Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Food and Music Connection

When I made the tuna tortilla's the other day as I was eating a song popped into my head. Not just the words to the song but the actual song, music playing and Fred Astaire singing "I'm in Heaven." I may be an old chronie but I'm not THAT old, what the heck is Fred Astaire doing in my head!

Well tonight I have found the dark side of this musical food connection. I opened the wrong drawer in the kitchen looking for something. I opened the "snack drawer" and saw a bag of pretzels. The song popping into my head when I saw them "Beth" by Kiss but the words are jumbled and warped. "Can't you hear me calling, I'll be right home to you, can't you hear them calling, oh what can you do, oh what can you do." "Just a few more hours and I'll be right home to you, You say you feel so empty, oh what can you do" Not only did it pop into my head but it is following me around the house reminding me of the gluteny goodness, tempting me to take just one bite.

Yea, I've lost it. :)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Product Review 'Cause You're Special Gluten Free Moist Lemon Cake Mix

Blogger has the hiccups. All my photos are currently missing, and I can't upload any either. It helps me feel a little less guilty that I didn't take any photos for this review.

I love lemon cakes and pies in the spring. I found the 'Cause You're Special! GF moist lemon cake mix at my local grocer and thought I would give it a try. The first thing to note right away is that the mix calls for 1/2 cup softened butter so be sure to set your butter out long enough for it to soften prior to mixing.

I baked my cake in a 9" round cake pan and set the timer for 25 minutes. The directions say to bake for 25 - 35 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. So at 25 minutes I checked my cake. It was turning sort of golden brown around the edges, still pale and a little wobbly in the center. I did the toothpick check and it looked clean, but the wobbliness really bothered me. I did the toothpick again and this time fan my fingers down the toothpick, and they came away wet so even though nothing was visible on the toothpick the wetness indicated to me that it was not done yet. Back in and set the timer for another 10 minutes.

This time when the timer went off the cake was a  lovely golden brown through the whole top. The cake had risen more and had a lovely dome to it. The toothpick came out clean and not damp, so I took the cake out and set it on the counter to cool. As the cake cooled that lovely dome deflated leaving an inverted wrinkled top behind.

Eaten warm the cake had a lovely light lemon flavor and a cake like texture with just a hint of the GF graininess. The top and sides had a bit of a baked sugar crispness that I really liked, however that was lost overnight as the cake cooled.

The next day the cake had transformed. The top had become moist and sticky, and the middle had become an almost thick pudding like texture. Not unpleasant, and I sort of like that kind of texture in lemon, but it's no longer cake like.

I topped my pudding cake with a lemon butter cream frosting:

2 cups confectioners' sugar

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 tablespoons milk
I think it would have been a better frosting choice had the cake stayed like cake, and not like cake custard. I didn't frost the cake until the next morning but I had premade the frosting and didn't want to toss it. Maybe this lemon filling would have made a better toping for this type of cake.
1-1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

3 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons white sugar

2 egg yolks, beaten
My final opinion - if your looking for a light fluffy cake this is not it, unless you eat it straight from the oven. Looking for a more custard lemon desert this could fit the bill. Because of the fall it's not a pretty desert on it's own so it needs to be topped with something if you want it to look good, but the flavor is good and the texture isn't bad considering it's GF.

Friday, March 26, 2010

I'm GF But I'm Not Starving

Day 5 of being Gluten Free.

Last night I sat down and had dinner with the whole family. To be honest my families meals have sort of fallen by the wayside as I try to figure out how to cook for myself. Dinner was Crispy Rosemary Chicken and Fries from allrecipies.com. Yes I know that I hang out on allrecipies.com way to much but there is just so much there and the community is fantastic.

The meal went as expected with K and I eating everything, Maddie eating the chicken and veggies, and Chloe eating just the chicken. She will normally eat potatoes but these had skins, and we all know how gross that is. :)

It was a good whole family GF meal, even if it was a bit on the greasy side. It did photograph beautifully.

What I'm really, really excited about though, LUNCH! Lunch was fanfrickentastic! It was inspired by a allrecipies recipe of course called Tuna Lime Tostadas, but I turned it into something mostly my own.

1st I mixed all my ingredients. The original recipe made 8 servings and I'm just cooking for myself so I have to apologize that I don't measure, but I do taste a lot. :) I started with one can of tuna, several teaspoons of tostitos salsa - which is GF BTW, some chopped black olives and some chopped mushrooms. The original recipe calls for corn, but my guts are not up for corn yet, hence the olives and mushrooms taking it's place. I put all of this into a bowl and mixed it up. In a separate bowl I mixed up avocado, lime juice and garlic powder.

Then I used my GF tortilla's. I heated some oil in a skillet until it was good and hot, then dropped that baby in. The sizzle, the smell, the burning....... note here, do not walk away from your frying tortilla. :) I had realized I didn't season my tuna so walked away from my 1st tortilla and added the lime, a bit of cilantro, a dash of Old Bay, and just a pinch of fresh ground pepper. Then I went back to the stove and removed my burning tortilla, got out a new frying pan because the oil would have burned taste to it, put on a new pan, added more oil and started over.

This time I stayed right at the stove flipping and caring for my frying tortilla, while nibbling the small amount of unburned edges from the 1st try as this one became golden and crispy.

Once your tortilla reaches that beautiful golden brown crispyness remove it from the pan. You can pat the oil off with a paper towel if you wish, or just eat that too - it's what I did. I didn't see the paper towels anywhere and I wanted to eat!

Now top your beautiful golden creation with your tuna mix and top that with your avocado mix, then pick it up like a piece of pizza and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

All wrapped up

Let me give you a little tip about store bought pre made GF tortilla's - DON'T BUY THEM!!! Imagine taking a piece of cardboard, crossing it with Styrofoam and then try and wrap it around food. Not only so they crack and break all over but they taste like a cross between cardboard and Styrofoam also!

So I asked around to see if someone could tell me of a better brand, one lady told me "They all taste like that, don't worry you'll get used to it."

Oh no I won't!

Because I found the best GF tortilla recipe on the net! They were made by Mary Frances over at The Gluten Free Cooking School and they are awesome! HERE is her recipe.

And here are my beautiful, lovely, delicious tortilla's.

Now there is something I should tell you about these tortilla's other then the fact that they are fantastic almost normal food. They are a grand PITA to roll out, and not pita as in the bread but as in Pain In The....Well you get the idea. :) Time for another photo.

It's sticky, sticky, sticky. Did I mention that it was sticky? Mary Frances says that you use a LOT of flour, but then some of her reader complained about the texture of the rice flower, some said they still stuck. One said they used wax paper and cooking spray and that they popped right off into the pan. That's the method we tried. However they did not just pop off, and if you rolled them to thin they stuck to both sides of the paper and the dough was wasted. So I rolled them a little thicker, and they stuck a little but we got through it. It did give me only 5 tortillas that way though not 8.

Now I have to confess even though they are a huge pain to make I will be making them again, because they are just so darn worth it! One of Mary France's readers suggested a tortilla press and maybe I'll have to try one of those. Target has them for $17, definitely worth it if I'm going to be making as many of these as I think I will now that I have more then just lettuce to wrap my sandwich ingredients in.

ETA I have to add that both my girls loved these, and kept sneaking bites off my uneven edges. They both pouted when I made them wraps with the regular, real flour tortilla's because they wanted mine instead. They are just that good.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Winding Road

Dear Readers,

Today I almost deleted my entire blog to start over. I actually did delete some of it. Not that there is much to it yet, or even any readers to care at this point, but before it was all gone I decided what was left could stay. Why would I want to delete it in the first place you ask? Because dear readers I have made my decision as to what this blog is going to be. I should have known it from the start, it's in the title already.

It's going to be a true diary of a Chronie, a record of the paths I take on my search for wellness, and this weekend the paths forked, and a decision was made. I have decided to stop bucking the trend setters, bite the bullet and try the "fad" cure all of cure all diets. GLUTEN FREE My taste buds weep at the thought.

It's not an over night cure but one that could take weeks, even months to see any change. I may not see any changes, but I won't know until I try. The meds have not worked, even steroids don't stop my symptoms. Why? Maybe something else is wrong, something else helping to cause all these problems and keep the symptoms going. If not an allergy to wheat that can show up on a test, maybe a sensitivity to it? At this point it sure won't hurt to try - won't hurt my gut that is, the rest of me isn't to happy about the idea of giving up our favorite foods.

I'm actually on day 2 of no gluten. Last nights dinner. Spaghetti Squash 1 from allrecipies.com. I have to say it was pretty tasty, but not my favorite meal by a long shot. As my taste buds detox though I can see this becoming a more of a favorite.

I actually woke up today, only on day 2 irritable and cranky and ready to already pitch this diet in the trash. Then I realized I was starving! But oh the hard work I had to do before I could eat. No more dumping a bunch of grains into a bowl and slopping on the milk. No I had to get up and carve the cantaloupe, destem the strawberries, pluck the grapes and make the orange juice. Take note dear readers and lean from my mistakes, do this at night and save yourselves some morning grumbling and the temptation to cheat.
Even my Chloe would eat all the colors of this rainbow. Which reminds me. I'm the only one that ate the squash last night, no one else would even try it.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

All the colors of the Rainbow

These are the words Chloe has learned in school about diet and nutrition. Of course she refuses to listen and still eats mostly beige, however on a recent trip to the grocery store I found the most beautiful color of purple. In a sweet potato no less, something I have been trying to get her to eat for sometime - remember the sweet potato burrito flop.

Remembering the candied sweet potato recipe from all recipes I decided to purchase a few of these and give it one more try. The sugary sweet concoction boiled up leaving my house smelling of the goodness cooking. Chloe caught me red handed with the potatoes and knew what they were, but when she saw their beautiful dark color even she said she would "give it a try."

I would love to report that the surgery goodness won her sweet potato hating heart over, but as I announced Deeeeelicious! I was echoed by Deeeesgusting! I would give you the rest of the families ratings, but at the time only Chloe and I were home, and I ate the whole thing! In my defense I did reduce the recipe to only 1 serving.

Now here's where the Crohnie part of this blog rears it's ugly head. Sweet potato's cause gas. I'm sorry it's true, I googled it and confirmed what my poor bloated tummy is telling me on wikpedia. What's the big deal? Well for starters active Crohnies can't pass gas, at least not without sitting on a toilet because it never comes out alone. We may be able to clear out a public bathroom with our stink, but if your smelling it in the car it definitely wasn't us.

Also if your in a flare most likely your bowel walls are swollen making it harder for the air to travel where it needs to go to escape, giving you that lovely bloated feeling. This always hits me in bed. Every time I try and sleep I wake up with the urge to go to the bathroom. This is where the term explosive diarrhea comes in, then back to bed. As soon as I lay down the gargling starts as the air now shifts and it's back to the bathroom. This happens three or four times before I can actually stay in bed and try and sleep again, only to be woken about 20 minutes later to start it all over again.

So good bye my lovely sweet potato, and hello GasX  that K will soon be bringing home. I hope it works because I love sweet potatoes and know myself well enough to know I may cheat, or even forget enough to try them again at the next holiday gathering.

I really wish I knew how to plate food, this photo makes my purple potatoes look like a dark blob of a mess. I know someone with more food designer know how could make them look beautiful, but for me they just look a little like how they made me feel.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Eat Your Spinach

This is a dish I found on allrecipies.com last winter. The first time we had it the kids asked "what's that green stuff?" I told them it was spices. :) After the cleaned their plates and asked for 2nds I told them what it was, and they still loved it. I don't have photos this time around. I actually made it a little ahead and had K throw it in the oven, I was photographing one cute baby at the time. :)

Here's the link, make it and enjoy watching your kids eat their spinach.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Welcome Home

My girls come home on the bus together but that doesn't mean the get home at the same time. The bus drops them off at the end of the road. Maddie, my overactive leggy child runs the whole way. Chloe the one who also carries the nick name "Queen of doddleville" comes in nearly 8 minutes later. This is why yesterday I got two exclamations as they walked in the door, not together but nearly the same. "yummy, what's for dinner!" There's something in Mexican cooking that just fills the house with good smells.

So I broke down and made the family favorite.

Beef and Rice Enchilada's

1 pound beef

1/2 package taco seasoning

1 box old el paso Spanish rice mix

2 10 oz cans enchilada sauce

1 can refried beans

10 8in flower tortillas warmed

4 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Prepare rice mix according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet cook beef with taco seasoning over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in Spanish rice and 1 can enchilada sauce and one refried beans.

Spoon about 2/3 cup beef mixture down the center of each tortilla. Top each with 1/3 cup cheese; roll up.

Place in an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Top with the remaining enchilada sauce and cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 8-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Chron's rule number one, don't take your steroids before bed.

After a restless nights sleep I woke up at 6 am to get the kids off to school, only to find out 10 minutes before the bus was to arrive that school was two hours late due to an electrical outage. No sneaking back to bed for me. I also missed my blood work appointment. It's a walk in appointment but only runs from 8:00 to 9:30. I'll have to go tomorrow instead, another day of not being able to sneak back to bed after the kids are gone to school.

On the bright side the UPS man came today and brought me something I have been waiting for. New backdrops!!! So I grabbed my two favorite models and tortured them just a bit. I'm working on a new kids theme session. I want it to have a vintage feel to it showing the relationship between kids and their pets. Here's a couple of ideas that Chloe and Daisy worked out with me.
I have one more thing coming in the mail for this set and then I think it will be ready - to torture Chloe and Daisy again. :) I'm waiting until the end of the month to announce this on my website and open it up for clients. Then I will have taken my last loading dose of cimzia and I'll know if I can handle doing this. I run each of my theme sets one Fri and Sat a year. Theme sets book on average 20 kids and with this it will also be pets. That's going to take a lot of energy. More energy then I have right now, but I'm hoping to run it this summer if the meds take.

Speaking of energy I was hoping these healthy power boosters would be a new addition to our food repertoire. Once again I was left with a no hitter. On the menu Addictive Sweet Potato Burritos. I love sweet potatoes but the kids, not so much. I nearly had them fooled though that these were just "bean burritos" but after a few bites both kids said they "tasted funky". K said they were edible but not something I needed to make again. Then they all made me promise to make enchiladas next week - K actually said he will be needing 4 because his buddy at work will be taking two. Normally I take the extra enchilada's over to my parents, I guess this time I'm going to have to keep them a secret.

Tonight's dinner hit it out of the ball park though. The whole family cleaned their plates of the main course. I also had extra sweet potatoes so I made mashed sweet potatoes with brown sugar and Cinnamon along with California mixed veggies. I'm the only one that ate the sweet potatoes. Chloe said I overcooked the veggies, and I did I just didn't think she would care so much. Raw veggies and active Crohn's is not a good match, so if I want to eat them they need to be pretty soft. I guess I'll be steaming them from now on, I already love my veggies so however the princess wants her veggies she will get them. Now for the star of the show:

Sweet and Sour Pork Chops I found this recipe over at taistofhome.com. The best part is, you can make them in the crock pot. I love slow cooker meals. Not only can I just throw it in and forget about it. Then there are days like today when I actually forget - so it went in frozen hard as a rock. I finished the rest of the recipe about an hour later when I could pull the pork chops apart. I never said I was a good cook - only that I liked to cook. :)
Sweet 'n' Sour Pork Chops Recipe


1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, undrained
1 cup honey barbecue sauce - I used Sweet Baby Rays Honey BBQ
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons chili sauce - we skipped this because the BBQ made it plenty spicy for me and the kids
4 bone-in pork loin chops (3/4 inch thick and 8 ounces each)

In a small bowl, combine the pineapple, barbecue sauce, onion and chili sauce. Pour half into a greased 3-qt. slow cooker. Top with pork chops and remaining sauce. Cover and cook on low for 4-1/4 to 5-1/4 hours or until meat is tender. Yield: 4 servings.

Monday, March 1, 2010

I'm feeling blue

and not just from last nights blue cheese flop. OK it wasn't really a flop, everything turned out the way it was supposed to but I was told I never need to try another blue cheese recipe again. Not all was lost though. I like the idea of cheese stuffed burgers, so this summer I'm going to try a smoked cheddar with bacon bits stuffed burger. mmmmmmmm That sounds like more my family's sort of meal. However if you are a blue cheese fan I recommend you hop on over to Pinch of Salt and give her recipes a try. Also she has photos, even in process photos, and her burgers and peaches look much prettier then mine did.

I'm blue because my babies have to go to school an extra 30 minutes everyday until spring break due to all the snow days this winter. We live in the boonies and my kids are the first ones on the bus and the last ones off. They don't get home until after 4:30! I look forward to my kids getting home each day and it makes me a little sad that I get to spend less time with them. Then there is poor Daisy.

Daisy is the pillow in this photo. Chloe is HER kid. She hates it when Chloe comes home late. You should see her on the days Chloe has piano lessons. Pacing the floor in front of the door crying like a baby. Walking in circles, checking Chloe's room, sniffing at Maddie and crying at her as if to be sure she is the wrong kid and ask her what she did to her sister. It makes Maddie crazy. It's the only day of the week the child does her homework in her room instead of the kitchen table.
Tonight's dinner:

I followed her recipe almost exactly with only a minor variation. I doubled up the sour cream and heavy cream and added about a TSP and 1/2 of corn starch to thicken it up a bit. I was serving this over noodles and the sauce was very runny and not much there, and I wanted to be sure I had enough. I also wanted it to stick like gravy and not run like soup, just my personal preference though.

K was a little confused and thought it should taste like fried chicken, beings you fry it a bit. He doesn't understand searing meet to hold the juices in yet. Otherwise he said it was fantastic and he loved the sauce, mushroom, onion part of it. Oh yea, I left the onions like rings instead of chopping fine. K likes then that way and they were so very good I could have picked every onion out of the pan and eaten them all myself. Maddie who normally loves mushrooms wouldn't even try the sauce - we're having one of those "everything you say is wrong" preteen weeks. Chloe never eats mushrooms. So the kids loved the chicken and the veggie noodles but wouldn't touch the sauce. I loved it but like I said my favorite part was the onions. They had their own onion flavor and held some of the flavor of the mushrooms they were sauteed with, then covered in that sauce made from sour cream. mmmmmm I think I just want to make a whole plate of onions this way. :)

Then because I was feeling a little guilty that I didn't get dinner timed right. It was done before the kids got home, and K and I ate by ourselves, not waiting for the kids. I made Autum Apple Salad because Chloe has been bugging me to make it since I bought the dried cherries. I got the recipe over at cheep, healthy, good but beings I don't have a middle eastern market it wasn't so cheep for me, but healthy and good - you bet!

I don't really watch my calories when I cook. I need the weight and so do the kids, K on the other hand, not so much. Beings he blames me for his bulging middle I have decided to try and give him some healthy options to take to work with him, and this salad fit the bill. He took a huge helping to work, moderation is not his strong point.