Thursday, May 31, 2007

The metamorphosis from ChronicBabe to GlutenFreeBabe

Jenni over at ChronicBabe is going gluten free during the month of June. She will be blogging about her trials and tribulations during the GF period, so everyone needs to swing by her new site and cheer her on!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Shh... Did you hear that?

That nasty crackling, painful sound? It might be a very faint sound on your end.... It's the hardening of my arteries after tonight's dinner LOL

I have a love-hate relationship with vacations from work. I love not having to rush around in the morning, being able to spend much time with the zoo, cooking whatever I want, regardless of prep or cook time. I hate not knowing what's going on and dread the piles of paperwork upon my return to the office.

Oh, did I forget to mention that I love getting to take a nap every day? I am such a slacker.

The Man was also off today as he was on call for Memorial Day. His company is kind enough to give a "floating holiday" if they work on a major holiday. The poor guy had a hellish Memorial Day because his phone seemed to ring and ring and ring.... He slept in this morning and then took a 4-hour nap this afternoon, waking up just in time to grab his softball shirt and head out the door for batting practice.

Needless to say, he missed dinner. One that he would have loved, with his affection for anything and everything unhealthy. I personally don't allow myself to eat like this very often because I am trying to fix what's broke, but tonight it was a craving that wouldn't be satisfied by anything else.

So, if you hear any crackling, don't panic. No one is crawling through your bushes. It's me, over here in Illinois.

Patty Melts

3 hamburger patties

6 slices bread (I used Enjoy Life's Rye-less Rye)

4 tbsp butter plus more for spreading

1 onion, peeled and sliced

1 bottle GF beer (I used Redbridge)

1 tbsp olive oil

3 slices swiss cheese

Sea salt

Fresh ground black pepper

Place the hamburger patties on a plate and sprinkle the top sides with salt and pepper. Set aside. Toast the GF bread slices and set aside.

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat; add 2 tbsp butter and the olive oil. Once the butter is melted, pour in 1/2 cup beer. Add the patties seasoned-side down and then sprinkle salt and pepper on the tops. Fry in the beer, butter and olive oil until cooked to your liking (don't use my 6 minutes total as a guide because I like my beef RAW).

In a small skillet, melt the other 2 tablespoons of butter. Once it's melted, add 1/4 cup beer and the onions. Saute until onions are soft. Set aside.

To make the patty melts, spread each slice of toasted bread with butter. On 3 slices (turn them upside-down so you put everything on the un-buttered side), place a burger patty, then a good scoop of onions, then a slice of cheese. Top with a slice of bread (butter side facing up). Repeat with the other sandwiches.

Heat a third skillet (sorry, this is one of those recipes where I pray for my parents to pull into my driveway with my dishwasher - no, that hasn't happened yet) over low to medium heat. Place the sandwiches (butter side down, remember?) into the skillet and cook until well browned, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook until the other side is equally browned.

Take a bite. Debate calling your former-paramedic neighbor to come and hang out, just in case.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

You always remember the first time... eat something that rocks. I made a roast chicken, some smashed red potatoes, and wanted a veggie for dinner. I had a seedless cucumber and some grape tomatoes, so I decided to wander the store this afternoon to see what I could throw in with them to make a salad. I came out with a jicama.

So here was my sidedish with dinner.

Tomato, Cucumber & Jicama Salad

12 grape tomatoes, cut in halves

1/2 a seedless cucumber, peeled and cut into 1/2" coins

1/2 a jicama, cut into matchsticks

1 lemon, juiced

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp minced fresh basil

Sea salt

Fresh ground black pepper

Combine the vegetables in a bowl and set aside. In another bowl, combine the juice of 1 lemon, the olive oil, the basil, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of pepper. Whisk with a fork and then pour over the vegetables. Lightly mix and serve.


I am a bad, bad blogger. I have been cranking out some pretty good stuff since Friday at 5 PM. How horrible of me to not blog about it! I guess I have some fairly good reasons:

--Demon Dog demands attention constantly.

--I got A LOT of yard work done, enough that we can finally get mulch laid down in the flower beds.

--Demon Dog demands attention constantly.

--I installed 2 fountains in the landscaping.

--We attended a Memorial Day breakfast at our neighbors while the parade went past our home for the first, and probably only, time.

--I assisted my sister-in-law in weeding, cleaning up, and planting flowers at the family gravesites.

--Demon Dog demands attention constantly.

But now, without further ado, I am posting Friday night's dinner. It was really, really good, but too spicy (not hot spicy, but spice spicy) for my stomach, so I unfortunately paid for eating like a pig. It's a Rachael Ray (gasp! But hey, when you're in a hurry to put something in your gullet, you have to acknowledge that she can crank out grub dang quick) recipe that I adapted slightly.

Chicken Burgers on Teff No-Knead Bread

Adapted from a Rachael Ray recipe

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika

1 tbsp grill seasoning blend

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (from my garden - how exciting!)

1/2 a medium onion, chopped fine

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

2 tbsp olive oil


2 cups fresh baby spinach

4 slices provolone cheese

Using a food processor or meat grinder, grind the chicken breasts into...well, ground chicken. Add the paprika, grill seasoning, parsley, onion, garlic, salt and pepper; get your hands into the bowl (wash them first!) and mix well. Drizzle the olive oil over the top, then cut into 4 equal pieces. Take each piece and form it into a burger patty of your preferred size.

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, drizzle a little more olive oil (another tablespoon, maybe) into the pan and then add the patties. Cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes per side, depending on thickness, (or until cooked all the way through.

Toast the slices of bread and then butter them lightly. Split the spinach between 4 of the slices and place the patties on the other 4. Top each patty with a slice of cheese, then marry the tops (with the spinach) with the bottoms to create sandwiches.

Serve with potato wedges.

Friday, May 25, 2007

11 hours and counting

Until my first week-long vacation starts.

Please God, let 5 PM come quickly.

Monday, May 21, 2007

A way to stretch your boxed mac & cheese

Back in high school, I used to babysit - A LOT - for one specific family. With the parents working and going to school, I think I saw those kids more than their mom and dad did. One of the meals they used to have me fix for dinner was "goulash" to them - they didn't have a lot of money, so this was something I could give the kids for dinner and the parents could eat off of themselves for lunch for a few days.

I kind of lost my taste for it because I ate it so often. For some reason, though, today I wanted it. Or I should say my version of it. So here it is - kinda cheeseburger mac-y, kinda not. Sorry - didn't time anything tonight.

Mac & Cheese Stretched Thin

1 pound ground sirloin (or ground chicken or ground pork or ground turkey - you get the idea)

1 box macaroni and cheese (I use Annie's GF)

2 4-ounce cans mushrooms

1/2 a red onion, diced

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

1/4 cup ketchup

1 tsp yellow mustard

sea salt

fresh ground pepper

2 tbsp butter (only if your mac and cheese mix doesn't call for it)

In a skillet, brown the ground meat with a pinch of sea salt and pepper; when it's halfway cooked through, add the diced onion. While the meat and onion are cooking (it's done when the meat is cooked through and the onion is soft and translucent), cook the mac and cheese according to package directions. Drain the mushrooms and set aside.

When the meat and onion are done and the mac and cheese is ready, melt the butter (if not part of the mac and cheese instructions) in a pot large enough to hold the pasta and meat together. Add the meat, onions, pasta, mushrooms, ketchup, mustard and cheese to the butter and stir well. Continue to heat on low until mushrooms are cooked through and the additional cheese is melted.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Ice cream - it's what's for dinner

I actually made this a week ago, but due to my glutening, I wasn't up to trying it until yesterday. For dinner. Sometimes it's nice to be an adult, isn't it?

I wish I had eaten some right after I made it. Don't get me wrong - it's not bad. But I bet it would have been creamier a week ago.

Easy Banana Ice Cream with Chocolate Chunks

Based on a recipe by Alton Brown

6 ripe bananas

3/4 cup white corn syrup

1 vanilla bean, scraped

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1-2 ounces chocolate (I used Scharffen Berger 70%), chopped

Peel the bananas and place in bowl of food processor. Process for 10 to 15 seconds. Add corn syrup and vanilla bean seeds and turn processor on. Slowly pour in the heavy cream. Process until smooth. Chill mixture in refrigerator for 2 hours. Transfer mixture to an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's instructions. When it's nearly the consistency of soft serve, add the chocolate and continue to mix for another 2 minutes. Place mixture in an airtight container and freeze for 3 to 6 hours before serving.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Things growing

When I got home from work yesterday, I noticed this...

Itty bitty green pepper

And this....

Onions sprouting

And this....
Tomato flower

I can't wait to eat something from my garden that's not an herb.

And this innocent face....

Ate cat candy for breakfast before I realized what she was doing.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Berry salad

We had a big dinner last Saturday - honey barbecue ribs, baked potatoes, corn on the cob, and rolls for the men of the house. On the weekends, I enjoy having dessert but certainly didn't want anything heavy after all that food. Packages of berries were on sale at the grocery store, so I picked up a variety and made do with other stuff I already had in the house in order to throw this together.

Berry Salad

1 pint strawberries - cleaned, hulled and halved

1 pint raspberries - cleaned

1 pint blackberries - cleaned

1/2 pint blueberries - cleaned

1/4 cup honey

1/2 cup fresh orange juice (1 orange, juiced)

The zest of one orange

Combine the berries in a bowl and set aside. Zest and then juice an orange. Add the honey and zest to the juice and mix well. Pour over the berries and gently combine so the raspberries and blackberries don't fall apart.

I bet this would be awesome over ice cream or GF angel food cake.

Potato Fans

I love potato fans. They're a neat way to eat a potato and you rarely see this done anymore. I made one to go with my honey-lime salmon the other night.

Potato Fan

1 medium-sized potato
2 tsp butter, softened
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried or fresh parsley
A pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the butter, garlic powder, salt and parsley. Set aside.

Starting at one end of the potato, cut 3/4 of the way through at 1/4 inch intervals. Do NOT cut all the way through the bottom! Once you have sliced the potato all the way across, use a very small knife to spread the butter mixture between the slices.

Depending on what you're having with your potato fan, you might want to get a head start on cooking it by microwaving it for 2 minutes. If you microwave it, remove from the microwave and place into a baking dish. Bake, uncovered, for another 15-18 minutes (depending on the size of the potato) or until cooked through.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Getting busy with life

It's been a busy week for me. The girl thing happened (which laid me low for a few days), Gidget got a haircut, I planted a vegetable garden, planted flowers and a tree, cleaned the house, gave 2 flute lessons, got glutened...and had 4 migraines in the midst of all that.

While all of that was going on, I managed to crank out some pretty good stuff in the kitchen as well. Unfortunately, I didn't always remember to take pictures, but the thought was there. Over the next day and a few posts, I will post what I can remember. Here's what came out of the kitchen (that I can recall, anyway):

Berry salad
Honey lime salmon
Potato fans
Banana ice cream with chocolate chunks
Cucumber salad
Spaghetti with creamy tomato & sausage sauce

But let's go back to the vegetable garden. I am SO excited about this - we always had a big garden growing up and I have wanted one for years. I had been waiting and waiting for The Man to get off his duff and till me some soil, but alas - no such luck. Happily, his cousin stopped by a couple of weeks ago and happened to mention that he was tilling his garden. Well! After I marked my spot, he dragged the tiller across the street and chewed up my lawn.

There ain't nothin' like forcing the issue, is there?

So The Man got some 2x6s, chicken wire, and dowel rods and we built a half-assed 6 foot by 9 food garden. We only did a quick job because next year, we will tear out the wood and replace it with pavers to match the rest of the gardens around the house.

So over the last week, I dumped organic compost and organic soil into my new garden bed and then loaded it up with 2 cherry tomato plants, 2 heirloom tomato plants, 2 beef tomato plants, 12 green bean plants, a row of onions, a row of broccoli, a row of cauliflower, 3 basil, 2 oregano, 1 thyme, 2 parsley, and 1 rosemary. Whew!

I tell you what - there's nothing like making pasta for dinner and grabbing some basil right out of your back yard. Because I have done just that - twice. Well, once for pasta and once for pizza.

And of course, we planted a cherry tree for The Man's mother.

I got all the rest of my flowers planted in the very few (read - I am a lazy flower gardener) places in our flowerbeds that don't have perennials already planted. The yard is starting to shape up! All we need is to decide what we are going to do about the 2 current fountains we have (pull 'em or keep 'em) and we can buy the 20 bags of mulch it's going to take to get everything covered. Which, if everything goes as it usually does, will happen some time next year if left up to The Man.

Poor Gidget. The indignities never stop. We had our second vet appointment last Thursday evening - she had to stay in her doggie purse for an hour because the vet was running way behind. Then the shots didn't go as easily as the first set (I wanted to cry when she squealed). Then I make her get a haircut.

She gave ME a heart attack yesterday. We have her lovely play pen, of course, which is where she parks when we are at work or need to do something around the house that she needs to not be there for. I had (note the past tense here) a big pillow in the pen for her because when she sleeps, she likes to crawl under it.

When I get home at lunch, my habit has been to close the door and start softly calling, "Where's Momma's baby girl?" (Oh, shut up LOL) Then I call her name as I walk toward the living room. Usually, by the time I get to the play pen, she is doing her "prisoner spread 'em" pose inside the pen. So imagine my surprise when I walk into the living room - and no Gidget visible in the pen. I figure she hadn't heard me, so when I got up to the pen, I lifted the big pillow (noting that it is sitting weird). NO DOG. What the %$%^&? So I immediately go into panic mode, running down the hall yelling for the damn dog.

And here she comes, trotting out of our bedroom.

The pillow is now on the couch. Remember that I said that it was sitting weird in the pen? She used it as a ramp and jumped out of the play pen. Lesson learned well, Momma.

She suffered through an hour of grooming last night. And a bandanna and a pink bow. Damn you, Momma!


Monday, May 14, 2007

A good question

Allergic Girl asked a good question in the comments on my "I've Been Glutened" post from a couple of days ago. She wanted to know how gluten got into a baked potato.

Eating out can be a gluten sensitive person's worst nightmare because of two words: cross contamination.

In my case, I forgot to ask the person preparing my food to put on a new pair of gloves before handling my potato. Lord knows how many hamburger buns she touched before she squashed open the potato and placed it into a container for my lunch.

Friday wasn't the first time something like that has happened to me and it certainly won't be the last.

Anyone have any horror stories to tell about being glutened by something you figured was safe?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

A tree to remember a mother

Today, The Man, The Stepson, The Demon Dog and I planted a cherry tree in memory of The Man's mother.

When The Man's father passed away in November 1998, his mom planted a maple tree for him. She passed away in July 2003. We moved into her house (this house) in September but had a hard time deciding what kind of tree to plant for her. We wanted something fairly small that flowered.

Today, I found a cherry tree when out and about getting the rest of the flowers I needed to get into the ground. I called The Man and asked what he thought, since he is the one that mows the lawn and will have to deal with any cherries that fall before I can pick them. I got the green light and came home with a 5 foot tree.

We planted it today, together. Well, I directed. My body won't allow me to use a shovel any more without consequences.

We miss you, Nana J. Happy Mother's Day.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers and step-mothers out there. I hope you have a wonderful day.

Friday, May 11, 2007

I've been glutened

Damn it. Had big plans for dinner and managed to wipe all that out with a Wendy's plain baked potato. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.

Monday, May 07, 2007

The first animal video to come out of this house in years


Photo Sharing - Upload Video - Video Sharing - Share Photos


Gidget plays with Vester's toy. Vester is unamused.

Saturday, May 05, 2007


All right, so I forgot to take pictures until AFTER we ate.

So what if I show you a nearly empty plate.

Big deal if I show you a huge pile of crab leg shells.

Whoop-di-do if I rub it in that I just made and ate a totally awesome, satisfying dinner.

But you can still share by making these rocking biscuits. And if you are so inclined, you can have lemon-steamed crab legs and baby spinach salad too.

If you want.

Garlic & Cheese Biscuits
Based on Country Coconut Biscuits from Bob's Red Mill

1/2 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup coconut flour (the biscuits taste nothing like coconut, so don't worry)
2 tbsp potato starch
3/4 tsp xanthan gum
1 tbsp baking powder (forgot this - sorry!)
1 tsp sugar
Scant 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, softened

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Prepare a cookie sheet with a light coating of cooking spray.

Combine the dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Add the butter and cut in with a fork until the mixture is crumb-y. Add half of the milk; stir gently with your fork. Add the cheese and the rest of the milk. Stir until just combined.

Cut 2 foot-long pieces of wax paper; place the dough betwen them and gently pat down evenly to 3/4" to 1" thick. Using a 2" biscuit cutter or a glass sprayed with cooking spray, cut circles. Pull away the scraps from the biscuits and set aside, use a spatula to pick up the biscuits and put on the cookie sheet. Ball up the scraps and pat down between the pieces of wax paper....again and again until you have 9 biscuits on your cookie sheet.

Bake for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

If you take a good look, you can see cheese bubbling out of the biscuit in the picture.

And if you're interested....Lemon-Steamed Crab Legs

We are somewhat pig-like when it comes to crab legs. Believe it or not, this fed only 2 people.

4 pounds king crab legs
6 cups water
2 lemons, sliced into rounds
1 tsp salt

Combine the water, lemons and salt in a huge stock pot. Bring to a boil, then add the crab legs. If frozen like ours were, they will probably take about 20 minutes to cook. Otherwise, 15 minutes max.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Hasta la vista, fajita take 2

Oh yum. I cooked 2 nights in a row. And posted about it! Mark this date down, because heaven only knows when it will happen again.

On a side note, I just watched Gidget do a dive off the couch to get to the floor. It's hysterical - she stretches full-out and lands on all 4 paws. Jump...soar.....thunk. I got a half-hearted attempt on video. She's winding down and is curled up on the blanket next to me as I type.

If I ever figure out how to upload video on here, I will show some action shots of the zoo.

On another side note, since we got her, I have seen more of The Man than I have in the last couple of years, I think. He's actually home and playing with her before I pull into the driveway. It's a nice change of pace around here.

All right. Back to food. I have been making this tweaked Cooking Light fajita recipe for years. With my last Natural Farms order, I got a couple packages of Grandma Ferdon's GF tortillas. I figured I would try them out tonight.

Another Steak Fajita Recipe
Based on a recipe from The Cooking Light Cookbook

2 ribeye steaks
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 a red bell pepper
1/2 a yellow bell pepper
1/2 a green bell pepper
1/2 a red onion
1 lime
4 GF tortillas

Slice the steaks into 1/4" strips and place into a zipper bag or bowl. Add the spices and 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Seal and shake to coat the meat. Place in the fridge while you prep the veggies.

Clean and slice the peppers and onion into 1/4" strips.

Defrost the tortillas if using frozen, like I did.

In a skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over high heat. Add the spiced meat and the sliced veggies, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until the veggies begin to soften and the meat is cooked as you like it (no more than 8 minutes or you'll have shoe leather).

Slice the lime in half. Squeeze half of the lime over the meat and stir. Turn off the burner and then squeeze the other half of the lime over the meat. Stir well.

Split into 4 portions and place onto your tortillas. Roll 'em up and eat.

And try to keep the dog away from your plate.
Oh, the tortillas. While I don't find them as tasty as the ones I make from scratch, these will definitely do in a pinch and I will keep them on hand.

Variation on a theme

Heidi over at 101 Cookbooks posted this recipe a few days ago, which definitely caught my attention. Believe it or not, though, I am out of brown rice (how the hell did that happen??), no tahini in sight, and a piece of salmon in the fridge that needed to be eaten.

Once upon a time, I really didn't like quinoa. Now, I love it. So this hit on all levels for me last night.

The Man watched Demon Dog (what we call her when she gets wild) so I could color my hair. These moments of peace are some of only a few minutes I have had to myself in over a week. Might as well celebrate with some nummy grub and a re-redded head.

Lemon & Sesame Quinoa with Asparagus & Salmon
Based on a recipe from 101 Cookbooks

1 salmon filet
1 cup red quinoa
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup water
1 garlic clove, minced
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp olive oil plus more for drizzling
6 asparagus stalks, cleaned and cut into 1 inch pieces
Sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of a small baking dish. Place the salmon in the dish and then sprinkle with sea salt (just a pinch) and pepper. Bake until cooked through, about 12 minutes depending on the size of the piece of salmon. When cooked through (flakes easily with a fork), remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Combine the water and broth in a saucepan. Add 1/4 tsp sea salt and then bring to a boil over high heat. Add the quinoa, stir to get all grains into the liquid, cover, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until all liquid is absorbed, about 20-25 minutes.

In another saucepan, bring a cup of water to a boil; add the asparagus pieces and cook only until just tender (about 2-3 minutes depending on how thick the spears are). Remove the asparagus from the boiling water and plunge into an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Drain and set aside.

Combine sesame oil, olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic in a small bowl to create a dressing.

When all are done (salmon, quinoa, asparagus, and dressing), flake the salmon and then add it, the asparagus, and the dressing to the quinoa and toss lightly to combine.