Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Rat a too ee?

We love the Disney movie Ratatouille. Anything that combines food and Disney is awesome in my book. I had the opportunity to actually eat ratatouille at Disney World in 2007, at The Crystal Palace, and really liked it. It's not something I've ever thought, "Hey, I wanna make that." It's mostly just a word I like to say with a French accent.

Sunday, in search of certain elusive baking ingredients (NO one in town has Bob's Red Mill potato starch!), my mother and I headed down to Garden Cove, a wonderful little natural grocery store run by the Seventh Day Adventists here in town. Alas, no potato starch, but they have expanded their GF choices, which was nice. But the best thing about Garden Cove is their fresh produce. LOVE. We had decided that we would start buying fruits and veggies that we don't normally eat.

Enter the eggplant.

I have never in my life cooked an eggplant. Before Sunday, I'm not sure I had ever even touched one (they're surprisingly soft and not hollow). I said I'd like to try fixing one, so we bought a medium sized one.

And it sat on the counter.

Last night, I wanted to do eggplant parm. We went and had burgers instead. (Five Guys Grill makes the best bunless burgers.)

Today, I decided that I would find a recipe using that eggplant, the zucchini, and the yellow squash. Big Oven (by far my favorite recipe app) came up with...

Yep. Ratatouille.

(Ratatouille? It sounds like rat. And patootey.)

I was all over that. I found a very simple, not so traditional recipe and printed it off. Then I made some modifications. And then later, notes for how to make it even better (and probably far less traditional).

Ratatouille is, by definition of the term, a chunky stew. I don't recall the one I ate at Disney being terribly stew-like, but this one is less so. This version is baked, and with no sauce in it. The veggies aren't cooked in a deep sauce or anything, so they're far better for you. I thought it was just the perfect summer side dish. The kids disagreed, but what do they know? Marti thought it was actually made from rats, do there you go.

Sarah's Non Traditional Summer Ratatouille

1 medium eggplant
1 medium zucchini
1 medium yellow squash
2 medium tomatoes
4 Tbsp EVOO
1/2 tsp sweet basil
1 tsp thyme
Shredded mozzarella cheese (original recipe called for a Brie log to be sliced, which, being a French cheese would probably make more sense; you can try that, too - different flavor)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Peel the eggplant. Meaning: take the purple skin off. You can use a carrot peeler, but it's not easy. I cut the top off and peeled with my serrated knife.

Slice and dice the eggplant. About 1/2 cubes or thereabouts.

In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add basil and thyme and eggplant. Sauté the eggplant for 2-3 minutes or until soft. Spread on a towel to drain. When dry, place in the bottom of a shallow oval (or square, star, whatever shape suits your fancy) casserole dish. Sprinkle with cheese to cover.

Slice the zucchini, squash, and tomatoes into about 1/3 thick slices. (Who are we kidding? You know I just chopped those babies into slices.)

Starting on an outside edge, begin layering the veggies in a shingle type spiral pattern, working inwards.

Drizzle remaining two Tbsp of olive oil over entire dish. You can sprinkle a little extra basil and thyme, as well, to spread the flavor throughout. Top with more cheese.

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Feed to children and enjoy!!!

Let me know how yours turns out!!!  Feel free to share my recipe, but please, because you're kind considerate people, give me credit.  Thanks!!!


Saturday, March 17, 2012


Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to writing!  What a crazy coupla months we've had!

We found out a few weeks ago that little MC and I are both lactose intolerant.  Cause we needed another food that we can't eat.  Thankfully, it's just lactose intolerant, not dairy free.  So we can take our little lactase pills and be just fine.  But I am making the decision in some of my baking to just go completely dairy free.  It's easier.

I've also found that I'm allergic to some sort of spice - and I'm not sure which one, which is frustrating - and/or tomatoes.  So far, everytime I've reacted, the meal has included tomatoes, but is usually ethnic of some variety, too.  ("Ethnic" to me as far as my food goes usually means Italian or Mexican.)  But I break out in a rash and then develop a migraine.  That one's been fun to figure out.

We've discovered Whole Foods grocery store.  Oh. My. Goodness.  I thought Earth Fare was amazing, and it is.  But Whole Foods has SOOOO much more.  And of course, there's not one here.  Yet.  (Rumor time - I have been told that we are getting a small Whole Foods here in town, and I can hardly contain myself!)  But as there's one in each of the cities where my siblings live, we get to one at least once a month.  They have their own line of GF bread products that I just love.  Cheddar biscuits.  Cheese balls (they're like cheese inside of bread balls).  Doughnuts.  Cakes.  Cupcakes.  Muffins.  Ice Cream.  Frosting.  Bagels.  Bread.  Pasta. Tortillas.  Pizza.  It's a GF dream come true.  And the other STUFF.  This store is so exciting to me.  And the best part is, you can get coupons to WF, unlike to EF or Fresh Market.  The food is just so good!!!  If you have one near you and have never been, you are missing an experience.

I have discovered baking on a new level.  I love it.  I've made some of the best cupcakes, cakes, cheesecakes...I'm ready for a Gluten Free/Dairy Free bakery.  So...I'm working on that. Baking for friends for now, but ready for the real thing when it's feasible.  I even have a name.  :)

I think that's as much updating as you need right now!!!  I'm going to try something new for dinner tonight that my children will probably hate, but I'm looking forward to.  If it works, expect a new post soon.


Take It With You! *Gluten Free Printables*

I've been working on these for awhile, and here they are!  I've been asked many times about what restaurants have gluten free menus, what my favorite GF brands are, etc.  So here is my first printable list that you can take with you.  I'm working on some more, but in the meantime, here's an eating out guide.  These are the restaurants that have gluten free choices, if not a full menu.  Click on the picture, then right click (or, for Mac people like me, ctrl+click) and choose save picture as, or print picture, if you have that option.  I'm working on finding a better way to include printables, so if you have any suggestions, I'd LOVE to hear them.  I'm quite proud of these and I give you my full permission to share them!  You'll also find them if you follow me on Pinterest, as I'm about to pin them myself.  :)  Enjoy!  Also, if you have anything to add to these, please let me know and I'll update them as often as I can!

Monday, January 2, 2012

new years chicken!

just a quick post today, but i HAD to share this with you!!!

last night i invented a recipe.  and i was SO proud of it.  AND - this is the greatest compliment ever - my nine year old declared it "delicious."  so i let him name it.  and he named it:

new year's chicken on noodles delicious!

boneless skinless chicken breasts - cubed (about a pound)
olive oil - 2 Tbsp
Jane's Krazy salt - to taste
Progresso creamy mushroom soup (GF!) - 1 can
sour cream - 1 cup
Sargento (all natural!) shredded cheese - about 2 cups, maybe 3 (i used mexican four cheese blend, but your pick)
GF pasta (my new favorite is Archer Farms GF pasta, we used fusilli, from Target)

brown the chicken cubes in olive oil.  sprinkle with Krazy salt to taste (i like a lot).  meanwhile, combine soup, sour cream, and cheese in a bowl.  when chicken is brown, drain oil, add soup mixture and simmer for 15-20 minutes until hot.  while simmering, cook your pasta.  serve chicken mixture over pasta.  

so simple.  so fantastic.

word of advice about the pasta -

Archer Farms GF pasta is fantastic.  now they have fusilli as well as spaghetti, which is awesome.  because it's a combination of rice and corn pastas, the texture when you reach al dente is a little different.  you want this pasta to be just the soggy side of al dente, otherwise, when you drain it, you'll find that it's actually still very hard.  it does store in the fridge (the entire recipe does, but DON'T COMBINE THEM TO STORE!  store the chicken mixture separately from the noodles for the following reason:) in an airtight container, with about a quarter inch of water in the bottom of the container.  when you reheat it, you're going to want a)put it in a boiling pot of water for about five minutes, or b)sprinkle with water, toss with your fingers, and cook covered in the microwave about forty five seconds to a minute.  check it at 30 seconds, depending on the amount, and toss again.  we found out the hard way that it reverts back to pretty much it's uncooked state in the fridge if it's not cooked completely or stored in water.

hope you enjoy my little creation, we certainly did!  happy new year!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Dinner to Remember!

in so many ways, tonight's dinner truly WAS a dinner to remember.  why, you might ask?  for a few reasons.  read on...

tonight, i decided that i HAD to have chicken spaghetti.  turns out i have repinned a boatload of chicken spaghetti recipes. (either you know what i'm talking about or you don't.  if you don't, you need to discover pinterest.  stat.)  problem was that almost ALL of them called for Velveeta.  i'm sorry, do you KNOW what's in Velveeta???  i'm not 100% sure myself, but i guarantee the majority of it is not cheese.  or most anything that is actual food product.  so i don't cook with it.  ever.  if the recipe calls for it, i've been known to cube a block of cheddar and simmer it with some milk to get a creamier consistency and meltability, but i refuse to resort to actually using the nasty stuff.  so.  after LOTS of recipe searching, i finally found one that didn't use the V.  but i wasn't crazy about the recipe.  SO...

...drum roll...

i did something i have never ever done before.  i *created* my own chicken spaghetti.  a few tips from this recipe, a few ingredients from that...

...nah, scratch that.  i really read a few, said, "hmmm..." and made my own.





that's right!  it turned out wonderfully!!!  BOTH kids ate it.  well.  B ate two helpings.  MC tried the noodles only and proclaimed them "yummy noodles."  which is high praise from a picky five year old.

i made it gluten free.  yep.  now, this is not as momentous, perhaps, as number one up there.  but it's pretty dern huge.  continue...

i asked my dad to stop and pick up some du boles GF noodles on his way home.  they didn't have any.  (which i find odd, but it's target, so who knows.)  he brought home the target Archer Farms brand of gluten free spaghetti noodles.  i didn't even know AF made such a thing, but evidently so.  and here's the biggie:

they were DELICIOUS.

we have tried every kind of GF pasta out there.  rice, corn, quinoa...finally settled on the quinoa because it was less gross than the others.  but this Archer Farms's rice and corn.  and it truly, honestly, NO KIDDING tastes just like real wheat pasta.

it's all organic, too, which means my kids can have it.  and it's imported from Italy, which explains why it really tastes like pasta.  and i can say this with great authority, because my dad does not eat gluten free unless i'm cooking, and HE even said he couldn't tell a difference and he bought the noodles.  so there it is.

so now you're all just DYING to have this recipe for the most amazing gluten free chicken spaghetti ever, aren't you?

i know you are.

make it.  enjoy it.  share it.  :)

sarah's chicken spaghetti

3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed, cooked.  reserve broth.
1 package Archer Farms (or other) Gluten Free spaghetti noodles
Jane's Krazy Mixed Up salt
dried onion flakes
garlic powder
dried parsley flakes
2 T vegetable oil
1 can Progresso Creamy Mushroom soup (it's GF!!!)
1 can GF cream of chicken soup (Health Valley makes one)
1 can Hunt's Diced tomatoes (seasoned)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

after cooking the chicken, set aside and use broth to cook spaghetti as directed.  while noodles are cooking, saute chicken in vegetable oil.  add Krazy salt (roughly a teaspoon...i just shook it on there til it looked good), about 1 T dried onion flakes, maybe 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder, and the same of parsley flakes.  (those last four i truly just eyeballed.  add them til it smells good.) saute about five minutes, or until chicken just starts to brown.  add soups and tomatoes, bring to a boil.  drain spaghetti.  you may have to run two forks through the noodles to separate them.  in a greased 9x13 baking dish, add noodles and sauce, mix thoroughly.  top with cheddar cheese to cover.  bake at 350 for about 10 minutes or until all cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly.  longer to thicken.

i've got to remember to take more pictures when i do stuff like's the only one i got, and that's after half of it was eaten.

try it out and let me know how you like it!  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


so, about a month ago, i was looking through our most recent issue of Publix GreenWise Market magazine, and found an article about different kinds of flour.  each page contained a different recipe using a different kind of flour - wheat, GF, cornmeal, etc.  on the page with the GF flour, the recipe for orange-honey sweet rolls excited me (they sound fanTAStic!)...until i read through the entire recipe and realized that it also called for regular all purpose flour.  naturally, this confused me.  i can't use all purpose wheat flour...then it wouldn't be GF!  huh?  so i emailed publix.  and got the following response from a very kind lady named Cindy who spoke to a recipe developer:

"The customer is most certainly correct, that the recipe does call for bread flour in addition to the gluten-free flour in order to obtain optimal texture and mouth feel. In the recipe and story itself, we are careful not to call the sweet rolls ‘gluten-free’ or insinuate that they are gluten-free by any means. Instead, we chose to highlight the different texture that the gluten-free flour adds to the rolls based on its different list of ingredients.

In highlighting the gluten-free nature of the cornmeal, we wanted to give readers who do eat a gluten-free diet more information on flours and grains that may be a good substitution for recipes they currently make which contain gluten and share more information. However, it was not our intention to create recipes that were gluten-free or focused toward people with a gluten intolerance.

A bit of background information: we tested the recipe for the sweet rolls with 100% gluten-free baking mix. While the recipe did turn out well, we felt the texture difference was noticeable, which led us to using some bread flour to create a roll with a familiar texture that many people have come to associate with sweet rolls and baked goods. If the reader would like to make the recipe gluten-free, using 100% gluten-free baking mix would most certainly be an option. Additionally, other flours that are gluten-free, such as quinoa flour, amaranth flour or brown rice flour might work as well."
now, other than being a little offended that just because the "texture" of the rolls were different - hello, anyone on any kind of a substitution diet knows that if you don't use normal ingredients that your texture is going to be different, and we've all just had to accept it, but i suppose those who don't HAVE to switch can still have their "texture" - i was actually quite pleased that someone had listened to my confusion.

it gets better.

(and no, i haven't tried the recipe yet...getting there)

last week, my MOTHER (who has the GreenWise Market magazine subscription - not me) recieved a letter in the mail dated October 6.  read on:

"Subject: Recipe Warning for those with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance

Dear Melissa,

The Fall 2011 issue of Publix GreenWise Market magazine contains a recipe for Orange-Honey Sweet Rolls that should be avoided by those with gluten intolerance.  As a Publix GreenWise Market magazine subscriber, you should have recieved your copy in the mail in the last three weeks.

The recipe for Orange-Honey Sweet Rolls, which appears on page 18, calls for the use of gluten-free flour as an ingredient; however, the complete recipe was not intended to be gluten-free.  In fact, the recipe includes ingredients which contain gluten, therefore, it is not suitable for those with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance."

and it was signed by a lovely person named Lane, the marketing services manager.

this THRILLED me!!!  people took my allergy seriously!  while i'm still baffled at the purpose of using part GF flour and part non (someone please explain that), the fact that they made sure that ALL their magazine subscribers got a corrective warning made me SO happy.  i realize, and i stated this in my email to them, that anyone who is even somewhat familiar with a GF diet would know that they couldn't eat those sweet rolls.  however, for someone just starting the lifestyle, or someone who saw the GF and thought, "oh, i know someone who has to be gluten free!  i'll make them some sweet rolls!" while having no prior knowledge of the lifestyle, that recipe could be confusing, and ultimately, unsafe.  so to have a correction sent out made me happy and made me realize just what kind of people publix employs.  these are people who care about their customers and their health.  and that just kinda makes you feel warm and fuzzy.

what experiences have you had with grocery stores, restaurants, and the like about your allergy?

Monday, September 26, 2011

confessions of a pasta fanatic...

my name is sarah, and i am a pasta fanatic.  i love pasta.  i love pasta of any shape, style, or origin.  i love rigatoni, spaghetti, macaroni, ditalini, fettuccini, fusilli, lasagne, vermicelli, capellini, ziti, linguini, get the idea.  i love pasta with spaghetti sauce, marinara, primavera, butter, cheese...i don't like alfredo.  that is where my love of pasta does not extend.  but i truly have never had a pasta i didn't find something to love about.  i should have been Italian.

for those who are GF, you understand my pain.  if you have not yet or have just recently gone gluten free, you are probably not as empathetic to my loss of classic Italian food.  let me assure's like taking away air.

in the last year, i have tried every kind of gluten free pasta there is.  corn, rice, quinoa...none of them - and i don't care who you are or what you like, i mean NONE of them - taste like pasta!  the texture is never right, the flavor is never's heartbreaking.  so how do i get my pasta fix???

well, for a long time, i just sacrificed.  either sacrificed flavor or sacrificed texture.  there are a handful of restaurants that serve a gluten free noodle.  i'll address those in a minute.  but right now, let me introduce you to my new favorite wheat pasta substitute...

*drum roll*

spaghetti squash.

what?  really?  and some of you are already shaking your head and saying, "you're crazy, that can't possibly be any better."

have you ever HAD spaghetti squash?

i decided to give it a shot and created this:

and even my kids - one of whom doesn't eat spaghetti like a normal kid, meaning at all - ate it.  and enjoyed it.  i made it for a friend one night.  she was leery, but she ate it.  and liked it.

spaghetti squash has a totally different texture than fake gluten free pasta.  it's closer to al dente when cooked correctly.  and it doesn't taste like it's trying to be pasta.  it's virtually tasteless - what taste it does have is slightly sweet, like i remember real noodles being. (it's been awhile since i had real noodles, so if i'm wrong and glamorizing them, i apologize.)  what's the best part?  your kids will not be able to tell that they're not eating real noodles.  no, really.  your kids will be getting a helping of veggies without even knowing it!  (i am SO not above trickery to get my kids to eat.)

takes a little longer to cook than noodles.  and if it doesn't cook just right, your "noodles" can be either dry and ick or watery, slushy, and ick.

so here's my recipe!
Sarah's Sneaky Spaghetti

1 medium to large spaghetti squash
1 lb ground turkey (or beef)
1 jar your choice spaghetti sauce
2 medium zucchini squash, sliced
shredded Italian blend cheese

What to do
if you're lucky, your spaghetti squash will come with a sticker to tell you how to cook it.  If not, my way is this: preheat oven to 400 degrees.  using a very big knife, cut squash in half, length wise.  scoop out all the middle flesh with the seeds.  your squash should look like this:
(picture from - my picture was too dark)  if you like, you can season the flesh with salt, pepper, garlic, or - my personal favorite seasoning for anything - jane's krazy mixed up salt.  place squash halves upside down on a baking sheet lined with foil.  bake for 45 - 60 minutes, or until flesh is soft but not juicy.

while cooking...

brown meat in a skillet.  add jar of spaghetti sauce.  when sauce is hot all the way through, toss in sliced zucchini.  continue cooking until zucchini is tender.

when squash is ready, remove from oven and let cool for about ten minutes.  when the squash is cool enough to handle, flip halves over, and using a fork, peel flesh away from peel:
you will be able to scrape every bit away from the rind.  this is your spaghetti noodles.  serve with meat sauce and top with shredded cheese.  

this is actually even better the second day. :)

this is absolutely my favorite way to eat pasta now.  i said there are some restaurants who offer a GF alternative.  if i'm going to eat pasta out somewhere, i'm going to go to Nothing But Noodles or The Olive Garden.  both offer a GF pasta.  Nothing But Noodles uses a rice noodle, which is pretty good as long as it's not overcooked.  if it's overcooked, it will turn to mush.  the OG lists theirs as simply "gluten free penne" so i don't know what kind of noodle it is.  my suspicion is rice, based on the texture of the dish i had. i have been told that Carrabbas offers a gluten free menu, but unfortunately, it does not include pasta.  my favorite of the two that have it, is NBN.  because you can get different kinds of sauce - cheese, butter, primavera, marinara, even shrimp scampi!  the OG only offers the penne rigate.  

where is your favorite GF pasta restaurant?  have you tried any GF pasta substitutes that you just love?  try my sneaky spaghetti and let me know what you think!