Friday, October 28, 2011

RECIPES: Gluten-Free Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

With the cooler temperatures and fall weather, I have been craving comfort food. I have heard rave reviews recently on Pioneer Woman's Chicken Spaghetti, and decided to try making a gluten-free version.

Since this is an experiment, and it's only me and my little girl here for dinner tonight, I halved Pioneer Woman's recipe.  Here is what I did:

Gluten-Free Chicken Spaghetti Casserole
~1 1/2-2 cups of cooked chicken (I used what I had taken off of the chicken last week and frozen in some homemade broth made from the same chicken)
~half a package of Tinkyada brown rice pasta, broken into 2-3 inch pieces
~1 box Pacific Foods Condensed Cream of Mushroom soup(you could use Cream of Chicken instead)
~1 8oz block of cheese, shredded (reserve enough to top off the casserole)
~1/4 cup + diced green pepper
~1/4 cup diced onion
~1 cup or so of chicken broth
~1/2 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt 
~1/16-1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, more or less to taste
~Salt and Pepper to taste
~A sprinkling of paprika (because I don't stock pimentos in the house, and thought I needed some red color to add pizzaz)

1. Boil your spaghetti until a little al dente (because you will be cooking it further in the oven), preferably in homemade chicken broth (unsalted or lightly salted) or in a mix of commercial stock cut with water to reduce salt content in your cooked noodles.
2. Meanwhile, in large bowl, combine remaining ingredients (except for reserved cheese for the top). 
3. Add spaghetti noodles once they are cooked, and add enough water to allow the mixture to stir easily.
4. Pour into greased casserole dish and top with remaining cheese.

5. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until bubbly and the cheese is a bit browned.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

October 2011, Week 4: Can I really feed a family of five for $450/month?

After 3 days of being homebound with a sick child, I finally made it out to run to the store. I've really been holding out for the health food store, as they carry the foods I do best with. They are open Monday nights, but somehow that didn't work out so I had to wait until today to go.

I decided to go ahead and use up the remainder of my $450 for the month. Some/much of this I will be using next month.

Here's what I got:

Health Food Store
3 dozen eggs $3.35/dozen
2 half-gallons Organic Valley milk $4.89 each
huge bag of gf oatmeal $9.51
Udi's bread (the kind with millet/chia) $5.49 (had a 1.50 coupon for this one!)
2 pkg of pastured ground beef $5.35 and $5.89

Total came to $44.56

Local Grocery
3 cheeses @ 2/$3
La Creme coffee creamer marked down to .79
package of whole wheat tortillas for the kids $2.69 (bummed that they don't carry ones w/o partially hydrogenated oils)
4 bags frozen broccoli $1/ea
1 bag frozen peas (son #1 will be thrilled) $1

Rice Chex $3.99
ground beef $3.05 and $3.16

2 heads lettuce $1.28 ea
bulb of garlic $.56
bag of onions $1.99
3# bag of tangelos $2.99

-2.50 store coupon

Total came to $28.78

So....from last shopping trip, I had $72.99 to work with. 

$72.99 - $44.56 - 28.78 = -$.35

Ok, I went over. Should have not gotten that impulse coffee creamer, huh?

But, it's pretty close, and I can almost say I did it! I don't plan on another trip to the store before the end of the month.

With my oats, I can now make next month's GF granola. With the Chex, I can make another batch or two of GF Chex mix (I still have some GF pretzels from earlier this month).  I suppose I could have waited until next month to get these things, but it's rainy today and I feel like turning on the oven and making something! :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

October 2011, Week 4: Can I really feed a family of five for $450/month?

Well, it's week 4. :)
Last Friday I went to the store and got the following:

2 Gallons rbgh-free milk $5
2 packages of cheddar cheese $3.29 ea
4 tubes of Grand's Biscuits (couldn't pass up at 50 cents/each!)
Marshmallows $1.89
3 cans baked beans $2.15 ea
Trident 1.29
Can olives 1.59
pork sausage 2.05
18 lbs apples for $15
Head lettuce $1.49
2 jugs cider $3.99 each
pack of mushrooms $1.98

I had $1.55 in coupons.

Total came to $51.75

So....Last week's total left: $124.74 - $51.75 = $72.99 left for the month

I plan to dry most of the apples I bought. Used much of the baked beans/marshmallows/cider in a weekend gathering.

I had a sick kiddo yesterday and she's home again today, so that makes me essentially homebound from going shopping (especially at the health food store, which closes before hubby gets home). I do want to pick up a few things...probably use the rest of my alotted amount up there as we are near the end of the month.

The menu for this week looks like this:

Monday: Biscuits and gravy (took advantage of the cheap biscuits and milk...for me, I had sausage, some leftover green beans/mushrooms from the fridge, and some canned peaches from the pantry. Had my little miss not been sick, I would have gotten some more GF baking mix and made myself some GF biscuits and used a GF thickener in the gravy and had biscuits and gravy with the rest of the family...).

Tuesday: Hamburgers, Salad, perhaps Tailgate Salad, Garlicky Pasta (to help fend off the sickies)

Wednesday: Sandwiches, cut up apples or Apple Salad?, Cole Slaw?

Thursday: Pinto Beans and ? (Tamale Pie?), Tortilla Chips?

Friday: Maybe leftovers, since the kids will likely be away that night...we'll see. I do have chicken and broccoli and carrots in the freezer...and rice, if I do need to make a full meal...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

October 2011, Week 3: Can I really feed a family of 5 on $450/month?

So it's Week 3 of my little trial.

On Monday, I re-evaluated my menu and wrote a short list of things I needed from the store for this week.

I purchased the following from the health food store:

4 boxes of herbal tea $3.49-$3.59 each
2 half-gallons of Organic milk $4.89 each
half pound of pastured butter $4.49
Dozen local pastured eggs $3.35
Total came to $31.88

So....last week's tally showed I had $124.74 left for the month.

$124.74-$31.88= $92.86 left for the month

The breakfast selection is narrowing a lot, which is causing some of my kids to balk. Oh well, they still have options (which I don't really deem a necessary thing to provide) and they haven't chosen to go hungry yet! ;) I may make some muffins for the kids today...

 Rather than hamburgers last Thursday, I made a sort of enchilada casserole using a recipe working from the bag of corn tortillas, some cheese, ground beef, a can of green chilies, leftover sour cream/chipotle sour cream that was begging me to use it up...and a box of my gf Pacific Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup. It was a hit! (and no tomatoes!)

~Monday night we had the MuShu Beef(actually, venison) and Cabbage over Rice
~Tonight is Roasted Chicken and Roasted veggies (planning on making bone broth with the carcass)
~Wednesday night is Tuna Sandwiches, cut up apples and oranges, and part of our token bag of potato chips (Probably Tuna and GF crackers for me since I only have one slice of Udi's regular bread left...for some reason I don't think Tuna salad would be good on cinnamon raisin bread!)
~Thursday night is going to be Hamburgers, maybe a Tailgate salad (which I might double for our gathering on Saturday) and I'm thinking about making a big pot of baked beans to go with it or even have instead of the hamburgers--especially if I get around to making cornbread!
~Friday is Nachos, using the other pound of venison/onions I browned last night
~For our Saturday gathering, we are contributing a cold dish and a hot dish... still brainstorming, but am thinking maybe a white/green chili utilizing the leftover chicken meat, and Tailgate Salad? Or maybe instead of tailgate salad, I will bake a cake with one of the boxes of regular cake mix I still have around here...or...GF Crustless Pumpkin Pie?

So, that leaves a few things to work with for next week's menu:
~Venison Roast
~Chicken thighs
~Beans/Lentils and Rice/Cornbread
~Something Simple with quick clean-up --Church Game Night

My garden is offering up the following for me to incorporate into our menu: Beets, Butternut Squash, Chard, Kale.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Help Support our Scouts! (And our Military!)

Our two sons are in Cub Scouts and are currently selling Trails End popcorn products to raise money for their various activities.

Now, you may ask "Why would I, a ______-allergic person, buy this stuff?" don't have to bring the stuff into your house. Instead, you can give money towards popcorn that will then be sent to our Military. Support the Scouts AND our Military troops? Sounds like a plan!

Or, if you are one of the fortunate and don't have to worry about food allergies, you can certainly order some popcorn and it will be delivered to your door! :)

Either way, if you are interested, the details are in the links below:

Son #1: Webelo

Son #2: Bear Scout

Thanks for your support! :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

RECIPE: Crustless Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie

I don't particularly like to make regular pie crust, much less try to figure out how to make one Gluten-free.  At least not at this stage in the game.  For me, pumpkin pie is all about the pumpkin flavor mingling with all those spices.The following recipe satisfies that craving.

I was going to type out the recipe I've been using, but then realized that I am using it exactly as I found it. I don't want to plagiarize/steal someone's recipe, so...

Here's the link to the Crustless, Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie.  Many thanks to Shirley Braden for sharing her recipe and her awesome blog! :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

October 2011, Week 2: Can I really feed a family of 5 on $450/month?...Week 2, Shopping Report

According to my last grocery shopping post, I have $176.97 to work with for the rest of the month.

I went to the local grocery recently, and purchased:

~Wheat Sub Rolls (for "fancy" sandwiches) $2.99
~2 loaves of whole wheat/high fructose corn syrup-free bread $4.78

~box of marked down (but not expired) Gluten-Free Chex cereal $2.00
~bag of marshmallows $1 (thinking of maybe inventing a Chex marshmallow crispy treat - the Cocoa Pebbles treats worked great for camping/hiking last weekend)

~2 bags of white corn tortilla chips $5 (for nachos or taco salad or dipping in homemade Hummus)
~bag of popcorn (seeds) $1.49

~2 Gallons rbgh-free 2% milk $6.98

~2 heads of cabbage $1.66 and $1.70
~2 bags of carrots $3
~Celery hearts $2.69 (less waste)
~Romaine Salad mix $2.49
~head of Garlic $.52
~3-3lb bags of apples $8.97 (going to dry 2 bags of them and eat the others fresh)
~1 head Romaine $1.99
~box of mushrooms $1.98
~bag of oranges $2.99

Total came to $52.23

So, previous total of $176.97 - $52.23 = $124.74 left for the rest of the month!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

October 2011, Week 2: Can I really feed a family of 5 on $450/month?...Working on the menu

Here is what was/is on the menu for last week and this week.  Saturdays are either leftover days or something cheap like a pot of beans and a side of cornbread. Sundays we often go to the in-law's for a big lunch and then in the evening I serve up things like sandwiches, hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, cut up fruit/veggies....and often pop popcorn to share as we watch a show together.

Breakfasts are either cereal or bagels that we were able to get relatively cheap, or eggs....hubby and generally have oatmeal.  It's rather crazy on school mornings getting everyone ready to go out the door on time, and I am not a morning person, so I generally put a selection of stuff out on the table so I can do Ivy's curly hair w/o having to police breakfast. Breakfast isn't an everyone-at-the-table-together meal around here.

So, that leaves the weeknights.

Last Week's Menu:

~Turkey Burgers, Roasted potatoes, Sauteed green beans and Romaine Salad
~Crockpot Beans and GF Cornbread
~Sandwiches (Mine on Udi's Bread, kids on whole wheat bread) and potato chips
~Beef Stew, garlic toast (made from all the end pieces of bread that the kids turn their nose up at-I save them in a bag in the freezer for such a time as this, hehe)
~My plan for this night was to make "Big Sandwiches", using homemade/deli bread....but we ended up going camping and didn't eat this this night. However, I brought most of the ingredients for this meal on our camping trip and we ate it then. :)

This week's menu:

~Monday--got back from camping and tired and putting away and etc.--Mac 'n Cheese for the kids, Romaine Salad for hubby and I, Brats/half pack of hot dogs (still had leftovers), and a sweet potato w/butter/sour cream on the side for me.
~Crockpot Broccoli Beef over Rice
~Sandwiches--may be peanut butter, or tuna...have to see how much lunchmeat we have left
~Hamburgers or Brats, Salad, Pumpkin Pie, Ice Cream (for hubby's Birthday)
~Pizza (mine will be w/an Udi's GF crust, kids/dh will be homemade crust). Pepperoni and mushroom, banana peppers if there are any left in the garden. Maybe I will try butternut again (though hubby won't eat it...Ivy will, though!)

For the remaining 2 weeks, these are the meals that I have stuff for already...will have to go to the store again to fill it out- () is what I need to buy still...

~Crockpot Venison Roast and Veggies (Carrots, Garlic, Celery)
~MuShu Beef & Cabbage over Rice (Cabbage)
~Runzas/Runza "pie"/Runza guts over rice (can't decide/haven't figured out how to do a good GF Runza) (Cabbage)
~Brats/Hot Dogs, Mac 'n Cheese for kids, Salad, Sweet Potato with butter/sour cream for me and whoever else will eat it
~Sandwiches X 2
~Hamburgers (buns/bread) and Tailgate Salad (celery)
~Nachos/Taco Salad (Tortilla Chips, Lettuce)
~Roasted Chicken/Roasted OG Potatoes....(Salad)
~One more meal...

I need to go to the store today and pick up Milk and some produce.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Octover 2011, Week 1: Can I really feed a family of 5 on $450/month?...Continued

I went to the local health food store to get the items to fill out the other chunk of my grocery list.

Yes, the food there is Expensive. But it's local, and it's stuff I can't get anywhere else!

Here is what I got (I may have some of my bulk item prices mixed up, as my receipt doesn't label the bulk stuff):

~Whole Pastured Chicken $14.91--yes, that's for 1 bird. After raising our own from chick to dinnerplate, I almost don't blink at the price here, though.  Pastured=a bird that contains omega 3. Besides, I plan on using this bird for at least 3 meals. $5/meal for meat for a family of 5 isn't half bad.
~2 pkg pastured beef stew meat $6.71, $7.10
~2 dozen pastured eggs $3.35 ea
~Parsley $.73
~Organic cornmeal $3.11
~Extra Virgin coconut oil $9.89
~Raw Organic Pumpkin seeds $1.10
~Dry Garbanzo beans $1.11
~Udi's bread(GF) $5.29
~Udi's pizza crust(GF) $5.29
~Tub of honey $3.56
~Olive Leaf tea-to drink/give to family if they're fighting something $6.99

Total: $72.49

So, previous total of $249.46 - $72.49 = $176.97 left

I will post my Menu Plan soon! (Maybe by the week...we'll see!)  :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

October 2011, Week 1: Can I really feed a family of 5 on $450/month?

As I have mentioned in an earlier post, I want to keep track of what I buy for a month and see if I can do it for our family of 5 for $450 or less this month.

I will give lots of boring details, like lists of what I bought, because the details do matter(to those who care). :)

1. I made a rough menu with what we have on hand in the house. Not sure this is cheating, but it's what I do every month...and I didn't go over last month (had $1.05 left over even, hehe) it's not like I bought a ton in September to make October's food bill look like less, know what I mean? 

2. Make a Shopping List I like to use the Real Simple Weekday Meal Plan and Shopping List to assist me with my menu planning, and to make a shopping list of what I still need(ed) to buy in order to make those meals.

For our family, we tend to eat the same things for breakfasts (oatmeal, cereal bought at a good price, yogurt, bagels bought at a good price, eggs), and lunches tend heavily towards leftovers, so I plan mainly for the main meals and tack the breakfast items and snack items we may need onto my grocery list at the end (the Miscellaneous section of the list above is a good spot for this).

3. Go Shopping.
The whole family went to Walmart this weekend. This is a rare occurance, as we rarely go grocery shopping together, especially at the overcrowded Walmart on a Saturday. But it is what it is. I'm being rather transparent here. :)

Except for the rare awesome deal, stick to your list! This is imperative!

Here is the food I got so far:


Rice Chex (to make homemade Chex mix) $2.28
Pretzels(GF-for my portion of the Chex Mix) $6.523 large boxes Old Fashioned Oats $2.48 each
Crackers (GF) $2.98
2-2lb bags brown rice $3.14 each

Pumpkin Seeds $1.98
Sunflower seeds $1.24

2 pkg Oscar Mayer Nitrate-free hotdogs $2.38 each
4 pkg Brats (yeah, I know, real healthy! /sarcasm and I'm not sure they are GF) $2.50 each
2 bags frozen 85/15 hamburgers $7.98 each
Pepperoni for pizza $3.24

Ice Cream- $3.48, $2.98, $2.88 for upcoming birthday party
Ice Cream Cones $1.38

1 jar Salsa $1.98
Baked beans $1.38
Baked Beans $1.98

Dark Baking Cocoa $2.78
Regular  Baking Cocoa $2.48
Chocolate Chips $7.58
Extra Light Olive Oil $6.48

2 quarts organic yogurt $3.24 each

2 gallons Organic milk $6.18 each
Sour Cream $1.58
Whipped topping $3.48
Sliced cheese $2.28
Muenster $2.68

Cheese $2.28

2 cans frozen OJ w/Calcium  $1.08each

Potato Chips (planned for lunches) $1.98
4 loaves Arnold bread (hfcs free) for lunches $1.98 each
Hormel Naturals Salami, 2 Turkey, Ham lunchmeat $2.50 each
Pickles $2.64

Romaine hearts $2.78
Gala Apples $4.84
Mushrooms $1.78
Sweet potatoes $2.07
Organic Potatoes $3.48

Smurf "animal" cookies for school class $1.50 on closeout

3 Lunchables for the kids $3.48

Lays .98
Skittles 1.18
3 bowls ramen (impulse buy for kids) $.50 ea
Jenni-O Turkey Burgers (bad impulse purchase--but they are GF at least...) $6.28
Pepperoni snacks $2.98 
Total came to $194.19

Dollar General (a few days later):
Cocoa Pebbles(one of the few GF mainstream cereals...not health food, but will make into 'rice crispy' treats for upcoming camping trip) $2.50
Craisins $1.85
Pretzels (for the kids' portion of the Chex mix) $1.00
Gum $1.00

Total came to $6.35

So.....$450-194.19-6.35= $249.46 left
As you can see, I gave in to the Impulse Monster at Walmart ($13 worth!). *sigh*

And...I won't say that brats and hot dogs and turkey burgers are "healthy"... I think I should have shopped local and gotten meats closer to the original form...but I'm being transparent and this is what it's looking like so far. I will be doing more shopping, and will strive for Healthier then (and will note again this reminder of why I try not to shop at Walmart-because I give in to the "deals" and buy junk, lol!)

4.  Make your Official Menu.
Here's the menu plan I have for the next few weeks.  As you can see, it's still a work in progress.

I like to put it on a calendar so I can just look at the calendar on the wall to see what I will be preparing for the meal of the day. Loose papers tend to get lost around here, what with all the school papers that come in our door!

I tend to check off the meals as we have them. This allows me to "change it up" a bit if I so desire and not wonder whether we have the needed items for the meals.

BaxAura and General Gluten-Free Update

My allergies have generally been pretty good. Sunday I had a little bit more intermittent enviro(I think-it was usually when I was in our vehicle)-induced throat itching, but overall I am doing very well in that department.

I am still getting over the "Glutening" from last week. It's rather weird, but I have gotten a hiatal hernia that has decided to present itself possibly as a result of my gluten exposure.  This happened to me last year as well, and the chiro was able to adjust me and I was fine until a few weeks ago. Yesterday I went in for a chiro adjustment and she adjusted me again and it was great for the rest of the day... I wonder too if it might be a response to something environmental at this time of year....

I had brought in something I had suspected might be a trigger food(and wasn't), and my polarity was blocked again! Ugh! It was an easy fix, but I still wonder why the blocking?

So there it is, my little update. :)