Category Archives: Veggies & Fruits

Chili-Maple Butternut Sqaush

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Hello!  Oh, I have missed blogging.

The last post about saving time, money and energy has truly been helpful.  It was good to read that others are in the same boat – and busting out the crock pot or cooking double/extra whenever they can.  I am gone over and over the comments (and I suggest you do as well if you are looking for tips) to find the pearls of wisdom.  I am amazed by the tips.  A FEW of the AMAZING tips are:

The reality of my days has not really changed (although thanks to some schedule changes at school, I now have *only* 164 students).  (And yes, it IS a noticeable difference in the classes, but not overall.)  This fall the girls have been quite sick (pneumonia and bronchitis – of course, at different times = way too much time off school).  Just when I think I’ve hit a groove, there is a bump/hurdle or unexpected gaff.  The girls being sick is not something you can plan for – let alone when they are sick for two + weeks in a row.  My favorite gaff has resulted in a new kitchen faucet.
No matter how desperately needed (the old one from 1979 was a leaky mess), it was a series of plumbing foo-fahs that ushered in our new one.  My lovely husband decided that 9PM on Saturday night was a good time to fix the leak (while I was wrestling the two little ones in the bathtub/bedtime).  I heard shouts of “OH SH*T” followed by a yelp of pain and a “Katie!  Come quick!!”.  When I got into the kitchen, there was a geyser of steaming hot water shooting out of the faucet handle soaking the light fixture, the ceiling, my cookbooks, the spice drawers – EVERYTHING.
We shut off the water at the sink and cleaned up.  Sunday morning when we decided to just replace the faucet and the work started, we realized we had bigger problems:  the shut-off valve hose snapped off in the replacement of the faucet and the house water shut-off valve wouldn’t working.  The water wouldn’t stop.  And we had no water in the kitchen at all or it would flood.  So we had to wait for the city to shut the water off to the house (a skill I now possess thanks to a neighbor) before finishing our repairs.  (After a mere three more trips to the hardware store to pick up the appropriate plumbing supplies.)
Oh yes, the Keystone Cops of Plumbing were in the house with the two of us.
Really.  Maybe Mr. Bean would have had an easier time.
Oh – life.  What else can ya do.
I have taken a few tips from the previous commenters to make my life easier.  We are buying meats in bulk from CostCo.  We are sticking with the milk delivery (despite the slight higher cost) for a major time savings.  (No one likes to see crying babies at the grocer at night after work.)  We – as usual – eat 99% regularly GF foods.  When making GF bread or what not (a once a week endeavor lately as I have been working on an Oat & Honey Bread recipe), I am sticking to using the basic, whole-grain cheaper flour (like brown rice, oats and a small amount of tapioca starch or potato starch).  Mostly, we fill up on the foods you can find on the outside of the grocery store.
I’ve also tried prepping in advance.  Some nights while making dinner, I prep the dinner for the next night and get it all into the crock pot insert which I keep in the fridge until the next morning.  When the girls are eating breakfast, I finish putting it together  and start up the crock pot.  I haven’t yet had the courage to roast a whole chicken in the crock pot – but it’s so on the agenda!
This weekend I picked up some gorgeous butternut squash.  I blame Costco.  They sell it prepackaged, cut/washed, etc.  And I love butternut squash.  My Love?  Not so much.  So I didn’t pick up the CostCo pack.  Instead, I found a great squash at the market – on sale!  I know squash is not the highlight of most people’s lives.  Mine either – but sometimes you just can’t beat it.
Try this QUICK (hooray!) squash recipe sometime.  You might just change your mind.  (And it’s a nice variation on a veg for dinner.)

Chili-Maple Squash

Chili-Maple Butternut Squash

TIP:  To peel your squash more quickly, pierce the squash several times with a knife or fork.  Wrap it up in a dish towel and pop it in to the microwave for a couple minutes.  (Like 2 – 3 minutes, no more.)  It will peel SO MUCH easier – and be easier to chop as well.
NOTE:  I used a 2 pound squash.  I peeled and cubed the squash and divided it in half for two meals.  The ingredients listed below are for ONE POUND of squash.  Feel free to double, etc the recipe as needed.
Chili-Maple Squash
Ingredients:
1  pound butternut squash (or other firm squash), peeled/seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
3 Tablespoons melted butter
3 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt (or more, to taste)
1 teaspoon black pepper
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Peel and seed squash.  (Or… umm.. go to Costco. :D)  Cut into 1 inch cubes.
  3. Toss squash pieces with melted butter, maple syrup, chili powder, salt and pepper.
  4. Roast on a silpat/cookie sheet for 20 minutes until fork tender but not mushy.
  5. Serve along side your favorite dinner.
(And feel free not to share.)
And the next post?  That Oat & Honey Bread sans the plumbing drama, k?
~Happy Gluten Free Eats, All!
~Kate

Help Wanted: Eating GF more wisely, cheaply and saving time. Got tips?

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I bet you think I’ve fallen into a large hole around here and have lost internet access, huh?

Well, I have, kind of.

School started.  Just last year I had 135 students a day (5 classes/high school) and this year?  Oh no… this year I see 171 students (same five classes) and it’s A LOT.  Add that to the fact that the baby youngest toddler is a moving, shaking, running, jumping, climbing and the eldest is well…. keeping up and you can see why I’m dead tired by dinner time.

We’re back on the treadmill people.  Up at 5:15, home by 5:00, dinner, play, baths, and bedtime…then school work.  Bedtime comes around 11:40 or later.  Seriously…this is going to be a long winter!

Top that with the fact that our house, just like yours I bet, has been hit by our lovely economic woes.  Thankfully, we are both employed.  However the loss of pay in the form of pay cuts (8% between the two of us) and double to out-of-pocket expenses for health insurance (EEK!) and we are in re-set mode.

We are intentional about the food choices we make.  More than ever now as well.  We have to stretch that dollar farther and we are still choosing to maintain a completely gluten free home.  But as all of you know, that means some serious creativity.

Couple all of that with the fact that time to cook dinner is LIMITED.  Kids (and parents alike) are wickedly hungry come 5:30.  Providing snacks before dinner doesn’t seem like a positive solution at all.  We worry that then we are just giving them outs from dinner – and we want to eat all together as a family.  THAT is important to us.

So.. I guess this post is a conversation starter.  One that I hope will get you all commenting and helping with tips and pointers for ALL of us busy, working gluten-free families.  What are YOU doing to save your brain, your money and your family (health and time together)?

 Home-made GF Quesadillas – add eggs or avocado, etc too

See recipe below signature

Quesadilla

I have limited tricks for getting dinner on the table quickly.  This has a lot to do with my brain.  I am NOT the one in my family who can open the cupboard, see what we have on hand and then whip out dinner.  Nope.  Especially not when there are two kids practically pulling my pants off as they try to get my attention after we rush in after work/daycare at 5PM.  And,  I don’t do mania very well at all.  (Can you believe I do mania REALLY well in the classroom – but just not at home?  I don’t get it either – but it is true.)

Sometimes I am organized enough on the weekend to layout a dinner menu for the week.  I get organized after we pick up our box of veggies at the Farmer’s Market on Sundays and start planning.  Each meal we have to include things that are accessible to the kids – as I’m not a short-order cook and we’re going to all eat together.  Sometimes we make miso soup for them (they LOVE tofu) in addition to whatever we are having, but they usually just eat right along with us.  Once I see what we have for the week, I can easily lay out dinner menus on the calendar at home (or the google calendar we share so I can see it on my phone or at work, if needed).  I love those weeks.  I know what I need to do, when, etc.  It’s so helpful when work things pop up last-minute or unplanned after-daycare doctor visits (my pediatrician should have a frequent-flyer coupon card for free coffee after 10 visits or something… I”m just saying…).

Sometimes I’m not so fabulously organized.  And these are the weeks that are (1) most common and (2) the MOST stressful for me.

Like this week.  Unplanned, but at least there is food in the fridge.  These are the days that my husband finds to be the easiest.  Seriously, in 3 minutes flat he can make a meal plan and get it started.  Me?  OMGosh – I have to know what’s in the fridge for the WHOLE day before I can even begin to figure something out.

Take today, for example.  I know there is ground turkey at home.  I can make lettuce wraps or tacos or chili (oh wait… I don’t have any beans on hand) … k then… I could make meatballs with rice (no pasta either), or.  Dang it.  I don’t know.  When my feet hit the kitchen, I will decide then.

More than just meal planning, however, is saving money.  Cheap Gluten Free Eats!  (Yes, they do exist.)

Here’s the list I’ve been working with this last month.  You can see I’m in need of some change-ups, people. One can only eat so many apples with peanut butter before you just don’t want to even look at them again.  So please.  Let’s work together on this.

BREAKFAST

LUNCH

SNACK

DINNER

Cinnamon Chex

peanut butter/apples or celery sticks

nuts

lettuce wraps

fresh fruit

leftovers

hard-boiled egg

soup/chili

Yogurt

cheese & pears

cheese cubes

veggies

GF Granola

hard-boiled egg

Trio bar (my spendy snack)

Lundberg risotto + protein and veggies mixed in

Hard cheese & GF tortilla chips

rice noodle soup (so much cheaper!)

Fresh fruit

Cantonese-style family chicken & mushrooms

eggs

miso + tofu soup

small salad

fajitas

yogurt smoothie

meat/cheese or avocado roll

meat/cheese or avocado roll

Chinese Chicken & Corn Chowder

homemade GF torillas with eggs/cheese

nori wraps

nori wrap

Tortilla soup

Chilaquiles

homemade tortillas/quesadillas

edamame

grilled meats/fish and veggies/frui

What are your favorite cheap and convenient GF foods/meals?

Let’s get talking, people!

~Kate

PS.  Making your own gluten free corn tortillas is SUPER easy (and much tastier, by the way).  Use equal parts corn flour (masa harina or masa harina para tortillas) and warm water.  You can also add a bit of olive oil or spices to your dough, if you’d like. (I added paprika and chili powder in the ones in the photo.)  Mix the corn flour with the warm water slowly until it forms a soft pliable ball.  Pinch off pieces and flatten in your hand to make tortillas (or thicker ones for sopes).  Cook on a hot, non-stick skillet.

KISS Your Greens, gluten free

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K.I.S.S Collard Greens - GF, of course

Keep It Simple, Silly:  Collard Greens
Photo by Kate Chan

I have to be honest.  The last couple of CSA boxes have had collard greens.  And I’ve swapped them out every week because I’ve been intimidated.

My Love really enjoys collard greens – but it is also because he loves southern food and has had some great food in Chicago.  And me?  Yes.  I like collard greens, but cooking them?  *Yikes*

I’ve heard how “long” and “tough” it is to cook collard greens and have them turn out fabulously.  Seasoning them and making them the right texture and not having either mushy or bitter greens to serve.  And you know what?  I’m much more of a baker than a cook, so that whole “you’ll know when it’s done” thing?  Doesn’t always work for me.  Well, unless I’m grilling chicken or pork chops.  I’ve got that down.

Last week (and this week’s) CSA box had collard greens, so I bit the bullet.  I was going to prepare them and prove my Love wrong.  I was going to make simple and tasty collard greens.  And guess what?  It totally worked.  He wants more.

So tonight, with my family here visiting, we’re making grilled chicken breasts, some more KISS (Keep It Simple, Silly) Collard Greens, fresh new potatoes roasted with feta cheese and parsley and watermelon.  And for dessert?  I’m attempting a checker-board sponge cake.  (Yeap, now I’ve gone ’round the bend, huh?)

So, for those of you with greens and not southern touch to your cooking (like me), feel free to copy.  These are fabulous greens.  I’m thrilled to have an easy recipe to make collard greens with now.  And I won’t be swapping out my collards for any more carrots.  I promise.

K.I.S.S. Collard Greens

K.I.S.S. Collard Greens

Serves two.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of collard greens, cleaned/washed
  • 4 cloves of garlic, mashed and minced
  • olive oil
  • salt/pepper for seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • Squeeze of lemon juice.
  • OPTIONAL/Main Dish Salad:  chopped chicken, raisins or dried cherries, toasted almonds.

Directions:

  1. Bring a pot of water (salted. optional) to a boil on the stove.  While you wait, prepare your collard greens.
  2. Cut the thick center vein/stem out of the collard greens.  Split each leaf in two.  Roll together and slice into thin strips (1/4 inch – 1/2 inch).  Cut the strips in half.  (See picture above of rolled collards that have been cut into strips.  I just sliced the rolls in half one time.)
  3. Drop the greens into the boiling water.  Boil for 6 minutes (thin slices) – 8/10 minutes for thicker slices.  Remove the collards once they have reached the “al dente” noodle stage after 6 – 10 minutes (depending on the thickness of your strips).
  4. Drain and press out the excess water.
  5. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a pan.  Add your garlic and stir until fragrant (1 minute).  Add the greens and stir fry for 4 – 5 minutes until tender.  Drizzle with sesame oil and season with salt and pepper.  Continue over the heat until even temperature.  (The greens will remain “al dente” or just tender and not mush after such speedy cooking.) Squeeze a half a lemon over or drizzle a teaspoon of lemon juice over (or more, to taste) and toss.
  6. Serve warm as a side.  Or top with a few raisins, sliced chicken and toasted almonds to make a fabulous entree salad.
Happy Eats!
~Kate