Monthly Archives: May 2011

All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt!

Another busy week has come to an end.  This one was full of exciting good news, a couple of celebrations, and plenty of chocolate! 

My Week in a Nutshell

On Monday Luke and I adopted a little sister for Jasper.  Her name is Luna (formally known ad Bebe) and she is incredibly sweet!  She’s two years old only weighs 5.8 pounds (Jasper weighs 14!).  Before going to the animal shelter she came from a one bedroom home with over 50 cats!  Looking like a baby herself, she had a litter of kittens this past March, all of which have been adopted.  So far Jasper seems to love her, following her around everywhere she goes.  She doesn’t seem to mind too much, but is still getting used to her new home and her new brother.

Miss Luna girl lounging on the couch

On Tuesday, we had a party at work for my work study student Mireille.  She is graduating from UNH and leaving us to go teach in Tennessee.   At 6 am I decided to make a batch of gluten free brownies before work.  I was in a hurry so I used Betty Crocker’s Gluten Free Brownie Mix.   At first I didn’t even tell anyone they were gluten free because I wanted everyone to try them.  They were a hit!  They were really chocolaty and very moist.  No one even noticed the difference!

Congrats Mireille!

UNH President's Office saying goodbye to Mireille!

Wednesday my sister Kasey and her boyfriend Ryan came over and we made my Chipotle Chicken Fajitas!  YUM!!! 🙂  If you haven’t tried them yet, I suggest you give them a try!

Thursday was an awesome day for me.  I was offered a job at Timberland Boot Company.  I was really excited.  I had been trying to find a job there for the past year!  To celebrate Luke took me to my favorite restaurant, The Puritan Backroom in Manchester, NH.  They have an amazing gluten free menu… review to come!!

Friday my friend Jodi and I were up all night making gluten free cupcakes for our best friend’s bridal shower.  Because my vanilla cupcakes were a hit on my birthday, (see my “birthday cupcakes” post) we decided to make a dozen vanilla and a dozen gluten free chocolate cupcakes. For the chocolate cupcakes we used a similar “revised” recipe using Betty Crocker’s chocolate cake mix.

Note: Use the recipe below, DO NOT follow the recipe on the box.

Update Betty Crocker Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Mix

Ingredients

4 large eggs and 1 egg white

1/2 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract (gluten free)

1 package of Betty Crocker’s Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Mix

3.4 ounces of jello instant chocolate pudding (powder mix not pre-made)

1/3 cup sugar

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 325°

2) Mix eggs, oil, orange juice,and vanilla extract in a small bowl.

3) In a large bowl mix cake mix, pudding mix, and sugar. Slowly add wet ingredients into the large bowl and mix thoroughly until batter is smooth.

4) Fill muffin tins 2/3 full and bake for approx. 25 minutes.

5) Let cool. Top with your favorite frosting.

I thought these cupcakes came out great!  Like the vanilla, the result was very moist and much better then the original recipe on the box.  Some people say they can taste the orange a little, and others couldn’t tell at all.  The people who could taste it still said they enjoyed the flavor.  We did a mixture of strawberry frosted (my fav!) and vanilla frosted, each sprinkled with edible glitter stars!

Wedding Shower Cupcakes!

And of course… Happy Wedding Shower Day to my beautiful and amazing best friend Ashley Wilson!!

The Bridal Party

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Filed under Celebrate!, Delectably Sweet, Eat-Drink-Review, It's All About ME!

Garden Pagoda, Chickpea, and Broccoli Rabe

Hi, long time no see!

This past two weeks have been super busy!  Work,  job searching/ interviewing, wedding planning, and apartment hunting have pretty much consumed my life in the past few days.  On a more exciting note, we are [possibly] adopting a sister for Jasper.  Key word here is possibly. We weren’t planning on getting a new cat, but I fell in love with this tiny 2 year old gray cat while were were picking up Jasper’s food from Pet Smart.

Hopefully Jasper's new sister "Luna"! (crossing fingers!!!)

What I love about this sweet little girl is that she is just so tiny!  She is two years old and only 6 pounds.  She came from a hoarders home of over 50 cats, probably the reason why she is so small.  She needs a good home (with a big brother to take care of her!).  She even has Jasper’s adorable face!

Tiny "Luna"

Luke and I are still trying to make the decision to adopt her (as you see my mind is made up!).  Our hope is that Jasper would love to have a friend to play with.  However, we are concerned he won’t take to have a little sister in his home.  If anyone has had experience in introducing cats, any advice would be helpful…  I still have some convincing Luke to do! 😉

Now on to the recipe…

Although things have been busy, I still had time to try out a  new chickpea and pasta recipe this week!  Chickpeas are an excellent way to beef up your gluten free pasta dishes. They add a tasy nutty flavor, protein, and loads fiber to your pasta!  Pair this up with a Greek salad and your good to go!  Quick, healthy, and delicious! 🙂

Garden Pagoda, Chickpea, and Broccoli Rabe

Garden Pagoda, Chickpea, and Broccoli Rabe

Ingredients

2 cups of Gluten Free Ancient Harvest Garden Pagodas

1/2 bunch of broccoli rabe (see note)

3/4 cup of low sodium vegetable broth (non-vegetarian option you can replace with low sodium chicken broth for added flavor)

2 teaspoons of chickpea flour (Bobs Red Mill Garbanzo Bean Flour)

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 can of chickpeas (8oz)

2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1) Prepare broccoli rabe by trimming the ends into 2 inch pieces. Hold aside.

2) In a large pot cook pasta for 6-7 minutes, add broccoli rabe and continue to cook for 3 minutes.  Drain and hold aside.

3) In a small bowl mix together vegetable broth and chickpea flour.

4) Heat olive oil in a large pot on medium heat.  Add garlic and rosemary and cook for 1 minute. Mix in broth and chickpea mixture.  Let simmer mixing constantly.  Add chickpeas, pasta, and broccoli rabe.  Cook for 2 minutes making sure pasta in coated completely stir carefully because pasta tends to break apart).  Salt and pepper to taste.

**If desired add Parmesan cheese at the end!

Note-  Broccoli rabe looks similar to broccoli, but has long stems and leaves surrounding it’s buds.  If you do not have broccoli rabe available, regular broccoli can also be used!

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Filed under It's All About ME!, Just Plain Good

Two Moms in the Raw Gluten Free Goji Berry Bars

 

Starbucks…slightly overpriced, but by far my favorite place to stop in the morning for my much needed non-fat half pump vanilla latte.  I can’t afford to go to Starbucks every morning, but I love that when I am in a hurry I can count on them for great coffee and a natural gluten free product to hold me over to my next meal.  Can’t get that at Dunks!

For the first time a few days ago I tried one of “Two Moms in the Raw” Gluten Free granola bars.  Just like my coffee, I probably over paid for this bar. I think it was around $4.00 (somehow it makes me feel a little better when I don’t pay attention to my total…bad habit!).   I had the choice between goji berry and blueberry.  Feeling adventurous I went with the goji berry.  I’ll be honest with you, my first thought when opening up the package was that this granola bar looked a lot like something you would feed to your pet bird.  Millet, the main ingredient in this product, is also one of the main seeds used in bird food.  Don’t let that scare you however… this bar was really good!

 “What begins as a journey of healing soon becomes an extraordinary adventure”—Two Moms in the Raw

“Two Moms in the Raw” was started by a Shari, a mom of three looking to take a natural approach to improve her health after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.  Looking for a delicious all natural snack, Shari did some experimenting of her own and came up with raw and organic granolas and sea crackers.  All of her products are 100% raw, 100% organic, and 100% vegan. This means all of the ingredients used in her recipes are in their natural state,  there are no additives, pesticides, or hormones, and no animal products are used.  Each product is handmade and does not contain added oils or refined sugars.

Right now “Two Moms in the Raw” has three flavors of sea crackers; Garden Herb, Pesto, and Tomato Basil, all of which are gluten free.  There are also five flavors of granola, however only the blueberry and goji berry are gluten free.

My goji berry bar…

Slightly tough to bite into, but much chewier and non-crumbly compared to other granola bars. Containing only raw ingredients this bar was made with millet, buckwheat, coconut, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pecans, almonds, pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds), apples, agave (plant nectar often used as a binder or sweetener), cinnamon, sea salt and of course goji berries.  The flavor was delicious, not overly sweet and infused with a yummy cinnamon flavor that really stood out.  If it weren’t for my budget, this is definitely a product I would buy more often!

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Filed under Big on Breakfast, Eat-Drink-Review, Healthy Snacks

Grab your sombrero, it’s Cinco de Mayo!

Jasper's ready for a fiesta!

Cinco de Mayo is a day to celebrate Mexican pride and heritage, a day to celebrate Latin American culture and commemorate the Mexican army’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5th in 1962.

Mexican food is one of my favorites!  Tacos, fajitas, corn burritos, quesadillas, rice, beans, corn chips, guacamole, salsa… the gluten free possibilities are endless! What better way to celebrate Mexican tradition this Cinco de Mayo than with chipotle chicken fajitas, tortilla chips, and homemade mango salsa!

Chipotle Chicken Fajitas

Chipotle Chicken Fajitas

Ingredients

1 fresh squeezed lime

2 teaspoons oregano

1 teaspoon brown sugar

2 teaspoons chipotle pepper sauce

2 teaspoons minced garlic (I used jarred minced garlic in olive oil)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 pound chicken strips (cut into cubes)

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 cup shallots (sliced thin)

4 large corn tortillas

Directions

1) In a large bowl combine lime juice, oregano, brown sugar, chipotle pepper sauce, minced garlic and salt. Add chicken, toss in mixture until coated evenly. Hold aside.

Chipotle Chicken Mixture (before cooked)

2) Heat olive oil in a pan on medium-high heat. Add shallots and saute until tender. Remove shallots from pan and place in a bowl.

Shallots

3) Add chicken to pan and saute until cooked all the way through. Combine chicken and shallots in bowl.

Chipotle Chicken

4) Warm corn tortillas on a pan. Fill with chicken and shallot mixture. Serve with rice.

Large Corn Tortillas

*Alternative* Chipotle Pork Fajita

*Note* You can also try the same recipe using pork! In the past Luke has made this using pork tenderloin and soft white corn tortillas! (shown above)

Mango Salsa

Chips and Salsa... my favorite snack!

Ingredients

2 mangos

1 tomato

1 red bell pepper

1 cup red onion

2 limes, fresh squeezed

1/4 cup minced cilantro

1/4 tsp. of red pepper flakes

1/4 tsp.salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

Directions

1) Combine mango, tomato, red bell pepper, red onion, lime juice, cilantro, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper in a large dish. Chill.

2) Serve with your favorite corn chips!

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Filed under Celebrate!, Just Plain Good

Birthday Cupcakes (Improved!!!)

“Birthdays are nature’s way of telling us to eat more cake!”

This past weekend Luke and I both celebrated our 26th birthdays (yes, I am the older woman…but only by a day!).  As a special birthday treat I decided it was time to revisit the cupcake baking mix dilemma from my post back in February (“Whats up cupcake”).  Last time I tried Betty Crocker’s Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix.  It’s not that my cupcakes came out bad, they actually tasted great, they were just much dryer compared to  the non-gluten free cupcakes I remember.

As promised I looked up some ways to moisten up this mix.  Using the same gluten free yellow cake mix by Betty Crocker, I read that adding instant vanilla pudding and orange juice would do the trick!  (Note-other measurements change from the package directions)  I was skeptical about putting orange juice in my vanilla cake mix, but surprisingly the result turned out to be great!  The cupcakes were moist, and were not crumbly the next day like the original recipe.  I got a hint of orange in the flavoring, but this was very slight.  In my opinion the orange may have even improved the flavor!  I made these cupcakes Saturday before Luke and I had some friends over. Knowing that many of my friends had not ever tried gluten free products I asked them to test them out.  They loved them!  A couple of them even asked me if they could wrap one up for the next day!  🙂

If your looking to make some quick and easy gluten free cupcakes I suggest you try Betty Crocker’s Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix using the directions below!~

Update Betty Crocker Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix

Ingredients

4 large eggs and 1 egg white

1/2cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract (gluten free)

1 package of Betty Crocker’s Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix

3.4 ounces of jello instant vanilla pudding (powder mix not pre-made)

1/3 cup sugar

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 325°

2) Mix eggs, oil, orange juice,and vanilla extract in a small bowl.

3) In a large bowl mix cake mix, pudding mix, and sugar. Slowly add wet ingredients into the large bowl and mix thouroughly until batter is smooth.

4) Fill muffin tins 2/3 full and bake for approx. 25 minutes.

Delicious colorful spring cupcakes!


Some birthday fun…

Happy Birthday Luke!

Birthday love from my little guy!

Great times with my amazing friends!


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Filed under Delectably Sweet, Eat-Drink-Review, It's All About ME!, Just Plain Good