Saturday, December 31, 2011

Did Someone Say Dairy Free Clam Dip?

I have loved clam dip since I was a kid!  Years ago I found this recipe and have been making it ever since.  Well, that is until I had to stick to a dairy free diet.  This year we made the best discovery!  There in the cooler section next to things like soy-cheese and tofu was this outstanding product that made Clam Dip a reality:


The Clam Dip was great!  All the dips were dairy free this year and quite honestly, nobody could tell the difference!!  I am making this one again for New Year's Eve!


1 package (8 oz) Tofutti's Better Than Cream Cheese, softened
1/4 cup Tofutti's Better Than Sour Cream
2 cans minced clams, drained reserving 2 Tbsp liquid
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 tsp Worcestershire Sauce

In a small bowl, beat cream cheese, sour cream and clam liquid until smooth and well blended.  I used and electric mixer for this.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Cover and chill.


Friday, December 30, 2011

Party Food: Spinach Dip, Ranch Dip, and It's Dairy Free!

One of our house favorites during the holidays is a Spinach Dip.  Of course it is loaded with dairy.  I have not made it for several years because I was trying to make food everyone could eat.  In the past I have either avoided it or eaten it and paid the price.  This year, I made it completely dairy and gluten free and enjoyed every bite!

Spinach Dip:

1 8 oz package of cream cheese (I used Toffuti's Better Than Cream Cheese)
1 cup sour cream (I used Toffuti's Better Than Sour Cream)
1 (10 oz) pkg of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
2 Tbsp Ranch Dressing Mix (see recipe below)
1 can (8 oz) water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup red bell pepper chopped

Mix cream cheese, sour cream, and ranch mix in a medium bowl until well blended.  Using an electric mixer works great for this.  Stir in remaining ingredients and cover.  Refrigerate several hours or until chilled.  Serve with cut up veggies.

I almost did not make the spinach dip.  I wasn't sure if the ranch dressing packets were gluten free, but I knew they were not dairy free.  Most recipes I found for a ranch mix used ground up saltine crackers.  Does that seem weird to you?  Anyway, I found the perfect recipe from a cookbook on my shelf and suddenly, the spinach dip was back on the menu.  The Ranch Dressing Mix comes from Rachel Carlyle's new cookbook: In the Kitchen with Gluten Free Mama.  This is a great cookbook, by the way!  It is not being sold on Amazon right now, but you can go to her website here.

Ranch Dressing Seasoning Mix:

1 Tbsp. minced onion flakes
3 Tbsp dried parsley
2 Tbsp dried chives
1 tsp salt
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp black pepper

Store in an air tight container to use later for dressing or dip.

I also made the Ranch Dip for a veggie plate.  I thought it was absolutely delicious.  Being dairy free, I haven't had a ranch dressing for ages.  I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Ranch Dip:

2 Tbsp ranch seasoning mix
1 cup sour cream (Use Toffuti's Better Than Sour Cream for the dairy free version)
1 cup mayonnaise

Mix all ingredients together.  Serve chilled with cut up vegetables.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Let the Parties Begin....Shrimp Salad

Well things are beginning to settle down around here.  Christmas was wonderful.  What a beautiful time of year!  I hope your Christmas was wonderful too!!!

I thought I would spend the next few days sharing some wonderful recipes with you that would work beautifully for New Year's Eve or even Super Bowl parties.  We tried these out on Christmas Eve and they were a big hit.  All of them are gluten and dairy free! 

This one was my favorite!!!!  Everyone enjoyed it and serving it with cucumber slices was a big hit!

Shrimp Salad:

1 pound of salad shrimp
4 oz canned or fresh crab meat
2 stalks of celery, minced
1 bunch of green onions chopped finely
1/2 cup mayo
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp fresh parsley minced
2 cloves of fresh garlic minced

Place all ingredients into a bowl.  Stir until all is combined.  Refrigerate until you are ready to serve.  This shrimp salad is a great appetizer served on cucumber rounds.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas.......Apple Bread


I can't believe Christmas is almost here!  I had so many plans for blogs and recipes to share, but I found myself so incredibly busy this year.   We are spending Christmas here and my mom is coming to visit, so I have been baking and preparing for the next few days.

Cinnamon has been helping out too.  She baked these delicious chocolate mint cookies.  She used the Triple Chocolate Cookie recipe from the Gluten Free Mama Cookbook and topped this one with crushed candy canes and used a Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark candy bar chopped up in place of the white chocolate chips.

She also made these using the Andes Creme De Menthe chips.

This past week was also Dan's fiftieth birthday!  We surprised him with a yummy Gingerbread Pear Cake!  I used the  Kitchen Sink Gingerbread recipe from the Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free.

Today we have finished the baking, including dinner rolls, a Chocolate Almond Torte, and Apple Bread.  Tomorrow we will finish up and enjoy a wonderful Christmas Eve spread that will include gluten free and dairy free favorites like spinach dip, clam dip, avocado salsa, chicken with a honey mustard dipping sauce, deviled eggs, shrimp salad, veggies and homemade ranch dip, and meatballs with Asian dipping sauce and an orange dipping sauce.  We enjoy a buffet style meal and sit and talk while opening presents.  We relax and take ALL night!  Then on Christmas morning we attend Mass and spend the day with family and the focus on Christ. 

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!!  May you all be blessed!


4 cups diced peeled apples (I used Granny Smith)
2 cups + 2 tsp sugar
2 sticks of butter (I used Earth Balance Butter to make this dairy free)
3 cups all-purpose flour (I used Gluten Free Mama's Almond Flour Blend)
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Mix apples and 2 cups of sugar in a large bowl.  Leave at room temperature for two hours, stirring occasionally.

Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease two loaf pans.

Melt butter and let it cool.

Mix flour, baking soda, xanthan gum, and cinnamon.  Stir into the apples.  Stir in butter, eggs, and vanilla.

Pour half into each pan.  Sprinkle each with 1 tsp of sugar.

Bake 1 1/4-1 1/2 hours or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the bread.
Cool 10 minutes before removing bread.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Because Sarah Asked.......The Soup Recipe

This is such a busy time of year!  I am currently working on my Christmas menus, trying to make everything gluten and dairy free.  I will start baking and cooking/freezing what I can a head of time trying to leave only what is necessary for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. 

I do have to say that Christmas cooking absolutely destroyed my budget.  Well, that is not exactly true.  I haven't even bought most of that and I have already shattered my budget.  I found myself in the position of being so busy that I actually did not have time to go to the grocery store.  I adapted my monthly menu and used up staples on my pantry shelves.  When I did make it to the store, I was out of a lot of items that I needed.  Not good.

I am excited to start pulling out recipes and planning.  That is the goal for today.  Before I go though, Sarah from Amongst Lovely Things asked me to post this recipe :)  So, here it is!  The recipe comes from another good friend, Angela, who made this for a surprise baby shower. It was a big hit!  I have adapted it a bit and it has become a new family favorite.

This recipe makes a large batch and we had plenty leftover to freeze in individual containers.  The last batch I made had 14 servings and cost $11.69 to make.  That is only 84 cents a serving.  Making a large batch and freezing a portion is a great cost effective way to have soup on hand and is healthier than the canned soups which are quite expensive.  I hope you enjoy!


1 large onion chopped
4 celery stalks chopped
3-4 carrots chopped
salt and pepper (to taste)
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic minced
Sausage (I have used venison German sausage sliced, Aidells Chicken & Apple Smoked Chicken Sausage from Costco, and Amylu's Kickin' Cranberry Chicken Meatballs with Jalapeno Peppers from Costco.  Our favorite is the cranberry meatballs.  I quartered each meatball and used only one individual pack from the larger package.)
3-4 small potatoes peeled and diced
1-2 sweet potatoes peeled and diced
2 cans of beans (I have used kidney beans, black beans, and cannellini beans.  Use what you have on hand.  I usually use two different kinds.)
4 cups of chicken broth
3 cups of water
2 large cans of tomato sauce
Bay leaf
2-3 cups of frozen veggies (I have used peas, corn, and cut green beans)
2-3 handfuls of fresh spinach, chopped

In a large stock pot, saute onions, celery, carrots with the olive oil.  Salt and Pepper to taste.  Cook until the onions are translucent.  Add the garlic and sausage.  Add the potatoes, canned beans, broth, water, tomato sauce, and bay leaf.  Cook on low several hours.  The smell is delicious!  An hour before serving, add your frozen veggies.  You can add more water if needed due to evaporation.  Twenty minutes before serving add the chopped spinach. 

I have made this on the stove top and in a crock pot.  You need to adjust times for the crock pot.  Cook on low all day or several hours on high.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Sneak Attack

It is hard to tell when it is going to happen, but it will.   Most of the time, I am prepared.  Last night, I was not.  The question is often innocent enough, but it can leave you in a panic.  Yes, I am talking about the sneak-up-and-grab-you, gluten-free, snack attack. 

Last night, on our way home from dance, Paprika said, "I am starving!  Mom, do you have a snack?"  The best I could offer was a gluten free granola bar that had been smashed into oblivion from riding around in my purse for who knows how long.  At least it was something.

Being gluten free requires you to be prepared. Usually, I am prepared, but I guess I let the ball slip on that one a little.  Sarah recently wrote and asked about snacks, so I thought I would share some ideas with you.  Please, if anyone out there has some new ideas, share!!  We would all love to hear them!

First of all, when dealing with snacks, remember fruits and veggies are naturally gluten free.  I try to have apples, bananas, pears, or celery and carrots on hand.  I also use a dehydrator to make apple, pear, and banana chips.  I occasionally buy dried fruit like mangoes or apricots from Costco.  I also buy fruit cups and applesauce cups for quick travel-ready snacks.  Raisins are also good plain or in a homemade trail mix.  I keep trail mix in a air tight container in the cupboard.  You could also put them in snack bags ready to go if you have younger children. 

If you are not dairy free (I am the only one dairy free in this house), cheese sticks are great.  We have found the most cost effective way to purchase string cheese is through Costco.  Cheese and crackers are another friendly snack.  Other dairy snack ideas could include yogurt or snack pudding cups.  I buy all of these at Costco.  The cheese is about 20 cents a stick, the yogurt is 46 cents each, and the pudding is about 20 cents each.

Lately, my kids have been munching on popcorn which is inexpensive!  Sometimes I will buy the microwave kind, but lately we have just been popping it ourselves.  Some snacks we tend to eat in phases.  A few months ago it was Chex mix.  I make it using Glutino Pretzels and Earth Balance Butter.  Just make sure your Worcestershire Sauce is GF.  A few months before that, it was muffins.  I bake muffins and keep them in the freezer.  They are a great accompaniment to a cup of tea; or so I hear.

Eating snacks when you are at home can be easy enough, but what about when you are out and about.
What about on the go?  Well, if you are prepared, any and all of the above can go with you.  What about when you are not prepared?  I have a gallon ziplock bag in each car, except the one I drove last night, that is filled with snacks.  That little problem will be alleviated soon.  I fill it with snacks like fruit snacks, granola bars, nuts, and fruit bars.  We also never leave the house without a reusable water bottle.  Snacks and water can save you having to buy a quick convenient munchie or drink which is usually quite expensive!

Here is a look at the contents of my new snack bag ready for the car!

Larabars:  These can be a little more expensive at about a dollar a piece, but they are very filling and come in a variety of flavors like Gingersnap, Blueberry Muffin or Pecan Pie.  My favorite is Cherry Pie.  They are made with nuts, so beware if you have nut allergies.

Trio Bars:  These are also made with nuts.  I found them at Costco.  The pack has four varieties: Strawberry, Tropical, Blueberry, and Cranberry. 

Granola Bars:  We usually have the Envirokids Bars on hand.  Cinnamon also likes the Nature Valley Almond Crunch bars.

Stretch Island Fruit Strips:  These are like fruit leather and come in a lot of varieties.  This is one of Cinnamon's favorite snacks.  I purchase these at Costco.

Simply Fruit: These are a fruit roll-up.  The Costco box has 46 rolls and comes in wildberry and strawberry.  The box costs $11.49  which makes each roll-up 25 cents.

I also occasionally add other snacks like packs of almonds and peanuts or even trail mix.  I guess the best way to be financially savvy when it comes to snacks is to be prepared.  It is cheaper than the alternative!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Versatile Blogger Award

Erin at Seven Little Australians and Counting has awarded me a Versatile Blogger Award which made me smile because I was a little afraid that my blog was not versatile at all!  I guess I am OK.  The coolest thing about this award is that it comes all the way from Australia!!!!!  How cool is that!  The Internet truly makes this a small world doesn't it! here are the rules for the Versatile Blogger:

  • Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them.
  • Tell your readers 7 things about yourself.
  • Give this award to 15 recently discovered bloggers.
  • Contact those bloggers and let them in on the news.

Seven things...suddenly seven seems like such a large number.

1.   I have a dog named Jack.  He is a yellow lab and is huge.  He   weighs about 120 pounds and loves to give hugs.

2.  I love to fish with Dan.  We fish for just about anything, but our favorite is bass fishing!

3.  I love to read!  I love to read Steven James for fun and classics when I am more serious.  I like nonfiction too!  Especially books that center around being and living gluten free.  I have been caught, on occasion, reading a gluten free cookbook I checked out of the library, in the wee hours of the night.

4.  I love to thrift shop, especially with my dearest friend.  We have a blast!!!!  There is nothing like spending a couple of hours looking for a great deal with someone you absolutely love!

5.  I love living in the woods!  It takes me at least 30 minutes to get to town, but I love the trees, the smell, the animals, and the quiet.  It is peaceful for me.

6.  I have loved my homeschooling journey!  It has been the hardest and most challenging thing I have ever done, but also the most grace filled!  I am so thankful I was given the opportunity to see my children grow and share in all those moments.  It wasn't always perfect, but it was beautiful! 

7.  Suddenly, seven doesn't seem like all that many!  So, I will throw all the rest in here.  I love raising pigs.  I love to scrapbook.  I love to hike.  I love to cook.  I love writing this blog and finding new friends all over the world!

And now.....I get to pass the torch to 15 other bloggers!

  1. Amongst Lovely Things
  2. The Gypsy Mama
  3. Gluten Free on a Shoestring
  4. Premeditated Leftovers
  5. $5 Dinners
  6. In the Heart of my Home
  7. Misty's Mornings
  8. 52 Books in 52 Weeks
  9. Trusting God Each Day
  10. Gluten Free Mommy
  11. Gluten Free For Good
  12. The Spunky Coconut
  13. Cooking Gluten (& Dairy) Free
  14. Penny Pinching Epicure
  15. Gluten Free Goddess

    Friday, December 9, 2011

    What Do I Buy Online?

    Online shopping can be a great way to purchase gluten free items for a better price.  A reader recently asked what do I buy online.  These are some of the best deals I have found.

    1.  Heartland Pasta.  First of all this pasta tastes like the real thing!  It cooks and acts like normal pasta.  It is my favorite by far.  It comes in the spaghetti, fusilli, and penne pasta varieties.  The only store I have been able to find it in is Walmart and often they are out.  The price at Walmart is $2.18.  Online I can purchase a case of 12 on Amazon's Subscribe and Save for $2.20 a package and I get exactly what I want and I don't have to drive thirty minutes to go to Walmart where they may or may not have the pasta.

    2.  Gluten Free Mama's Flours:  This is a great flour blend if you don't want the hassle of mixing all your own flours.  It produces excellent baked goods that are not gritty or crumbly.  It comes in two varieties: an almond flour blend and a coconut flour blend.  I have used both and both are excellent.  The coconut blend is great for those with nut allergies.  In the store you can easily spend $15.00 or more for a four pound bag of flour.  The cheapest I have ever found this product was on sale for $11.24.  Needless to say I stocked up.  You can purchase it on Amazon's Subscribe and Save in a pack of two for $25.99 which makes them $12.99 each.  This flour also comes in smaller sizes as well.

    3.  Gluten Free Mama Pancake Mix:  I use this pancake mix because I really like the taste and I can make it dairy free!  A word of caution for those with nut allergies: it does contain almond meal.  I also use Gluten Free Mama's Pizza Crust Mix because it is the best I have found.  It is delicious.  Amazon's Subscribe and Save plan makes this crust $5.42.  The package makes two nice sized pizza crusts which feed my family of five when I add a side salad.

    4.  Bob's Red Mill Cornbread:  Also on Amazon's Subscribe and Save in a pack of four.  Each package ends up costing approximately $2.53.  I like this cornbread mix because it is easy and I can make it dairy free.  My husband loves cornbread and this is his favorite by far!

    5.  Envirokids Granola Bars:  These are yummy!  They come in several different varieties and the subscribe and save plan can make them as little as $2.47 a box.  They are great for quick snacks and for on the go which is so important for gf families.

    6. Xanthan Gum:  A staple in gf cooking.  I recently found this one on Amazon.  Before I used Bob's Red Mill xanthan gum, but this one is a MUCH better deal.  This brand is not on the subscribe and save program, but the cost is still amazing when you compare it to other brands.  It costs $14.95 for 1 POUND compared to other options which can cost you $11.09 for 8 ounces!

    7.  Namaste Muffin Mix:  The best thing about this muffin mix it that you can make any kind of muffin you can think of or create because this is a base mix.  We have made blueberry, chocolate chip, almond, orange chocolate chip, to name a few.  With subscribe and save you pay about $4.18 for a package which makes 12 muffins.  This is much more cost effective than buying four muffins for six dollars out of the freezer at the grocery store.  I make a batch and keep them in the freezer for when we need them. 

    8.  Glutino Crackers and Pretzels:  The crackers are a much better deal than you can get in the store, so are the pretzels.  I have not found the ultimate cracker yet, but my family does like these and they come in four different varieties.  You may want to purchase a box at the store and try them before you buy online.  The pretzels on the other hand are awesome!  They are also dairy free!  They have a great taste and crunch.  I use them in Chex Mix and just as a snack.  Cinnamon says she likes them better than the old gluten filled pretzels.  They have a better taste.

    9. Betty Crocker Cake Mix (GF):   This is a great product and so much cheaper online.  A box, through subscribe and save, costs around $3.04 compared to $4.79 in the store.  It come in the vanilla and chocolate varieties.  We use them to make cakes and cookies from this cookbook.  I have also used the Brownie Mix......divine!!! and the cookie mix.

    10.  Annie's Products:  My kids love the Macaroni and Cheese!  They also love the Bunny Cookies  which now come in two more varieties.  These were two of the first products I purchased online because for my kids, they were comfort foods, things they thought they would never get to eat again.  I wish Annie's would make the cheddar bunnies gf, my kids thought they were the best. is a start. This list is not complete.  I am finding new products all the time and am always looking! I hope to keep you up to date with items as I find them.  So, now the hard part.   You have to take each item into consideration and decide which ones are the best deal for your budget.  I hope this is at least a place to start. 

    Tuesday, December 6, 2011

    November Results and a Happy Feast of Saint Nicholas Day

    The November results are in and the grand total was.......are you ready?.........$439.35.  I was over, but only by about forty dollars and that was with Thanksgiving and the purchase of a turkey!  I am very pleased. 

    I discovered several things this month.  It is amazing how your spending can change when you really look at everything....I mean every last detail.  I am pretty frugal, but I am still discovering new ways to save.  One of my biggest surprises came unexpectedly when I ran out of cumin.

     I usually just pick up a new jar.  I consider it a need and usually pick out the best deal I can find in the baking aisle.  Not anymore.  A jar can easily cost you five dollars.  This month I went to the bulk section.  I was able to refill my jar for 36 cents.  That is a big savings.

    Now, I don't always recommend buying in bulk.  I have a couple of stores where I live that take precautions to avoid cross contamination.  One store even requires that you wear disposable gloves.  I always check and make sure the location of gluten containing items compared with gluten free is enough to avoid any possible contamination.  I also check to see if scoops can be used in other bins.  Still you may run a risk of contamination.  You have to judge for yourself if the savings are worth it.

    My other cost effective discovery this month was making homemade chicken stock.  I roasted a whole chicken earlier in the month and threw the carcass and remaining scraps and leftover chicken into a bag and placed it in the freezer.  Later those leftovers and the carcass became 4 quarts of chicken broth and 12 servings of chicken noodle soup.  That was not the surprising part!  I was amazed at the savings.  I made 4 quarts of stock for 93 cents!  It costs $2.94 for 32 ounces of the brand I buy at the store.  It would cost me $11.76 for the same amount of broth!

    I made chicken noodle soup using the broth.  Cinnamon thought it was so much more flavorful.  The soup made 12 servings for approximately 40 cents each!  Compare that with a can of soup and the savings are great.  I freeze my leftovers for lunches.  Since I have started this challenge, I no longer buy soup.  It is so much cheaper to make a large batch and then freeze it in individual containers.  I make several pots of soup each month with this in mind. 

    2 large carrots chopped
    4 celery stalks chopped
    1 large onion chopped
    olive oil
    2 cloves of garlic minced
    1 chicken carcass
    1 or 2 bay leaves
    Salt and Pepper

    In a large pot, begin to cook vegetables over medium heat.  Add the carcass and enough water to cover it.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a medium simmer and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  Remove carcass saving any remaining meat.  Remove vegetables and discard.  Pour liquid through a strainer into a second pot.  Divide and freeze to use later or use immediately for chicken soup.


    2 cloves of minced garlic
    1 large onion chopped
    4 large carrots chopped
    4 celery stalks, including leaves, chopped
    2 T olive oil
    4 quarts of  homemade chicken broth
    Leftover chicken pieces (1-2 cups)
    1 15 oz can of chicken broth + one can of water (if you want more soup.  I wanted to fill an 8 quart pot)
    2 bay leaves
    Salt and pepper to taste
    Italian seasonings to taste
    1/2 to 1 package of gf noodles (I used spaghetti noodles because I had them and I used the whole package because     my family likes lots of noodles.  I broke mine into small pieces)

    Cook garlic, onion, carrots, celery and leaves, in two tablespoons of olive oil until onions are fragrant and translucent.  Add chicken, chicken stock, and bay leaves.  Add seasonings to taste.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer until vegetables are soft and your house is smelling delicious! I probably let mine simmer for an hour.  Increase heat.  When the soup boils, add noodles and cook until they are done. 

    Now it is on to December which is crazy in my house!  I just seem to run and run. I promise Sarah, I will try and answer your questions in the next day or so and Erin, thanks for the Versatile Blog Award.  I am trying to figure out what exactly I am supposed to do :)

    I wish you all well and leave you with some pictures from our celebration of the Feast Day of Saint Nicholas.

      Each year we open our stockings on this day!

    It brings out the "kid" is all of us!

    Even the 18 year old!

    Saturday, December 3, 2011

    Not 18.....He Can't Be

    Today Allspice turned 18 and capped off Birthday Week at our house.  Paprika and Cinnamon turned 16 on Wednesday, I turned 29 again on Friday, and Allspice reached that milestone of 18 today.  Just so you don't think we leave Dan out in all this birthday fun, he will celebrate the big 50 later this month.  Christmas and five birthdays in a matter of 26 days.  Crazy!!!!!

    Here is to you Allspice.  Thank you for 18 wonderful years.  There has been so much joy!  I am so proud of the young man you have become.  I am so glad God chose me to be your mother!  I love you with all my heart.

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