Breakfast Anyone?

My new favorite start to the day is this delicious little scramble.  Start by sautéing diced green onions and sliced baby portobello mushrooms in a little olive or coconut oil.  Salt and pepper to suit your fancy.  Add in two eggs, lightly scrambled, and cook until almost set.  Crumble goat cheese over the top, reduce heat, and cover for about two more minutes.  The goat cheese will be just starting to melt and get creamy.  Voila!  Pair with fresh fruit and you have a delicious start to your day!Image

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Mexicali Stew and Blueberry Pancake Kind of Week

Tocci Cafe

The Tocci Cafe is open, and oh, so delicious!  That’s what my little monkeys dubbed our kitchen some time ago and boy, are they knockin’ it outta the park. I can’t wait to see what they are going to try next.

This Week:

Mexicali Chicken-Tortilla Stew

Homemade Corn Bread (gf)

Blueberry Pancakes (gf)

Burgers and BLT Salad

Ham Cannon Balls

Green Beans with Lemon-Herb Butter

The Mexicali Stew was sensational and our oldest did a fine job of preparing it and the corn bread in time for a very busy evening.  I should have a lovely, tantalizing photo for you.  But, no.  I spent the last two days feasting on the leftovers for lunch.  Yum!  I’ll do better, I promise!

The original stew recipe is from Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Cooking, click the link to find it on Amazon.  We did a little tweaking, cuz that’s what we do, and used what we had.  While we love black beans, we happened to be out and used kidney instead – still delish!  This was definitely one to keep and use again later.

Tocci Café version:

2lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast 48 oz. chicken broth 1Tbsp. olive oil
½ – ¾  c. chopped onion 2 tsp. minced garlic 2 c. chunky salsa
1 c. frozen corn 1 Tbsp chili powder 4-6 soft corn tortillas, cut into 1 in. pieces
1 can fire-roasted tomatoes, diced 1 can (15oz.) black beans, rinsed, drained 1 can (15oz.) kidney beans, rinsed, drained

In medium pan, boil chicken and broth.  Reduce to low, cover and simmer 20 minutes until chicken is done.  While this is cooking, heat oil in large pot and cook onion and garlic until tender.  When chicken is fully cooked, remove from broth and set aside.  Add broth to garlic and onions along with the rest of your ingredients.  Cover and simmer 10-15 minutes.  Shred chicken and add to stew.  Cook another 5 minutes until heated through.  Top as you like with shredded cheese, sour cream and cilantro.

Enjoy!

4 Little Chefs

4chefs

Do you know what happens when kids take over the kitchen?  I do!

They fill your cookbooks with sticky tabs for recipes they want to try.  They get bummed when they find out their night to cook is waaaaay on down at the end of the week.  They pick flavors you would normally shy away from to avoid a mealtime full of groans.  They get excited!  They surprise you, encourage each other, complain less, and try things they wouldn’t have even looked at before.  They learn about flavor, color, timing, patience, appealing to your audience, taking chances and being flexible.  I love it!  (And so do they!)

Let them eat….. BREAD!

Our first successful loaf of gf bread!

Our first successful loaf of gf bread!

I love bread.  I love to bake.  Having the time and energy to make all I’d like to is a whole different matter, we won’t go there.  But, I really love the process, the art, the patience and magic of baking bread; getting your hands in it, the mixing, kneading, rising, waiting, rising again and….. OH, the heavenly aroma of a nearly done loaf in the oven!  It slowly floats into every room of the house and draws you to it.  Can you smell it?

Now, with four kids in the house we eat a lot of sandwiches and go through a ton of bread.  Really, a ton!  So, when we began switching to gluten-free, nearly a year ago, bread was one of the first things on our list.  Let’s just say that was a slow process.  I’ll be the first to admit that finding a gf loaf that compares to our lovely, soft, tasty wheat loaf was a challenge.  It wasn’t until we moved in May and I had a golden opportunity to clear the pantry of everything wheat and start us fresh with gf-everything that we really got serious and quit ‘giving in’ with the bread.

Where we live now is a high altitude desert.  I can’t even count the number of failed loaves and muffins I made in the first month or two here.  Truly, I nearly gave up but decided to try a box mix to get us through until I could tweak a loaf from scratch and get it right.  Enter, Gluten Free Pantry’s Favorite Sandwich Bread mix.  No changes for high altitude and that lovely loaf bakes perfect every time; perfect density, soft, holds up, flavor.  Up here this one does take longer than stated to rise but you’ll hear no complaints from me.  There are also no complaints from the kids.  This is a beautiful thing!  I don’t get to dig my hands in and knead but there is that captivating, salivation inducing aroma of freshly baked bread in the house.  Makes me smile every time!

Why gluten-free?

Gluten-free, you say?  Why?  Are you celiac?  Well, I’ll tell ya.  For starters, no, we are not celiac.  Though, there is a bit of family history for it.  We personally have made the decision for multiple reasons:  family history, an intolerance in our oldest child when he was younger, and overall health.  Step on in to Gluten-Free Deliciosity, see how good gf can really be and I’ll gladly bend your ear a little more!

Let’s lay a bit of foundation here…

While choosing to go gluten-free is not as unheard of as it used to be and gf options are more common than they were ten years ago, there is still not enough information and education, in this writer’s opinion, about the problems that ‘modern’ wheat and other related grains cause.  The wheat we use today has very little, besides its name, in common with wheat grown fifty years ago.  Those four-foot tall, ‘amber waves of grain’ we sing about are now a rare find.  What you find instead is a plant that has been engineered to grow closer together, faster, and withstand various growing conditions and complications, increasing harvesting and processing efficiency and yield.  Oh, and sprayed with a boat-load of chemicals.  There are a number of places where you can read up on it yourself (Wheat Belly Blog, Celiac.com, and Celiac Disease Foundation to name a few.)

To make a long-story short, what this means for you and I is that the wheat we find in most of our products at the grocery store is not processed by our bodies the way wheat of yesterday was by our grandparents.  Today’s wheat increases blood-sugar more than table sugar, contributing to the obesity epidemic our nation is now enjoying.  Dr. William Davis is one of a number of authors that gives a clear and thorough discussion of all this.  You’ll find the link for his book, Wheat Belly, above.  This genetically modified wheat also contains more genes for gluten proteins related to celiac disease than its forefather.  Celiac disease currently affects 1:133 people and 95% of those go undiagnosed.  (see Celiac Disease Foundation above)  It presents differently in different people and is difficult to diagnose.  Symptoms vary from bloating, GI issues, bone/joint pain and fatigue to failure to thrive (in infants), anemia, thyroid disease, IBS and eczema.  There are more but this should give you an idea.

If you want to learn more, start digging, reading and researching and make the decision you feel is best for you and your family.  There are many resources these days and while it can be challenging to avoid wheat, it is not impossible!  The options available now are greater and tastier than they were when our son was young.  Thank goodness!

My hope here is to share delicious gf recipes that we have either come across, replicated and loved or successfully tweaked to make gluten-free.  So, put on a pot of water, grab a bread pan, a fork or whatever floats your boat today and enjoy a little gluten-free deliciosity!