Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Gardening Journal: May 31st, 2011

Harvest time.  Well a mini harvest anyway.  We pulled up Turnips which I suppose I will hide in some mashed potatoes.  We also ended up pulling up a few onions too.  I figured the onions are still a bit small so I can leave them there a bit longer.  They look beautiful though and I'm so excited.  Last year we must have done something wrong and most of our onions rotted in the ground.

We also weeded a bit and sprayed BT since the cabbages were just starting to get infested with those dang little worms.  Hate-em.

This Week's Harvest

The Hubs says if the onions float, they are good.

Wow, thats allot of turnips.  
See the big versus small turnips?  
Thats a spacing experiment.  Space needed really does matter.

Romain Lettuce
Washed and set out a bit to dry.

Cone Head Cabbage?  From Mars? 
Tee Tee. :-D
This is what happens when you crowd the cabbage plants
They need that sunlight, so the keep growing up ward to find it.

And probably my most interesting bit of this weeks harvest.
This onion is trying to re-establish itself by sending out a new stalk.  
How cool is that?
I think I need to quickly chop and freeze them to preserve those growth enzymes.


I will be sharing my post with all the other pictures and garden's at the following links:


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Make your own boxed Hamburger Helper mix ahead of time and have Gluten Free Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger Macaroni ready when you need it....


Here I am again re-making the Copycat Hamburger Helper recipe I posted previously.  I am always trying to perfect the recipes I'm working on.  One of these days I will share how I work up a recipe idea.  If you went to Culinary Arts school they would tell you how to develop recipes.  I did not go to Culinary Arts school so I have my own crazy way of doing it.  

This version of home made Hamburger Helper is shelf stable and a replacement for the boxed mixes you purchase at the store.  My kids SWEAR that this version tastes better.  In fact they have asked me to make this every week so that means it rates right up there with Pizza and Hamburgers.  


1 pound Ground Beef (preferably pre cooked in your OAM cooking day)
1 cup Sharp Cheddar
3 cups Water
1/2 cup Milk

Spice Packet:
1 teaspoon Brown Rice Flour
1 T Corn Starch
2 Tablespoons Bouillon Powder (check the GF Status on this product)
1 T Chopped Onion (dried)
1 T Parsley
1 t Onion Powder
1/2 t Garlic Powder
1/2 t Paprika
1/2 t Sugar
1/4 t thyme

1 1/2 cups Elbow Pasta (I use Tinkyada)

The lineup

Add Spice Packet Blend to Snack Sized Ziploc

Add small ziploc along with pasta inside a bigger ziploc.

Stack and Store

  • Brown Ground Beef (Or take out a pre cooked batch from your freezer like I do)
  • Add Water, Milk, Pasta and Spice Packet into pan.
  • Turn heat on Medium Low and cook for 15 to 20 minutes (stirring occasionally) or until pasta is tender.
  • Add Cheese and mix well until melted.
  • Relax and Enjoy.
That was easy right.  Add, mix and enjoy.  Nothing to it and its home made.

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Monday, May 30, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: Week of May 30th, 2011


Welcome, welcome, welcome.  It is so hard to believe that my kids are home for the Summer now. I suppose lunches need to be thought of more often.  I know, I know I pack lunch every day. It should be easy, right?  While at school my kids could not complain.  It's my son, he is so incredibly picky.  Sigh, it's my least favorite part of summer.  I plan to have physical activity time as well as Home Schooling planned into our summer.  The homeschooling will only be an hour a day, just enough to allow them to keep what they learned and maybe progress a bit into the next level so they are prepared.    S

Updates from the following week?  Recall I was going to try my hand at a Philly style Cheesesteak Sandwich?  The Steak Umm's dinner on Friday was a disaster.  LOL.  I took it upon myself to try out a new "bread" recipe and it was a total flop.  I should just stick with what I know and love, my own copycat recipe of Udi's.  Sometimes I can't help myself and just have to tinker with things.  Wednesday's Fried Chicken experiment on the other had was a RAGING success and is in the line up to share with you all.  We loved it so much.  We had almost forgotten how much we loved KFC back in the day.  Saturday was nice enough to Grill so my brother came over with some Country Style Ribs for the grill and we served it with Baked Beans and Greek Salad.  Sunday's meatloaf never happened.  We ended up have odds and ends.


Monday (Memorial Day):
Lunch: Grilled Hotdogs
Dinner: Grilled London Broil, Potato Salad, Macaroni salad, Cherry Pie

Tuesday:
Lunch: Pizza
Dinner: Sweedish Meatballs over Pasta.

Wednesday:
Lunch: Nachos
Dinner: Spaghetti with Bolognese Meat sauce and Fresh Baked Bread.

Thursday:
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Meatloaf, Quick Brown Gravy, Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans

Friday:
Lunch: Chicken Nuggets
Pizza's and Salad. (Dinner and a Movie Night)

Saturday:
Cheese Enchiladas, Rice and Beans

Sunday:
Leftovers

Looking for Menu Plan Ideas, head on over to Org. Junkie's Menu Plan Monday for lots of great ideas. Print

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Gluten Free Home Made Chocolate Cake Recipe

Have you ever tried Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake recipe as a full fledged gluten eater?  Well I have not but it was supposed to be one awesome cake.  My friend Alison from Under the Big Oak Tree told me a story of how somebody baked her this recipe once for her birthday and how good it was.  My Friend Pam says she has successfully used the recipe on the back of the cocoa powder container with Tom Sawyer's Gluten Free Flour Blend.  It was only logical then that when I went about searching to make my own Home Made Gluten Free Chocolate Cake I start with the Hershey's recipe.  I have had enough conversion mishaps to know just what changes to make.  I find the best Gluten Free recipes start out as the gluten filled ones I used to know and love.

This recipe turned out so incredibly chocolaty, it was light and moist, had a great texture and kept very well.  So without further adieu, the home made gluten free chocolate cake recipe I will use forever:



2 sticks Butter
1 cup White Sugar
1 cup Brown Sugar

4 Whole Eggs
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
3/4 cup Hershey's Cocoa Powder

1 cup Boiling Water
1/4 cup Chocolate Bits, chopped fine (Semi Sweet or Dark)
1 cup Sour Cream, ButterMilk or Yogurt

1/2 teaspoon of Salt
1 teaspoon Xanthan Gum
2 cups of My Preferred GF Flour Blend
   (1 cup Tapioca Starch, 3/4 cup Brown Rice Flour, 1/3 cup Potato Starch)
1/4 cup Sorghum Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
2 teaspoons Baking Soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  • Cream Butter and Sugars together until light and fluffy, at least 3 minutes.
  • Add eggs and vanilla and mix until fully incorporated.
  • Add in Cocoa Powder and mix well.
  • Meanwhile mix boiling water and chocolate bits together until chocolate melts.
  • Add milk to chocolate/water mixture.
  • In a separate bowl mix Salt, Gum, Flours, Baking Soda and Baking Power.
  • Add flour blend and Chocolate Milk into stand mixer and mix until fully incorporated.
  • Pour into either Prepared 13 x 9 baking sheet, 2-8" or 2 9" baking pans, or cupcake pans lined with papers.
  • Bake cupcakes for 20 to 25 minutes, round pans for 30 to 35 minutes, and Sheet Cake for 40 to 45 or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Frost with canned or Homemade Chocolate Frosting.

Other Great Recipes similar to this one:
Chocolate Cake Recipe over at Gluten Free Homemaker


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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Gardening Journal: May 24, 2011

Our Sugar Snap Peas are just about to give us yet another harvest.  I did not snap a pic of that again this time though.  Needless to say I am SHOCKED!  I had no idea I would get so much from this bush.  The hubs took some to work with him right off the vine today.

Last week I only seen one onion poking out.  This week all of the Onions are growing right out of the ground.  All of them are HUGE now.  Maybe I'll get a means of comparison next time around.
Are you wondering how to harvest onions?  Check out our favorite gardener's (The Bayou Gardener)
Video on how to harvest and then how to CURE them.  I personally like to chop and freeze them so they are cooking ready.

Can you believe this MASSIVE plant is one turnip?  
See that snippet of purple near the dirt line?
Any locals want some turnip greens?  LOL.

Cauliflower has started, yay!  

And to give you an idea how big our broccoli/cauliflower bed is...

Baby Purple Cabbage Heads, hello babies!!!

Beets!  I love beets.

Our climbing plants want to just sprawl across the ground.


And each week I need to weave them though the wire.

Those flowers last week are tomatoes this week.
EEEEeeeeek!  I'm so excited.

This lettuce needs to be picked ASAP or it too will bolt.  
They say once the central stalk appears the lettuce will become bitter.
I'll be out harvesting and weeding today.


I will be sharing todays gardening progress with the following:


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Monday, May 23, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: Week of May 23rd, 2011


I switched Tuesdays taco dinner from last week and replaced it with my experimental make ahead replacement for boxed Hamburger Helper.  It was a RAGING success. My son asked me to put it on the weekly rotation from now on.  This is the kid who fights with me EVERY night and does not want to eat what I make.  WOW, he liked it.  I plan on sharing that recipe/method this week. Thursday I made Rosemary Chicken (another request of my children) instead of the roasted chicken.  It was too windy to grill on grill day so we ended up baking the pork chops (gross).  LOL!

Notice I have a pretty aggressive bread related menu.  On weeks like this, I generally have a baking day (today in fact) and make up everything and freeze it.  I am also going to try and keep my daughter off of Dairy for a bit while her DH heals up.  You will notice that my bread recipes do not include milk.  Taco pizza will not have cheese nor will Hamburgers or mashed potatoes.  


Monday:
Cheese Pizza and Taco Pizza.

Tuesday:
Spaghetti, Meatballs and fresh baked Dinner Rolls (working on this recipe)

Wednesday:
Church Wednesday program is ending this week and they are serving Fried Chicken.  The rest will be pot luck.  Needless to say, I'm going to be making some Fried Chicken for us and bring along Black Bean & Corn Salad.  

I linked the oatmeal crusted recipe but I think I'll toss some bread in the food processor this time.  My daughter has a mild case of DH and I need to really crack down on all things allergy related to try and figure this mystery out.

Thursday:
Hamburgers on Rolls and Fries

Friday:
Steak Sandwiches using Steak-Umm's and served with Fried Potatoes

Saturday:
Grilled London Broil, Potato Gallette

Sunday:
Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes


PS: I'm not leaving out the veggies, I promise.  I generally serve frozen veggies and a salad with each meal.

What will you be cooking up this week?  Join in and share your menu with us at Menu Plan Monday hosted by I'm an Organizing Junkie and Gluten Free Menu Swap hosted this week over at Celiac Family Print

Gluten Free Birthday Cake Recipe

I was so excited to give this project a try and find out that the resulting cake was great.  LOL.  Half the sheet was gone before it cooled.  It was created out of desperation on Birthday Week where I had to make birthday cupcakes for school, for church dinner, and little chef's party of 30 something kids. Add to the mix one GIANT PEEP CAKE for Cub Scouts and you are officially out of mix.  Now add surprise visitors to the mix and a new cake recipe is born.   

Growing up a "home made" birthday cake came from a box and that was pretty darn special for us.  Most folks from our station in life purchased made cakes from the store.  My mother was a single parent who worked 3 jobs so taking the time to bake a cake was a labor of love that we really appreciated.  I'm not sure I even realized growing up that cakes could be made from "scratch" or without a boxed mix.  

I generally like to add jello or pudding to any cake mix that uses a large portion of Brown Rice Flour because I find BRF to be very grainy and unappealing.  Starchy mixes need BRF in the blend though or I find it gives off a strange taste.  This flour blend (which happens to be my favorite) is starchy enough to not need the jello or pudding but not all starch either.  If you use the pudding in this recipe, it will give your cake a very good flavor but in turn make it chewy upon refrigeration.  My whole point of creating a cake recipe was that it kept well.  I am coming to learn that not all recipes or flour blends need the gelatin. 

I gathered comments from the "wheat eaters" who fell victim to my taste testing.  Some of their comments included: good moisture and great texture.   My own personal favorite part? This cake keeps well on the counter or in the refrigerator over night.


1 1/2 sticks (12 Tablespoons) Butter
2 cups Powdered Sugar
4 Eggs
1 cup Milk
1 Tablespoon Vanilla (good quality gluten free)

1 1/2 cups Tapioca Starch *
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons Brown Rice Flour *
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons Potato Starch *
1 teaspoon Xanthan Gum
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder


Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Spray either two 9" baking pans
     or one 9x13 can pan

  • Combine Butter and Powdered Sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer and whip until light and fluffy and light yellow in color.
  • Add one egg at a time and beat until fully incorporated.
  • Mix in vanilla.
  • Add Flour, Xanthan Gum, Baking Powder, Salt, and Milk and mix until fully incorporated.
  • Place in the oven and bake for 35 minutes.


    Perfect Birthday Cake Frosting Recipe

    1/2 cup Butter, room temperature
    1/2 cup Shortening
    1/4 cup Milk
    2 teaspoons Clean Vanilla Extract
    1/8 teaspoon Almond Extract
    4 cups Powdered Sugar

    • Whip Butter and shortening until fully combined, about 5 minutes.
    • Add milk and extracts until fully combined.
    • Add sugar one cup at a time and mix well until all sugar is added.

    Notes:
    1. The flours I use are from Bob's Red Mill.
    2. The flour blend used is the same mix that I use for the Udi's copycat bread.  I am not one to keep various different flour blends around. I pretty much develop my recipes based on this same blend, which I keep mixed up in BIG batches.

    More Gluten Free Cake Recipes and tips:

         *This is not a GF recipe, but it is where I started 
               the basis of my own GF version.
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    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    Gluten Free Country Fried Steak with Cream Gravy

    This recipe uses flour to dredge your steaks in.  You could easily use bread crumbs if you like but you really don't have to.  I don't usually have bread crumbs around since we generally eat all the bread I make from week to week.  I really like the idea of using Oat Flour anyway because of the added fiber it gives to the dish.  It sort of hides the fiber in there without any innocent victim suspecting it's good for them.  LOL.  I understand that some Celiacs don't tolerate Oats very well though.  Our family does not have a problem with them as long as they are certified Gluten Free.


    1 cup Oil

    1 Egg
    3 tablespoons Water
    1 to 2 cups Gluten Free Oat Flour (I use GF Oats and put into Food Processor) 

    1 pound Beef Cubed Steak (I purchase mine already tenderized)
    Season Salt
    Freshly ground Black Pepper
    1 1/2 to 2 cups Milk
    2 tablespoons Brown Rice flour or Soy Flour

    • Heat the oil in a skillet, until it sizzles a little. 
    • Combine the Egg with 3 tablespoons Water in a shallow bowl.
    • Put 1 to 2 cups of the Oat Flour (or BR Flour) in another shallow bowl and season with salt and pepper. 
    • Season the Steak with season salt and pepper. 
    • Dredge the steaks in the flour, coating each piece evenly. 
    • Drip the steak in the egg wash. 
    • Dredge again in the flour. 
    • Fry the steaks in the hot oil, until golden brown on each side, about 3 minutes. 
    • Remove and drain on paper towels. 
    • Season with salt and pepper. 
    • Discard all but 1/4 cup of the oil from the fry pan. keeping some of the brown bits for the gravy is encouraged. 
    • Over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons brown rice flour and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, whisking constantly. Add the milk, a little at a time, whisking constantly until you reach desired consistency. Coating back of the spoon I believe is industry standard. 
    • Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. 
    • Season with salt and plenty of pepper. 
    • Cook for 5 to 8 minutes, whisking constantly. 

    This recipe could easily be used for Cubed Pork Steaks too if you happen to find a good deal on those.

    I shared this recipe with:
    Ultimate Recipe Swap
    Slightly Indulgent Tuesday
    Gluten Free Wednesdays


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    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    Gardening Journal: May 18, 2011

    Mary, Mary quite contrary look at your garden grow! 

    I have been watching this garden grow for about a month now, and looking over at our Sugar Snap Peas and thinking, I really should feature them soon.  I went over there mid week to snap a picture and to my shock there were a bush full of beans to harvest!  OH my stars!!!  My kids ate the beans right off the vine.  I think I'm in gardening heaven!  Next year, we will plant two bushes!


    Look at all those Sugar Snap Peas

    I wanted you to see this container planter my Husband made for the peas.
    The container was supposed to be for Tomato Plants but tomatoes were NOT happy in there.
    Pea's sure are tho.

    Some of the Pea Harvest.


    We are getting the baby plants cold ready in a wagon with high sides.
    This way the wind won't hurt them.


    Hello there Mr. Onion! :-D


    Romaine and Bolted Broccoli
    Apparently this was not the right time to plant Broccoli.
    We are allowing it to go to flower and keeping the plant so it can
    reproduce in the fall when it should.


    Our Climbers suffered from the crop dusters (so much for organic)
    But made a rebound. Yay compost!


    Tomato plants busted though the grate.
    Notice only one plant per type, you will have to trust me that this will be plenty.


    Tomato Flowers already!

    Notice our nice and clean raised beds. I assure you that I do not spend all day in the garden. Only once a week does the job with raised beds filled with compost. If you don't do raised bed gardening, you really should try it.








  • Tuesday Garden Party

  • Tuesday Frugal Gardening 101

  • Garden Tuesday

  • Say Cheese!











  • Outdoor Wednesday











  • Wordless Wednesday











  • Wordful Wednesday











  • Wordful/Wordless Wednesday

  • Monday Homestead Barnhop
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    Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    May's Freezer Cooking, Once a Month Cooking, Batch Cooking...... Part 2

    Everywhere I shopped last Thursday, my food shopping day, I stumbled upon great "manager special" ground meat deals.  All under $2 a pound and were anywhere from $1.50 to $1.80 a pound.  They all needed freezing by the next day.  So you know what I did?  I purchased a total of 19 pounds over three stores.  While I was at Kroger I picked up 3 3-pound rolls of ground beef and 2 1-pound packages of ground turkey.  I left the store thinking great deal, glad I went shopping here today.  I never expected to come across any more.  Next stop was Hays where I picked up a 3-pound package of ground beef and then Walmart where I picked up one 5 pound roll of ground beef.   It really was not my intention to spend all my grocery budget on ground beef but when the opportunity knocks, I generally like to answer it.

    I took my purchases home and had an impromptu Once a Month Cooking day for dinner starters (or investment cooking).  I had no real plan so I can't share that part with you.  I just put sicky lables on each roll or pack to suggest what I needed to make with it.  Worked on  mix and freeze first and then moved onto the mix/cook/freeze meats.

    Look at all those Yellow Stickers

    4 Dinners worth of Bolognese Meat Sauce

    3 Meals of Meatballs.  They are giant so one per person.

    One Batch of Mini Meatballs for Swedish Meatballs

    3 dinners worth of plain old ground beef ear marked for Hamburger Helper
    (a project I am currently working on... Pantry ready GF replacements for Boxed HH)

    3 Batches marked for Taco Dinner and 1 for Taco Pizza

    2 Meatloaf Dinners

    2 Hamburger Dinners

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