Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What Your Kids Really Think of You

So life has taken over lately.  In fact, my days flew by so fast, I didn't even realize it's been what, two weeks since I've posted?  I guess I'm going to end up being a bulk blogger.  I'll post everything in a day just to save time.

So lately, we switched cable providers which caused me to have to change my email address that I've had for 12 years.  Instead of getting an average of 30 emails a day, I'm down to about 2.  I guess I should've changed sooner.  Then a couple days later, my husband brought home a very early Christmas present:  a new computer.  We've been borrowing my sister's old laptop for several years and it's been good to me, but now we have our very own large-screen hp desktop with Windows 8.  It's fantastic and I'm still getting used to Windows 8.  The only thing I'm not happy about is Office 365.  The new version of Outlook stinks and now I have to get used to using Yahoo! mail.  Such a sad, torturous story but I'll spare you my pitiful details. 

As if that wasn't enough, we got a new computer desk.  We've been talking about it for years but it was one of those ripple affects that once you move one piece of furniture, the other rooms follow suit.  So we finally bit the bullet and just did it. That meant I went from having 3 drawers, shelves and a hidden compartment to no drawers or shelves.  (I had a lot of crap hidden in my old desk!) But I finally got to bring in my two-drawer filing cabinet from the garage that's been put for way too long.  Part of that ripple affect: we got a new kitchen table, too.  It's a counter top with 8 chairs.  We've had the same 4-chair table forever and it was never big enough for our large family, but boy has that table seen some crafts in its day!  I LOVE my new kitchen table!

But my real reason for posting tonight is that I want to share a video a friend of mine sent me.  It brought tears to my eyes.  Just when I start to wonder why God has entrusted me with children after having a very bad day (and counting down the minutes to when the school bus arrives), I imagine my kids whining about me all day to their friends at school.  "That mom of mine....  she drives me crazy!  She's so mean!  She yells all the time...."  And on those days when my daughter tells me that I'm the best mom ever, I wonder what she's really wanting.  Sound familiar? 

Ya know what?

When your child says "you're the best mom ever!"  she's telling you the truth.  Kids know a thing or two about love.  We become our own worst critic when the only thing our child sees is:





If you don't believe me, watch this video.  It's not very long so if you had a bad day today, yelled at the kids and grounded them to their rooms, and have been declared as "The meanest mom ever", enjoy this video!

What Kids Really Think of Mom

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies

I came across a blog that had gluten free peanut butter cookies and she raved so much about them, I had to try them.  Afterall, I'm so stuck on chocolate chip cookies, it's about time I try something new.  They are fantastic cookies and both my girls liked them.  The true test will be what my hubby says about them!  Alex Thomopolous is a food blogger and a professional chef.  Pay her a visit and check out her other fancy and easy recipes.  A little shout out is the least I can to support other bloggers when they give me good ideas.

What you need:
1 c. smooth peanut butter (I prefer natural peanut butter for a better, healthier cookie)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 egg at room temperature
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract

What to do:
Mix all ingredients in a bowl until smooth.  (I used electric hand mixer, or a whisk will do, too)

Roll dough into balls, about a tablespoon size and place on greased cookie sheet.

350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

After 10 minutes, my cookies were still in balls so I took the good ol' fashioned fork and gently pushed each cookie down to get those fun criss-cross marks that peanut butter cookies are so famous for.  Then I continued baking for another 4-5 minutes.

Take cookies out and let cool on baking sheet for 3-5 minutes.  Then gently transfer the cookies to parchment paper or a cooling rack.  Let sit for 10 minutes and they will become a bit crispier.  Trust me, wait the 10 minutes.  They aren't quite as good until they've been cooled to a firmer cookie.


Gluten Free Basic Biscuits

These biscuits are fantastic!  I've tried several other gluten free biscuit recipes and none compares to this one.  At least these didn't come out looking like cookies... uh.. yeah.  True story!

Try adding Parmesan cheese, Italian seasonings or cinnamon to change it up for something new.

Now, this recipe said to flatten the biscuits to 3/4" thickness, which I did.  I don't think it was necessary, although you may have to increase baking time if you leave them high mounds.  I will try that next time.  I also added the Parmesan cheese and parsley.

This recipe calls for almond flour/meal and golden flaxseeds, which are very healthy ingredients.  They have 8g of protein, 9g carbs, 18g fat and 6g fiber.  200+ calories per biscuits.  Yikes!  However, they are a FAR cry from the Red Lobster biscuits so at least you're getting fiber, low carbs and protein out of these babies!

AND!  My kids liked them too.  What more could you ask for?  Try these biscuits with the Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup recipe.  Excellent accompaniment!

What you need:
1 c. almond meal/flour
1 c. golden flaxseeds
3 tsp. baking powder
4 TB cold butter, cut into cubes
4 egg whites

What to do:
Mix almond flour, flaxseeds and baking powder (and Parmesan cheese if using).

Cut in butter until well blended.  Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.

Gently fold in egg whites into flour mixture until well blended.

Spoon dough on a baking sheet and flatten to 3/4" thickness.  Bake 350 degrees for 15 minutes until golden brown.

Makes approximately 9 biscuits.

Recipe from Wheat Belly Cookbook by William Davis, MD.

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup - Gluten Free

What's for dinner?  You've got to try this soup! It's filling and very easy to make.  Again, as most of my gluten free recipes I try out, I have my doubts.  I always worry my kids won't eat what I make and I'll hear complaining all through dinner.  As always to my surprise, it turned out fabulous and my kids liked it too!

This recipe calls for Wild Rice, which is a very healthy grain.  It doesn't raise your insulin level and give you a big energy drop like regular rice would.  It's low in carbs (21g), high in protein (27g) and it's only 300 calories!  This soup is fantastic with the gluten free basic biscuits recipe.

What you need:
6 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. wild rice
1 lb. boneless, chicken breast, cubed
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 + tsp lemon-pepper seasoning
2 medium heads of broccoli, cut very small pieces
2 c. half-and-half
Salt and pepper to taste

What to do:
In a large pot, bring the broth to a boil and add the wild rice.  Cover and cook medium-low heat for 20 minutes.

Add chicken, carrots, onion, celery, lemon-pepper seasoning, salt and pepper.  Cook covered for 15 minutes.

Add broccoli and cook for another 5 minutes or until broccoli and rice are tender.

Gradually stir in half-and-half, stirring constantly for 5 minutes until heated through.

Serves 6

Recipe from Wheat Belly Cookbook by William Davis, MD.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Monday, October 14, 2013

Gluten Free Mozzarella Sticks

I'm linking up with Frugal by Choice, Cheap by Necessity for Homemade Monday.

So I've been enthralled by this new book I tripped over at the library, The Wheat Belly Cookbook, by William Davis, M.D.  More posts about what I've been learning about wheat later!  But one of the recipes I found in this book is Gluten Free Mozzarella Sticks.  Oh yum!

I have to admit these little sticks looked a bit leery to me.  My kids kept asking if we were having sausages for dinner.  Then I got nervous.  They weren't going to eat these!  But I trudged on.


2 TB arrowroot (which I didn't have so I substituted 2 TB of cornstarch)
2 eggs
3/4 c. golden flaxseed meal (which I didn't have so I substituted ground flaxseeds)
1/4 c. grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1/2 tsp. crushed basil
12 string cheese sticks
6 TB coconut oil
1c. warm marinara sauce (I used plain spaghetti sauce)
In one bowl, mix the arrowroot or cornstarch, flaxseed, cheese and basil. Set aside.
In another bowl, beat eggs.
I cut the string cheese sticks in half to work with easier but this your option.
Coat cheese in egg and roll in flaxseed mixture and repeat.
Continue for all the sticks and place on a plate or baking sheet.
Freeze for 30 minutes.
Heat coconut oil in skillet over medium heat.  Cook 3-6 sticks in the oil for 1 minute or until golden brown and sticks start to become soft.  Place cooked cheese sticks on a paper towel lined plate.  Serve with marinara sauce.  Enjoy!
I was really surprised how good these things were!  My kids loved them.  What's so great about them?  No flour, flaxseed is good for you and they were cooked in coconut oil, which is also good for you.  Now you have a good excuse to have fried mozzarella sticks for dinner and not feel guilty!!!

Flower Pens - Great Teacher Gift

My daughter wanted to give her preschool teachers a gift last year for Teacher Appreciation Week.  I loved these pens so much, I made some of my own and they stayed in a vase on my kitchen table all summer long.  They are super easy and super cheap if you find the flowers on clearance.

I bought a package of pens for around $2.  I already had florist tape so I'm not sure how much that is.  I found a vase for .79 cents and a bag of pretty stones for around $2.  I split this bag of stones between three vases.  Each vase got 3 pens and her lead teacher got 4 pens.  I found the flowers at Walmart for .50 cents a piece.  So I spent around $12 to make 3 gifts.

To help the bulkiness of the pen, I used wire cutters to strip the green plastic off the flower stem to expose a thin wire.  I used the florist tape to tape the thin wire to the pen. 

I took brown construction paper and lightly crumbled it into the bottom of the vases.  Then I divided the stones.  This helped fill the vase, made it look more like dirt and helped the pens stay in place and not get broken on the stones.  This wouldn't be needed if you use a small flower pot.


Other variations: Use a small pot instead of a vase and glue ribbon around the vase to make it more colorful. Use aquarium stones, rice or sand. Add a small hand trowel with the flowers and tie a ribbon around the handle.
Then, simply add a note:
"A teacher's like a gardener
And this is so you'll know
We surely do appreciate
How you helped the children grow"


Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have tried many different variations of gluten free chocolate chip cookie recipes and none compares to my mother's recipe.  All I do is substitute the flour for King Arthur All Purpose flour.  It has a bit of a gritty texture but it's so much better compared to the Bob's Redmill brand.  That's just my opinion.  Either flour works just fine.  I've included the regular recipe along with the gluten free recipe.  Keep in mind, using regular flour does not make these cookies gluten free.

What you need:

3 eggs
3/4 c. sugar (this can be cut down by preference)
1 1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
1 c. shortening
1/2 c. stick butter
1 1/2 c. shortening (as much as shortening is bad for you, I'd hate to say it, but using this option makes these cookies a heck of a lot better than using butter!  If you don't mind a flatter, crisper cookie, go for the butter.  The taste is fantastic!)

Beat these ingredients to death until soft and fluffy.  While mixing, add the following ingredients in a smaller bowl:

3 1/2 c. King Arthur All Purpose Flour
1 c. Tapioca Flour/Starch
4 1/2 c. King Arthur All Purpose Flour (your cookies will be a bit more grittier) or regular flour
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
1 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda

Mix dry ingredients together well.

Slowly add dry ingredients to mixing bowl.  Beat well.
1 1/2 - 2 tsp. vanilla
1 large package of chocolate chips (16 oz.) 
1 TB water
1c. nuts (optional)

Mix well.

Using gluten free flour, chill dough for about half an hour before baking.  No need to chill if using regular flour.

350 degrees for 13-15 minutes using Gluten Free flour or 11 minutes using regular flour.


Greased 11x17 pan 375 degrees for 20 minutes, cut into squares.  I have not tested this option with gluten free flour.

Do not double this recipe!

Bacon Wrapped Vegetable Stuffed Chicken Breasts

I'm not the best at taking pictures while cooking, so my recipe blogs may be a bit boring.  But I came across this recipe when I was watching the Weather Channel one Sunday morning.  It made my mouth water just looking at it.  This recipe is so easy that it's not going to come as a traditional recipe style.  So here goes....

What you need:
Chicken breasts
Pepper Jack cheese, shredded
All kinds of finely diced colorful vegetables: red/green peppers, mushrooms, shredded carrots, tomatoes, yellow/green zucchini or squash, etc.
Salt & Pepper, any other spices you desire
Thick style bacon
Toothpicks soaked in water for at least 15 minutes

What to do:

Preheat grill

Lay cling wrap on top and bottom of  chicken breasts.  Pound breasts thinly.
Place cheese and vegetables on center of breasts.
Wrap breasts as tight as possible.
Wrap bacon around breasts.  It took 3 or 4 per breast, mostly to hold the vegetables inside.
Use toothpicks to keep breasts wrapped tightly.

Grill the stuffed chicken breasts on indirect medium heat until 165 degrees internal temperature.  If you're afraid of grease flare ups, you can precook the bacon in a skillet until it's flimsy to drain grease before wrapping around the chicken breasts.

Once done, cover breasts lightly with foil and let sit for about five minutes to let all the juices flow together. 

Add some grilled corn on the cob, grilled zucchini and you've got yourself an amazing dinner!  Who says gluten free meals have to taste icky? 

Cocoa and Coffee Facials

Caught your attention, didn't I?  Is there anything better that go together like coffee, chocolate and a facial?  I love trying new recipes, new ideas and products. This crazy idea of mine was inspired by my 8-year-old daughter and her friend when they had a sleepover the other night.  They wanted to do facials and since I didn't have any store-bought facial stuff, I had to look up recipes that would be good for young skin.  You can read the story here.  So as I was looking up recipes, I found one that cocoa and coffee were the main ingredients.  Caught my attention, too.  Of course, I had to try this when my husband wasn't around.

So, cocoa is actually good for your skin.  The recipe I found said to use unsweetened cocoa but doesn't specifically mention to use dark cocoa.  I've read articles that it has to be real, dark chocolate because milk chocolate is not the same.  Dark chocolate smooths and hydrates the skin and because it contains antioxidants, it helps with sun sensitivity, too.  Milk chocolate doesn't.  Sorry if you're a milk chocolate fan.

Coffee, glorious coffee, takes away puffiness and brightens the skin (hello, caffeine!).  Need I say more?

I will say that this facial mask smells divine!  It really should be used in the mornings.  What better way to start the day with a coffee aroma on your face and chocolate?????  Hello!

Coffee & Cocoa Facial Mask

4 TB finely ground coffee or espresso (instant will work too)
4 TB unsweetened cocoa powder (I recommend the dark chocolate powder)
8 TB dairy product (whole milk, unflavored yogurt, almond or soy milk or heavy cream)
2 TB honey if you have dry skin or lemon juice if you have oily skin.

Mix coffee and cocoa together.
Add dairy product.  I only used 6 TB of almond milk.  I would only use 5 TB next time for a bit thicker consistency.
Mix well.
Add 2 TB of honey or lemon juice
Mix well.
Apply and let dry.  Then wash off with warm water or wash cloth.

This recipe makes a lot!  You can easily half this recipe or invite a few friends over to try together.  You can refrigerate for a few days.

I was surprised that this mask dried just like a regular facial mask.  It felt amazing and felt cooling on my skin.    Be gentle when applying on face.  The coffee grinds act like an exfoliant.  I used some on my hands as well!

This picture just proves that I can have a sense of humor about myself.  I had to talk myself several times into doing this.....

Now, I know what you're thinking.  I thought it too AFTER I applied the mask and thought, oh crap!  What have I done????  Chocolate and coffee are very staining substances! No need to worry.  It didn't stain at all....

I never post photos of me unless I've Photoshopped them.  Yeah, it's a sickness of mine.  I wish I could permanently Photoshop my face for real.  Here's a picture of me before and after this facial.

You really can't tell a difference in the pictures.  After I used this mask, my skin looked brighter and my hideous acne scars were lessened.  My skin felt smoother and I smelled really good!  :)  Even the pouches under my eyes were almost gone.

I guess the real test will be what my skin will look like in the morning.  If you try this, let me know what you think!


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Wordless Wednesday 10/9/13

Welcome to Wordless Wednesday!
Photos of Downtown Columbus, Ohio

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Monday, October 7, 2013

Catching Up

So it's been a fantastic summer!  Not hot enough in my book.  We had a couple weeks of 90 degree weather but it didn't last long enough for me.  I've stuck with my gluten free diet for six months now and lost 30 pounds!  Here's a picture of me one year ago:
and here's me now:

I haven't felt better in years!  I have recently eaten foods with gluten in them, such as pizza and they no longer make me sick; however, they do make me break out really bad if I eat too much in one day.  So my goal is to only eat those types of food very rarely and very little of it.  Gluten also makes me feel very sluggish and moody so that's another reason to avoid the stuff.

It has helped that we've been non-stop all summer.  I love being busy!  The girls and I went to Girl Scout Summer camp.  Of course, the week we were there was the one of the two weeks we had 90 degree weather and terrible storms.  It stormed three out of the 5 days of camp but it didn't matter.  We still had a great time.

We went to Cook's Forest in Pennsylvania right after camp.  I haven't been there since I was a kid and I think it got more beautiful since.  It's quiet.... beautiful.... well, I guess I can't explain just how great being outdoors in the woods is to me!

I actually made it all the way through summer before I started counting down the days until school started.  I really didn't want school to start.  I was enjoying the carefree days of summer, but a couple weeks before school started, the girls started arguing and fighting a lot more.  Enough said about that.

Then the most amazing thing happened.  I became a Grandma, again!  Yes, I said Grandma.  Camden Charles was born on September 14, 2013, one day before Jeff's and my 12th wedding anniversary.

I get to babysit Adyson and Camden when my daughter-in-law goes back to work.  I'm so excited about it.  In the meantime, I'm enjoying the quiet mornings when both my girls are in school.  I'm trying to get things done while I'm kidless in the mornings but I just can't seem to stop being busy long enough to get stuff done.  Not too much of a problem to me. 

Since school started, I became my daughters' Girl Scout troop leader.  I absolutely love it!  We have 9 Juniors and 5 Daisies.  I knew it was going to take a lot of my time, but I had no idea it was going to suck up ALL my free time.  But I don't mind, really.  It's still the beginning of the year and both my co-leader and I are new at this. I do have tons of pictures of their bridging ceremony but they are on my big camera, and if I get that out now to upload the pictures, this post will never get done. 

I'm impressed I've gotten this far on this post in one day.

Ellen turned 6 on the 29th, along with Adyson, my granddaughter.  They are lucky enough to share a birthday.  This year, Ellen got a big party since she's in kindergarten.  Her birthday party was at Sweet and Sassy and it was the girliest girly girl party of the year!

 So that's my summer in a nutshell.  It was a fantastic summer!

So tell me, how was your summer?