me by Loren at The Baking Sheet who found it over at The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle.  If you have not already visited them, you really should.  They are cake and cookie decorating genius!



1 cup Butter, room temperature
1/3 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons Vanilla
2 3/4 cup Flour Blend *
2 teaspoons Xanthan Gum
1 Tablespoon White Chocolate Pudding Mix
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 cups Mini Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips


  • Cream Butter and Sugar until well combined.
  • Add Egg and Vanilla and beat on low 1 additional minute.
  • Add Flour, Gum, Pudding and Salt and mix until completely incorporated.
  • Add Chips to the bowl and mix a bit by hand.
  • Take batter and turn it onto a piece of parchment paper and continue to combine gently by hand.
  • Roll out batter to into a 1/2 inch thick sheet cut into shapes.
  • Place shapes on parchment lined baking sheets and chill for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Once chilled, bake cookies for 12 minutes.  Cookies will not brown on top but will be slightly brown on the bottom.
  • Top with Royal Icing!
* My preferred GF flour blend is:
4 parts Tapioca, 
2 parts Superfine Brown Rice Flour & 
1 part Potato Starch.
Print

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Gluten Free Shortbread Cookies

I remember well how much my daughter loved those Shortbread cookies you would buy at Walmart.  You know the ones immediately to your right as you walked though the threshold.  Those cookies would torment her when we first went Gluten Free.  She would often ask me to make them for her.  I promised her when she first went gluten free that I would copy anything she missed and a deal is a deal!  Right?

These wonderful little cookies melt in your mouth just like a good shortbread cookie should.  They also keep the same exact shape you cut them into which makes them a great candidate for a royal icing decorated birthday cookie.  I brought them into her class one day and the children LOVED them!  They were a real hit.  Im am sure your family will love them as well! ;-)


1 cup (2 sticks) Butter, Room Temp
1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups Flour Blend
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Xanthan Gum

  • Beat the butter and sugar until smooth and creamy (about 1 minute, do not over mix).
  • Beat in the egg and vanilla (just a quick spin until egg is incorporated).
  • Gently hand stir in the flour, salt and gum (mix until just incorporated).
  • Flatten the dough into a disk shape, wrap in plastic and chill for at least an hour.
Once Chilled:
  • On a lightly floured surface or between to sheets of oiled plastic wrap, roll out dough into a 1/2 inch thick circle.
  • Cut out into desired shape using a cookie cutter dipped in flour.
  • Place onto parchment lined baking sheet and place into refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Take out of refrigerator and place into preheated oven.
  • Bake for 15 minutes (cookies will not brown).
  • Cool completely on wire wrack.
  • Top with frosting or Royal Icing.
  • Enjoy!
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Monday, February 7, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: Week of February 7th, 2011


Last week I lined up my available meals still in the freezer.  This method was a huge flop for me.  I really need to decide for myself ahead of time or my crazy hectic life and scatter brained tendencies gets in the way and I am left scratching my head in front of the freezer thinking, "what's for dinner".  Last week I had lots of quickie dinners as a result.  Dinners like Hamburgers, fried sausages with wild rice and baked chicken.  I did make some effort last week with a chicken pot pie and actually tried a new pie crust recipe that was better than my last pie crust recipe. I will be sharing it this week. I have also been working on mastering a cut out cooke that will hold the exact shape I cut it into and still be good for the "wheat eaters".  Why you ask?  To give out at my daughters birthday of course.  If you click HERE you will see what I ordered for her last year.  This year I intend to make the crown only and give them out.  I am also practicing on my Royal Icing decorating for said cookies. Shortbread is where I'm leaning these days.  The trial run batch I made last week and brought to the Kindergarten lunch table were a hit.  The kids LOVED the melt in your mouth type cookie.

On a good note I brought my new Pizza Recipe to a birthday party.  I always ask ahead and copy what they are serving in a Gluten Free way for my daughter.  Well I can't just make one slice, I had to make the whole pie and figured I'd just bring it all.  Some of the adults thought it was the "adult" food and ate some of it not realizing it was Gluten Free.  That is until I served one to my daughter (who happens to be locally famous for being the youngest Celiac in my tiny little town).  All the adults I asked to be blunt in their opinions told me that this recipe would pass. They had no idea it was Gluten Free and it was MUCH better than my previous attempts at making pizza crust.  I was told that I could stop trying to improve it now!  Yay!

Monday:
Working at the Church today so I just tossed some Anelini Pasta in the crock pot along with some mini pre-packaged frozen meatballs (that probably are intended for cocktails).  When we all get home at 3:15 pm we will have some home made Spaghetti O's to eat for dinner.  Then we are outta here for Karate Classes and Cub Scouts.  Busy night!

Tuesday:
I think I am going to bake some Chicken Breasts and serve it with Japanese Steak House style fried rice (recipe to follow) and veggies.  Tomorrow I am cooking the Church dinner so I need to make tons of tiny Cheesecake Cupcakes on Tuesday.

Wednesday:
Church dinner.  I will me making some Crock Pot Roast Beef (40 to 50 pounds to be exact), 20 pounds of freshly Mashed Potatoes, buttered corn, fresh baked rolls and a tossed salad.  Cheesecake Cupcakes for dessert.

Thursday:
Taco's sound good for this day. I'll serve it with Mexican Rice and Refried Beans which I'll start via crock pot in the morning.

Friday:
Cheese Enchilada's with home made Enchilada Sauce.  I'll serve the leftover rice and beans from night before.

Saturday:
Out

Sunday:
Ham Tetrazzini. Print

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Crafty Frugal Valentines Day Ideas

Growing up my mother always made sure I had something that made me feel special on Valentines Day.  In my mind it was always top notch. Looking back, it was second only to Christmas.   My mother laughs when I tell her this.  She says they were always a smallish something or other but we were always so grateful to get whatever it was.  It is this very comment from my mother that has me thinking.  All you really need is small inexpensive ideas that will let you family know that they mean the world to you. Something special and sweet so your children will look back and think about how awesome their parents were to them on the holidays (like mine).  

Im working on a bunch ideas for myself and wanted to share what I have so far.

Candy Cane Heart Pops: I don't know about you, but I have TONS of leftover candy cane's from Christmas.  Even if you do not, you can still purchase them for a dollar.  I found this awesome idea in the Disney Family Fun magazine.  It is as simple as shape candy into hearts, bake at 235 for 10 minutes, insert stick and allow to cool. Melted chocolate optional!  :-).

Candy Bouquet: OK this is a really lousy picture so allow me to explain.  This was a very eye catching little gift on display at the floral department of our local grocery store. I GASPED at the price of $25. Expensive considering you only get 3 pieces of candy in all.  So I headed right to the dollar store and purchased the little rounded glass flower bowl, the tissue in Valentine colors, the balloon on a stick and even the foam insert. So for $5 in supplies i can easily make this myself.    

Conversation Heart Cookies: Annie's Eats proposed this idea last year. My little sweetheart can not eat the actual candy conversation hearts because of her Wheat/Gluten thing.  SO.....I am going to bake her up TONS of these tiny little shortbread cookies and top them with royal icing and sweet expressions.  This batch is the "trial run".  They were at HIT at the Kindergarten table at lunch.

Marshmallow Heart Bouquet:  A pack of Marshmallow hearts, leftover bud vase from a previous occasion, some gum drops and a hand full of bamboo skewers and you have all you need to create something edible and special for your loved ones.  Wrap your bamboo skewers in green floral tape, cut the sticks in various heights.  Want to make them extra decadent?  Dunk them in chocolate as seen here.  I originally saw this idea in the Delicious Designs book I purchased some years back.  But HERE is a great how to tutorial if you are interested.

Sundae Center Piece: Gotta Sundae cup handy? Between Naps on the Porch is walking you though how to make this wonderful idea.  This is another idea I have read about before in my book, "Candy Bouquets by Delicious Designs".  In the book they add a few bits of candy on the bottom along with shredded paper around the circular shaped piece of foam in the middle.  T pins hold your candy to the foam. I love this idea and would have never thought to make it for Valentines.

Candy Cakes: I found this idea over at Sweetapolita.  I have seen this similar idea done by Bakerella with her cake pops previously.  How creative are they?!?!  I would have never even considered doing it myself until I seen Rosie's post it over at her blog.  She is baking a sheet cake and using her cookie cutters.  Butter cream frosting will hold it all together.  She is also using fondant which i would not attempt just yet but why not try a poured fondant coating?  Wrap an old box with nice paper and use those tiny cupcake liners to complete the look.  


I will be posting the gluten free cookie recipe later this week.  If you are looking for great ideas with regular cookie dough, I highly recommend you visit Loren over at The Baking Sheet.  She is my cookie baking hero!  
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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Week of January 31st, 2011


The Pantry Chellenge may be over for the month of January, but my freezer is still full!!!  I am determined to use up the stuff from that deep freezer so I can purchase a half a cow before the prices of beef go up. My husband and I have been talking about doing this for some time now anyway. We have found a source of good organic quality beef and now we just have to make the space.  I would also like to make some space so I can purchase my daughters convenience foods in bulk from the wholesale distributer.  My kids LOVE Ian's products and I just can't seem to pruchase enough of their chicken nuggets and turkey corn dog nuggets.  I want to try the kids TV dinners too.  My kids used to enjoy the kiddie TV dinners as a special treat on nights we had to run out early.  These new dinners from Ian's will help me bring this back to them.

I am doing something different this week.  Here is a list of dinners I have available to make:








  • Ham Tetrazzini
  • Mozzarella and Roasted Garlic Chicken Sausage
  • Baked Herbed Chicken Legs 
  • Baked Fish


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