Friday, December 28, 2012

Chai Tea Latte Mix

UPDATE:  I've received GREAT reviews on this.  Everyone who likes chai tea loves this stuff!

This is another great mix for gift jars.  This recipe made five pint jars.  When I am not making it for gifts, I will probably try to quarter the recipe.  It makes way more than I could ever drink by myself.  It's good though.   I don't think it is quite as good as Starbucks Chai Tea Latte but it is good.  Not to mention, it is MUCH cheaper.  I will definitely keep this recipe around.  One note though, this is the only recipe on this blog so far that is NOT corn-free.

1 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 cup powdered non dairy creamer
1 cup French vanilla powdered non dairy creamer
2½ cups white sugar
2 cups unsweetened instant tea
2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. allspice
¼ tsp. white pepper

Combine all ingredients.  Add three tablespoons of tea mix to one cup hot water or milk.

Note:  This recipe was modified from HERE.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

25 Books of Christmas

I saw this idea on Pinterest, of course.  It is called the 25 books of Christmas.  You wrap up 25 books and you open one with your kid(s) each night of December through Christmas Day.  I did this for my two year old.  I bought used books at a local used book store and found a pack of Christmas books through Scholastic for a great price.  (Although, not all of the books were Christmas books.  That is just a lot of Christmas.  I just looked for age appropriate.)  I spent $0.25-$1.00 on each book so it wasn't expensive and I won't feel too bad if my girl rips some pages.  (We are still working on how to treat books with paper pages instead of strong board pages.)

Good news...  This was tons of fun and my toddler has built up a great library.  Bad news... SO. MANY. BOOKS!  So, I will be modifying this for next year.  Next year we will just do 25 days of Christmas.  Some nights will be crafts, some nights will be making a Christmas treat and some nights will be books.  It's a perfect mix.

For those who are interested, I did keep a list of the books I gave L. Some days have more than one book because I ended up with a surplus going overboard on books with great prices.  I am also a bit of a book addict myself.

25 books of Christmas:
1. The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore (I ended up with two copies of this so this is on the list twice. Both were illustrated by different illustrators so they were different to a two year old.)
2. Big Red Fire Engine by Rose Greydanus
3. Bible Stories (x3): Noah's Ark, Daniel and the Lion's Den, David and Goliath
4. Dinosaur Olympics
5. On Top of Spaghetti by Tom Glazer (L loved the books that were actually songs.  She loves to try to sing and loves to listen to others sing.)
6. Owlbert by Nicholas Harris
7. Puff the Magic Dragon by Pete Yarrow and Lenny Lipton
8. The Big Snowball by Wendy Chayette Lewison
9. Antarctica by Helen Cowcher
10. Baby Donald Makes a Snowfriend by Marilyn J. Sapienza
11. A Very Special Snowflake by Don Hoffman
12. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Barbara Shook Hazen
13. The Twelve Days of Christmas: A Christmas Carol
14. The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell
15. Baby Kermit's Christmas by Louise Gikow
16. Spot's Christmas by Eric Hill
17. Disney's Pooh: How to Catch a Heffalump
18. Disney's 101 Dalmations
19. One Mitten by Kristine O'Connell George & Corduroy's Christmas Surprise by Don Freeman
20. Snow Day by Joan Holub & I Love Christmas by Hans Wilhelm
21. The Twelve Cats of Christmas by Kevin Whitlark
22. Merry Christmas Grumpy Bunny by Justine Korman & Pocket's Christmas Wish by Ann Bonwill and Russell Julian
23. Clifford's Christmas by Norman Bridwell & Santa Duck and His Merry Helpers by David Milgram & A Silly Snowy Day by Michael Coleman
24. 'Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore (This one was wrapped up with her Christmas pajamas.)
25. Curious George Snowy Day by H.A. Rey & Merry Christmas Curious George by H.A. Rey

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Easy Tomato Soup

I've been sick a lot lately.  I can't get over one thing before the next hits.  My immune system has taken a big hit this year due to severe allergies and the first year being in the schools so much.  Everyone tells me that every new teacher is sick the first year while their bodies build up immunity to everything that all of the students, families and coworkers bring in.  I rarely got sick when I worked in an office of ten people but now I'm in multiple schools with hundreds of people in each school.  Anyway, I've had to find some foods that are easy to make and easy on the stomach.  I really needed a soup but I hate eating canned soup.  Have you read the labels on those things?  There are some crazy ingredients in those little cans.  And I have recipes for big soups but they take longer to cook and prepare.  I was sick enough a few times that I couldn't stand for more than a few minutes without getting sick again.  So, I found this soup and modified it to my own taste.  It uses canned tomato sauce which has fewer ingredients.  You could, of course, use homemade tomato sauce which I hope to have plenty of in a few years when I am able to get my garden really going.  But right now, the tomatoes at the store are horrible.  I also typically try to use canned foods with low sodium or no added sodium but I don't on the tomato sauce.  The low sodium tomato sauce has other unnecessary ingredients, one of which is a corn product.

½ tsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. butter
1 cup tomato sauce (no cans for corn free)
¼ tsp. dried basil
Pinch of dried thyme
Pinch ground black pepper
1 cup chicken stock
Handful of parmesan cheese (optional)
Saltines (optional)

In a small saucepan, mix tomato sauce, butter, chicken stock, herbs and spices.  Bring to a simmer.  When soup is warm through turn off the heat and add the parmesan if desired.  Serve warm with saltines.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Beefy Potato Soup

This is my favorite soup and comfort food.  I can even eat it cold.  It is easy and great leftover.  Now I know the original recipe came from a newspaper or magazine from a long time ago.  I don't know exactly because it was just a clipping in my grandmother's recipe stash.  It seems like a strange recipe when you read it but give it a try.  Really!

1 lb. lean ground beef
4 cups cubed, peeled potatoes (I always use a little more potato)
1 small onion, minced (I've also used dried minced onion)
3 cups tomato sauce (no cans for corn-free)
4 cups water
2 tsp. salt
1½ tsp. pepper

(Note:  The original recipe also included ½-1 tsp. hot pepper sauce.  We don't like hot stuff so we leave it out.)

In a large soup/stew pot or dutch oven brown the ground beef with the minced onion.  Drain if needed.  Add the tomato sauce and water to the beef and onion and mix together.  Add salt and pepper.  Bring to boil then turn down to a simmer.  Simmer for 1 hour, stirring regularly, or until potatoes are tender.  Add salt and pepper to taste if needed.

And again, I forgot to take a picture.  I made this while I was sick so I didn't have the blog on my mind at the time.  I will be making it again at some point during the winter.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Brownie in a Mug

I know I haven't posted much lately.  Life is hectic.  And now the holidays are upon us so things are even more crazy.  I will have many posts after Christmas since I am making so much stuff for Christmas.  This year is all about saving money since it has been so rough economically at our house just as it is in many other houses now.  But I can't post anything until the gifts are all distributed.  But for now, I have a simple recipe post.

I know it's holiday season so some people will already have way too many sweets but at my house, we really don't do much sweet stuff, even at the holidays.  But there are times when I want just a little something sweet but don't want a whole plate of cookies or pan of brownies laying around.  So I make this brownie in a mug. There are tons of recipes for these all over the internet, especially on Pinterest.  But I've tried most of them and most of them are awful.  But this one I can actually handle.

¼ cup sugar
¼ cup flour
2 Tbsp. cocoa
Pinch of salt
2 Tbsp. oil (I use olive for everything and it's good in this too)
3 Tbsp. water

Mix all ingredients together in a mug or bowl.  I use a very large coffee mug because it is difficult to cook through in a regular coffee mug.  Make sure all ingredients are mixed thoroughly.  Cook in microwave for 1 minute 40 seconds.  Let cool and enjoy.  Or better yet, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Turkey or Beef and Asparagus Meatballs

Update Note:  We still love this recipe but I have had to make a few changes.  We have constantly kept learning about the corn issues and our daughter has still had tummy troubles off and on that we have had to work with and figure out.  We no longer do dairy since we did this recipe so those ingredients are now excluded for us.  Also, the brand of ground turkey we can get here includes "natural flavors" in the ingredients.  This often means some type of corn source.  So we no longer use that either and I have not found a source of clean turkey yet.  We have found a source for good, local, grass-fed beef though.  So we now use that instead.  It is VERY good.  I can't believe now, that we ever ate that beef from the grocery store.  This stuff tastes and cooks so much better!

These are very easy to make and very easy to sneak in some extra veggies.  The original recipe only had asparagus in the meatballs and garlic in the sauce.  Well I added spinach to the meatballs and sauce and onions to the sauce.  I will include my additions in this recipe.  You modify to your family's tastes.  This was a hit with the whole family.

Ingredients for meatballs:
1 lb. ground white turkey or beef
3 asparagus spears sliced thin
1 handful frozen, cooked spinach, chopped
1 egg
½ tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. dry oregano
½ cup Italian bread crumbs (Try my recipe HERE)/(crumbled cereal or crackers can be used as well)
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese (optional if dairy free is needed)
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Directions for meatballs:
Preheat oven to 350°F.  Combine ground turkey, asparagus, spinach, egg, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, bread crumbs, and parmesan in a bowl.  I used my hands to mix.  If it is too crumbly you can add one more egg.  Form into preferred sized meatballs.  I also made a few small flat patties similar to little sausage patties. This made it easier for the toddler to eat.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.  Add each meatball/patty to the hot pan and cook until just getting browned on each side.  Put meatballs in a baking dish or on a baking pan and bake for twenty minutes.  I cut a meatball in half to make sure it was finished before taking them out of the oven.

Ingredients for sauce:
1 Tbsp. onion powder/dried minced onion or 1 medium onion, minced
1 handful frozen, cooked spinach, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 cups crushed tomatoes (No cans for corn-free. The original recipe called for 16 oz. but we liked it better with a little more.)
2 oz. softened cream cheese (optional for dairy free; or maybe try coconut milk or coconut yogurt? I haven't tried yet)
salt and pepper to taste

First, start boiling preferred pasta noodles.  Saute onion and garlic in the same pan the meatballs were started.  Add in the spinach.  When the spinach is soft and warm, add in the crushed tomatoes, cream cheese and salt and pepper.  Stir until the cream cheese is melted and incorporated into the tomato sauce.  Now serve meatballs and sauce over pasta.

If you don't want noodles, you could easily just serve the meatballs alone with some more veggies or a gluten free option such as rice or quinoa.

Note:  This recipe was modified from another recipe which you can find HERE.

Freezer Meals 1

I have started trying to cook once every two to four weeks and freeze meals.  We have a food saver to vacuum seal for freezing.  The vacuum saver has already paid for itself in food saved from freezer burn. The meals are ready to go in the slow cooker or oven. We eat off of these meals for ALL meals ALL week.I cook one meal on Saturday and one meal on Sunday and we usually eat out for one meal per week.  We also make breakfast and tacos once a week.  This fills in the holes when we don't want to eat leftovers.  Plus, breakfast and tacos are always quick and easy to make.  Below is a week of recipes I used in my experiment.  I will continue to blog about my cooking and freezing ventures.  To see the recipe, click on the name of the dish underneath the picture.  They link to the blog posts with the the recipes.

NOTE:  I typically buy frozen chicken.  I can get a ten pound bag from Sam's for a great price and we eat mostly chicken for our lean protein source.  This means, if the recipe calls for chopped chicken, the chopping doesn't happen until it thaws or cooks.  (NEVER refreeze and meat after it thaws!)

There are two meals without a picture.  I'll add more later.

Here are pictures of all of the frozen meals, ready for the freezer or fridge.  These pictures show 10 meals going in the freezer or fridge.  One went right into the fridge to cook the next day.  The rest went into the freezer and were laid out to thaw the night before or just dumped frozen into the slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

This is another meal that can be split or doubled for freezer meals.  The recipe below split into two batches for our family.  One batch went in the slow cooker and one batch went in the freezer.  One batch for us makes enough for one dinner for me, a dinner and a lunch for L and a lunch for J.  Sometimes there is even some leftover from that.  This can be served over and/or with anything.  Side of steamed veggies and a baked potato...  Over noodles...  Over rice...  A little hint if you want to serve over noodles:  you will need to add sauce whether that be your favorite spaghetti sauce or just a couple of cans of tomato sauce.  I've done all of these things and all have worked well.  I've messed it up too because I'm still not the best cook.  But I'm getting better.

1 onion, minced (you can chop this or slice this however you like but I don't like onion chunks so I mince)
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2½ cups tomato paste (no cans for corn-free)
4 oz. fresh chopped mushrooms (again, you can slice but I don't like chunks so I chop in small pieces)
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. oregano
½ tsp. basil
1 cup chicken stock

Mix together tomato paste, mushrooms, salt, pepper, garlic, herbs and chicken stock in a slow cooker.  Add in chicken and make sure it is covered by tomato mixture.  Cook on low 7-9 hours or on high 4 hours.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Italian Chicken and Tomatoes

This is another very healthy, easy slow cooker meal.  It is one of my favorites right now.  I served it over rice but you could also serve it over noodles or by itself with some veggies.  I split this recipe into two and put them in the freezer for future use.  This is another easy meal that is easy to dump in the slow cooker before work.

8 chicken breasts
8 small/medium diced/crushed tomatoes
salt and pepper

NOTE:  We have also used an Italian herb mix instead of the separate herbs.

Once you get used to the amounts, you will be able to just dump everything together in the slow cooker.  Or if you have the sauce already made, even better.  I like to make the crushed tomatoes, oregano, garlic, onion, basil, salt and pepper into an sauce.  You could can it, make it the night before, or make it on the weekend and freeze it ahead for one a week/month cooking.  I also will be blogging the instructions for making the sauce in another blog post just for the sauce.  It is a versatile mix.  There are Italian diced tomatoes you can buy canned in the store as well if you still use canned products.  It has citric acid in it so we cannot use it.
To make the sauce, dice the tomatoes.  I usually score and blanch the tomatoes to peel them.  Then I cut them into large chunks and put them under my hand chopper.  It makes quick work of dicing them up.  Toss them into a sauce pan or skillet.  Then add in oregano, garlic, onion, basil, salt and pepper to taste.  Plenty of onion, garlic and salt go into mine.  Watch the oregano because it is strong.  Start with a pinch and go from there.  I have gotten pretty used to using this and making this so I can usually just toss it all in.  You can use fresh garlic and onion, dried or powdered.  I've used it all and it all tastes great.
Mix everything together in the slow cooker or in bags for the freezer.  In the slow cooker, cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4 hours.

I serve this over rice and with a vegetable of some kind.  We like green beans a lot.  But broccoli, asparagus, peas are all good.  This is great reheated for lunches.  Even the picky husband eats it reheated.

Here are a couple of pictures.  The first is a picture with a salad.  The other is a picture with rice, packed up to take to work for lunch the next day.

NOTE:  The cooking times are what was used when cooking from a frozen state.

Healthy Slow Cooker Chicken

This is a very healthy but very easy meal.  This recipe was enough to make two batches.  These were put in the freezer for easy, throw in the slow cooker before work meals.

6 chicken breasts
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
6-8 small/medium tomatoes, peeled
salt and pepper
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. celery seed
2 cups chicken stock (if you are freezing, leave this out until you put this in the slow cooker)

First, mince the onion and garlic.  If you are using fresh tomatoes, peel them now too.  Now I split everything except the chicken stock into two bags to put in the freezer.  That's it.  The only other thing there is to do is dump it in the slow cooker.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours.

Note:  I don't have a picture of this yet.  It is hard to remember what pictures I still need.  I will add one next time we have this meal.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mac & Beef

Here is a nice easy comfort meal which can be made in double so half can be frozen.  This is so good and I ate the leftovers for a few days.  If you want to make smaller batches for just one meal without leftovers, you could quarter this recipe and make 4 batches.  This was my first batch but I am going to play with it next time... add veggies, different noodles, different meats and cheeses...  The possibilities are endless!

2 lbs. ground beef
1 medium chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
salt, pepper, oregano, any herbs and seasonings you would like
1 bag of macaroni noodles
3 jars favorite pasta sauce or homemade pasta sauce
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Note:  Cheese is not corn-free.  I'm working an edit to this recipe.  Make sure to season the beef mixture a little strong or it will be bland once the noodles are added.

Cook the onions and garlic in the olive oil until clear in color.  Add the ground beef and brown.  Meanwhile, boil the noodles in salted water.  Cook the noodles until they are almost done but not quite as they will cook more in the oven.  Mix, beef, noodles and two jars of pasta sauce together.  Split into 2 batches.  Prepare one for freezing and pour the other into a 9x13 baking dish.  Top each with half of the last jar of pasta sauce.  Bake at 400° until noodles are done.  Top the one for baking with half of both shredded cheeses and put back in the oven until all of the cheese is melted.  Label the freezer batch with directions to add the other half of cheese when it is cooked.  Serve and enjoy!

Dry Ranch Mix

Dry ranch from the store is a no no in this house.  Ingredients like maltodextrin (a/k/a corn) and MSG keep me from it.  So I made one at home.  I combined recipes from HERE and HERE.

1 Tbsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. salt

I made a jar full of this and added it to 1 pint of liquid ingredients.  I combined this with half of the liquid ingredients from my homemade buttermilk ranch recipe to make 1 pint of a more flavorful homemade ranch. See?  I'm improving my recipes as I go.  

To use the dry ranch to make ranch for your salads, just follow the directions below.

½ cup canned coconut milk
1 cup sour cream or yogurt (or a mix thereof), and again, if a dairy free option is needed, coconut yogurt can easily be used here
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese (optional but adds a great boost of flavor if you can eat cheese)
Another splash of milk until liquid is at preferred consistency
1 Tbsp. dry ranch mix
Pinch of dried chives

Stir together.  Add more mix, salt and/or pepper if you wish.  I liked it just like this.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets

Don't ever buy pre-made instant oatmeal packets again!  Have you read the ingredients?  Not to mention the price.  And they are so easy to make at home.  Mix the ingredients below in little snack baggies.  Pour them in a bowl and add hot water in the morning.  Good to go!  For the price of 2 boxes of 8 instant oatmeal packets you can make about 30 packets for adults and about 60 packets for the littles.

Adult Packets:
½ cup quick cooking oats
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1-2 Tbsp. dried fruit or other favorite topping (optional)

Littles Packets:
¼ cup quick cooking oats
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
½-1 Tbsp. dried fruit or other favorite topping (optional)

Chicken Stew

Note:  This recipe makes enough to freeze half for our little family.  Adjust amounts for what works for your family.

This meal was a hit with the toddler.  She went back for seconds.  That means it's a keeper since it is difficult to get that child to eat anything.  This stew is incredible flavorful.  I was impressed.

6 chicken breast portions
2 cups chopped carrots
4 cups chopped potatoes
1 cup chopped celery
1 medium onion, chopped
4 oz. mushrooms, chopped or sliced
4 cups chicken stock
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. marjoram
1 tsp. basil
salt and pepper to taste

Directions for freezer half:
Put half of all ingredients EXCEPT potatoes, lemon juice and chicken stock in freezer bag.  Write the name of the meal, the date and instructions to add 2 cups chopped potatoes, 2 cups chicken stock and 1/2 tsp. lemon juice.  Vacuum seal or squeeze out as much air possible and toss in the freezer.

Directions for eat now half:
Dump all leftover ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.  If you cook on low, turn it up for 20-30 minutes at some point during cooking to cook the potatoes through.  I find that potatoes don't always cook through in the slow cooker without higher heat.  You could also partially cook them before putting them in the slow cooker at the beginning.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Freezing Food to Save Money

I have started learning to freeze food, namely produce, in order to cut down on waste and save money.  It is a learning process when all of this fresh food cooking is still pretty new to us.  But we have a good start and I have some freezer MEALS in the works for the next few weeks.  I'll let you all know how it goes.  We also have a nifty FoodSaver which has paid for itself in saved food.  It vacuum seals all of our food before it is frozen.

I used this link as a guide to what you can and can't freeze.  It also links to a chart of how to freeze certain vegetables.  Some vegetables freeze best after they are blanched for a specific amount of time.

Here is another link to a blog with tips and timelines on how long stuff should be kept after it is frozen.  Don't forget to date everything you freeze!

And here are some pictures of the things I have frozen so far using those two websites and friends as guides.

Fresh carrots, sliced, blanched, sealed

Fresh celery, chunked, blanched, sealed

Buttermilk, frozen in ice cube trays

Gluten Free, Corn Free Homemade Italian Bread Crumbs divided and sealed into ½ cup servings

I know it doesn't look like much but it saves more money than you think when you add it all together.  It also makes it easier to add to the slow cooker or a quick recipe after busy days.  And this is just the beginning.

Baked Potato Wedges

These were a big hit with the whole family.  They are baked, not fried.  But they don't get mushy and soggy like most baked fries.  The only oil they have is the oil drizzled to lightly coat the outside and grease the pan.

Russet potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into evenly sized wedges
Olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 450°F.  Peel and wedge potatoes. Place the potato wedges in a large mixing bowl and cover with hot, salted water.  Soak for 15-30 minutes.  Lightly grease the pan with oil to coat a rimmed baking sheet.  Sprinkle the pan with salt and pepper.
Drain the potatoes.  Spread them out onto paper towels or a clean dish towel.  Pat dry with other towels.  Dry the bowl which the potatoes were soaking in and put the dry potato wedges back in the bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil and use your hands to turn the potatoes so they are all lightly and evenly coated with the oil.  Spread out on the baking pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake until golden brown, about 20-30 minutes, rotating the pan about halfway through.

I don't have a picture right now.  I forgot to take them in the excitement when everyone liked them.  :-)  I will try to remember to take pictures next time.

Strawberry Muffins

I believe this is the third muffin recipe I've tried and blogged.  Obviously, I LOVE MUFFINS!!!  Anyway, these are delicious and, as with the others, versatile.  You can use any fruit in them.  I love strawberries and always have a bag of frozen ones on hand.  Of course, you can use fresh also.  It is just hard to find good, fresh strawberries for more than maybe a month out of the year.

2 cups flour
½ cup and 6 tsp. sugar, divided
2 tsp. baking powder (corn-free)
½ tsp. salt
1 cup canned coconut milk (I ended up using just a splash more than this because my batter was too dry)
1 egg
¼ cup butter, melted
sliced strawberries (I used about 2½ cups of thawed strawberries)

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Grease or line 12 muffin cups.  Combine flour, ½ cup sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  Whisk in the milk, egg and butter.  Fold in the strawberry slices.  Spoon into the prepared muffin cups.  Sprinkle each muffin with ½ tsp. sugar.  Bake approximately 15 minutes, until golden.

This recipe was modified from HERE.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Baked Chicken Nuggets

I keep looking for ways to make chicken because that is pretty much the only meat that we all like here.  And, as with most toddlers, L likes chicken nuggets.  I have found a few recipes for healthier chicken nuggets at home.  Of course, she cannot eat chicken nuggets already made so I have to make them.  This is the easiest recipe I have found so far and it was good.  L didn't eat them but she is going through some teething and tummy issues so she isn't eating much of anything.  Toddlers...  Anyway, J and I liked them so I will continue to make them until she decides to try them.  After I put something on her tray so many times, she will eventually play with it, then eventually eat it.  It's really good, I promise.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into bite size pieces
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ cup bread crumbs  (I used my recipe for Italian Bread crumbs HERE.)
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (leave out for corn and dairy free)
1 tsp dried parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Olive Oil Spray

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a shallow 13 x 9 baking dish (I used a small cookie sheet) with olive oil spray. Pour 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil into a small mixing bowl. In a large zip top bag (or bowl if you don't have bags), mix together bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, parsley, salt and pepper. Place chicken pieces into olive oil and toss chicken to evenly coat. Drop oil coated chicken into bread crumb mixture and coat each side shake in the bag making sure each piece is coated with the crumb mixture. Place all of the coated chicken pieces onto oil coated baking sheet then sprinkle remaining bread crumb mixture over chicken pieces. Bake in center of preheated oven for 10 minutes, then remove from oven, rotate chicken pieces to opposite side and bake an additional 5 minutes (I actually didn't do this step.  I just rotated my pan in the oven).

This recipe was modified from HERE.

Salmon Cakes

This is a dish I actually got from my mom.  She used to cook this regularly when I was young and she still makes it now and then.  It had to be modified in order to be corn free but it was an easy modification that didn't change the taste at all.  This is also one of the foods I cook ahead and reheat for healthy lunches.  We are picky about what can be reheated but this is good.  You can also add fillers to them.  I think I will try shredding zucchini into them next time since we are currently on a zucchini kick.  Carrots?  Spinach?  Asparagus?  The possibilities are endless.  The ingredients and instructions below make five salmon cakes.  If you want to make more to have some for leftovers, it is easily doubled or tripled.  Five is the perfect amount for dinner for our little family of three.  This is also just a base which you could add vegetables to and stretch the amount made by the salmon alone.  However, just the base is good too.  I use what I have on hand for this dish.

olive oil
2 pouches salmon (Canned works too, you just have to remove the bones)
2 eggs
Handful or two of crushed rice Chex cereal (Corn flakes work too.  This is the modification to my mom's original recipe.)
Crushed salted crackers (This could easily be gluten free by using gluten free salted crackers.  I have done this before too since I try to be as gluten free as possible.  There are only a few brands which are corn free so corn free trumps gluten free.)

Mix salmon, eggs, crushed rice Chex and any filler vegetables in a bowl.  If it isn't sticking together, add another egg.  Make patties with the mixture and roll to coat in the crushed crackers.  In a skillet, heat olive oil. When the olive oil is hot, add the salmon cakes to the oil.  Cook on both sides until golden brown.

Cheesy Zucchini Rice

NOTE:  This is not corn-free as is since the cheese is in there.  I am working on this recipe.

As I have mentioned before, I have some picky eaters in my house.  L is actually pretty good about eating vegetables, but she is going through a phase where she refuses to try anything that looks different or is a bright or bold color.  This is a perfect way to neutralize the color and keep a smooth texture.  I think I will try this with other vegetables too.  I've used chopped up carrots in rice before and peas would be good too.  Spinach maybe?  Anyway, here is the recipe...

1 cup uncooked rice
3 cups chicken broth (watch ingredients)
2 tablespoons butter (oil would work too, but use a little less)
1 medium or 2 small zucchini, grated (my blender pureed the zucchini so I will be grating it in the cheese grater from now on)
1 cup shredded sharp or mild cheddar
1 Tbsp. onion powder
salt and pepper, to taste
splash of milk, if needed (mine did not need this)

Pour the chicken broth and rice into a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down to a simmer.  Simmer, stirring regularly, for 15 - 20 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat and add the butter, grated zucchini, cheddar, and garlic powder. (Note:  If you are using carrots and prefer to have them tender to be similar in texture to the rice, put the carrot (if shredded or chopped) in the chicken broth with the rice.  You may need to add a little bit more broth) Stir until well incorporated. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir again and add onion powder and salt and pepper to taste. Add a splash of milk if you'd like to thin out the texture a little bit.

This recipe was modified from the recipe I found HERE.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Banana Oat Muffins

I love these muffins.  I made them for something quick and healthy for breakfast.  They are very dense but tasty and filling.  I got the recipe HERE but mine didn't turn out as pretty as hers.  I think I should have blended it longer.  You will need a really good blender to do this.

18 oz. container old fashioned oats (this can be gluten free if certified gluten free oats are used)
1 cup plain greek yogurt (very few of these are corn-free but they are out there; coconut yogurt can also be used for dairy free)
2 eggs
3/4 cup sweetener of choice (I used raw organic sugar but I'm sure honey would work)
1½ tsp. baking powder (corn free)
½ tsp. baking soda
2 bananas
Non stick spray

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Spray 12 cup muffin tin with nonstick spray.  (NOTE:  Do not use paper liners.  Without flour, these stick to paper.)  Place all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  (I had to blend a little at a time to get it smooth and even.)  Divide batter into muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes.  When done, toothpick comes out clean.  Remove the muffins from the pan immediately. Eat warm.  I tried them warm and cold and they are much better warm.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Chicken Noodle Soup

I love to have good soups for comfort and easy slow cooker meals.  The base of this soup could easily be made ahead and frozen to easily dump in the slow cooker on a busy morning before work. I did this soup in a slow cooker but you could do it in a big pot on the stove too.  This also freezes well in freezer safe pint sized jars.  We did that with several soups this year and the frozen pints made perfect lunches for work.

2 handfuls of carrots, sliced
2-3 stalks celery, minced
2-3 boxes chicken stock (watch ingredients)
10 chicken tenders, thawed and diced (2-3 breasts or whatever chicken you prefer can be used.  Shredded is fine too)
1 bag egg noodles
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of rosemary
pinch of celery salt
pinch of thyme
pinch of oregano

First, slice carrots, mince or slice celery (I prefer minced because I don't like large chunks) and dice chicken.  Dump the veggies and chicken in the slow cooker and cover with chicken stock.  In a small cup, combine flour and chicken stock to make gravy.  When combined, stir into the mixture.  This adds a little bit of thickness to the soup.  Add seasonings and cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Twenty minutes before eating, add the noodles and more chicken stock.  You could also add other veggies.  I think it would be great with peas but J doesn't like peas much.  Don't over cook after the noodles are added or the noodles will completely disintegrate.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Taco Salad/Lettuce Wraps

Here is a healthier version of an easy family favorite.

Romaine Lettuce (I've also used Green Leaf Lettuce)
1 lb. ground beef
4½ tsp. taco seasoning (I use mine which you can find HERE)
Preferred taco toppings (shredded cheese, tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, guacamole)
Chicken stock (approximately 2 cups)

In a large skillet, brown turkey with about one cup of the chicken stock.  The stock helps to break the turkey down to a fine texture.  When the turkey is cooked through (it will be white if you use the ground white turkey, not brown), stir in the taco seasoning and about another cup of chicken stock.  While the turkey is cooking, wash and prep the lettuce and toppings such as diced tomatoes.  We have done this as lettuce wraps with the meat and toppings wrapped in the lettuce.  J really liked it like that.  I prefer the lettuce torn up and mixed in like a salad.  When the meat is done, it all of the liquid should be cooked out.  Now, scoop some in your lettuce and add your toppings.  Enjoy!

Our family loves tacos and this is a healthier version.

Taco Seasoning

This is my taco seasoning concoction.  It has taken several times to perfect the recipe and I may still update it again.  But this got the thumbs up from J so it must be pretty good.  This mixture is enough for one pound of meat.  Or, you can make a large jar/shaker of the mixture and use 4½ teaspoons per pound.

3/4 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
3/4 tsp. cumin
3/4 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. onion powder

Stir together and use.

This is a picture but I modified after this picture so your mixture will be a little darker/redder.

Portable Magnet Board

Here is a Pinterest success story.  I have posted before about the magnet board we made for our toddler and attached it to her wall.  Well, this time I made a portable magnet board.  L has started getting bored easily.  She is a very busy toddler so I always make sure I have plenty for her to do, especially for long car trips.  This was made with car trips in mind along with learning letters and numbers.  She actually already knows a couple of letters.  I used an old cookie sheet that was rusting and wasn't fit for cooking on anymore.  It is a smaller one so L can handle carrying it around.  I spray painted it with several coats after thoroughly cleaning and scraping the surface.  Then I went and bought two packs of cheap letter and number magnets from Walmart and one of those little baskets with handles for a dollar at Target.  The basket is small and easy for L to carry around too.  She already loves magnets.  These might end up all over your car when you take them along but that doesn't bother me as long as she is occupied.  Easy, cheap and educational.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lasagna Roll Ups

This is another recipe from Pinterest.  The original blog is HERE.  I changed several things around to make it work for me though.  The original recipe (I believe) was more complicated than it needed to be.  I am all for short cuts when available since I cannot use convenience foods.  And again, in this recipe I used garlic and onion powders instead of the real thing.  I use the real thing sometimes but I save a lot of time when I use powders and I often don't have enough fresh on hand.  I also hate cutting fresh onions.  I rarely buy onions unless J will be there to cut it up for me.  I do use fresh garlic regularly since it is easier to chop up.

The lasagna roll ups are easy and versatile.  You could easily add chopped spinach to the cheese or omit the beef and make it a veggie lasagna.  And the rolls make it easy to portion and store leftovers.  My little picky family liked this meal.

3/4 lb. lean ground beef (you could also use ground turkey here but I have yet to find a corn-free ground turkey)
2 small onions or powder equivalent
3½ cups crushed tomatoes (No cans for corn-free)
4 cloves garlic or powder equivalent
1 Tbsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
salt and pepper, to taste
olive oil if you use fresh garlic/onions
1 cup water

1(15 oz.) container ricotta cheese
grated parmesan and/or Romano (I mix the two or buy the container that already contains both)
mozzarella cheese, shredded

NOTE:  The cheeses are not corn-free.  At least not that I have found yet.  Cheese cultures can be made from corn ingredients.  I am working on a new recipe here as well.

Boil lasagna noodles in salted water until desired texture.  (Most recipes say to cook pasta to al dente but I like it more tender than that.)  While noodles boil, cook onion and garlic in olive oil. (Skip this step if using powder.)  Brown ground beef with 1 cup water.  Water helps break the beef down to a finely ground texture.  You could also grind the beef further in a food processor or blender.  Add powder now if that is what you use.  Stir basil and oregano into beef mix.  It should start smelling AMAZING now.  This is when I knew this was going to be a good meal.  Stir in crushed tomatoes and simmer.  Add salt and pepper now to taste.  (Always taste your sauce!) I added more onion and garlic here in mine so feel free to add to your preferred flavor.  Turn heat off of sauce.  Strain noodles and wait until cool enough to touch.  Lay noodles flat on some wax paper.  Your noodles may dry out a bit in the time it takes to get the rolls prepared.  Don't worry, they soften back up in the moisture of the sauce.  Preheat oven to 375°F.  Spread a heaping spoonful of ricotta onto each noodle.  Sprinkle parmesan and/or Romano on top of ricotta.  Spread sauce over cheese.  Use olive oil to grease a 9x13 baking pan. Spread a VERY thin layer of sauce across the bottom of the pan.  Roll up noodles.  I found it easier to roll from the top toward me.  Put rolls in baking pan.  Spread a good layer of sauce over the top so that the noodles won't dry out.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Take the pan out of the oven and sprinkle parmesan and/or Romano over the top.  Spread mozzarella over that.  Bake for 10-15 more minutes until cheese is melted and starting to brown.

I had pictures of this but I think my toddler erased them off of my phone.  She has figured out how to work the phone by herself and if I am not watching very close, she will delete pictures.  I will add pictures next time I make it.

UPDATE:  I found some of the pictures!  They were deleted from one place but I found them in another.  Good thing I back most of my stuff up!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Natural bug sprays and Uses for Baking Soda

This year is extremely bad for bugs.  We have been battling them for a few months now.  It started with spiders, then went to fleas.  Luckily we got a barrier up against the ants before they took over too.  And out by the pool we have wasps that won't go away.  I thought I would share my natural bug remedies.

We have ants every year around here but this year we were determined to prevent from the beginning.  We spread diatomaceous earth around outside of the house and window sills.  We've had many ants outside but none have made it inside or even on the patio or deck.  This is natural and won't hurt kids and pets.  If ants do make it inside, dilute some tea tree oil in water.  Spray around the areas where ants are or could be and even spray ants themselves.

Magic potion:  Orange oil.  I was surprised that this worked so well but it did.  We were infested with wolf spiders.  I was killing 2-6 a day.  Good thing I'm not afraid of spiders.  I bought a big spray bottle from Target and put a tablespoon of orange oil in about a quart of water.  I cleaned everywhere!  They were mostly in the kitchen and living room so I even cleaned out the cabinets and sprayed inside with the orange oil and moved the refrigerator to spray underneath and behind.  The pantry got cleaned out and all along the baseboards, window sills and doors inside and out.  I have not had any more spiders!  However, apparently the spiders served some purpose because as soon as I got rid of them, they were replaced with another pesky bug.

I despise fleas and ticks.  Luckily here in town, we don't struggle too much with ticks.  But the fleas are a completely different story.  I have three dogs and a toddler so I don't like to use those nasty, chemical filled bombs.  I did end up using a flea shampoo on the dogs because no other methods were working but I was able to use essential oils on the rest of the house.  I will give a warning right up front though:  Do NOT use wintergreen oil if you have cats.  It can be dangerous.  What I was told is that it is safe for animals after it dries, but not while you use it, especially for cats.  So if you have cats and decide to use this, make sure you have a place to keep them for a couple of hours while it dries.  With those warnings out there, I bathed my dogs in their flea shampoo, then left them in the bathroom for a few hours while I cleaned and sprayed.  I also did this while the toddler was staying with her Nana for a few hours.
So, now to the cleaning.  On the furniture and stuff that cannot be put in the washing machine, you use Eucalyptus oil.  About a teaspoon of Eucalyptus to about 4 ounces of water.  I actually found 2 ounce spray bottles at Walmart and used those.  They have 4 ounce bottles too but I needed multiple bottles and the 2 ounce bottles came in a pack of four.  I don't even measure, I just drop it in until it smells about right.  I also sprayed the dogs' collars with the Eucalyptus oil mixture.  I was told that Eucalyptus is safe for dogs.  If you are concerned, I recommend you discuss it with your vet.  My dogs did not have any issues.  Eddie, our oldest chihuahua had sores from the fleas.  He has sensitive skin and allergies anyway so he struggles more with the bugs.  I used tea tree oil to doctor his sores and they healed right up.
On the floors and curtains I sprayed a Wintergreen oil mixture.  It is diluted about the same as the Eucalyptus.  One teaspoon to four ounces.  If this is too strong for you, it is okay to dilute it more.  Using this much wintergreen definitely assaults the senses.  Make sure you open windows and turn on ceiling fans.  I actually didn't open windows because it was VERY hot but the ceiling fans helped so much.  So I sprayed the wintergreen on all of the carpets and curtains.  I let the oil mixture set for a bit.  Then I sprinkled baking soda over all of the floors.  I have a new love for baking soda.  It helps pull stains out of the carpet and soak up any leftover wetness.  NOTE:  Keep this in mind if you are house training a dog or potty training a toddler.  Let the baking soda do it's thing for about 5 minutes and vacuum it all up.

The proof is in the vacuum!  Look!  I bet you see a surprising amount of dead fleas in there.

Update:  One of my close friends called me after she read this and said you can also put dried eucalyptus leaves in your furniture cushions.  It was a trick her mom used when we were growing up.  So try that too!

Another hint:  I reuse a large parmesan cheese canister to fill with baking soda.  This makes it easier to sprinkle evenly across the carpets.

 See?  It works great and this is much cheaper than buying so many of those store bought carpet cleaning powders.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Easy Cocoa Frosting

I've been experimenting with homemade icing because L's second birthday is coming up and she can't have store bought cakes and icings.  This is a really easy and really good chocolate icing.  And that says a lot because I am picky about chocolate.  I have never been able to get icing to come out right.  I have always gone to my mom to make it for me.  But I made this one on my own.

3 Tbsp. butter, softened
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. canned coconut milk
½ tsp. corn-free vanilla extract

In a small bowl combine all ingredients together.  Beat to your preferred texture.  Add more milk if necessary.  I actually used a whisk by hand to mix this.  I tend to experiment after the family has gone to bed so I don't use electronics.

This is enough frosting for an 8" or 9" cake/brownie.  Double this recipe for a 9x13 cake/brownie.

I don't have a picture of this one but I will when I make a cake/brownie with it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Creamy Lime Squares

This is really good but nobody else in my family liked it.  I will try it again when L is older and more willing to try new things.

Note:  Make sure you grease the pan REALLY well.  I just sprayed a light layer of my olive oil spray and it wasn't enough because you have to press the crust into the bottom.

This is not my own recipe.  Where did I find it?  Pinterest of course.  And HERE is the original blog where I found the recipe.

For crust:
1 cup corn-free flour
¼ cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
1stick butter, cold and cut up
For creamy lime filling:
Juice from 5-6 limes (I used 6 like the recipe but it was almost too strong)
1¼ cup sugar
¼ cup flour
4 eggs
Zest of 1 lime
Green food coloring (optional but without the color it is a clear yellow; so far I have not found a trustworth corn-free food coloring)
Corn-free powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350°F.
To make the crust, combine the sugar, flour and sea salt in a large bowl.  Cut the cold butter and work with your fingers until the mixture resembles cornmeal.  Press into a greased nine inch pan and bake for 20 minutes, until golden.
To make the filling, whisk together the granulated sugar and flour in a bowl.  Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition.  Add the zest, lime juice and food coloring and mix well.
Pour filling over hot crust and return to oven to bake for another 20 minutes.  When done, the filling will not jiggle.

NOTE:  Make sure you chill this.  The original recipe did not say to chill but it was way too strong before it was chilled.  Somehow being cold made the bars taste better.

My picture isn't even close to as pretty as the one on the original recipe blog.  But here it is anyway.  Can we say St. Patrick's Day treat?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Honey Lime Grilled Chicken

I have a new favorite citrus fruit.  LIME!  I never knew I even liked lime.  I can actually eat slices of lime.  I had no idea how great these little green things were.  I am so glad I tried this.


4 boneless skinless chicken breasts or 12-15 chicken tenders
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup olive oil
½ cup lime juice
Zest of one lime
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried rosemary
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp. black pepper
1½ tsp. salt

In a bowl, mix well all ingredients except the chicken. Place thawed chicken in a large Ziploc bag and pour mixture over making sure the chicken is coated well.  Marinate for a few hours up to overnight.  Grill until cooked through.  This could also work as a freezer meal.  Just toss into freezer instead of the fridge for marinating.  Set the bag out in the fridge the night before you are going to cook the meal.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Greek Seasoning

This is another store bought convenience which we were surprised contained corn.  We used Greek seasoning on vegetables a lot.  Using this is how I've gotten my husband, daughter, friends and other family member to eat green beans.  Try it on green beans.  It took some taste testing and many modifications to get this recipe right.  But it is pretty close the the Greek seasoning you buy at the store.

½ tsp. dried thyme
¼ tsp. dried basil
½ tsp. dried marjoram
1½ tsp. onion powder
¼ tsp. paprika
¼ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried parsley

I have a mortar and pestle I used for this.  Some people may not mind the larger dried leaves from the herbs but I like it so that I can put it in a shaker to shake on food.  Not to mention, my family is picky about textures.  Just mix all of the listed ingredients together and grind in the mortar and pestle.  Dump into a shaker and use.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Chicken Rollatini Stuffed with Zucchini

NOTE:  This is not corn/dairy free as is.  Cheese has cultures which could include corn.  I am working on a different recipe.

This was amazing!  Even the toddler loved it.  I probably have the only toddler I've ever known who prefers the green veggies.  She picks the spinach out of lasagna and she went crazy over the pieces of chicken with zucchini on them.

olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced (garlic powder is good in this too if you don't have fresh)
1 medium sized zucchini (shredded)
¼ cup Parmesan or Romano cheese
2 Tbsp. Parmesan or Romano cheese
3 oz. part skim shredded mozzarella (again, I didn't measure)
salt and pepper
4 chicken breasts (I only made 3 and really stuffed the chicken)
½ cup Italian Breadcrumbs (You can use my homemade version HERE)
Juice of 1 lemon
olive oil spray

Preheat oven to 450°F.  Lightly spray a baking dish with the olive oil spray.  In a large skillet, pour in enough olive oil to lightly cover the bottom of the pan for sauteing.  When the oil is hot, add garlic.  When the garlic turns golden add in zucchini, ¼ cup Parmesan or Romano, salt and pepper. Saute for 3-4 minutes.  While the zucchini mixture is cooking, pound the chicken breasts down to ¼-½ inch thick.  Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken.  Take the zucchini mixture off of the heat.  Add in the mozzarella cheese.  In a bowl, mix the breadcrumbs with the rest of the parmesan or romano cheese.  Put the breadcrumbs aside for now.  Spread the zucchini mixture over the chicken breasts and roll up.  Place the chicken roll seam side down on the baking dish.  Bake the chicken rolls for 20 minutes.  Take the chicken out and drizzle with olive oil.  Then sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top.  Bake for 5-10 more minutes.  Serve immediately.

Homemade Italian Bread Crumbs

Again, since the toddler is allergic to corn, we cannot even use store bought bread crumbs.  So I looked up a way to make my own.

2-4 slices of bread depending on the size of the loaf (This must be homemade for corn and gluten-free)
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. dry parsley flakes
¼ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. onion powder
¼ tsp. dry oregano
¼ tsp. dry basil leaves
¼ tsp. sugar

Toast the 2 pieces of bread to desired consistency.  Break the bread up and put in a food processor or blender.  When the bread is all crumbs, pour them into a bowl and mix in the rest of the ingredients.

I was not thinking at all when I was making this so I didn't use the blender.  Duh right?  So the picture below doesn't look quite right and still has larger bread pieces.  But next time I will do it right.

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

This was one of those recipes I put together one night when I was craving muffins but had to make them with what I had in my pantry. I threw the blueberries in at the end but this can be just lemon muffins if you prefer.  Or you could put a different fruit in them.  I'm thinking Lemon Strawberry Muffins, Lemon Raspberry Muffins...  The possibilities are endless when you start getting creative in the kitchen.  This is actually a mix of a couple of different recipes but they came out great the first time.

2 cups corn-free all-purpose flour
3 tsp. baking powder
5 Tbsp. butter, melted (I have had good luck baking with grapeseed or coconut oil for dairy free)
1 cup canned coconut milk
1 egg
Zest of one large lemon
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Toss the first measure of sugar, baking powder and flour together in one bowl.  In a separate bowl mix together butter, milk and egg with a fork.  Add the lemon zest and stir.  Combine the dry and liquid ingredients.  Mix together but don't over mix.  Add blueberries now.  Spray 12 muffin tins with olive oil or line with muffin cups.  Divide the mixture evenly between the 12 muffin cups.  Bake for 10-15 minutes.  While the muffins bake, stir together the second measure of sugar and lemon juice.  Do not mix until sugar is dissolved.  Pour over hot muffins as soon as they come out of the oven.  Let set for 5 minutes.  Then dump out the muffins.

Sweet Lemon Rosemary Grilled Chicken

This recipe requires marinating.  I marinated for about an hour and it was perfect.

½ cup honey (As usual, I didn't actually measure this.  I just poured until it looked right.)
Zest of one lemon
Juice of the fresh lemon
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1½ tsp. dried rosemary or 1½ Tbsp. fresh chopped rosemary
1 clove garlic, minced (or ¼ tsp. garlic powder)
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. black pepper
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast (butterfly before grilling)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the honey, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper.  Place the chicken in a large ziploc bag and pour the mixture over the chicken in the bag.  Mix around to coat the chicken.  Marinate for at least one hour.  We use a charcoal grill so just before we take the chicken out, we have to get the charcoal started.  Brush the grill with olive oil to prevent sticking.  Butterfly the chicken breasts and place on the grill.  Grill until cooked through.  We pour or brush the rest of the marinade on the chicken while it is cooking.  Serve.

I don't have a picture of this one.  I totally forgot to take one but trust me, it is good!  I will try to take a picture next time I make this meal.

Blueberry Pancakes with Strawberry Sauce

NOTE:  This is not guaranteed corn-free as is.  I am working on a recipe for the pancakes to be corn-free.

I don't really have any explanation for this one.  I wanted something easy for dinner and I had leftover blueberries.  Oh, and I don't like syrup.  It's just too sweet for me.  But I love fruit and I always have at least some frozen fruit on hand.

1 cup gluten free bisquik
1 cup milk (could be made dairy free with almond or coconut milk)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 egg

sugar (optional)

Mix pancake ingredients together in a bowl.  Add blueberries last.  I didn't measure the blueberries.  Meanwhile, in another bowl, mash strawberries.  I used a potato masher this time but you could use a blender or food processor for a smoother topping.  I like the syrup just like that but if you need a little more sweetness, you can add sugar to taste.  I use a flat pan or a griddle and ladle out the pancake mix.  Cook on both sides until golden.  

Sweet Garlic Chicken

This is also a Pinterest find that I have seen over and over again from different blogs.  So it's nothing new but I did change a couple of things in my version.  The garlic was way too much for our taste buds so I actually halved the amount of garlic.  I don't use as much brown sugar as the original recipe either.  I also prefer this meal with tenders rather than breasts.

12-15 boneless, skinless chicken tenders
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
olive oil
brown sugar

Salt and pepper the chicken tenders to season. Thinly cover the bottom of your skillet with olive oil and heat over medium heat.  Mince the garlic while the oil is heating.  When the oil is warm, saute the garlic.  Then add the chicken tenders and cook thoroughly.  When the chicken is done but still in the skillet, sprinkle the chicken tenders with brown sugar.  Don't overdo the sugar.  You want the sugar and garlic to compliment each other, not overpower each other.

I know this recipe seems a bit strange but it is so good.

Snickerdoodles from Scratch

I am catching up on my blogs so there may be several posts at one time sometimes.  I have a babysitter today so this is what I am doing.  Since L is allergic to corn (and corn is in everything store bought) and I have been trying to eat healthier, I have been cooking everything.  I don't want to deprive us of sweets now and then or for special occasions so I make sweets from scratch too.  So far I have lost over 30 pounds doing this cooking thing and I still eat the sweets I make.  I don't make dessert everyday or even once a week but if I am craving something sweet and fruit doesn't cut it, I make something.  Usually, I already have ingredients on hand to make a batch of cookies or muffins.

Here is a from scratch recipe for snickerdoodles.  Why snickerdoodles?  It is the only cookie J will eat.  Picky husband.

1 cup butter or grapeseed oil
1½ cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 ¾ cups flour
2 tsp. corn free baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. sugar
3 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix butter, 1½ cups sugar and eggs thoroughly in large bowl. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. Blend dry ingredients into butter mixture.  Chill dough.  The original recipe said to chill the cookie sheet instead of greasing it but I didn't do that.  I just greased the pan with a bit of grapeseed oil.  While your dough is chilling, mix the 3 Tbsp. sugar and 3 tsp. cinnamon in a small bowl.  Roll the dough in your hands to make 1 inch balls.  Coat by gently rolling the balls of dough in the sugar mixture.  Place on cookie sheet and bake approximately 10 minutes.  (I never cook them the full amount because I like the cookies soft)  Remove cookies from the pan immediately.