Monday, June 30, 2014

Tapioca Jello Salad:

I am all about the Jello salads! I may have to make a "Jello Salad" section in my Recipe Index! I just love them! I think I got it from one of my grandma's, because I can remember her making them all the time! I don't think I've ever tasted one I didn't like, and there's probably a million more recipes out there that I haven't even tried!

Well, as usual, I needed something fast and only had a few weird ingredients, so I looked through a few recipes and found this one! I made a couple of changes to suit what I had on hand, and wow! It was super fast and easy, plus delicious! Everything a Jello Salad should be! 
If you're not a fan of Tapioca Pudding, I highly recommend you try this anyway! My Dad LOVES Tapioca, and I mean, it's okay, but I wouldn't call it my favorite food or anything. But the "balls" of the tapioca add a really fun texture to this dish, and since it's a pudding, it's also super creamy. I really enjoyed it! 
Hope you try it out!

1 (3 oz) package orange Jello mix
2 (3 oz) packages Cook & Serve Tapioca Pudding mix  
3 cups water
1 (8 oz.) container Cool Whip
1-2 small cans mandarin oranges, drained

In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add jello and pudding mixes, and whisk together. Return to a boil and cook and stir for 2-3 minutes.
Remove from heat and pour into a medium size bowl. Let stand to cool.
Once completely cooled, fold in Cool Whip and oranges, if desired.
Chill for 3-4 hours or overnight.

-I didn't have any oranges, and some in my family don't like them, so I left them out.
-You could use any flavor Jello that you like and maybe try substituting fruit cocktail for the oranges!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Oatmeal Corn Flake Cookies:

I think there are certain foods or the way to eat certain foods, that are just staples/traditions in certain families. Like there's certain things that different families always do, or never do when it comes to food, and no one really knows why. Mom did it, so we do it. Mom only did it because Grandma did it. Grandma only did it, because she didn't have a big enough pan to do it any other way!! But now it's "how you have to do it"!! 
Cookies and Cake are kind of like that for us. VERY rarely will we eat a cookie, unless there is a glass of milk as well! It's like an unwritten rule or something that a cookie must be dipped! And, besides No-Bake Cookies, we don't even think about making a cookie that doesn't soak up milk properly. The same for Cake. There is only a few in my family that will eat a piece of cake, without it being in a bowl almost covered in milk. They seriously like a little cake with their milk! 
Anyway, when I saw these cookies, they looked like they would pass the criteria for "milk dipping" and they sounded really yummy, so I gave them a try! It was really a neat spin on traditional chocolate chip cookies, and they had such a cool chewy, yet soft texture. Plus they bake really fast, so that's always a plus! 
Hope you try them out and enjoy them as much as we did! 

1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tblsp. milk
1 tblsp. vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups quick oats
2 cups cornflakes
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips

Cream butter in a large mixing bowl. Add sugar and brown sugar; cream until light and fluffy. Add milk, vanilla and eggs, and mix until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. 
Add flour, xanthan gum, baking soda and baking powder. Mix until well incorporated. 
Add the oats, cornflakes and chips. Mix very gently and briefly - just until combined. 
Using a cookie scoop, drop onto greased cookie sheets. 
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. You may think that they aren't done, but trust me - take them out! Let them sit on the cookie sheets for just a minute or two, and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
Once cooled, store in an airtight container. 

-I used chocolate chips and butterscotch chips, because that's what I had. You can use whatever  you want! 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Eating Out on a Gluten-Free Diet:

I'm thrilled to introduce you to a brand-new section on the blog:

"Eating Out"

You can find the link in the "Tab's" box on the right side-bar.

I have been working on this page for a long time now, and I'm SO, SO excited to finally release it!!
Before you go and check it out, I hope you'll take just a minute and read my disclaimer below:

Me and my family very rarely eat out.
Like, I'm talking maybe three times a year or so!!
It could be a little more than that, but that's only if ice cream counts, and still we rarely do that.
If we are traveling, we will or shopping all day or something, but other than that, we just don't.
Only ONCE in my entire life, do I remember us being at home, not cooking dinner, and going out to eat instead!

However, I like to know what different restaurants offer as far as gluten-free selections, and I get asked A LOT about what restaurants have what Gluten-Free food. You can go to most every restaurant's website, and find an allergen food list, or ingredient list, but sometimes it's crazy hard to find them! I don't know why they hide those lists, but some places do!
So instead of telling you to go to such and such place and look for a list, I thought I would share with you what I have found.

Before I do that, though, there is some things you need to keep in mind:
First, I am not a professional restaurant critic or anything! I'm just sharing what I have found!
Second, me and the members of my family that eat gluten-free DO NOT have Celiac Disease.
We have a "Gluten Intolerance". I personally have been on a gluten-free diet for 8 years now. At first, cross-contamination (even a single crumb) would have made me sick for days! After I have healed, I have been able to handle a few things like that.
Please don't think that I just eat a piece of bread every now and then, because it doesn't bother me any more!!! If you knew me, you would know that I have never done that, and will never do that! I will (and have, actually) gladly go hungry if I'm not sure or have hesitations about food. But let me explain what I'm talking about in concern to cross-contamination: If a restaurant cooks their breaded chicken nuggets and French fries in the same oil, the fries will be cross-contaminated. For someone with Celiac Disease, this could mean ending up in the hospital! We, personally, don't have any trouble with it now, but I realize that's not the case for everyone, because it hasn't always been for me and for some, it will never be an option.
So basically what I'm saying is, you have to take control of your health and learn what you can and can not do. If I have a hesitation about a certain menu item at a restaurant, I won't get it. I have no problem with that. I would do without for ever, before I would be willing to get sick again! On the other hand, if my mom or sister wants to try something that I'm hesitant about, they probably will go ahead and try it. Simple because they don't react as bad as I do. Again, they don't just going around eating a sandwich, hoping it doesn't make them sick! They still use caution. But gluten affects everyone differently and you have to know for yourself what you will and will not do, no matter what others do (even if they say they are "gluten-intolerant" or have Celiac Disease).
I hope that makes sense!

Now onto the info you really wanted to know about! 
You can check out my post HERE on a place called Triumph Dining.
They have a whole book on restaurants across the United States and what you can and can't have there. If you travel a lot, this may be something you would be interested in, however it's a little pricey. They do update it every year, but again, pretty pricey, so you would just have to decide if that's something you are interested in.

All the info that I'm sharing, is directly what I find from the restaurants web-site.
This information is updated often, and I HIGHLY, STRONGLY recommend, if there is a certain place you frequent, that you check out the information regularly, as it does change. Mostly for the good, but everyone now and then, something you get all the time, will be slightly modified and no longer safe for you to eat.
Whenever it is possible, I will provide a link to both the Allergen Food List and the Ingredient List.
The Allergen Food List says what "Item" is gluten free. For instance, most places will say that a hamburger is not gluten-free. But mostly that's because of the bun. So leave the bun off, and you have can  have it! The Ingredient list says what exactly is in each item (what's really in the hamburger, not the bun), that way you know why/how you can or can't have it. Sometimes in those situations, you could still have a certain menu item, just asking them to leave off one ingredient (i.e. the bun, croutons, etc.).

Also, check back to the "Eating Out" page often, because as I find out different things about different restaurants, I will be adding that there as well!

I hope it will be helpful to you and if you have any questions or there is a restaurant I don't have listed here, that you would like me to check out for you, please feel free to leave me a comment or e-mail me and I will get back to you and help you out if I possibly can!!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce:

All you need is 5 ingredients and 5 minutes to make this super easy dessert!
I LOVE Hot Fudge!!!! But I've never really cared for home-made versions, because they are too thin! I like the super thick, store bought kind!
I wanted some on my ice cream the other night, so I threw this together real quick and was SUPER happy!! It's really rich and thick, just the way I like it!
Hope you try it out!!

12 tablespoons butter
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
1 & 1/2 tsp. vanilla

In a medium saucepan, bring butter and milk to a slow, gentle boil. Add cocoa powder and sugar. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until mixture coats the back of a spoon, whisking constantly. It will probably start to boil harder, and you may want to turn down the heat, so that it doesn't splatter all over you and burn you! Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Pour into a glass jar. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Pop in the microwave for a few seconds to re-heat.
Serve over your favorite ice cream or just eat it by the spoon!!!

-This recipe yields 1 quart. It makes a lot, because I adjusted the original recipe so that it used an entire can of evaporated milk, rather than having just a few tablespoons leftover. You could certainly halve the recipe, if you prefer.
-This keeps for a good while in the fridge. Well, I say good while, but it somehow disappeared after two weeks in my house, so that's as long as I know for sure, that it will keep! I'm pretty sure it would last longer than that, though!!
-My sister and I also dipped strawberries in this too!!
-Don't mind the first picture! My mom put her ice cream in the microwave for a few seconds (a weird family thing) and so the hot-fudge was totally running off faster than my camera could flash!
It still tasted amazing, though!!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Blueberry Angel Dessert:

We don't really make a lot of desserts here.
I know you might find that hard to believe, if you look at the dessert section on my Recipe Index, but honestly, the majority of the time, Chocolate Chip Cookies is about the only thing we make. We might make other things every now and then for a special treat on Saturday or Sunday night. Other than that, it's pretty much just birthdays, special occasions, things like that.

But for the past several months (and for various reasons) our church has been having a dinner at church every Sunday after the morning service. Then after the dinner, we have an afternoon service, instead of a service in the evening.
Anyway, so we've been making an actual dessert every single weekend.
I usually spend half of Saturday, making food to take on Sunday.

This past weekend, I didn't have Saturday to cook, so I needed something fast!
I saw this recipe and actually had the stuff for it, so I thought why not!
It turned out really, really good!
 It's sort of like cheesecake, but then again it's not!
I don't really like cheesecake, and I loved it! My mom loves cheesecake and she liked it too!
It's just a different twist, but so fast and easy to make!
Plus, it's a nice cool dessert for the summertime!!
Hope you try it out!

1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup powder sugar
1 (8 oz.) container Cool Whip
1 (16 oz.) prepared angel food cake (HERE is my easy recipe)
1 can Blueberry Pie Filling

In a large bowl, cream together cream cheese and sugar until smooth with an electric mixer or hand mixer. Gently fold in Cool Whip. Cut cake into 1-inch cubes. Stir into cream cheese mixture. Pour into a 9x13-inch baking dish, and spread out evenly. Spread the pie filling evenly over the top. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

-I made my cake a day early, so that all the mess from that could be cleaned up. Then, the next day, I just tossed everything together and threw it in the fridge. It made it a super quick and easy dessert then!
-Of course if you don't need this to be gluten-free, then you could buy a pre-made cake or a boxed cake mix.
-I've only made this with Blueberry Pie filling, but Cherry would probably be good too.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Twice-Baked Potato Casserole

I love to cook. If I couldn't cook, I don't know what I would do! But, I've run into a problem.
I have found that it's really hard to cook for my family. There are some pretty picky people in this house, and instead of growing out of it, I think it's getting worse and worse!!! But apart from that, I have a really hard time with amounts! I've mentioned before that, according to most recipes, I cook for 4 servings. But there are 7 people here! So I usually start with one amount, look at if for a while and conclude that there's no way it will be enough, so I add in some more. And it never fails that we'll be eating off that dish for days and days! I don't know if I'll ever get it right!
So, as usual, I made too many mashed potatoes for dinner the other day, and I was trying to figure out what to do with them before they went bad. I came across a recipe similar to this, changed it around a little bit to our tastes and it turned out pretty good! It was really fast too, considering I was using potatoes that were already prepared. I've never made Twice-Baked Potatoes, but I've had them at my Aunt's house, and LOVE them! This casserole really tasted like Twice-Baked Potatoes, only it was way less work!!!
I hope you give it a try!!!
3 cups prepared mashed potatoes (mine were instant! Shhh, don't tell my dad!)
1/2 cup ranch dressing
1/2 cup cooked, crumbled bacon
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
In a large bowl, combine potatoes, ranch dressing, and 1 cup cheddar cheese.
In a small skillet, sauté onions and bacon until onions start to brown and get a little tender. Stir in garlic. Add to potatoes and mix well. The potatoes were pretty thick because they were cold, so I used a hand mixer to mix it all together. You could just use a spatula instead, if you wanted.
Pour into a greased baking dish and spread evenly. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until heated through. Top with remaining 1 cup cheese. Bake 5-10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.
-You could have this all made ahead and ready in the fridge.
Just pull it out and pop it in the oven when you're ready for it!