Category Archives: Ideas

Gluten free weeknight meals & budgeting

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So this blog post should really be a post of the numerous ways the month of September has come and is exiting before my head has been able to wrap itself around it all.  Surely I am not the only mom who finds herself witnessing myself both coming and going in the middle of the dark of night, right?

My new purse is even sporting some tag-along buddies.  I don’t think I go anywhere any more without things packed into my purse that aren’t really mine.  And despite the extra poundage, I wouldn’t really change the rest of it.

Now THIS is a MOM purse

Well, maybe I’d change my sleep schedule:  to bed late (or early) and it takes me forever to fall asleep and up no later than 5AM or we are ALL off late for the day already.  A change with these hours would be helpful, but I honestly don’t see that happening anytime soon.  Teaching doesn’t end with the kids leave… or even when my kids finally crash and go to bed.  (PS…they have been in bed for 45 minutes now… and the Chicklet just asked via the monitor “Hey Mom, what’s my cake going to look like?”  “Your cake?”  “Yes, for my birthday.”  “Babe….your birthday is in May.  It’s September. We have a while to think about it, okay?” = this is the kind of thing that never ends around here….LOL)  Evidence:  apple slices + goofy face photos…despite a few attempts we don’t have ONE photo for BOTH smiling nor BOTH making a goofy face at the same time.  Egad.

Apple slices + goofy faces

So I decided to share my working mom “Sanity Saver” meals.  I’ve been asking and posting here when I thought my world was careening off track, but seldom have I posted when I have done it right (finally) for a month.  I challenged myself this month to get the meals down and stick to them.

Next month, I am challenging myself to:

  • only go to the grocery store every 10 days to 2 weeks
  • STICK to my grocery budget – and SAVE every penny that I don’t spend in an account for a family trip
  • stick to my meal plan (come high water or sleep exhaustion)
  • stick to a reduced (extremely) budget for “eating out”

Seriously.  I’m starting at ZERO here people.  There is only room to grow, right?

Some of you are experts at all of the above (budgeting, time-management, meal-planning, saving (!), etc) but these are things I tend to stick to for a short time and then meander down some random thought-path-etc and I blow it.  We have had TWO four-day vacations/trips in the last EIGHT YEARS of our lives.  (My Love does NOT get time off from work.)  But we’ve had SO much fun on these rapid-paced trips to see family (my parents/his parents) that we want to do it more often.  And now the girls have seen an ad for Disney Land and CarsLand.

Yeap.  My budget better get in gear.  NOW.

Want to follow along on my endeavor?  Care to add your two cents/tips?  I’d love to hear them!

Okay… enough meandering.  Some of you are just here for the list of my weeknight go-to meals.  Take note:  the meals on this list HAD to be able to be prepared and ready to go in under an hour (or toddler + mom meltdown ensures).  Well, here it is:

  1. fajitas (chicken or flank steak)
  2. enchiladas
  3. taco salad
  4. one-pot rice dish (random meat/tofu, rice, veggies – a la jambalaya)
  5. tarragon chicken tenders
  6. Bo-jay-fan (Chinese one-pot chicken/rice/sausage/mushroom)
  7. pork chops and apples
  8. steamed fish + tofu
  9. split pea soup (thank you crock pot)
  10. jambalaya
  11. quinoa salad (a la fried rice/couscous – NOTE couscous is NOT gluten free!)
  12. pasta salad (schars or jovial)
  13. parfait (yogurt + granola)
  14. pancakes (corn ones here) or waffles (to save time, i’ve made “waffles” in a panini pan with pancake batter )
  15. chicken chili
  16. mongolian beef (marinate night before or immediately upon returning home for 45 min at least)
  17. spaghetti (schars, jovial or homemade on the weekend)
  18. lasagna (no boil/lazy method – make ahead, pop in oven)
  19. pot pie (make ahead OR make muffin-sized (lunch/dinner) OR make with crescent roll dough  for last minute)
  20. roasts (pork loin is our favorite as faster than whole chicken, etc)
  21. meatballs and mashed/roasted potatoes
  22. kebabs
  23. tortilla española (potatoes, eggs, onions, seasoning) – leftovers are great lunches too
  24. shrimp and grits
  25. chicken marsala
  26. risotto
  27. lettuce wraps
  28. migas
  29. corned beef (crock pot or reheat after cooking on Sunday), roasted cabbage
  30. curried chicken
  31. beef and broccoli
  32. spicy green beans and tofu
  33. arroz con pollo
  34. baharat chicken or lamb
  35. chowder (Chinese corn, OR salmon/fish, etc – whatever you got and put it in a pot!)
  36. arepa sandwiches
  37. jibaro sandwiches (plantains, flank steak, etc)
  38. burgers (bean or beef) (speedy buns – done in the oven while I grill/cook burger or pao-d-quejo buns – quick too!)
  39. beef stroganoff but served over rice, mashed potatoes, steamed cauliflower/broccoli in lieu of noodles
  40. teriyaki chicken (or whatever is on hand)
  41. quiche
  42. fried rice
  43. ….leftovers!  (the great list ender…I try to use up leftovers for lunch, but often there is a bit more)

I hope this list helps someone else pull a menu plan together.  My trusty purple spiral bound notebook and I roam the aisles of the grocer trying to make sure I have it all together.  Maybe that will be what I share next?  Ay!  Who knows!

Hopefully now that I am getting my feet under me at school the next blog post won’t be delayed as long as this one has been.  I’m sorry – and THANK YOU for sticking with me.

Happy GF Eating 
~Kate

Gluten Free Pull-Aparts: Garlic & Parmesan or Pizza Pull Aparts

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Gluten Free pull-apart Garlic Bread

I have a confession to make.  I’m addicted to Pinterest.  I haven’t started a Gluten Free Board – YET! – because I know once I do, it will just all be downhill until then.  I will never have to get off my duff to be creative again.  But you know what? … It is perfect reading and browsing for those of us with insomnia (or who can’t fall asleep at night because… well.. because our brains don’t shut off…).

(For those of you who are uninitiated, Pinterest is a visual version of adding bookmarks to your computer – but they remain online and accessible from wherever you have internet access.)

The truly addicting part for me, however, is NOT that I can bookmark my favorite things to do (a bucket list of crafts is what I’m accruing there) and/or teaching ideas (of which there is plethora of great ones, for those of you who teach) but several of my friends whose boards (bookmarks) I can “follow” (much like twitter or Facebook) are pinning some amazing looking food from bloggers.  And OH MY – the lemon bread?  Yes!  It was easy to convert to gluten free so it started the ball.

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of “pins” (as they are called) for pull-apart breads.  Exactly like a Monkey Bread (I have an early (2007) gluten free recipe for a monkey bread here).  The difference is mainly that pull-apart breads seem to be savory rather than sweet (although I recently made one to taste like lemonade for the girls – OH MY – do that again soon!).  I knew with my previous monkey bread experience that this was totally do-able, meaning: easy for me to convert to gluten free!

The recipe below we have used for the following flavors of Pull-Apart breads and is truly only limited by your own imagination and taste buds:

Garlic and Parmesan (was a great accompaniment to our pasta: recipe below)
Lemonade (fresh lemon, lemon juice and drizzled with grated candied lemon peel and icing)
Turkey & Cheese stuffed pull Aparts (topped with garlic and parmesan)
Pepperoni Pizza Pull Aparts (stuffed with pepperoni slices and cheese, topped with pizza sauce and more cheese)
Dill and Feta Pull Aparts (added tons of dill and a bit of feta to the dough, topped with garlic and drizzled with butter)
etc….

Pepperoni-Stuffed Pizza Pull Aparts (Kid-Created:  They made the dough, I stuffed, the topped)
Cheesy gluten free pull apart pizza bread
You see the drift here:  Basically whatever you want.  I can’t wait to see what you guys will do with this.  Please be sure to come back and inspire me too!  Let me know what you make.  Everyone can use the kitchen-inspiration.  :D

Gluten Free Garlic & Parmesan Pull Apart Bread

Makes one standard pie-plate of pull apart bread (about 12 balls that are 2 inches in diameter or so).  Download/Print a PDF copy of this recipe here.

Basic Recipe Ingredients:

1 cup warm milk (or water or soy milk or rice milk), between 110*-115*F
1 Tablespoon yeast
1 Tablespoon honey
4 Tablespoons melted butter (for dough) + more (for rolling dough balls in)
1 egg
2 1/4 cups Gluten Free Flour Mix (70% whole grain/30% starch)
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

For Garlic-Parmesan Pull-Aparts Add:

1 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1/2 cup shredded parmesan

Directions:

  1. Flip your pie plate upside down onto a piece of parchment paper.  Trace the outer edge.  Cut the parchment to fit your tracing.  Flip your pie plate right side up.  Lightly butter the inside bottom of your pie plate (to help the parchment stay in place).  Press the now circle-shaped parchment into the pie plate.  The edges will wrinkle up a bit, but they will make it so much easier to get the pull apart out of the pan when you are done.
  2. Preheat your oven to 375F.
  3. Mix together your warm milk (110*-115*F), yeast and honey.  Set aside to proof.
  4. In the bowl of your mix, blend your dry ingredients:  GF Flour mix, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt.  If you are making the garlic parmesan version, add the granulated garlic now.
  5. Add your wet ingredients:  egg, melted butter and proofing mixture (it should have foamed up by now) of milk/honey/yeast.
  6. Mix on low until blended.  Then turn mixer up a little faster (#4 on my KitchenAid is our standard with little people helping) and mix for an additional 2-4 minutes.  This is what your dough will look like.

The dough and waiting pan

  1. Melt a couple of Tablespoons of butter into a cereal bowl.
  2. Divide your dough into 12 balls (about 2-2 1/2 inches in diameter).  Roll each in the melted butter than place into your parchment lined pie dish.  Continue until all the balls are coated and placed into the pan.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
  3. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes until the crust of the balls are golden brown and the internal temperature registers between 195-204*F.   (See the picture above)
  4. Serve warm with an appropriate dipping sauce (if you’d like).  We ate these like garlic bread (the garlic-parmesan, obviously) while our kids liked dipping them into pizza sauce and/or their favorite dipping sauce.

Gluten free pull apart garlic bread - one piece, split

Enjoy!
Kate

Gluten Free Rainbow Enchiladas

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Enchilada fixings

Seriously.  This is why my posts have dropped in quantity.  I truly think all of us cook like this, so it feels awkward to post this but here goes nothing.  Maybe someone hasn’t made an enchilada before?  Maybe you are stuck in a rut (like I usually am…lol) making the same-old-same-old meals day in and day out?  Okay.  Well then, for you, I post this.

Usually our enchiladas are chicken + whatever veggies are in the fridge/freezer (typically some squash/zucchini and some frozen corn).  Seems strange to me to say that we have zucchini on hand (it’s definitely not my fave veg) but for a while, it was the main “green” veggie that the girls would eat in order to “Eat The Rainbow” everyday.  Somehow, they’ve moved away from zucchini as their green and are much more content to eat edamame.  (Whatever works.)  Last night, I had them thinking that the fresh peas from the CSA were “just like edamame only you can eat the pod too”  (insert parental “oohs” and “ahhs” in order to make story more “exciting”).  But they busted me.  However, they did both consume at least two tablespoons of peas sans the pods which I ate (I LOVE the fresh ones from the CSA).

Into these enchiladas, I tossed the veggies that they DO eat and that make up the rainbow:  carrots, corn, roasted red pepper strips, green zucchini (had to slide in something green) and some chicken.  Zoe kept telling me that she want broccoli in hers, but I realized that she was just trying to appease me and would only take a smidgen of food if that is what really ended up on her plate.  Thus the zucchini was stealthy added before they realized the evil plan.

All of the veggies were stir-fried/sautéed (whichever works for you) until crisp-tender and seasoned nicely with salt/pepper and a little chili powder.  The chicken was actually from a grocer rotisserie (yes, I checked, it is gluten free.  Thankfully, knowledgeable staff helped out!).  Hey – short cuts are highly encouraged with little feet and hands “helping” in the kitchen and demonstrating new dance moves when things are busiest. :D

So here is what I did to throw this inexpensive dinner together.  It served the four of us for dinner and lunch the next day.  I made one 8′ by 12″ pan with the fixings I used.  The measurements below are estimates for some (like seasoning and frozen corn) as I do most of my cooking by taste and appearance when it is something like this.  Baking… well… I usually measure unless I’m making a riff on something like pancakes that I’ve made a million times for the girls this summer.

Horrible pictures - but great enchiladas

PS.  This picture doesn’t do it justice.  My kitchen helper added an extra cup of chicken broth to the top when we had finished putting it together.  Thus the extra soft/lack of rolled enchilada.  I hesitated to even share the photo, but you know what?  I’m just a home cook like you!

Rainbow Enchiladas – gluten free

Ingredients:

2 cooked chicken breasts, roughly chopped (bite-sized if you have little ones)
2 small zucchini, sliced into 1/4″ rounds and quartered
3 small carrots, sliced into 1/4″ rounds and quartered
1 cup frozen corn
1 small can (5 ounces?) diced mild green chiles
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper, if desired
salt/pepper to taste
cumin (2+ teaspoons) and red chile powder (2 teaspoons +) to taste
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small sweet onion, minced
2 cups of shredded melting cheese (Monterrey jack or queso quesadilla) for the topping
**optional:  2 cups of shredded melting cheese (Monterrey jack or queso quesadilla) added to the filling
16 corn tortillas (be sure these are gluten free)
2 cups enchilada sauce, gluten free (see note and a recipe below)

Directions:

  1. Roast the red and green peppers under the broiler in order while you cut/prep your other veggies.  It’s easy to roast your own.  Split the bell peppers in half and seed them.  Lay them open side down on a parchment or tin foiled lined sheet (with a lip, the juices might run while they roast).  Keep your eye on them.  Once the skins blacken, remove from the oven and place into a paper lunch sack (and on plate or something to prevent dripping, etc).  Set aside until cool.  Once cool, you can easily peel the blackened skin off and then slice/chop the roasted peppered into your desired size.
  2. While roasting the peppers, prep other veggies.  Quarter and slice zucchini and carrots. Mince garlic and onion. In a frying pan large enough to hold your veg, add a teaspoon of olive oil.  When hot, add carrots and onions.  Sautee for 2-4 minutes until *just* beginning to become a bit tender.  Add garlic, zucchini and corn.  Sautee an additional 3-4 minutes until everything is crisp-tender.  Remove from the heat.
  3. Mix together veggies, chopped roasted pepper, green chiles (cheese, if using) and chicken.  Season generously with cumin, chile powder, salt and pepper.  Taste.  Adjust seasonings.  If it is bland now, it will be super bland later.
  4. Warm your enchilada sauce.  Working in batches, warm your corn tortillas (half at a time) in the microwave wrapped in a damp paper towel for 20-25 seconds.  You just want them to be pliable so they won’t break.  Drizzle the bottom of your baking pan with a 1/2 cup of the warm enchilada sauce. Spread it around.  This will help prevent your enchiladas from sticking to the pan.
  5. If baking right away, preheat your oven now to 350F.  If freezing (almost typed freaking… nice), feel free to obviously skip this step.
  6. Dip an individual tortilla into the enchilada sauce, flip it over and then lay it on a cutting board or clean prep surface (yes, it’s messy).  Place 1/3 cup (or so) onto the tortilla.  Roll it up.  Lay it into your prepared pan at one end.  Continue this way, tucking each enchilada next to the previously created fabulous enchilada in your pan.  You will need to pack them tightly.
  7. Once you are done, pour the remaining sauce over the top of the enchiladas.  Brush it over to cover them to prevent the tortillas from getting dried out/burned and all around yucky.  Top with shredded melting cheese.    Bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese if melted and golden.  (Cheese coloring will changed depending on which cheese you have chosen.  Please cook to your desired doneness as you would watch your pizza cheese.)
  8. Serve with avocado slices, sour cream, diced jalapeño (for the heat lovers in your house), shredded lettuce, pickled carrots/radishes, Mexican rice, beans, etc.

A NOTE ABOUT ENCHILADA SAUCE:

Gluten free enchilada sauce is easy to find.  I like Frontera and Victoria – the green sauces are my favorites.  Read the ingredients, obviously, but I bet you will find one that you like as well.  If you want, there is a red sauce enchilada recipe from Rick Bayless that is ah-mazingly good.  This recipe for green enchilada sauce looks quite similar to what I make too.  However, that is so just-for-the-weekends-in-the-summer for me now.  (It involves an easy step of rehydrating dried Mexican chiles (red sauce) or roasting the tomatillos (green sauce), etc – easy… but not for me at the moment.

 I regularly use the recipe below to make a red enchilada sauce when I want them in a pinch and don’t have the convenience of a canned sauce on hand.

Whatever-you-got Red Enchilada Sauce

Ingredients:

3 teaspoons of minced garlic (yes, we love garlic)
1/4 cup minced sweet onion
2 Tablespoons + chile powder (we like to vary this and use ancho or pasilla or whatever we have on hand)
1 12 (or so) ounce can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes (sometimes with green chiles, but never the Ro-tel stuff)
1 cup gluten free chicken broth
2 Tablespoons GF flour mix (OR sweet rice flour)
2 teaspoons cumin
salt and pepper to taste
jalapeño, optional (if you want to add some more heat)

Directions:

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan.  Saute onions until translucent (or even slightly browned/caramelized if you like that add flavor/smokiness).  Add the chile powder, cumin, garlic and gluten free flour.  Sautee until fragrant (2-3 minutes).  Add tomatoes and chicken broth.  Simmer over medium for 10 minutes.  Adjust seasoning.  Blend with an immersion blender (what we have from 1988, tyvm) or be brave (AND CAREFUL!) and transfer/blend it in batches in your blender.  It need not be perfectly smooth sauce.  It’s up to you.

Happy GF Eats, everyone
Kate