Life Is Too Short Not To Eat Onion Rings

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It turns out that I’m not the only one that needs an onion ring every now and then. For those of us who can’t eat gluten and dairy, craving breaded fried foods can pose a problem. As you already know, that’s my goal here on this blog. Proving to people that an allergen free life doesn’t have to be boring and restrictive. While it may be a problem finding these types of foods when you’re eating out, it’s not a problem if you’re willing to make them at home.

Sometimes, it’s just necessary to eat comfort food and enjoy an onion ring…or 10. It’s as simple as that. Just like every now and then, I need a piece of cake for breakfast…but that’s a story for another time.

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I hadn’t planned on posting this so I don’t have any prep or process photos and the photos I do have are lacking excitement…or so I thought. I posted a couple pictures of last night’s dinner on my Gluten Free Zen Facebook page and on Instagram and received a few messages asking for the recipe. It’s a pretty simple recipe. There’s a few steps involved, but once you get that down, making them at home is worth every. single. bite.

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Gluten Free Dairy Free Onion Rings

*You’ll need a dutch oven or deep fryer and a deep fry/candy thermometer, 2 baking sheets lined with parchment or tin foil if you don’t want an oily mess, and 2 cooling racks that will fit on top of the baking sheets. You will also need a large slotted spoon or tongs.

50.7 ounces of Avocado Oil (About 1 1/2 bottles of Chosen Foods 100% Pure Avocado Oil, I buy mine at Costco)

5 Medium to Large Sweet Onions (Peeled and sliced save middles for something else)

3 plus 1 Cups of All Purpose Gluten Free Flour (I used Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour Blend)

3 Tablespoons of Arrowroot

3 teaspoons of Garlic Powder

1  Tablespoon of Sea Salt plus more for sprinkling

1 1/2 teaspoons of Cayenne Pepper

3 teaspoons of Bragg’s Seasoning

2 teaspoons of Coconut Sugar

1 1/2 Cups of Gluten Free Beer (I used Green’s Amber Ale the dark ale would work well too)

1 Cup of Perrier (or any sparkling mineral water)

1 Large Egg

Pour the oil into the dutch oven, insert the thermometer, turn the burner on medium or slightly higher,  and heat to between 325-350 degrees. This will take some time.

(It’s easiest if you set up an ingredients “station” right next to the stove top.)

While the oil is heating measure the flour, arrowroot, garlic, sea salt, cayenne, Bragg’s, and sugar into a large bowl or baking dish. Whisk to combine. Reserve 1 cup of the flour mixture in a bowl and set aside. Dredge all of the onion slices in the larger amount of flour mixture and set aside on a paper towel or plate.

In a medium bowl combine the beer, sparkling water, and egg. Pour into the larger mixture of flour and whisk to combine.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees and place the prepared baking sheets in the oven.

Once the oil reaches temperature:

Remove the thermometer. Take an onion and dip in the liquid flour mix, then dredge quickly in the smaller dry reserved flour mix, dip quickly one more time into the liquid mix and then put into the oil. Repeat with 6-7 slices at a time but don’t overcrowd. I let the oil heat up a bit more between each wave of onions. The onion rings won’t brown as much as traditional onion rings. Allow to cook for about 1 1/2 minutes on each side, depending on how thick the onion slices are. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon or tongs onto the racks and season with more sea salt. Try a piece (or two) from the first batch and see if they’re crispy to your liking, then you can adjust the cooking time from there. Keep warm in the oven. Serve as soon as all the onions are done.

Dipping Sauce:

Olive oil mayo, ketchup, and sriracha. I use about 1/2 C of mayo, 1/4 C of ketchup, and a generous squeeze of sriracha. Amount will depend on how seasoned you like yours and how many people you’re feeding.

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Grain Free Mini Focaccia

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This is one of my favorite ways to make a really quick focaccia. It’s incredibly easy and they are very tasty.

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They are the perfectly sized for individual servings and go great with salads and pasta.

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I even love to pop the leftovers in the toaster and eat them warmed when I’m hungry for a “bread-like” snack. They’ll make your house smell fabulous while they’re baking (and in the toaster!)

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They also work very well for party snacks. You can make them even smaller and serve them with a few nice wedges of hard cheese and sauteed mushrooms and onions, or roasted garlic, balsamic, olive oil…pesto…there are a lot of options! They’re also great for road trip food, and even for camping.

I also use this base for my grain free pizza crust that I’ll be posting later this week.

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Enjoy!

Grain Free Mini Focaccia

*14 Servings

Preheat Oven to 375 degrees

For the Topping:

1/4 Cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

6 Cloves of Garlic, minced

About 1/2 Tablespoon of Rosemary, Thyme, & Oregano

A Generous Amount of Sea Salt

Mix it all together with a fork and set aside.

For the Dough:

2 Boxes of Chebe Focaccia Mix

4 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

4 Eggs

1/2 Cup of Water

About 1 Tablespoon of Garlic Powder

About 1/2 Tablespoon of Oregano

About 1/2 Tablespoon of Thyme

Sometimes I use Bragg’s Seasoning Instead

Measure all the ingredients into a medium bowl and stir with a fork until dry ingredients are wet. Then, kneed with hand until dough forms a ball and is relatively smooth. Pinch or cut dough into 14 pieces and pat out onto parchment lined baking sheets (2).

With a pastry brush, generously brush each focaccia with the oil and herb mixture. You will have some leftover which will be used to brush over the top again after baking.

Bake for 20-30 minutes. (I use convection)

A Big Tight Hug & An Amazing Avocado Dressing

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On Monday we found out that my schizophrenic aunt, Nan, had been evicted from her apartment a week prior and had been taken to a shelter by the apartment management. The management had my mother’s phone number in her file and never bothered to tell anyone what they had done. Her things were packed and stored and will be kept for 45 days. Then, at 45 days the manager told me they usually “dispose of it”. Her apartment was filled with her mother’s, my grandmother’s, family heirlooms and antiques and everything Nan owns in this world. We were also told we would either need Nan’s notarized signature or a court order to remove any of her things from their storage.

After trying to track her down, Tuesday we found out that she was not at the shelter that the apartment manager supposedly said they took her to, nor at any other shelter in town, and we were advised to file a missing person’s report.

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The authorities told us that if “they happened to see her” they would pick her up, but they wouldn’t seek her out. Tuesday morning came and took us all on a fast track in the direction of the worst possible scenarios… that try as you might, you absolutely cannot get out of your head. I grabbed mom and we ran errands in hopes of trying to control the worry welling inside of us. Samantha, her oldest daughter, had to deal with these feelings while in training for a new job in Seattle and handling phone calls from the sheriff and mom and I. And the youngest daughter, Amanda, I’m assuming was trying to figure out the impossible task of concentrating in class in her first semester in college.

Yesterday, after a fitful night of sleep I decided to post a bit of the story and prayer requests here on the blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook. I had already been praying of course, but when people band together, miraculous things can happen. “For where two or three are gathered in My name, there I am among them”. ~ Matthew 18:20 This is where my BIG TIGHT HUG to all of you comes in. I was so blessed and amazed by all of the support, kind words, and prayers. You will never know what it means to our family that you took time from your own lives, busy schedules, and your own issues, to pray for our family and to pray for Nan’s safety. Your comments here and on Facebook kept the panic from getting completely out of control. Within 2 hours of posting those prayer requests, a story that could have ended in any number of terrible and life changing ways for our family, has a happy ending.

There were some conflicting stories with the complex management yesterday, but luckily my mother took matters into her own hands and visited the police station. An extremely kind detective sat with her for over an hour and did some serious detective work to try to figure out what had happened. Long story short, she had changed hands between a few police officers, shelters, and a hospital. She was dropped at a shelter by police, but then was not cooperating. New officers took her to the psyche unit at the hospital where she was evaluated. Then the hospital moved her to another psychiatric facility which I’m guessing is run by the state.

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She is safe and she is in a psychiatric facility where they are evaluating her. The facility was given her daughter’s number so that if Nan chose to, she could call us. With the current mental health laws, family members are at a complete loss when it comes to helping another family member with mental illness unless that person requests help. They wouldn’t even tell us the exact facility where she was being held.

The great news? Nan called Samantha yesterday afternoon. They are stabilizing her meds, she was thinking clearly, and she asked for help. Samantha also mentioned that Nan told her she loved her numerous times. Something Samantha hasn’t heard in a very, very, long time. Nan agreed to sign the paperwork so we could get her things that are being held by the apartment complex. Sam will be coming this weekend and Nan is looking forward to the visit. The facility will not let her leave until she has housing. All huge blessings and prayers answered.

There’s always a reason for everything. I have a difficult time remembering that when something so seemingly impossible to handle comes along. There is a huge dark cloud, but it definitely has a silver lining. The dark cloud of course, is that this isn’t the first time and most likely won’t be the last time we will have challenges with my aunt because this type of mental illness is relentless and evil.  The silver lining, is that had she not run out of money, had she not stopped paying her rent, had they not evicted her, and had the police not been involved, she wouldn’t be getting the help that she is getting right now.

The state does not intervene in any way unless someone is broke  and has proven to be dangerous to themselves or others. Now that she is homeless, broke and mentally ill (some of all of our worst nightmares rolled into one)…where you would think that prevention instead of waiting until things are in their worst possible state would be the way to go… this backward process of helping the mentally ill, will now after about 15 years of hell, be helpful to her. She will be assigned a case worker and will hopefully begin to get the counseling, medication monitoring, and housing that she so desperately needs. And this time thankfully, all of the pieces came together quickly and the outcome is so much better than what we were bracing ourselves for.

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Every. Thing. Happens. For. A. Reason. Even when it seems awful, even when it is awful. Even when it doesn’t happen the exact way you want it to or the timeline or the details don’t make sense. Things must work out a certain way to fulfill God’s plan for our lives. That is a simple enough statement to understand, yet an enormously complex reality when you’re in the thick of something terrible.

Thank you again for your generosity of heart and prayers. From those of you we know well, and those of you we have never met. You will never know the depth and impact that kind of love has on us.

Blessings and Big Tight Hugs, from my family to you.

~ April

Cilantro Lime Avocado Dressing

This recipe is adapted from my mom’s recipe.

2 Ripe Avocados

1 1/2 Cups of Cilantro

Juice of 1 Lime

3 Cloves of Garlic

1/2 Cup of EVOO

2-3 Tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar, depending on how tart you like your dressing

1 1/2 teaspoons of Coconut Sugar

1/2 teaspoon of Sea Salt

1/2 Cup (maybe a bit more to thin it out) of Filtered Water

Place all the ingredients in a Nutribullet, blender, or food processor and blend until smooth. You may have to shake and scrape the sides once or twice to get it all incorporated. Serve on anything you like, it’s absolutely delicious!

42 Gluten Free & Dairy Free Super Bowl Celebration Ideas

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 We’re so proud of our Seahawk’s and excited that they’ve made it to the Super Bowl for the second year in a row!

NFC Championship Football

(photo courtesy of columbian.com)

RichardSherman

(photo courtesy of imgkid.com)

The Seahawk fans, otherwise known as the 12th Man or the 12’s, take a lot of pride in supporting their team. All around the state you can see 12 banners hung everywhere. In home windows, on porches, businesses, on the Space Needle, and even in my home town on the downtown clock tower.

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(photo courtesy of blog.seattlepi.com)

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(photo courtesy of swxrightnow.com)

It’s fun to see such excitement all around the city. It’s just buzzing with anticipation. Everyone is talking about it, wearing their Seahawk’s jersey’s, shirts, and jackets, and the stores this morning were full of people planning their Super Bowl menus. I don’t know about you, but any day that revolves around food and fun, is my kind of day.

As I was thinking about what I was going to make for Super Bowl Sunday, I thought I’d share a list of ideas with you. Sometimes when you’re new to the allergen free world or just limited in what you can eat, planning a celebration menu can leave you feeling deflated.

No worries, I’ve got you covered!

Pesto Bruschetta

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Focaccia Bread with Balsamic & Olive Oil

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Zucchini Corn Fritters

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Cheesy Muffins with Roasted Red Peppers

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Oven Fried Zucchini 

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Loaded Potato Skins

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Grilled Stuffed Jalapenos

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Garlic & Thyme Roasted Potato Wedges

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Sweet Potato Fries with Spicy Dipping Sauce

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Italian Stuffed Mushrooms

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Spicy Bean Dip

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Baked Oysters

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Kick Ass Flatbread Crackers & Dip

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Twice Baked Potatoes

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Black Bean Dip

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Smoky Honey Habanero Chicken

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Steak Kabobs

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Swordfish Skewers with Spicy Kumquat & Mango Salsa

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Simple Tostadas

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Chicken Tamales with Pablano Peppers & Sun Dried Tomatoes

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Asian Lettuce Wraps

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Spicy Asian Chicken Wings

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Shrimp & Sausage Skewers

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Asian Shrimp Skewers

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Italian Sausage & Pesto Roll Ups

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Mini Spinach Tarts

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Three Bean Salad 

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Mediterranean Salad

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Kale Salad

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Corn Salad with Queso Fresco

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Chili & Cinnamon Rolls

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No Bake Peanut Butter Cookies

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Mud Pie Ice Cream Pops

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Clementine Carrot Cookies

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Powerhouse Candy Bars

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Gooey Caramel Corn

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Chocolate Mousse With Coconut Cream

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Coconut Cake with Raspberry Filling

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Mud Pie

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Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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Toasted Coconut & Pecan Haystacks

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Peanut Butter Balls

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A Little Story of Love & Some Kick Ass Flatbread Crackers and Dip

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Both of the dogs are depressed. Tails are tucked under, ears are floppy, and there has been a lot of napping and sighing going on.

Tony took a flight out of town last night and is now in full work and travel mode.

The dogs have done nothing but mope around and look at me like, “Where is he and when is he coming back?”

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I think I may be a little depressed about the whole thing too. It’s a bittersweet kind of thing, I suppose.

I believe he left his job in New Hampshire sometime in March and then only physically worked for the company here for about a month before being laid off.

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That means that we have been able to spend about 9 months of true, quality time together. It’s only been one day and I miss our time together already.

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That’s the most consecutive time we’ve spent together without him having to travel out of town in the entire 23 years we’ve been married.

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I’m thankful we didn’t allow the stress of it to gobble us up. We didn’t end up resenting one another’s presence and getting on each other’s nerves…too much. You hear that a lot about couples who lose their jobs or retire.

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We’ve even had people say it to us when we’ve told them about our life over the last year, “Oh good, and you’re still together”, they say.  Tony’s answer to that is, “Well, I’m an exceptional husband.”

Which always gets a good snicker of course.

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This time we’ve had has made me look forward even more to retirement. It was something I actually thought about in the past. “Will we like spending all that time together when he retires?” “Will he drive me nuts?” “What will we do?”

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I can tell you I wasn’t bored one time during the last 9 months. We found all kinds of enjoyable stuff to do together and there were only a few tense moments. Those moments were really only due to the fact that he makes noise and watches TV more than I do. Prior to him being off work for so long, I was used to a very quiet house. Evidently I have plenty of noise going on in my head without adding anything to it.

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Overall I think we are better off after this time spent together. In fact, our relationship is stronger than ever. That’s saying something after being together for a total of 26 years…that a marriage can get even better.

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Even when there’s mass quantities of stress and frustrations that are seemingly out of our control. In my mind, in a world full of divorce and all kinds of issues, the fact that a relationship can continue to grow and strengthen after 26 years just seems like a massive blessing.

We’ve definitely put the “T” in Teamwork over the past couple of years. We’ve had a lot of career stress, major extended family issues, and I’ve had and continue to have a battle with Lyme Disease. Even one of those circumstances happening would make the strongest of folks wobble at least a little.

We’ve faced them all at once.

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What I cherish and wish I would remember at the beginning of every stressful season of life, because there will be more…is that when you’re coming out the other side of it and you can look back…not only did you live through it which is celebration enough, but in so many ways you’re better for it.

That’s like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. As if the rainbow after the storm wasn’t beautiful enough!

So although it’s easy to whine about how I wish I didn’t have a traveling husband and many other things, there’s been so much positive to come out of these 2 years of complete and absolute craziness that I never expected, it’s hard to complain too much because I just really feel so incredibly thankful.

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Thankful for a working, loving, husband and friend. Thankful that I have Romeo and Abigail to mope around with me. Thankful that we’re back in town and 1.5  miles from my mom and our son instead of 2,700 miles away.  Thankful that we took some incredible leaps of faith. Thankful that we made some unbelievably tough decisions. Thankful that even when some issues aren’t resolved there’s still plenty of good pouring over into each day. Thankful for the joy I get from food blogging and hearing from all of you.  Thankful as I sit here in my cozy little library and office that’s just for me. Thankful that as I look out the window I’m being presented right this minute with yet another amazing and beautiful sunset that is filling the sky with bright reds and pinks. And mostly really, I’m just thankful that I have the ability to recognize a blessing and that I have so many, I can’t count them all.

“Blessed is he who is not offended that no man receives what he deserves…blessed is he who gets that joke, who sees that miracle.” ~ Buechner

Herbed Flatbread Crisps

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

1 Box of Chebe Foccacia Mix

1 1/2 Tablespoons of Fresh Chives, snipped

2 teaspoons of Fresh Rosemary, snipped

1 1/2 teaspoons of Fresh Thyme Leaves

1 1/2 teaspoons of Garlic Powder

1 Tablespoon of Chia Seeds

3/4 teaspoons of Sea Salt

6 Grinds of Fresh Pepper

1 Egg

3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

1/2 Cup of Unsweetened Hemp Milk

Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit a baking sheet. Mix all ingredients together with a fork in a medium bowl until combined. Knead with hand until smooth. Roll out thinly on the parchment to fit as much of the cut parchment as possible. Slide the parchment and dough onto a baking sheet. Bake (I use convection) for 25 minutes. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before tearing or cutting into pieces.

Sundried Tomato & Spinach Bean Spread

1 15 oz. can of Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)

1 Cup of Baby Spinach, packed

2 Large Garlic Cloves, peeled

2 Tablespoons of Bragg’s Organic Sprinkle 

5 Sun Dried Tomatoes in Oil

1/2 teaspoon of Sea Salt

8 Grinds of Pepper

Juice of 1 Fresh Lemon

3/4 Cup of Avocado Oil

Place all ingredients except avocado oil  in food processor. Pulse about 20 times until ingredients are chopped. Turn on High and slowly drizzle the avocado into the mixture. Continue mixing on High for 2 minutes. 

Sunday Snackin’

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My husband’s work schedule is hectic, so like many people, we cherish the weekends.

We try our hardest to set aside time to hike with the dogs, do a little sight-seeing, and most importantly, relax and try to refuel for the week ahead. This weekend we were able to fit in several nice walks with the dogs, some leaf peeping, and a nice relaxing Sunday afternoon in front of the fire watching football.

During the pre-empty nester years, I was often focused on making a big Sunday meal and dessert. But these days, we’ve learned to kind of wing it and do whatever sounds good on the weekends. Sometimes I cook a big meal, sometimes we go out, sometimes we don’t eat dinner at all and are happy with linner in town around 2:30. And sometimes, it’s nice to just have a snacky afternoon in front of the fire with the sounds of football in the background.

What you’ll need for a snacky afternoon:

I didn’t measure anything, so I’ll give just give you the basics and then you can add your own flair.

Chicken Wings

Chicken Wings, Your Favorite BBQ Sauce, Rice Wine Vinegar, Sriracha, Garlic Powder, Salt & Pepper. Grill them slowly so they don’t burn.

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Loaded Potato Skins

Baking Potatoes, Salt & Pepper, Old Bay Seasoning, Dairy Free Butter, Goat Cheese, Olive Oil Mayo, Dried Dill, Apple Cider Vinegar, Sugar, Diaya Cheese, Chives, Leftover Bacon.

Prick the potatoes with a fork and bake until done at 400 for about 1 hour. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Slice in half and scoop 3/4 of the potato out and save for another recipe. Baste the inside and outside with butter and garlic powder. Sprinkle inside and out with salt and pepper and Old Bay seasoning. Place under broiler insides up first and broil until lightly brown and slightly crisp, turn over and do the same to the underside. Fill with cheese and bacon and place under broiler to melt.

While cheese is melting add a bit of goat cheese, mayo, and apple cider vinegar to a small bowl. Whisk and mash with fork until combined. Add a little sugar and dried dill and mix. Dollop a bit on top of the potatoes when they’re done and top with the chives.

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Your favorite Kielbasa or Sausage, BBQ Sauce, Tabasco, Maple Syrup.

Slice the meat into a small saucepan, add the BBQ sauce, a few (or many) dashes of Tabasco, a little Maple Syrup and simmer very slowly for 30 minutes.

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And a nice veggie salad with a crisp vinaigrette to balance it all out.

I just grated carrots and chopped red bell pepper, spinach, romaine, and tomato. I made a light dressing with olive oil, fresh lime juice, a bit of Dijon mustard, sugar, and salt and pepper.

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Lemon Lime Margarita

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Ingredients

*Makes 2 Margaritas

4 ounces of 1800 Silver Tequila

Juice of 1/2 Lime

6 ounces of Limeade (I used Santa Cruz Organic Limeade)

Ice

San Pellegrino Limonata Sparkling Lemon

Shaker

Kosher Salt

Sugar

True Lime Crystallized Lime

Mix a few Tablespoons of kosher salt, sugar, and the crystallized lime together on a plate. Run the lime around the edges of your glasses and dip in the mixture. 

Add the tequila, lime juice, limeade, and about 1 cup of ice to your shaker. Shake vigorously. Fill each glass 3/4 full. Finish with the San Pellegrino Limonata.

Garnish with sliced lime and serve with pico de gallo, guacamole, and blue chips.

A few days ago I posted a gluten-free, dairy free, Cherry Braid and for some reason it didn’t go out to any of my email followers. Here’s a picture and a link in case you missed it!

( p.s.   …they were SO good! )

Cherry Braids

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