Gluten free weeknight meals & budgeting

So this blog post should really be a post of the numerous ways the month of September has come and is exiting before my head has been able to wrap itself around it all.  Surely I am not the only mom who finds herself witnessing myself both coming and going in the middle of the dark of night, right?

My new purse is even sporting some tag-along buddies.  I don’t think I go anywhere any more without things packed into my purse that aren’t really mine.  And despite the extra poundage, I wouldn’t really change the rest of it.

Now THIS is a MOM purse

Well, maybe I’d change my sleep schedule:  to bed late (or early) and it takes me forever to fall asleep and up no later than 5AM or we are ALL off late for the day already.  A change with these hours would be helpful, but I honestly don’t see that happening anytime soon.  Teaching doesn’t end with the kids leave… or even when my kids finally crash and go to bed.  (PS…they have been in bed for 45 minutes now… and the Chicklet just asked via the monitor “Hey Mom, what’s my cake going to look like?”  “Your cake?”  “Yes, for my birthday.”  “Babe….your birthday is in May.  It’s September. We have a while to think about it, okay?” = this is the kind of thing that never ends around here….LOL)  Evidence:  apple slices + goofy face photos…despite a few attempts we don’t have ONE photo for BOTH smiling nor BOTH making a goofy face at the same time.  Egad.

Apple slices + goofy faces

So I decided to share my working mom “Sanity Saver” meals.  I’ve been asking and posting here when I thought my world was careening off track, but seldom have I posted when I have done it right (finally) for a month.  I challenged myself this month to get the meals down and stick to them.

Next month, I am challenging myself to:

  • only go to the grocery store every 10 days to 2 weeks
  • STICK to my grocery budget – and SAVE every penny that I don’t spend in an account for a family trip
  • stick to my meal plan (come high water or sleep exhaustion)
  • stick to a reduced (extremely) budget for “eating out”

Seriously.  I’m starting at ZERO here people.  There is only room to grow, right?

Some of you are experts at all of the above (budgeting, time-management, meal-planning, saving (!), etc) but these are things I tend to stick to for a short time and then meander down some random thought-path-etc and I blow it.  We have had TWO four-day vacations/trips in the last EIGHT YEARS of our lives.  (My Love does NOT get time off from work.)  But we’ve had SO much fun on these rapid-paced trips to see family (my parents/his parents) that we want to do it more often.  And now the girls have seen an ad for Disney Land and CarsLand.

Yeap.  My budget better get in gear.  NOW.

Want to follow along on my endeavor?  Care to add your two cents/tips?  I’d love to hear them!

Okay… enough meandering.  Some of you are just here for the list of my weeknight go-to meals.  Take note:  the meals on this list HAD to be able to be prepared and ready to go in under an hour (or toddler + mom meltdown ensures).  Well, here it is:

  1. fajitas (chicken or flank steak)
  2. enchiladas
  3. taco salad
  4. one-pot rice dish (random meat/tofu, rice, veggies – a la jambalaya)
  5. tarragon chicken tenders
  6. Bo-jay-fan (Chinese one-pot chicken/rice/sausage/mushroom)
  7. pork chops and apples
  8. steamed fish + tofu
  9. split pea soup (thank you crock pot)
  10. jambalaya
  11. quinoa salad (a la fried rice/couscous – NOTE couscous is NOT gluten free!)
  12. pasta salad (schars or jovial)
  13. parfait (yogurt + granola)
  14. pancakes (corn ones here) or waffles (to save time, i’ve made “waffles” in a panini pan with pancake batter )
  15. chicken chili
  16. mongolian beef (marinate night before or immediately upon returning home for 45 min at least)
  17. spaghetti (schars, jovial or homemade on the weekend)
  18. lasagna (no boil/lazy method – make ahead, pop in oven)
  19. pot pie (make ahead OR make muffin-sized (lunch/dinner) OR make with crescent roll dough  for last minute)
  20. roasts (pork loin is our favorite as faster than whole chicken, etc)
  21. meatballs and mashed/roasted potatoes
  22. kebabs
  23. tortilla española (potatoes, eggs, onions, seasoning) – leftovers are great lunches too
  24. shrimp and grits
  25. chicken marsala
  26. risotto
  27. lettuce wraps
  28. migas
  29. corned beef (crock pot or reheat after cooking on Sunday), roasted cabbage
  30. curried chicken
  31. beef and broccoli
  32. spicy green beans and tofu
  33. arroz con pollo
  34. baharat chicken or lamb
  35. chowder (Chinese corn, OR salmon/fish, etc – whatever you got and put it in a pot!)
  36. arepa sandwiches
  37. jibaro sandwiches (plantains, flank steak, etc)
  38. burgers (bean or beef) (speedy buns – done in the oven while I grill/cook burger or pao-d-quejo buns – quick too!)
  39. beef stroganoff but served over rice, mashed potatoes, steamed cauliflower/broccoli in lieu of noodles
  40. teriyaki chicken (or whatever is on hand)
  41. quiche
  42. fried rice
  43. ….leftovers!  (the great list ender…I try to use up leftovers for lunch, but often there is a bit more)

I hope this list helps someone else pull a menu plan together.  My trusty purple spiral bound notebook and I roam the aisles of the grocer trying to make sure I have it all together.  Maybe that will be what I share next?  Ay!  Who knows!

Hopefully now that I am getting my feet under me at school the next blog post won’t be delayed as long as this one has been.  I’m sorry – and THANK YOU for sticking with me.

Happy GF Eating 
~Kate

Gluten Free Pull-Aparts: Garlic & Parmesan or Pizza Pull Aparts

Gluten Free pull-apart Garlic Bread

I have a confession to make.  I’m addicted to Pinterest.  I haven’t started a Gluten Free Board – YET! – because I know once I do, it will just all be downhill until then.  I will never have to get off my duff to be creative again.  But you know what? … It is perfect reading and browsing for those of us with insomnia (or who can’t fall asleep at night because… well.. because our brains don’t shut off…).

(For those of you who are uninitiated, Pinterest is a visual version of adding bookmarks to your computer – but they remain online and accessible from wherever you have internet access.)

The truly addicting part for me, however, is NOT that I can bookmark my favorite things to do (a bucket list of crafts is what I’m accruing there) and/or teaching ideas (of which there is plethora of great ones, for those of you who teach) but several of my friends whose boards (bookmarks) I can “follow” (much like twitter or Facebook) are pinning some amazing looking food from bloggers.  And OH MY – the lemon bread?  Yes!  It was easy to convert to gluten free so it started the ball.

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of “pins” (as they are called) for pull-apart breads.  Exactly like a Monkey Bread (I have an early (2007) gluten free recipe for a monkey bread here).  The difference is mainly that pull-apart breads seem to be savory rather than sweet (although I recently made one to taste like lemonade for the girls – OH MY – do that again soon!).  I knew with my previous monkey bread experience that this was totally do-able, meaning: easy for me to convert to gluten free!

The recipe below we have used for the following flavors of Pull-Apart breads and is truly only limited by your own imagination and taste buds:

Garlic and Parmesan (was a great accompaniment to our pasta: recipe below)
Lemonade (fresh lemon, lemon juice and drizzled with grated candied lemon peel and icing)
Turkey & Cheese stuffed pull Aparts (topped with garlic and parmesan)
Pepperoni Pizza Pull Aparts (stuffed with pepperoni slices and cheese, topped with pizza sauce and more cheese)
Dill and Feta Pull Aparts (added tons of dill and a bit of feta to the dough, topped with garlic and drizzled with butter)
etc….

Pepperoni-Stuffed Pizza Pull Aparts (Kid-Created:  They made the dough, I stuffed, the topped)
Cheesy gluten free pull apart pizza bread
You see the drift here:  Basically whatever you want.  I can’t wait to see what you guys will do with this.  Please be sure to come back and inspire me too!  Let me know what you make.  Everyone can use the kitchen-inspiration.  😀

Gluten Free Garlic & Parmesan Pull Apart Bread

Makes one standard pie-plate of pull apart bread (about 12 balls that are 2 inches in diameter or so).  Download/Print a PDF copy of this recipe here.

Basic Recipe Ingredients:

1 cup warm milk (or water or soy milk or rice milk), between 110*-115*F
1 Tablespoon yeast
1 Tablespoon honey
4 Tablespoons melted butter (for dough) + more (for rolling dough balls in)
1 egg
2 1/4 cups Gluten Free Flour Mix (70% whole grain/30% starch)
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

For Garlic-Parmesan Pull-Aparts Add:

1 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1/2 cup shredded parmesan

Directions:

  1. Flip your pie plate upside down onto a piece of parchment paper.  Trace the outer edge.  Cut the parchment to fit your tracing.  Flip your pie plate right side up.  Lightly butter the inside bottom of your pie plate (to help the parchment stay in place).  Press the now circle-shaped parchment into the pie plate.  The edges will wrinkle up a bit, but they will make it so much easier to get the pull apart out of the pan when you are done.
  2. Preheat your oven to 375F.
  3. Mix together your warm milk (110*-115*F), yeast and honey.  Set aside to proof.
  4. In the bowl of your mix, blend your dry ingredients:  GF Flour mix, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt.  If you are making the garlic parmesan version, add the granulated garlic now.
  5. Add your wet ingredients:  egg, melted butter and proofing mixture (it should have foamed up by now) of milk/honey/yeast.
  6. Mix on low until blended.  Then turn mixer up a little faster (#4 on my KitchenAid is our standard with little people helping) and mix for an additional 2-4 minutes.  This is what your dough will look like.

The dough and waiting pan

  1. Melt a couple of Tablespoons of butter into a cereal bowl.
  2. Divide your dough into 12 balls (about 2-2 1/2 inches in diameter).  Roll each in the melted butter than place into your parchment lined pie dish.  Continue until all the balls are coated and placed into the pan.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
  3. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes until the crust of the balls are golden brown and the internal temperature registers between 195-204*F.   (See the picture above)
  4. Serve warm with an appropriate dipping sauce (if you’d like).  We ate these like garlic bread (the garlic-parmesan, obviously) while our kids liked dipping them into pizza sauce and/or their favorite dipping sauce.

Gluten free pull apart garlic bread - one piece, split

Enjoy!
Kate

CSA: what would you do?

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Our CSA box this morning included a huge bunch of rainbow chard. Got any ideas for me? I’ve exhausted my chard repertoire ( which is admittedly quite small.)

Diary of a Celiac… and it ends with an apple tart/pie…thing

I don’t think people realize what it means to have Celiac disease.

First and foremost, it is not obsessive once you get the hang of things.  There is no need for panic.

Second, it does make one much more likely to think about food ahead of time far more than your typical person.

Third, when you don’t do the second thing, you will either want to (a) eat your own arm while out and about or (b) kick yourself repeatedly and then (3) eat something less than satisfactory but still within the “safe” range of “food”.

Think of it like a Hurricane Category Scale.  It works something like this:

CATEGORY 1:
Hurricane Definition:  Very dangerous winds, could cause some damage.
Celiac Definition:  Celiac knows hunger will happen and therefore attempts to plan AHEAD to meet the hunger pangs.

CATEGORY 2:
Hurricane Definition:  Extremely dangerous winds, will cause some damage.
Celiac Definition:  Hungry Celiac has insufficient food plan, crabbiness ensues and the plan is adjusted.

CATEGORY 3:
Hurricane Definition:  Devastating damage will occur.
Celiac Definition:  Hungry Celiac fails to plan and now dreams of eating own arm while driving to next appointment.

CATEGORY 4:
Hurricane Definition:  Catastrophic damage will occur.
Celiac Definition:  Hungry.  Crabby.  Can no longer communicate.

CATEGORY 5:
Hurricane Definition:  Catastrophic damage will occur.
Celiac Definition:  You so don’t even want to know….Worst of all:  I have only myself to blame if I fail to plan, *I* fail myself.

Thursday was one of the days of my life that I ended up in a Category Three hunger mode.

My diary for Thursday would read something like this:

5:40AM:  Why in God’s name am I awake?  Oh yes, because I finally fell asleep at 3:15AM (thank you, obnoxious neighbors… but that’s another story), so naturally I should wake up, right?

7:00AM:  Both girls are cuddled up with me reading a book and checking the very cool visual weather apps on the iPad.

8:00AM:  All 3 of the girls are dressed and downstairs.  Dad is off to work.  Girls are eating breakfast and pestering each other.  I am wondering where the coffee scooper is.  Guess I should eat a little Greek yogurt too (thinking the protein will sustain me a little…).

9:30AM:  And we’re off… to the bank, to the gas station, to day care and then to the airport.  (I took pictures for a couple whose newly adopted son just arrived from South Korea.)

3:30PM:  Wait, what?  It’s 3??  Holy hell!  It took forever for that little guy to make it through customs (seriously 2+ hours = unreal).  Way to go, SeaTac for planning the arrival of 8 international flights within an hour.  Oh yea.  Awesome.  But now, I thought I’d be back on the road by 2:45-3.  Attempt to call hubby to check and day care to let her know.  Cell battery is dead.  Wonderful.  Pit stop for car-charger and oh look… a Starbucks.  I contemplate the dangers of buying the “protein” plate and tossing the bread/cracker thing and eating the rest… but I can’t figure out how it is package and whether I would be able to eat anything in it after the bread is tossed?  (Is the bread packed separately or part of the mix?  There in lies the question.)  I am freakin’ hungry.

4:00PM Back on the highway for long drive home (considering traffic and that it is 44 miles to go).  Still hungry.  Seeing signs for McDonald’s, BK, blah…blah…blah… and I’m trying to hold out for dinner.  After all, if I eat now, I’m not going to want dinner but will still be cooking it… BUT if i don’t eat something, I might just have to eat my arm off before too long.

4:25PM  Reach into “secret hiding spot in car” in hopes that I have one remaining pack of nuts or jerky or SOMETHING.  Disappointed to find *nothing* remaining.  Open purse.  Eat tic-tac.  Anger at self ensues.

4:30PM  My Love calls.  Notices I’m “crabby” and responds with “just go get something”.  My “crabbiness” is somewhat restrained as I contemplate shouting “AS IF IT IS THAT EASY” into the Bluetooth.  (PS.  That would so not have been cool, I’m glad I had some reserve brain power in order to hold my tongue.)  Instead, I say… hey honey, what do you say we get pad thai or something tonight.  He responds with “good idea, I was going to suggest the same”.  See.  I do love him. 😀

4:50PM  Get kids.  Chat with CH (day care wonder woman).  Stomach growls.  Apparently one tic-tac is not going to cut it.

5:30PM  Husband is home and notices defrosted chicken.  Calls to say “Hey… should we just stay in to eat the chi….”  He is cut-off my raging hunger beasts (there are now three hungry ladies in the car) who say “HEY!  I thought we could get pad thai tonight!”  (And no, I was not alone in my response.  Zoe was gladly louder than I was too.  LOL)

6:30PM  Veggie Summer Roll (rice paper, lettuce, noodles, carrots, etc) in hand with homemade sweet ginger dipping sauce.  My brain returns to normal slowly over the course of the meal.

7:45PM  I think about being able to grad whatever/whenever.  How, with a clear head, I can easily find something to eat – and even problem-solve; but when I’m hungry I totally cannot.  I wished we had the money to start a gluten free food truck with wraps, sandwiches and soups.   Because I really needed that: sandwich, wrap or soup.  Something.  Man, it can be frustrating sometimes.

But as I said, I have no one to blame but myself.  I should have packed something – anything.  A handful of almonds, a wrap sandwich, a little homemade spam musubi in a lunch tin, … etc. .. SOMETHING.  I promise myself as I go to bed that night that I will try to avoid this in the future.

And I know full well it will happen again.

And then I wish for that freakin’ food truck again.

Hmm… if only.

……

Avoid hunger meltdowns.  Make these and pack one for your next outing.  I can’t call them apple turnovers (which usually use puff pastry) because they are not.  This morning it hit me:  these babies are like Hostess Fruit Pies… only minus the chemicals and gluten.  Do you remember those?

Kitchen assistant

Really – we (the girls and I) just tossed these together because they wanted to cook… and I wanted to use the apples up.  I didn’t want another apple pie and I didn’t want to look up my recipes for pie crusts; thus this was born.

Actually, the dough is super pliable.  I really like that.  I rolls easily/nicely between two pieces of parchment paper.  However, it is NOT a flaky crust.  It totally is a Hostess Fruit Pie crust.

I think I will take this dough and play around with rolling in some bread pats or shredded butter (frozen stick = shredded in food processor) to form a flakier crust.  But for now?  This completely fits the bill.  I am holding a tartlet/pie thingy in my hand as I write.  I’m in heaven.

Tomorrow the girls and I will convert this to a savory pie.  I have visions of cheesy goodness (although Zoe is dreaming of peanut butter and jelly within hers and Rory wants laver/seaweed (???!!) in hers).  I guess we will see where this takes us.

If you give it a whirl, please come back and let us know what you did with yours!

AND PS:  Next time, I’ll take pictures of us rolling it out.  Guess I didn’t get those done as I was managing my two kitchen assistants (egad!) and their love of the stand-mixer.  😀

Untitled
Fruit Pie/Tartlets

Crust Recipe
INGREDIENTS:
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 1/2 cups GF Flour Mix
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons cold butter
1/4 cup COLD water
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 egg yolk PLUS 1 whole egg

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In the bowl of your food processor (with the blade attachment), mix together your dry ingredients.  Add the butter in pats (3 Tbsps. COLD butter cut into smaller pieces).  Blend again until the butter is distributed evenly into tiny peas or smaller.
  2. Add the cold water, lemon juice and egg.  Mix again until it comes together to form a ball.
  3. Scrap out and form into a disc.  Wrap in plastic (or insert into a plastic bag) and refrigerate until ready to use.

When ready to use:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Divide dough into 6-8 pieces (depending on the size of your tartlets/pie thingies).  We made 4 large triangles (made from 6-inch or so squares (BIG, IMHO!) and one open tart (8″ x 5″) for Dad.
  3. Roll out your dough between two pieces of parchment paper to the desired thickness (about 1/4 inch).  Fill with 2-4 Tablespoons (more/less depending on the size of you dough) of your desired filler.  (We used mostly cooked apples with cinnamon a la apple pie filling for the ones in the photos – See below for a rough guess as to our “measurements”).
  4. Bake on a piece of parchment paper for 15 minutes at 375.  Lower the temperature to 350 and bake an additional 10 minutes until the outer edges of the crust turn golden.
  5. Top with icing, if so inclined.  (I used a pat of softened butter, 2 Tablespoons of milk and well… umm.. I didn’t measure but about 1/2 – 2/3 cup of powdered sugar.  Mix to a semi-thick glaze and drizzle over the warm pie-lets).

Untitled

APPLE FILLING

Ingredients:
3 Fuji apples (hard for me to measure, as my “helpers” helped themselves to lots of apple slices as we prepped)
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/4-1/3 cup of sugar (depending on the sweetness desired/sweetness of the apples)
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons of butter
2 Tablespoons of GF Flour mix

Directions:

  1. Peel and core your apples.  Slice into thin strips (about 1/4 inch thick).  Toss the strips with the lemon juice as you go in a bowl.
  2. Preheat a pan over medium.  Add the butter.  Dump in your apple slices, sugar, cinnamon.  Cook over medium heat until the apple slices are tender but NOT mushy (8 minutes or so).
  3. Taste and adjust your sweetness level.  (Add lemon juice, if desired too)
  4. Sprinkle the 2 Tablespoons of GF Flour mix over and stir in.  Cook an additional 2-3 minutes until the moisture/sauce begins to thicken.
  5. Remove from the heat and set aside until ready to use.  (I had left overs, so I added them to the bottom of a oven-puffed pancake for breakfast the next day after storing in the fridge overnight.)

Enjoy!
Kate

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