day dreams

NaturalDayLaunchFor the past two years my husband and daughter have been working hard to develop a new, all natural toothpaste that is not only effective but is safe for the whole family. They started out with an idea and now that idea has become a reality as they launch their new company and it’s very first product, Mellow Mint Toothpaste! They have just begun advertising and getting into retail stores but if you’re interested in an earth, animal, and people friendly toothpaste go like their Facebook page now and then better yet, check out their website and try a tube! I am one proud mama and wife, way to go Doug and Lizzi!

“If you can dream it, you can do it. Always remember that this whole thing was started with a dream and a mouse.” ~Walt Disney

See more (nearly) Wordless Wednesday here.

summer sweets

My friend, Fab, gave me a recipe for simple blueberry jam. This morning, I smeared some of my homemade jam on a toasted, gluten-free English muffin and tasted summer in every delectable bite.

5 cups blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

In a medium saucepan, combine the blueberries, sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Mash with a potato masher or wooden spoon until the berries have released their juices. Cook over medium-high heat until the mixture has thickened for about 20 minutes. Transfer to containers and refrigerate for up to 1 month or freeze for up to 1 year.

fall food

I don’t post many recipes, but decided to share one of my favorites today. One of the best things about living in a four season state is changing your cooking with the weather. We’re covering up the barbecues and firing up our ovens and Crock Pots here in Michigan. My sister Carrie, the family cook, made this beef stew for us once and it immediately became an all-time favorite around here. Not only because it tastes so good, but because it’s pretty much a no-fail recipe!

Carrie’s Beef Stew

4 tablespoons olive oil
3 1/2 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed, cut into 2 1/2-inch pieces
3 1/2 cups chopped onions
2 cups Cabernet Sauvignon
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with Italian herbs, undrained
1/2 cup hoisin sauce (I use Kame brand because it’s Gluten-Free)
2 bay leaves

1 pound slender carrots, peeled, cut diagonally into 1-inch lengths
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large pot over high heat. Sprinkle meat with salt and pepper. Add meat to pot; sauté until brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Push meat to sides of pot. Reduce heat to medium; add 2 tablespoons oil to pot. Add onions; sauté until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Mix meat into onions. Add 1 cup wine, tomatoes with juices, hoisin sauce, and bay leaves. Bring to boil.

Reduce heat to low, cover pot and simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add carrots and 1 cup wine. Cover; simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover, increase heat to high; boil until sauce is slightly thickened, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes longer. Reduce heat to medium, add cornstarch mixture and simmer until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Season stew with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep refrigerated. Bring to simmer before serving, stirring occasionally.) Transfer stew to large bowl. Sprinkle with parsley; serve.

Okay, so that’s the recipe. Now I don’t know about you, but I always change things up as I go depending on my mood and what I have in the pantry. I like to use lean, thinly sliced steak, I usually make it in a Crock Pot cooking it on low for about 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours. I throw in baby carrots sliced in half if I have them, I rarely have fresh parsley around so I skip that or use dry, most of time when I make this all the wine goes in at once, my husband and onions don’t get along so I use onion salt or flakes, and I often don’t get around to the cornstarch. The stew goes great with mashed potatoes or rice. I’ve even made it into a rich soup a couple of times by thinning the stock with a little water and adding frozen chopped vegetables.

The cows in the photo hung out in a pasture near our condo in Jackson Hole. Hmm, their cute little bovine faces are giving me a case of the meat-eating guilt’s, maybe I’ll skip the beef and throw in some tofu next time!

gluten-free treat

Today’s theme for PhotoHunt Saturday is utensils. I photographed the baking supplies a few weeks ago for my iStock account. I don’t really bake much anymore since I had to go on a gluten-free diet. It’s a lot more complicated, and the truth is, most GF baking recipes just aren’t worth all the trouble. I have made one yummy discovery though, 123 Gluten-Free Pan Bar mix is delish when made with added pumpkin and a cream cheese frosting. I serve it often to “regular” people. Everyone seems to love my pumpkin bars and they didn’t know they were gluten-free until I told them:)

Vegetables are a must on a diet.  I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie. ~Jim Davis

i dream of pizza

So it was one of those good-news/bad-news moments when I found out that I would feel better by not eating food containing gluten. And most of the time I don’t miss all those carbs, mainly because I began to look at them differently. When I see a slice of chocolate birthday cake, a mound of spaghetti, or a basket of hot rolls I see poison. But the one thing I still missed after being wheat-free for many years was pizza. No matter how hard I tried to convince myself that I didn’t care, that it was gooey and fattening and no big loss, the truth is, I still longed to bite into a hot cheesy, crusty slice of yummy pizza! Last week, while standing in front of the gluten-free product freezer at my local market, the woman next to me asked if I’d tried the Kinnikinnick Pizza Crusts. She went on (and on and on) telling me how she prepared them and how great they were while I stood there nodding and thinking that she must be totally deluding herself. There was no way they could be as good as the “real” thing, but I threw a bag in my cart and figured I’d give them a try. I made two individual pizzas that night and she was right, they were fabulous! My husband even loved them and he can eat wheat. So thank you gabby grocery store lady, you were right, I was wrong, and now because of you I’m eating pizza again and I’m going to have to ramp-up my meager workouts on the outside chance that winter will eventually end here in Michigan and I’ll have to put on a bathing suit someday (4-8 inches of snow predicted tonight!).

Did you know that when man first began eating wheat it contained only 1-2% gluten, while today’s wheat contains 55% gluten? No wonder more and more people are feeling the effects. If you have chronic digestive problems, skin rashes, or autoimmune health issues, consider talking to your doctor about a screening and perhaps giving the gluten-free diet a try. It’s really not so bad, really, you can even eat pizza:)

cheesecake bliss

Ever since I’ve gone gluten-free I rarely bake anymore. It just doesn’t seem to be worth the effort, especially since I’m the only one in my family that avoids the sticky little proteins (although there are others who show signs of needing to, but I won’t go there in this post). Anyway, I hosted book club last week and wanted to make something I could actually enjoy along with my friends so I adapted a cheesecake recipe to make it gluten-free. It was soooo good you’d never know the crust was wheat-free and even people who aren’t big cheesecake fans loved it! It’s almost a cross between cheesecake and apple crisp because of the crust and the crumble top so this is the perfect time of year to make it and impress your friends and family. And since this was my first time ever making cheesecake it must be a fail safe recipe! Click on “keep reading” to get the recipe:)

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food glorious food

When I tell people I have to eat totally gluten-free they look at me with such sympathy you’d have thought I just told them I had to have my right foot cut off! While I may not be able to pick up the phone and order a double cheese pepperoni pizza anymore (my arteries are breathing a huge sigh of relief), there are still plenty of not-so-great-for-you-but-tasty-carbs that I can chow down on. I recently tried the poppy seed bagels that Glutino makes and they are now a yummy addition to my morning breakfast menu. Last week at book club a friend gave me an article she had clipped from our local paper. The cake shop I’ve always ordered cakes from (for “normal” family members) has started making gluten-free desserts. One of their customers simply asked, and just like that, they are now in the GF baking business. This has taught me two things, 1) Speak up, people are often more than happy to oblige those of us with diet restrictions, and 2) I have such thoughtful friends, thanks for thinking of me and passing along the article Sandy!