A Beach Vacation! (Part 2)

Shells1

On to the rest of my vacation! I have to call this one an extreme beach vacation because it simply was not your typical lay out, catch some waves kind of trip. That’s usually how I roll; just kicking back, no schedule, no “to do” list. Apparently this is not how the rest of my family rolls; not this trip! This my friends, was a trip so intense even extreme doesn’t seem to do it justice. It was more like boot camp! We were up at dawn every day either biking, hiking the beach, or kayaking for hours followed by a power swim in the ocean. There were always a series of afternoon activities ranging from power shopping to sightseeing which finally would lead to ending the day at one of the many laid back beach restaurants where we could just sit outside, relax…enjoy the humidity (yuck) and listen to a band or two. Nonstop but lots of fun, exhaustion, and sheer bliss.

Regarding the beach restaurants, I need to say that although the atmosphere was lovely, eating gluten-free safely was a very stressful task. In restaurants where everything is deep-fried and all of the meals are served in a basket, I didn’t get the feeling that cross-contamination was on anyone’s mind; well except for me that is! I just stuck to the basics, even though it wasn’t very exciting – usually a plain grilled chicken salad since I don’t really like fish. It was a bit brutal to eat that while everyone else was digging into french fries, hush puppies and deep-fried southern bliss, but I didn’t get sick, and that’s what matters. Plus, with the hefty workouts and super clean eating I even lost a few pounds (now that is my kind of vacation, going home smaller than you arrived!).

Rock Shrimp!

Rock Shrimp!

There was one really exciting treat that I hadn’t even heard of before, rock shrimp. These huge shrimp look like mini lobster tails, and they taste like it too…yummm! I ordered mine without seasoning, but they also come coated in what looked like an Old Bay seasoning mix (oh how I love Old Bay and it’s gluten-free too!). You can eat rock shrimp as is or dip them in butter (just like lobster) and they are delicious. Best Florida discovery by far. I am not into fish, but shellfish are my weakness…I blame that on growing up in Maine…lobster…yummm…

rockshrimp2

rockshrimp3

In addition to the scrumptious shrimp there were live dolphins, sea turtles, and manatees…oh my! No sharks thank goodness…well at least none that I actually saw, I had those moments in the water where I felt something slimy graze my legs, ewww. Where are the pictures you ask? Well as you’ve probably noticed, I am not the world’s best photographer, but I give it my all with my iPhone! Trying to get wild dolphins and sea creatures on film is harder than you may think. Every time a dolphin would crest I would grab my phone, but by the time I actually took the picture all you could see was the water! I have a lot of those…. The sea turtle nests were really interesting, we kept checking them but no hatchlings while we were there. Did you know that the only lights safe for checking turtle nests on the beach at night are red LED lights?

Turtle nest on the beach

Turtle nest on the beach

At least these turtles were slow enough for me to photograph!

At least these turtles were slow enough for me to photograph!

Even the manatee’s managed to keep their identities hidden. We kayaked with them and I was sure they were going to tip me over; their little noses would pop up way too close to my unsteady kayak and they would sniff and blow water. But it turns out I was the culprit here, I didn’t need any help falling in, I did it all on my own! It was so gross being thrown into the murky brown bay water; I hoped Flipper would come to rescue me but apparently in real life dolphins don’t care if you drown from your own stupidity! Fortunately, after my initial panic attack I realized that I could touch the bottom, so crisis averted.

What was my favorite animal sighting in Florida you ask? Even at the beach you can’t take the country out of the girl. The cows of course!

Cows by the river

Check this out, only in Florida will you find Egrets hanging out in the cow pastures!

baby cows

Where did you go on your last vacation? Do you find it difficult to eat gluten-free when you’re away from home?

A Beach Vacation! (Part 1)…and a Baggage Claim Rant

Shells1

Ahhh vacations! Like the rarest gems on earth, they come much too few and far between. But I took the plunge, I put myself first (for once) and decided to go spend a week in Florida with my family! They drove down from New England, and since Chicago isn’t on the way to Florida no matter what route you take from there, I was on my own in the airport. It isn’t often that I get to travel alone anymore; it was kind of a treat, my solo adventure. Luckily it was a smooth trip, even including both of my encounters with my nemesis; the baggage claim.

empty baggage claim

Don’t you dare look at me so innocently empty baggage claim…

Call it paranoia if you will, maybe irrational fear, but I absolutely hate watching that baggage claim belt snake around the baggage area full of luggage that all looks the same. Every single time I’m terrified that 1). my bag won’t be on that belt; how many times have we all been faced with that horror? Trying desperately to track down your missing bag while in the meantime being forced to live out of your carry-on for what could be days until they finally locate your beloved luggage. Didn’t your mother always warn you about that? Mine did, “now don’t forget to pack some extra underwear in your carry-on just in case they lose your luggage”…that phase literally sends chills down my spine, lose your luggage…where will it go? What will happen to all of my favorite outfits and accessories and worldly possessions specifically combined for this very trip that took me days if not weeks to pull from my closet, shop for, and coordinate. Really?!

The worst experience I ever had was after flying down for spring break years ago (ok, not that many years ago!). I was traveling in from the arctic cold, so naturally I was wearing my winter clothes, only to arrive in balmy Panama City Beach, Florida to find my luggage hadn’t made it. I wasn’t the seasoned traveler I am now (nor nearly as paranoid!), so I was completely unprepared for this, nothing in my carry-on was clothes related…not even an extra pair of underwear (sorry mom!). And of course it was late at night so there were no stores open, I was forced go out partying my very first night of spring break, in my winter travel clothes. Horror of horrors, right? Ok, looking back on it now that I have some perspective and have had more life experience, it’s not so bad, but at the time it felt like the worst moment of my life. Even though after a few beers it really didn’t seem to matter so much (oh, how I miss those times when I could drink beer! Or any alcohol without getting sick for that matter…but I digress) it was still a traumatizing travel moment which taught me to hate baggage claim.

Baggage Claim

Now back to my irrational fears, let’s not forget option 2). that someone is going to carelessly grab my bag without checking the tag, innocently thinking it’s theirs and take it home with them. While in the meantime I’m left, alone and luggage-less (not that this has happened to me yet, but I know deep down that inevitably, my day is coming). Not to mention option 3). where someone actually knows this is not their bag but they are taking it anyway. Most likely they scoped me on the plane, liked my style, they think we wear roughly the same clothing size and want my luggage instead. Now this one has also not yet happened to me, but yes, I have put a lot of thought into this one while stuck on the plane…perhaps stepping into someone else’s potentially more glamorous life for a week would be fun! That’s right, I said it! And don’t act like it hasn’t ever crossed your mind too! Fortunately for all of you stuck in baggage claim with me, your bags are safe…well from me at least. My luggage is just too impeccably packed to specifically meet my needs and crazy tendencies (thank you “type A” personality); there’s no way I’m leaving it behind no matter what potential treasures you might have in yours!

Do you hate baggage claim as much as I do? Even after a smooth trip are you traumatized by memories of luggage handling gone wrong? I would love to hear your thoughts and horror stories!

“Spaghetti” and Meatballs (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

spaghetti and meatballs

Oh Mama Mia; spaghetti and meatballs how I have missed you! Finally a gluten-free dish just as tasty as the real deal. And don’t just take my word for it (I know, I know, it’s been a long time since I had real gluten filled pasta) my crazy-for-gluten family can vouch for the legit faux gluten flavor! Seriously, they won’t eat anything gluten-free that tastes sub-par and this was a hit all around the table. Wait, you say, this isn’t spaghetti, this is fettucine! Well I consider it both…to me the sauces determine the title. For those of you who can’t live with this potentially life altering inconsistency (I get it, I’m particular too!) please note my quotation marks around “spaghetti” and feel free to sub in actual gluten-free spaghetti, angel hair, linguine…whatever YOU consider your “spaghetti” to be!

Rice Pasta Brand

I am in love with these Tinkyada brown rice fettuccine noodles, seriously love. I bought a package months ago and I have been terrified to try them. I pretty much stare at them daily in my cupboard, but I was just too scared to try them for fear of the potential disappointment and inevitable let down of faux pasta. All of that anguish was for nothing! I found out I’ve only been denying myself unbridled fettuccine joy because these noodles rock, yummm!

rice chex

crushed rice chex

I also convinced the “fam” that crushed rice chex in the meatballs would be all we need to bind them (this was also a horrifying idea, thank goodness I was right, lest I be burned at the stake…err…dinner table!) instead of traditional bread crumbs.

Here is the recipe; try it out secretly and see if your family can tell it’s gluten-free or include them in the cooking process and make it a family affair; group cooking is fun!

Ingredients (Serves 6):

Meatballs:

  • 1.5 lbs ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp parsley (fresh or dried)
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder (or fresh chopped garlic) optional, see note**
  • 1 cup Rice Chex, crushed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp Canola Oil
  1. In a medium bowl combine all ingredients and mix together with your (clean!) hands.
  2. Place a saucepan on the stove, coat the bottom with a thin layer of canola oil.
  3. Form the meatball mixture into small meatballs and place them into the saucepan on medium heat.
  4. Cover the saucepan and cook the meatballs until they are cooked through, approx. 20 – 30 minutes, rotating them periodically to cook evenly and prevent from burning.
  5. Once cooked, remove meatballs from pan and place on a serving platter.

**A note about the garlic; no it’s not FODMAP friendly. I usually leave it out but I had protests from the entire crowd at dinner about that, so I used just a little. If you can avoid the peer pressure then definitely leave it out!

meatball mix

meatballs in pan

cooking meatballs

meatballs

Gluten-Free Pasta:

  • 1 14 oz package of Tinkyada Fettucini style gluten-free brown rice pasta
  • 1 jar of Classico Tomato and Basil pasta sauce (or another GF flavor, check, not all flavors state “gluten-free”…or make your own, go for it…but don’t forget to share the recipe with me!)
  1. Boil 4 quarts of water and then add the pasta.
  2. Cook for 13 – 15 mins stirring occasionally, the water will get cloudy and it won’t smell like traditional pasta, but trust me, you’re in for a treat!
  3. In a medium microwave safe bowl, add the jar of sauce and heat covered in the microwave  3 – 5 minutes or until hot.
  4. After cooking the pasta, strain and rinse with cold water. Serve immediately (mix the sauce into the pasta if desired).
  5. Plate the pasta, sauce, and meatballs; enjoy!

Rice Pasta

spaghetti and meatballs

I’m so excited for your feedback, can you tell this is a gluten-free dinner?

Breathing Gluten?! Straw Allergies…

Straw...the root of all gluten...errr...evil?

Straw…the root of all evil…errr…gluten?

In an attempt to get back to my happy place I decided it was time for me to reconnect with horses. My entire childhood and teenage years were based on horseback riding and spending time in the barn; I was the epitome of a “barn rat”. When I left for college I had to put it all behind me; there simply wasn’t an economical way for me to keep my horse while I was going to school and it broke my heart. It took me a long time to come to terms with that pain; horses had been my identity up until that point. Fortunately, college helped ease me into a new life; with new friends, lots of freedom, and parties, of course. But after graduation I put my connection with horses out of my mind and stuffed myself into a corporate box that didn’t quite seem to fit, for years. Finally, I began to acknowledge the emptiness that had crept back in over the years. There is something about working with horses that calms me in a very inherent way on almost a primal level; it brings me unbelieveable peace.

That being said, there aren’t many horse farms out here in the big suburbs. Luckily, being the determined girl that I am, I was able to find one in need of help; working with Thoroughbreds. I always loved going to Tampa Bay Downs when I lived in Florida, and watching the race for the Triple Crown is one of my favorite yearly events, but that was the extent of both my Thoroughbred and racing knowledge. It has been an exciting road and as expected, I’m learning something new every day. For example, I learned the hard way about straw bedding.

My muck bucket overfloweth...

My muck bucket overfloweth…

With our own horses we had always used shavings for stall bedding. After the first week of cleaning stalls on the Thoroughbred farm, where they use straw for bedding, I noticed that when I got home I would start to get congested, my throat would turn raspy and I would start coughing. I thought that it was odd, but  I didn’t pay much attention to it. I assumed that after being “citified” (aka stuck in the city) for so long I was just adjusting to fresh country air again. Then, one fateful day, I cleaned out the straw bedding storage area. I felt fine at first, but a few hours later I was completely exhausted. I decided to give in and take a quick nap, only to wake up to a throbbing headache. I started throwing up and I was completely miserable. I wondered if it was dehydration, but it felt like I had been glutened! It didn’t make sense to me until I googled “straw” and found that straw comes from crops of “barley, oats, rice, rye and wheat”. I had in fact been glutened. 

Straw Bales

I still haven’t decided what to do about it yet. I try to steer clear of the straw and straw dust as best I can, but it is a barn after all. Honestly, at this point I’m just glad it’s the straw I’m allergic to and not the horses. I had that panicked thought originally; how ironic, that I would finally reconnect with my passion only to find out that I’m allergic to it, right? Seems about right.

Am I breathing gluten?

Am I breathing gluten too?

Have you had these issues with breathing gluten on the farm? What solutions have you come up with?

No Bake Cookie-in-a-Bowl (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

Cookie in a bowl

Here is another quick, easy, and addicting sweet treat! I wouldn’t call this super healthy but when you’re having a sugar/chocolate/texture craving this will be your new go to. Plus it fills you up!

This recipe has some interesting roots on it. It was an odd favorite when I was growing up; I think it developed from times when we were low on groceries in the house…dessert is still necessary (daily!) so we got creative. It all started with watching my dad put peanut butter on his store-bought chocolate chip cookies (weird), then my brother mixing a bowl full of semi-sweet chocolate chips with peanut butter (weirder), which finally led to me adding oatmeal to peanut butter and chocolate chips (weirdest, but SO good!).

I thought I would share this simple joy, plus if you need a sweet pick-me-up you almost always have these 3 ingredients at home. I’ve modified this recipe just a little for my allergies, but it still tastes like it did when I was a kid! It’s all about the texture here, and hey oatmeal adds fiber! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup Gluten-Free Oats
  • 1/4 cup Enjoy Life Dairy-Free Chocolate Chips
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp Peanut Butter

Instructions:

  1. In a cereal bowl mix the oats and peanut butter.
  2. Work in the chocolate chips and that’s it! You’re done! Eat up!

Recipe Notes/Thoughts:

  • You can make this mixture in any amount that you like, big or small. These are rough measurements. The general rule of thumb is 2 parts oats/chocolate chips to 1 part peanut butter. This will also keep well if you can actually stop yourself from finishing it in one sitting! Life’s too short…just eat it!

What crazy recipes have you come up with in a pinch when you are severely in need of a good sugar fix?

Incredible Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

THC Pile

Chocolate chip cookies…yummm! The epitome of childhood happiness (well at least it was for me!). It takes me back to those cold and snowy winter nights growing up when my mom was completely stir-crazy from being cooped up inside for too long. She would channel her anxious energy into baking up her very own storm! She used to religiously bake Nestle Toll House cookies for us, and in our house nothing less than a double batch would do. Maybe that explains why every time I get in the kitchen no matter what I create, it always seems to make enough to feed an entire neighborhood!

There are a lot of gluten-free chocolate chip cookies out there and so far this recipe is the first one that actually made my nostalgia come back! I will warn you that this recipe isn’t as simple as the recipes I usually bake; but I did try to un-complicate it a little. It’s still a one bowl wonder as long as you use a bowl that you can microwave (hooray for glass mixing bowls!!). My gluten-free baking is getting more daring; I think it’s a good thing. I adapted this recipe from Mama Pea’s version at Peas and Thank You which ultimately lead me back to Alton Brown’s version, so I need to give him a shout out as well. Some seriously amazing gluten-free work is going on out there!

THC Lone Dense

I made these cookies dairy-free also, as my quest to find out if dairy is making me sick continues. I have to say, once I adjusted to the dairy free chocolate chips they started to taste pretty freaking awesome (my husband still doesn’t completely agree with that, but he loved these cookies and hey he can still have the “real thing”, so disregard his opinion right now!).

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 Sticks/16 Tbsp) Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks, melted
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 Tbsp Silk Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Vanilla
  • 1/4 cup White Sugar
  • 3/4 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 cup Cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp Tapioca Flour
  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Oat Flour
  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Sorghum Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups Enjoy Life Dairy-Free Chocolate Chips
  • 1 cup chopped Walnuts

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl microwave the Earth Balance sticks until melted.
  3. Add the wet ingredients: sugars, eggs, milk and vanilla. Mix well.
  4. Start adding the dry ingredients: salt, cornstarch, tapioca flour and baking soda. Mix well.
  5. Then mix in the oat flour and sorghum flour. Don’t overmix from here on out; oat flour can get overworked.
  6. Add the chocolate chips and walnuts. Complete a final light mix (almost folding them in if you will).
  7. See recipe notes/thoughts on refrigerating the dough (below); chill dough for 1 hour or spoon onto baking sheets immediately, your choice.
  8. Bake unchilled dough for 11 minutes, refrigerated dough for 13 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven when they are browned to your preference; let cookies cool on the pans for at least 2 minutes before moving them.

Once they are completely cooled, store in an airtight container and continue to enjoy day by day!

Recipe Notes/Thoughts:

  • I’ve been using the Enjoy Life brand for dairy free chocolate chips, my only complaint is that I can’t get the correct size of chip that would compare to Nestle’s and it does make a difference (to me anyway). For this batch I started cutting the mega chunks in half (I made it through half a cup but I get bored easily, yes…it’s another issue I’m working on!) and I had about 1 cup of mini chips left so I combined the two.
  • I don’t bake with xanthan gum…I bought two packets that I constantly stare at in the pantry, but I haven’t had the nerve to try them yet…I just have this sixth sense that it’s not going to do good things in my stomach…
  • I used eggs and nuts in this recipe. For those of you who can’t eat them I’m SO sorry, definitely make your needed substitutions, but as for me I’m embracing them for as long as I still can!
  • This was my first experience with Sorghum flour. I can see how it might get overly sweet very quickly. When I tried these cookies hot out of the oven I was nervous; it reminded me of an overly sweet gluten-free flour mix, but don’t worry, as they cool the over-sweetness will disappear!
  • I mixed it by hand and it was just fine…
  • I’m not one for multiple bowls and I will do crazy things in just one bowl; but mix how you feel best…be true to yourself.
Left - Unrefrigerated         Right - Refrigerated

Left – Unrefrigerated                                                                                                                          Right – Refrigerated

  • Regarding refrigeration: Both of the recipes I consulted recommended refrigerating the dough for an hour prior to baking. I am 1.) completely not patient enough for this and 2.) I think I might like them better unrefrigerated, but I tend to like a denser cookie. I scooped the first batch onto a pan and popped it into the oven right away then I threw the dough in the fridge while they baked – 11 minutes. Once I had a few cookies in my  stomach (yes they were very hot!) I regained some patience and let the dough chill out for a while. However, I noticed that the rest of the batches took 13 minutes to cook and the cookies seemed “fluffier” (yes, that is a very technical baking term). The next day (which is when I tend to prefer gluten-free cookies the most, I think they must need to settle overnight to achieve the best flavor??) the refrigerated cookies were soft and had a more delicate texture while the unrefrigerated batch seemed crisper, almost denser with a more crunchy texture. So I put the decision in your hands; if you like a crunchy cookie then don’t refrigerate the dough, if you want a softer version then let it refrigerate before cooking (warning, the refrigerated kind can be a bit crumbly, so careful when you pack them up).

THC side by side inside

I hope you like my modifications…now go, get in the kitchen and happy baking to you! Let me know if you choose to refrigerate or not; yes, it is one of life’s bigger decisions, you alone hold the fate of these cookies in your hand…errr…refrigerator!

“Fake-els” Faux Bagels (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free) (Part 1)

Banana Creature

By now you know how much I like to say “life is a journey”? Ummm yeah, well so is gluten-free baking! I am not going to just give you perfect, delicious, amazing gluten-free recipes…nope, I’m not that girl. I’m also not the “recipe fairy”. We are in this together you and I, so here we go, brace yourself because there will be good and bad but we will eventually get there, I promise. Where is there you ask? To the land of perfect recipes of course!

This recipe is definitely a “creature from my oven”. I want a gluten-free, dairy-free bagel. I want it to be simple and quick and I want it to taste fantastic. I am not there yet. Bagels should be crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. They should taste great alone or with toppings. Did I mention this is not that recipe? Well not yet anyway! I was feeling very inspired by Foodie Fiasco’s Easy Grain Free Bagel recipe, but there were a lot of things I just couldn’t eat in there, like applesauce, garlic (oh how I miss garlic!) and xanthan gum. So this is my version; here we go!

Trial #1 – Banana “Fake-els”

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 medium banana, mashed
  • 3/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground flax
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°
  2. In a medium bowl mash the banana, then mix in the eggs one by one.
  3. Mix in the dry ingredients and voila´, batter complete!
  4. On a baking sheet covered with parchment paper form 4-5 bagel-esque looking creatures.
  5. Bake for 18 – 20 minutes; the weird antenna’s on the “fake-el” will turn brown (yes, I am aware that normal bagels do not have antenna’s!)
  6. Let your creatures cool on the baking sheet, then attempt consumption in whatever manner feels right to you. They WILL slice in half, like a real bagel…resemblance ends there…

Recipe Notes/Thoughts:

  • I thought the banana was genius; until I realized that the “fake-el” would be banana flavored! That being said, if some sugar was added to the batter it may have resembled banana bread…don’t worry, it’s on my list of things to do and I’ll keep you posted.
  • The batter was very wet, hence adding more and more coconut flour, plus tapioca flour. “Fake-els” were a bit grittier than I was hoping for, but the flax did seem to help.

Banana Creature 2

                          How did your “fake-els” come out? What did you change?

A Day of Overprotective Moms

Family

A Family of Geese

Since I don’t have kids, I am always curious about what moms are thinking in different situations. Here’s my story, let me know how you interpret it!

Geese in the Mist

Geese in the Mist

It was gorgeous day; I wanted to take a nice relaxing walk at a nearby park. The loop I like goes in a circle around a pond where there are always Canadian geese. Usually the geese and I don’t have a problem, we stare at each other nervously when the path gets close to where they’re hanging out, trying to decide who’s the predator and who’s prey until we get a little distance from each other, then we’re fine. But today there were goslings, and we all know how protective moms can be. The geese were far enough from the path where I could walk by without getting too close (or so I thought) mother goose did not agree. I stood waiting for them to walk down to the pond so I could pass and she wasn’t having it, she started hissing at me and when I took just one step closer, foolishly thinking we had enough room between us to coexist, she started chasing me! Not just running at me but hissing with her mouth open!

The Chase Begins

The Chase Begins

I’m not well versed on geese, maybe it would have been smarter to stand up to her, but knowing how my mom is when she gets angry, I ran! Then after a sizeable distance was between us, we were fine, she stopped chasing me and went back to the kids. I decided I would just go the opposite way on the loop and by the time I’d circled around again they’d be gone. Well as I was circling around I noticed another jogger had reversed his path and was kind of smirking at me as he ran by – I didn’t think about it until afterwards, but he totally knew the goose was waiting for me – nice heads up guy! Anyway, there is also a playground near this pond and there were some moms and kids playing. I saw another girl walking near where the geese were and she looked a little nervous but fine, so I kept walking. Ok, this is where you are waiting for me to be savagely attacked by a goose – I know you want it, but no, I’m not insane, sorry. When I came up on that momma goose again and she started hissing at me AGAIN I turned around  and decided to backtrack! There happens to be an exit to the park near the playground, so I decided to go out that way only to find a toddler walking out the path too. Not far behind was his very pregnant mother who was chasing him as best as she could, she looked like she could go into labor at any second. I stood and waited for the mom to get behind the toddler before I exited the park and I noticed she was giving me a terrible glare that I could see even through her sunglasses! I smiled at her sympathetically, (if I had a kid it would run away from me too) I don’t like to get too close to random kids with all of that “stranger danger” stuff out there so I kept my distance. She seemed to resent me for that, like I should have jumped in to help, or maybe she really was scared that I was going to abduct her child, I’m not really sure. Either way she reminded me so much of the angry goose mom that it made me laugh (which needless to say, she also didn’t seem to appreciate). Needing to see how this story was going to end, I casually watched as I exited the park and went in the opposite direction  from the now sprinting toddler. This kid ran his mom ragged and finally darted out into the street where he started climbing on what must have been their car (I hope it was their car because thought of a toddler climbing on my car like that gives me chills). At that point his mom finally grabbed him and carried him back to the park, and all the while she’s still giving me that nasty glare!

Now please realize, I have my own issues. If a stranger looks at me funny (or even just plain looks at me at all) I feel like they are judging me and I am immediately insecure. First thought in my head is, they must think I look fat (hey cut me a break, it’s something that I’m working on)!  That being said, I hear all the time about how being a mom can make you feel very insecure, especially when your kid is acting up in public.

Moms out there, it’s “Choose Your Own Adventure” time (please tell me you remember CYOA!). Can you tell me what this mom was thinking? Was she embarrassed that her son was running away from her? Was she judging me and my workout outfit? Was she mad at me for not helping? Or was I too close to the runaway toddler and it was in fact “stranger danger”?

                 I’m really intrigued to hear what you have to say!

Hungry Egg Sandwich (Gluten-Free)

Hungry Egg Sandwich

Hungry Egg Sandwich

Some days there’s just nothing like kicking things off with a good fried egg sandwich (almost every day in my case…I’m addicted to these sandwiches!)! I’m sure everyone has their favorite version of this sandwich and mine will vary depending on my mood and how much time I have to throw it together. This is so simple and quick, plus it will keep you satisfied so that you can take on the day no matter what you have to do. Plus these sandwiches can feed just you, your family, or your hungry neighborhood…they are so quick that once you get that pan warmed up you can cook ’em up to your heart’s content! I say go for it and don’t make the mistake of limiting yourself to just breakfast here, I eat these any and all times of the day – breakfast, lunch, dinner, late night snack…I think I’ll go make one right now!

HES 1

Ingredients (per sandwich):

That’s it! That’s really all you need, 3 basic ingredients that I always keep on hand. If this is too plain for you then add toppings, get crazy, you can add mayo, tomatoes, avocado, bacon, pesto…whatever floats your boat!

Instructions:

  1. Toast your bread, and while the toaster is doing it’s job –
  2. Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and fry eggs on medium heat until they are cooked to your preferred level of doneness (I like mine over-medium)
  3. Once the toast is done, put the cheese on the toast, pop your egg(s) on top and voila you are done my friend; eat up before it gets cold!

Recipe Notes/Thoughts:

  • If you have a gluten free bread you prefer over Udi’s please let me know; right now Udi’s is my holy grail of gluten free bread. I drive all over town to find it when my grocery store is sold out! I’m always open to exploring new options, and some bread textures are better for different recipes. For these egg sandwiches I love the light and crispy crunch of toasted Udi (yummm!!) let me know what brand you love!
  • As far as cheese goes, I’ve been eating Heini’s Greek Yogurt Cheese, some supermarket delis are starting to carry it, it’s lactose free (although I don’t think lactose is really my issue, I suspect casein is my enemy, but lactose is all I can handle giving up right now!) and it’s the closest thing I can find to American Cheese that works for me. Plus, if you cut a slice in half it fits perfectly on each piece of Udi bread!
Open Faced Style...look your sandwich straight in the eye!

Open Faced Style…look your sandwich straight in the eye!

             Enjoy your sandwich(s)! Are you going to add toppings or are you a purist?

Silicone Bakeware; The Ultimate Smoothie Solution

Ahhhh Walmart, how I love thee, let me count the ways! Where else can you get absolutely everything you need (plus a ton of stuff that you probably never ever needed nor should you ever have bought!) for a super low price?! That being said, I lose hours, maybe even days of my life there deciding what kitchen gadgets, beauty supplies, and even groceries I can’t live without! Today was no exception, even with my very specific list I ended up trolling the aisles for 3 hours…seriously, 3 hours! Imagine what else I could have done with even 1 of those spare hours; but it’s ok, I’m not going to dwell on it, well not for too much longer anyway! I got everything I needed plus the few extra things I suddenly decided I could not live without, and here is my latest fun kitchen gadget, check this out:

Final S G Men

My first piece of silicone bakeware! The thing I’m most excited about is that this bakeware can go directly from freezer to oven to dishwasher without cracking! Get ready, everything coming out of my oven and freezer is going to be gingerbread man shaped!

I was really inspired by Emily Ho’s post at thekitchn.com regarding Matt Kadey’s Muffin Tin Mania tips. Muffin tins, of course this is the answer! I’ve been looking for a way to not only preserve my smoothies but at the same time have a quick fix ready on a busy morning. I don’t make smoothies very often, even as much as I love them, because I can’t seem to make just one smoothie at a time, it tends to be entire blender-fulls! It drives me crazy to try to store it in the fridge and force myself to finish all of it before it melts. This usually leads to me slyly leaving glasses of smoothies all around the house as subtle hints for my husband to finish them, which is great, until it starts to feel like a bad scavenger hunt where the only prize is an overly full stomach! But fortunately this muffin tin idea is going to change the fate of smoothie day in my house forever, and not only that, but in fun gingerbread man shapes!

The ice men cometh!

The ice men cometh!

                               I’m off to make smoothies! Who else is with me?!