Thursday, December 6, 2012

Gluten-Free Stuffing for Thanksgiving

When our family had to go gluten-free this year, there was a lot of sadness over the fact we would never eat this and that again. EVER. Like Pizza Hut pizza or Applebee's boneless chicken wings. And then other things begin to set in like realizing, wait, stuffing for Thanksgiving!

I usually tear up fresh hamburger buns for my stuffing, but this year that was not an option. Because there was so much going on at the time, I have to admit I almost just didn’t attempt it. But it was important to my boys.

So, without having any idea what in the world I was going to do, I made up two loaves of gluten free sandwich bread, and cut them into slices. I cut those into strips and then half inch cubes. I dried the cubes in the oven for a few hours, probably longer than I needed to because they came out pretty set. But, maybe that helped keep them from getting mushy in the end which is what I envisioned gluten-free bread doing. Here is what they looked liked before I mixed in the liquids.

gluten-free stuffing cubes

Jack sautéed onions and I readied chicken broth and melted butter. I mixed all of it together, the bread cubes with salt and poultry seasoning, the onions and the liquids, and baked it up and it was so tasty! A lot like really good Stove Top Stuffing. Actually, they all liked it better than what I’d made before and they loved that. Even Molly who never eats stuffing loved it. So I was pretty darn pleased. Smile Here it is before it was baked.

gluten-free stuffing

Just a side note. I used Sweet White Rice flour to thicken my turkey gravy and it was wonderful. Who needs real flour?! Winking smile

Little Gluten-Free Baking Victories

I have had lots of little victories lately in the realm of gluten-free baking which is good because I was feeling kind of defeated. Let’s hope I can remember what they were! Open-mouthed smile

cavedbread

This picture is a partial victory. Winking smile I mentioned a gluten-free sandwich bread awhile back, the one with flax seed, and I have made it numerous times since. After trying lots of gluten-free bread recipes, it is the most like regular bread that I have ever baked and even toasts up great! It really is just wonderful though the Golden Flaxseed Meal taste is strong to me and sometimes I halve that ingredient with something else like Whole Grain Rolled Oats. I think it will be one of my main recipes, but I’m still having trouble with it. For some reason, after baking, it caves in to the point the bread has an hour-glass figure. It really cuts into the bread content then, especially when it sucks in on the bottom too as you can possibly see above. So odd and frustrating. Time after time, loaf after loaf, no matter how I adjust baking time hoping to make it firm up enough to hold. I’ve read some comments on the recipe page though, and I’ll do some more experimenting. Hopefully it might be as easy as finding I might be raising it too long.

I made Gluten Free Waffles into pancakes while Jacob was still home, and he loved them! Next time I’ll make them as waffles. It is a fantastic recipe.

I tried Gluten Free French Bread, only once and can’t remember details to tell, but I was pretty impressed. Enough to promptly order a French Bread Pan and the crust was crusty!! If you are gluten-free, you know how much we miss crusty. Winking smile

There were other victories, but perhaps this was the most satisfying. When Jacob came home for his surgery and Thanksgiving, stuffing was at the top of his wish-list. It is one of the things my boys have always loved about our Thanksgiving dinner, so it was important to me to try and re-create it this year when so many things have been changing. It was a huge success, and I’ll write about it in a separate post. Smile

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Feeling So Thankful

Before I get down to some practical posts regarding some gluten-free cooking and baking I’ve done recently, I wanted to write about two things that have made my heart lighter and for which I am so thankful. My son, Jacob, had a tumor removed from his shoulder blade and his follow-up appointment confirmed the tumor was benign. I can heartily say, “…good news gives health to the bones.” Proverbs 15:30 I was so relieved as the whole process from initial doctor visit and CT scan to surgery took so long to coordinate because Jacob is away at school. It really took a toll on my nerves, but you know how “all things work together for good,” Romans 8:28, and it took me through a journey I’d not been on before and I learned through it. Further, Jacob is recovering well, and in the end, we were terribly blessed by having him home for a long visit, two and a half weeks. We hadn’t seen him since August so it was a wonderful time. We capped the visit off by seeing Red Dawn and spending our last day quietly at home drinking hot drinks and decorating the Christmas tree, Jacob reading for class, baking, and watching Everybody Loves Raymond.

My other stupendous news is that my dog, Barley, does not have cancer! I was so shocked by the news, I cried. We took him to the vet the very day we discovered he had a sizable lump low on his side, and what she saw on the slide led her to believe it was an aggressive cancer. We opted to send the sample for testing and found out it was instead Blastomycosis, a horrible and often fatal infection with symptoms like sudden & permanent blindness. Early detection is crucial, and we realize now how small our window of detection really was. Barley’s lump began to go away within a day or two, and if we had never noticed it initially, we would never have known. By the time we did, it would likely have been too late. He is on medication for three months. When we thought he had cancer we decided to switch him over to a completely raw diet. Let me tell you he is loving that! He suffered badly from allergies, and I think this is helping him with that and also he is losing weight that he needed to lose. Win, win! Smile

Friday, November 9, 2012

Adapting to This Gluten-free Life

Oh boy. Life certainly is a journey. I’ve wanted to chronicle this new kind of life we’ve been living, share along the way things we’ve found that help, but honestly, it takes a lot of time and mental energy and though it has been three months already, sometimes I still don’t have the hang of it. I try to focus on what we CAN eat, and I’m kind of good as long as I can still drink my lemon tea with vanilla creamer, Winking smile but there are times when the reality of it just stinks. Like what happens when you want to travel, when you want to visit family, what will you eat for all those meals?

That’s kind of where we’re at right now, still figuring all of that out. I think I would be further along in my accomplishments, but this all has come at a time when life is rather bumpy and lately pretty scary. And now on top of it all, we found out our beloved dog Barley (see photo at right) has cancer. I fear from what we have been told that it is a fast-moving, aggressive cancer. I spent 24 hours feeling utterly horrified. I mean how much do we love these pets we have lived with for years and years? The horror finally has dulled, and we go forward to another new normal.

So, life is full of reading labels and checking online to make sure something is gluten-free, finding new recipes to try and ordering bulk flours from Amazon and weird ingredients I’ve never used before, making bread every few days, and still trying to think of what to have for breakfast, lunch, and supper and sometimes feeling too tired to want to care. Not that I don’t like to bake bread. I pine for kneading! and grow nostalgic when I see bread recipes on Pinterest. It’s just that gluten-free bread is not in any way satisfying to bake, usually. Sometimes. I keep trying but more often than not I just choose to be happy with what comes out of the oven. I have a loaf raising now and have ridiculously high hopes for it. It has ground flax seed in it, and I know it would be really good for us if it could become a staple recipe. I’ll share it if it becomes one I use often.

Okay, now that I’ve finally broken the ice and posted again, Winking smile maybe I can see my way to posting some things that might also help others wading through this gluten-free life.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Texas Ranch Soup

GBBigBookofHomeCooking

This is one of our favorite soup recipes and one that can be made gluten-free. Just make sure you choose ingredients that are gluten-free, like the beans and even the corn. Be sure to check the taco seasoning. The recipe calls for ranch-style beans. I don’t know exactly what they are so we used 1 can each of Bush’s pinto and great northern beans. To make them “ranch-style,” I added a generous squirt of mustard, at least double that of ketchup, a bit of brown sugar, onion powder, garlic salt, and chili powder because I didn’t have any GF taco seasoning on hand. I also used a quart of home-canned tomatoes so I can’t vouch for the diced tomatoes.

Check GF Overflow.com for gluten info on products or other places on the internet to be sure, if labels are inconclusive.

Texas Ranch Soup

1 lb. ground beef, browned
2 15-oz cans ranch style beans (Bush’s pinto/great northern)
2 15-oz cans corn
2  14 1/2-oz cans diced tomatoes
1 package taco seasoning mix
Garnish with sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, & shredded cheddar cheese.

Combine all ingredients except garnish in a large stockpot; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Spoon into serving bowls; garnish with tortilla chips and cheese. Serves 6

Monday, July 23, 2012

Removing Widgets With No Remove Button

Have you ever uploaded a new Blogger template only to find you are left with widgets you cannot delete because they have no remove button? I think what happens is they become corrupted when changing templates. Trying to delete them by editing the HTML has never worked for me. I was at the pre-tearing hair out stage while working with my template recently and Googled hoping to find a solution. I finally did and wanted to share it because it worked like a charm.

Remove a corrupted widget from blogger layout panel

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Kid History Videos

I’m updating my blog a little, to reflect changes in my life over the last year. Since I am no longer home schooling, I had hoped to blog more, but I spent the year writing instead. Finally finishing that book was a milestone for me. Writing is a large part of my life and because I am starting to write a new book now, I had thought to have a writing blog, too, but I have to be realistic. So, from time to time I might post about writing, for myself and anyone else who might love the writing life and find it useful. I’m also loving Pinterest, so I would love to share things I find now and then. There is so much helpful information there for homemaking, housekeeping, etc. Members of our household have joined the ranks of Celiac Disease sufferers, so I’ll likely be writing about that, too. My daughter’s journey to finding out why she has been suffering debilitating stomach problems for three years has been long and emotionally draining for us. As was the road we have traveled with my youngest son who has Asperger’s. He is navigating his way into adulthood which often tugs hard at my heart. Life is rarely dull and often overwhelming for me which is why I have never been a terribly consistent blogger.

It’s so important to find and recognize the joy in life. Have you seen these Kid History videos where the dads act out the story their kids are telling but in the kids' voices!? So funny!!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Finally Finished Writing My Book

I am dashing in to share some fun news, but first . . . These are the highlights of what has been happening in my life in the last year since I have blogged. My husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary last May. I am more thankful for him and more in love with him than I have ever been. What an incredible blessing that is! Molly is now the author of 6, soon to be 7, books. She also started her own publishing company. My son finished his second year of college and has been accepted into a nursing program. And my youngest son graduated a year ago, which means the many years of home schooling are behind me. I loved home schooling, but after all those years, it’s a good feeling to be done and have accomplished what we did. Especially when I look at my kids, how close we are and how proud we are of them.

That leads me to my news. I put blogging on hold because I couldn’t do everything in a day I was trying to do. One of the things high on my list: writing. More than I had been. I knew it was finally time to finish that book I’ve been writing for so long. So, I got serious, worked hard, learned a lot, and spent a year finishing and editing. It’s finally done. I self-published with CreateSpace, like Molly, and am only waiting for the paperback to go live on Amazon. It’s crazy scary putting myself out there like this but very exciting. Smile

Here is the cover. eBooks are now available at Amazon and Smashwords. Back cover text below in case you are interested. Smile

Wooing Sam Walker's Widow

When a retired firefighter-turned
resort owner moves in next door, the tranquility
of a young widow’s life is shattered.

Living in a small cottage with her three
young daughters, Carly Walker is content to remain
the widow of the only man she will ever love.

Mac McCaughey has other ideas.
Widowed and starting over, he makes no secret of his intent
to woo her. She makes no secret of her intent to resist.

Carly doesn’t want anyone but the husband she had,
but with her large family encouraging her, her girls loving him
like crazy, and even her dog trailing after him, how long can
she possibly resist a man who makes her heart race?