Staying Fueled

This is my latest easy, go-to snack, that I’m somewhat obsessed with. It’s simple because most of it is already made for me. All I add is a drizzle of olive oil and rice wine vinegar with herbs. It’s packed full of protein and vegetables, it’s filling, and it makes for a delicious snack or lunch salad.

It amazes me that Trader Joe’s is such a tiny, little store, yet almost every time I go, I find something new! Before I found the ingredients for this salad, it was the to-die-for buffalo mozzarella. I love Trader Joe’s. And I didn’t think I would because it’s so small. Now I’ve discovered that I’m a bit spoiled because it’s only 20 minutes from my house. When we move to New Hampshire, I will have to drive 45 minutes to find the nearest Trader Joe’s. But believe me, that certainly won’t stop me!

All this lovely salad takes to make is Trader Joe’s Healthy 8 Chopped Veg Mix and their Balela  salad, a drizzle of olive oil and a drizzle of rice wine vinegar with herbs. That’s it. The chopped veggie mix is pretty much self-explanatory and the Balela salad has chickpeas, black beans, tomatoes, olive oil, and herbs. Mixed together, they create a little bowl of heaven.

Hey, Guess What?

We’ll be headed to New Hampshire in under a month!

My Corner Of The World

This is our son’s kitten, “Kitty-Kitty”. She’s only a few months old and was never given a proper name. She’s longing to get herself outside…or crawl up the screen door. She’s quite naughty, good thing she’s cute.

A welcome home greeting for my mom. She just returned from 3 wonderful weeks in England.

She spoiled me with lovely and tasty gifts!

Our upcoming move and major life change has me thinking. A lot. Remembering cherished things, looking forward to new adventures, “cleaning house” and purging things that probably should have been gotten rid of ages ago. 

The dogs are spoiled at Grandma’s house too. 

The two men in my life. I love them far beyond words…I won’t even try to spell it out.

I made this pizza on one of the 9 straight, blissful, days my husband was home for a “break”. You can find a similar recipe here. This one has buffalo mozzarella from Trader Joe’s. 

And I made these cookie dough truffles…recipe coming soon.

Remember the post where I told you about the heart rocks our son has collected for me over the years? Oddly enough, a few weeks ago we were at the dog park and there was a rock wedged in a picnic table. He dug it out and said, “Hey mom, look at this…a heart rock.” That was one of those blubbering, crying, mom moments, but I contained myself. 

My husband is trying to turn me into a redneck. Not really. We needed something bigger to tow our camping trailer across the US. Now we can tow a house if we wanted. When I drive it, I still have to convince myself that it really does fit in a normal car lane.

This is my morning ritual. It’s chilly now and tea hits the spot. I wish it were heavy cream giving it that light look…almond milk isn’t quite the same. I do a bible study every morning and journal. My day is not the same if I miss that time. Those are my new, stronger, reading glasses. For some reason my arms aren’t long enough anymore.

With my husband traveling so much, I usually just make a quick breakfast of almond milk yogurt or peanut butter toast. I made this breakfast while he was home. It was wonderful to sit down and enjoy a proper breakfast together! You can find the recipe here. And bacon…we eat a lot of bacon when he’s home. Somehow I’ve lost 6 pounds without even thinking about it. Must be the bacon…

This is “us” celebrating my 44th birthday and our 21st wedding anniversary.

Ahhh…the dog park. Dusty and sometimes even smelly, but such fun for the pups. We do love and cherish our furry family members, don’t we?

Best Friends Forever.

Well, I’m off to walk the dogs and get on with the chores of the day. Don’t forget your “REAL” to-do list today…

Chicken Tetrazzini

I used to make turkey Tetrazzini every year with Thanksgiving and Christmas turkey leftovers. Of course that was prior to going gluten-free and dairy-free and those Tetrazzini dishes included a lot of cream and probably three kinds of lovely cheese, along with gluten bread crumbs.

Our mornings are chilly now and that always gets me thinking about comfort food. I love fall and even winter (as long as it snows a lot! Yes you read that right…) and I look forward to baking pies, roasting things, and having my house smell like comfort food.

I don’t even know what was on television in the bedroom this morning while I was getting ready, but I heard the word Tetrazzini and thought, “YES!”. I had forgotten all about Tetrazzini! When you’re allergic to dairy you kind of get used to not thinking about cheesy, creamy, delightful, comfort food. Luckily, with more and more people becoming aware of food allergies and more people being tested, the whole food world is opening up with new products and new ideas for those of us that can’t eat traditional things.

I couldn’t remember how I used to make it exactly so I Googled Tetrazzini. Honestly, what did we ever do without the internet? After reading through several recipes it all started coming back to me and I realized that each recipe was different. Really different. So I just winged it and did what I thought sounded good. Giada De Laurentiis puts peas in hers. I thought that sounded good too and I could have sworn I had frozen baby peas, but no such luck. Her recipe also had about 30 ingredients. Seriously?

I just went with what I had on hand and it was fantastic. Total comfort food. So creamy and delicious, even I was shocked! Ahhh… the satisfaction of another traditional meal tackled and made into something that can fit my needs! Remember the movie Bruce Almighty where Jim Carey says, “It’s goooood”? For some reason that just popped into my head. Odd the things that rattle around in there…

I love having a good (or “gooood”) challenge. This recipe was challenging because I didn’t know if it would really work. That always bugs me a little because it’s not cheap to be dairy free and gluten-free. If it doesn’t turn out, it’s horrible to watch all of that $$$ going straight into the trash bin. Plus, dairy free cheese is a little weird sometimes. Occasionally it can make the texture of something really unappealing. Also, there’s a lot of steps. I was taking pictures in between steps and different parts of the recipe and not cleaning up, so my kitchen looked like a bomb went off.  But as soon as I had everything in the oven, it all cleaned up quickly and believe me…all the steps and all the prep work to get it into the oven was worth every-single-bite.

Another recipe challenge overcome! Hmmm…what’s next?

Chicken Tetrazzini

Bacon Drippings, or olive oil if you don’t have drippings on hand

2 Chicken Breasts, cooked & cubed or shredded into large pieces

1 Medium Onion, diced

About 6 Crimini Mushrooms, sliced

About 1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme Leaves

About 2 teaspoons Dried Thyme

1 Head of Roasted Garlic

About 1 Tablespoon Bragg’s Seasoning

About 1 Cup of White Wine

3 Cups of Almond Milk

About 2 Cups Gluten Free Chicken Broth

1 Cup Diaya Cheddar Style Cheese

1/4 Cup Buffalo Mozzarella

1/4 Cup Vegan Parmesan

Dairy Free Butter

About 1/3 Cup Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour

Gluten Free Bread Crumbs, seasoned with oregano, basil, garlic powder, vegan parm, & kosher salt

About 12 oz. of Tinkyada Gluten Free Pasta, cooked aldente

1.  In a large skillet melt about 2-4 Tablespoons of bacon drippings. Add chicken breasts and brown on both sides just until they are done. About 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and set aside to cool.

2.  Add the chopped onion and mushrooms and saute until onions are translucent and mushrooms begin to brown a bit. Add the thyme leaves. Add salt to taste.

3. Add the wine to de-glaze the pan and continue to saute over medium-high until the wine evaporates. Remove mixture to a large bowl. Set pan aside.

4. Dice or shred chicken and add to the bowl. Add the cheeses, roasted garlic, and Bragg’s.

5. Using the same pan, melt about 4 Tablespoons of dairy free butter. Add the flour and whisk together.

6.  Add the almond milk and chicken broth whisking quickly as to not allow lumps. Cook over medium-high until the mixture begins to thicken. Mine became very thick so I added a bit more chicken broth. You want a medium thick consistency. Salt & pepper to taste, add the dried thyme, set aside.

7. Cook pasta according to directions. I removed mine 2 minutes prior to “done”. Drain.

8.  Lightly coat a 9×11 baking dish with olive oil spray or dairy free butter.

9. Add the pasta and sauce to the large bowl of other ingredients. Toss well and pour into the baking dish.

10.  Coat the top with gluten-free bread crumbs (see below), and dot with butter.

11. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes until sauce bubbles. Serve with gluten-free french bread.

* I always toast (in the oven) and throw all uneaten or stale bread into a bag in my freezer. It makes it very easy whip up bread crumbs or croutons when I need them.

For bread crumbs I just add the toasted bread to a food processor. Add dried herbs, kosher salt, and  just a bit of olive oil. Pulse until it turns into crumbs and the herbs are incorporated. For this recipe I added basil, oregano, garlic powder, kosher salt, vegan parmesan, and added a drizzle of olive oil at the end so it would all come together a bit.

Kurobuta Loin Chop Grilled Cheese

You may remember a while back I baked a Kurobuta ham for Easter. Have you ever had one? This is our Easter ham from last year. All I can say is, “WOW”.

Kurobuta pork (Japanese Black Hog) is hands down the best pork I’ve ever had. It’s basically the “Kobe beef” of pork.

The other day while I was out and about trying to come up with something for dinner I was thrilled to see the Kurobuta pork in something other than ham form at my local butcher. Don’t get me wrong, the ham is absolutely divine, but it’s also extremely expensive and way too much meat for just the two of us. I purchased two loin chops and grilled the for dinner that night. They were amazingly tender and juicy and of course, because I can’t seem to figure out how to cook for just two people, there were leftovers.

Yesterday we started the day off with french toast and bacon and that was followed by me making  peanut butter no bake cookies and cookie dough truffles. Lunch came and went and by 2:30 I was starving and hungry for something that didn’t involve sugar. The chops have been staring at me every time I open the fridge for the last couple of days so I decided on a gooey grilled cheese to help balance out some of the sugar. A day of cheese and sugar? Mmmm…it was lovely. Don’t judge.

Loin Chop Grilled Cheese

*You will need:

Dairy Free Butter

Gluten Free Bread

Daiya Cheddar Style Cheese

Thinly Sliced Sweet Onion

Baby Spinach Leaves

Thinly Sliced Loin Chop

Note: Dairy free butter browns very quickly and dairy free cheese melts very slowly. Construct your sandwich, cover, and grill on medium low so the cheese has time to melt and the butter doesn’t brown too quickly.

No Bake Peanut Butter Cookies

I love no bake cookies. Easy. Easy. Easy. So easy in fact, that if it weren’t for the scary boiling sugar, I’m pretty sure a five year old could make them. You can add anything (well pretty much) you like, they are almost fool-proof and they are fantastic for a quick sweet tooth fix because they take all of about 10 minutes to whip up from beginning to end. They set up quickly so they can go from wax paper to mouth in about 2.5 minutes. Or…pan to mouth if you don’t mind a few seared taste buds.

This recipe is adapted from My Soul Is The Sky. I think I ran across Melissa’s blog while looking at someone’s Pinterest page. She has a little bit of everything. She posts about life, hair, makeup, and food. All the things us gals love!

No Bake Peanut Butter Cookies

2 Cups Sugar (I used white but dark brown would be delicious too)

1/4 Cup Dairy Free Butter

1/2 Cup Almond Milk

1 Cup Organic Chunky Peanut Butter

1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

3 Cups Gluten Free Rolled Oats

In a large saucepan (I used my dutch oven), mix sugar, butter, and milk; bring to a full boil over medium heat. (Melissa says a full rolling boil = large bubbles rising to the surface that can’t be stirred down).

Boil for one minute, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and vanilla, stirring until peanut butter is melted. Stir in oats and working quickly, drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper or parchment.

Out With The Old, In With The New!

Vegetable Pakora Lunch

Quite yummy but maybe being a bit overshadowed by those gorgeous organic strawberries…

I am quickly learning that until our house sells, I pretty much cannot commit to a whole heck of a lot. I kind of just have to wake up and greet the day and whatever happens, happens. But that doesn’t stop me from trying to make plans. You would think I would learn. Ha!

Last night I had visions of a glorious day in the kitchen baking and frosting sugar cookies and trying to see if I could come up with a savory pumpkin boule. I convinced myself, and then posted it on Facebook (pretty much jinxing myself) that I was going to get up, take the dogs on a beautiful walk and then spend the entire day in the kitchen doing basically whatever I pleased.

I managed the walk, which was nice. But never got around to the baking. This morning my husband “parted ways” with our realtor. There were a lot of valid reasons but the icing on the cake was that we had an open house two days in a row last weekend and they listed our house in the local newspaper at the wrong price. Yep. And of course the deadline was Friday so it couldn’t be changed or cancelled. So we spent the only two days my husband was home carting animals back and forth and waiting for the open houses to be over. And guess how many people showed up? Zilch. Zero. Nada. No big surprise since the price was wrong and we weren’t even catering to people in our price range. It was quite frustrating and actually made me want to just sit in a heap and cry…or strangle someone. I did neither. We sucked it up and dealt with our weekend like big people. But it wasn’t easy.

So! Out with the old and in with the new! We hired a new Realtor who started working for us immediately. The house will be back on the market on Friday.

I meet with our new Realtor tomorrow so he can take pictures of the house and I can fill out all of the necessary paperwork. Instead of sugar cookies and beautiful pumpkin bread dancing through my head, I had to don work gloves and clean the house and mow the lawn. Oh well, such is life. My expanding hips probably didn’t need sugar cookies and bread anyway…

I did manage to make myself some lunch. I don’t typically buy pre-packaged foods… but have you been down the frozen isles in Trader Joe’s?  H-O-L-Y   C-O-W…how I envy those of you who can eat whatever you please. It’s probably a good thing that I can’t eat 98% of what they sell or I would be gorging myself on perogi, lasagna, cheese tamales, baby frozen quiche, death by chocolate cake, cheese cake, and all kinds of frozen little delights I’ve never even heard of. I did happen to run across one thing I could try. Vegetable Pakoras. They are basically vegetable fritters but with an Indian kick. They are quite yummy and made for a very nice and quick lunch!

They are vegan and as far as I could tell from the ingredient list, gluten-free. However, they are processed in a plant with other gluten items. So if you are that sensitive…I would steer clear. So far I feel fine, but I will be sure to let you know in the morning if I wake up stiff and headachey.

I was also able to finally find real buffalo mozzarella at Trader Joe’s! I was so thrilled I was sad that I was shopping by myself and there was no one there to jump up and down with me. I think I actually gasped out loud when I saw it tucked in among the goat cheese containers. However, I did refrain from jumping up and down. I surprised my husband with a pepperoni pizza lunch the first day he was back in town.

The buffalo milk didn’t bother my stomach at all, tasted wonderful, and melted like regular mozzarella cheese. It was heavenly.

Well, as I sit here eating a rather dull dinner and dreaming of pizza (a plate of black re-fried beans with Daiya cheese and Tabasco) …I still have bathrooms to clean and it’s already 7:45. I wanted to check in with you all and make sure you knew I hadn’t forgotten about you.

Hope all is well in your neck of the woods! ~ April