Saturday, September 27, 2008

Late, Late, Late!

I know some of you have come by for a visit to see what wonderful things the Daring Baker Challenge had us doing this month. Unfortunately, my month has just flown by and I am running a little behind schedule. This has been just a very stressful month and I am a little preoccupied with some family issues. You see, I haven't even made the challenge yet. I plan too, really. I just kind of lost track of time and thought I had a few more days. So be patient my friends, I should have the challenge posted soon. In the meantime, pop on over and see what the other wonderful Daring Bakers have made. The hosts for this month are Natalie from Gluten A Go Go and Shel from Musings From A Fishbowl. The challenge was making Lavash crackers and dip. Yum!

Thursday, September 25, 2008


I really like how this turned out. I was inspired to create this after I read Rebecca Sowers blog on her art of one word. Her work is beautiful. I liked the word home and it made sense to me to have this little bird with her nest represent that wonderful place. Home to me is a place to gather with family and friends. A place to rest and escape from the hectic world. To make memories and establish traditions. Creativity and inspiration abound and are able to reign free. Home is truly were the heart is.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Housekeeping Bits

I have decided to create another blog dedicated to gluten free living. I really want this blog to focus on crafts, family and traditional style cooking. I think separating the two will make it easier for me to keep track of the recipes and the like. Please feel free to pop on over and take a peek at A Gluten Free Journey. What I am realizing about gluten free cooking is that it is normal food just tweaked a little. I hope you enjoy both blogs.

Something Crafty

I know that I have been focused on and blogging more about gluten free eating, but I am still doing crafty things too! I have been enjoying working with felt. Not the acrylic felt that you can get at craft stores, but the real deal wool felt. I love the feel and texture of the material. A while back when I was working on some earlier projects, my little guy came up and started playing with my scrap felt. At one point he put both his hands on a felt piece. I thought it would look great if I traced out his hands. So I did just that. I decorated his hands with some back stitches and french knots to create a vine and flowers look to it. Then I blanket stitched the hands to another piece of felt. I added a heart above the hand. I am not finished with it yet, but I like how it is turning out so far.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sherry Wine Cake

My husband and sons love this cake. I have been making it for years. I always make this for hubby's birthday. I wanted my son to be able to still have a piece so I made this version that is gluten free. It turned out just like my original cake. This journey is going to be interesting discovering new ways to enjoy our favorite foods.

Sherry Wine Cake

1 box gluten free yellow cake mix
1 box instant vanilla pudding
4 eggs
3/4 cup oil (I use canola oil)
3/4 cup cream sherry
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all ingredients into bowl and mix until combined. Pour batter into a buttered and (gf) floured tube or bundt pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. When cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Gluten Free Continued

So the challenge has been the bread issue. My son does not like the gluten free(gf) bread that we have tried so far. I can see that this is going to be a work in progress. Our breakfast's and dinners have been fine gluten free, but my sons take their lunches to school and the sandwiches have been an issue. I think I will try to bake my own bread with some of the recipes I have found online. Dinner tonight was a good gf dinner. We had steak enchiladas and they were really good. This is a fall back recipe for me. I always make it when we have leftover meat. Hubby's birthday was this past week and we had the family over for dinner on Sunday. We grilled flank steak and had enough leftovers to make these enchiladas. These are super easy and gluten free.

This is sort of an un-recipe.

Steak Enchiladas

Leftover steak, chopped
grated cheese
1 can enchilada sauce (my favorite one to use is Hatch brand which is gf)
corn tortillas

In a baking dish, spread about 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce in the bottom of the dish. Warm tortillas in a pan or microwave until they are pliable. Dip tortillas in enchilada sauce and fill with meat and cheese. Roll and place seam side down. Pour about 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce over top of the enchiladas and top with cheese. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until heated through and cheese on top has melted. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Gluten Free Lifestyle

I have been trying to convert my family over to a gluten free diet. One of my sons would greatly benefit from cutting gluten out of his diet and since he needs to do so, I thought it would just be easier to have the whole family adapt. The more I read about the effects of gluten intolerance the more I believe that my family would be better off without it. So I have been trying different recipes out. Last nights dinner recipe came from a free magazine I picked up at Whole Foods called Delicious Living. The original recipe called for whole wheat flour and soy sauce. I omitted the soy sauce and substituted brown rice flour for the whole wheat. It turned out fantastic. My family didn't even know that it was gluten free and I'm not telling. They are very reluctant to change their diet. So I am not telling them that I have already adapted most of our meals to gluten free. Fortunately, my sons don't read this blog. The picture below is actually of our leftovers. I served it with mashed potatoes, but next time I think I will serve it with creamy polenta. YUM!

Chicken Breasts with Steam-Roasted Parsnips, Leeks and Thyme (adapted from Delicious Living Magazine)

1 medium leek
1 pound parsnips, peeled, cored and evenly sliced into spears
2-3 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, divided
4 4-ounce boneless, skin-on chicken breasts, cut in half
1 sprig rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon brown rice flour
3 tablespoon olive oil, divided
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 cup dry Marsala
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

1. Cut leek lengthwise and wash carefully. Thinly slice white part crosswise and discard greens. Place leek, parsnips, and half of the thyme leaves in a microwave on high until easily pierced with a fork, about 5 minutes. Drain water, remove lid, toss and set aside.

2 Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lay chicken, skin side down, on waxed paper on a hard surface; cover with another layer of waxed paper. Pound to an even thickness of 1/2 inch to facilitate even cooking. In a shallow dish, mix remaining thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper with brown rice flour; dredge both sides of chicken.

3. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil to parsnips, leeks, and thyme; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Place in top third of oven and roast for 15 minutes.

4. Coat a 12 inch skillet with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil and place over medium high heat. When oil is hot but not smoking, place chicken breast in pan, skin side down, and brown for 2-3 minutes. (Do not move; they'll release easily once browned). Turn and brown other side, 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, cover and keep warm.

5. Reduce pan heat to medium low and add shallots and garlic. Saute for 1-2 minutes, until soft. Increase heat to medium high and add Marsala or other liquid, scraping up brown bits. When liquid reduces by half (about 1 minute), whisk in parsley.

6. Remove chicken skin. Surround chicken with parsnip mixture and top with pan sauce. Garnish with rosemary sprigs.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is my mom's birthday. She has been through a rough couple of years. She has battled cancer and then a lung infection. Yet, with all that she has gone through she is amazingly strong. I am so lucky to have her as my mom.
We spent the afternoon going out to lunch. Our lunch place of choice was Fats Asia Bistro & Dim Sum Bar in Roseville. Oh my was it good. We had a delightful time talking and she was able to relax and enjoy herself. My dad is not well and it gets tiring for her to constantly keep an eye on him. I was glad she was able to have a stress free afternoon.
Mom, your best! Happy Birthday.

Autumn & New Jewelry Etsy Preview

I absolutely love this time of year! My mind turns to harvest festivals, pumpkins, cold crisp days and Apple Hill. Apple Hill is a fun place to visit . It is just outside of Placerville, CA. It is a rite of the season to go to Apple hill. They have u-pick apple orchards, bake shops, craft festivals and so much more. You meander around the different orchards and enjoy their local specialities like fresh apple cider donuts, apple pies, apple cider, apple jelly and so on. I can't wait to go!

My jewelry has also reflected this time of year. I have had some of these pumpkin beads for a long time. In fact, the pumpkin lampwork beads I have had so long that I cannot remember who the artist was. I wanted to do something fun for this season, so I brought these guys out of my stash. I like how they turned out. Both necklaces are on copper chain that adds to the coloring of the pumpkins.. The bracelet is fun with all of its charms. The vintage melon beads are a wonderful orange color and give the look of pumpkins.

Finally, I wanted a earthy bracelet. I found these beautiful turquoise barrel beads and dyed coral beads at a recent bead show. I love the colors and they remind me of the desert. I happened to have a rose in my silver box that nicely finished the bracelet. All these designs are up on Etsy.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day Weekend Fun!

Labor day weekend in Sacramento has plenty to offer. First there is the state fair, which closes labor day weekend. Then there is the Greek Food Festival and Gold Rush Days. We decided to skip the fair this year and we did hit the Greek Food Festival and the Gold Rush Days. We went to the Greek festival on Saturday night. I had not been to the festival in years. There were of course lots of good Greek food and dancing. We had a good time. The boys were not too interested in eating Greek food. Son #2 really liked the loukoumathes and son #1 found that he like tiropita. I am Greek on my father's side but not part of the orthodox church. My mother's side is Italian and I do identify more with her side of the family. I have always enjoyed going to the festival and was glad we all went.
Today, we decided to go to Old Sacramento and see the Gold Rush Days. I usually avoid going to Old Sac because it is really touristy, but we thought the kids would enjoy going back to the old west. All the streets in old town were covered with dirt and the whole place is transformed back to an old western town of the 1850's. They had pony express runs, canon firings, gun fights, panning for gold and street dramas. The kids had fun! Not a bad way to spend our weekend.
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