Thankfully Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is Jeremy’s favorite holiday. I have always liked Thanksgiving, but not really as much as Christmas. Over the last few years we’ve been married, though, his enthusiasm has rubbed off on me and I’ve come to love Thanksgiving as well.

One of the things I love about Thanksgiving is every year my dad makes us write a list of five things we are thankful for from the past year. This tradition didn’t start until I was in college and for the first few (okay, several) years my mom, brother, and I complained about it pretty loudly. Now that it’s been going on for closing in on a decade I am so glad Dad forced us to start that first year. Looking back, some really neat things have happened in all of our lives.

For instance, I have moved three times in three states since this tradition began. Also, both my brother and I met and married really wonderful people. And my brother has a two year old son! (Craziness.) I have received both my bachelors and my masters degrees. My parents moved houses and towns. They married off two kids and now have a grandson. My mom found out she has celiacs. As you can see, things have really changed for our family. We’ve added a few people and gotten further apart location-wise. But through it all my dad keeps our thankful lists and reminds us to make them every year.

I bet he goes back and rereads some of them each year.

Some of the things I’m thankful for now are definitely different than the things I was thankful for in college, but some of them I’m sure are the same. I am always thankful for my family and friends. I am always thankful for having a relationship with Jesus. And (since I got married) I will always be thankful for Jeremy.

As we rush into Thanksgiving this week and fight the crowds for deals on Friday (or Thursday night) reflect on what you are thankful for this year. Don’t let Thanksgiving pass as just a day to eat turkey and watch parades.

2 Comments

Filed under Happenings, Introspections and Conjectures

Lazy Hazey Crazy Days

Being an adult really stinks.

Not only are there infinitely more responsibilities (paying bills, cooking food, buying clothing, setting up your own doctors appointments) we adults also get no summer vacation. Some fortunates do have a two-week summer get away with their families, but that is thin compared to the months of bliss experienced in childhood.

I have never really enjoyed summer as a season. It is far too hot to do anything out doors and enjoy it. (Did I mention it is 99 degrees here today and it feels like a cool front?) The only redeeming quality summer ever had was the extended vacation aspect. And this year any remnant of that joy has been lost for me.

Although I worked during high school and college breaks there was still a care-freeness to the non-working days: spending money on whatever I wished, doing whatever I wanted. My job immediately after college completely spoiled me by giving me two weeks off at the beginning of summer and two weeks off towards the end of it as well. (I worked for a collegiate ministry that was very busy during the rest of the year.) My grad school summers were spent taking summer classes, but again breaks at the beginning and end of the summer were inevitable.

This year, however, instead of getting more time off, I took on a second job and doubled my work load from the spring. I had a one week break during the fourth of July and I spent three of those days being sick. Now, I find that the summer is waning and I am quite cheerful to see it go. I far prefer the temperatures of the fall to those of summer, so at least if autumn is no fun I will not be sweaty while I am working.

Leave a comment

Filed under Happenings, Introspections and Conjectures

Pesto Chicken and Veggies

Happy May!

I’m finally trying to pick this back up after a much needed sabbatical during the final month or so of the semester. College students think they have it rough, try being a professor.

Anyway, moving into the summer months should be fun for eating, but not for living because it is already getting to 90 (degrees F) here in the Dallas area. Darn the hot south! If I didn’t love the south so much I’d move north where it snows and doesn’t get so freakin hot!

But I digress.

Today I have a delicious light and summery dish for all of you using one of my all time favorite ingredients, pesto! This is also a fairly easy and quick meal to prepare, so that’s a bonus. I got the original recipe for this off the back of a shredded mozzarella cheese bag, but of course I couldn’t leave it alone.

Here’s what you need:

1 lb. (ish) chicken breast, cut into strips or cubed (your choice! yay!)
1 Tb. olive oil
1 clove minced garlic
1 large, red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 medium to large zucchini, sliced
2 small carrots, peeled and sliced
1/4 c. pesto
1 lemon, cut in 1/2
1 cup shredded Italian cheese (optional)
g-f pasta of your choice (cooked)

Here’s what you do:

First, cook your pasta. While the pasta is cooking heat oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add chicken and garlic; cook until chicken is about half cooked (white on the outside, still pink on the inside). Stir in veggies and continue to cook until the chicken is cooked through. Add pesto and juice from the lemon halves and stir until the vegetables and chicken are coated. Serve over g-f pasta (we had rice pasta) and top with cheese if desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste. It should look something like this:

Hints:

Most pesto is gluten free (but always check the package), but you can also make or buy dairy free pesto if you have a dairy intolerance. You can also omit the cheese for less calories or to make it dairy free.

Enjoy this deliciously light summer meal!

Happy eating!

1 Comment

Filed under Gluten-Free Recipes

Shrimp-O!

Happy Spring, everyone!

I have been wildly remiss in blogging as of late, and I greatly apologize for my absence. Spring always seems to jump out suddenly at me with all its extra things to do and a great desire on my part to not do them.

So here I am, penitently hoping you will forgive me and enjoy this delicious shrimp recipe I have for you!

Shrimp is by far one of my favorite meats; it is light and generally healthy, it cooks quickly, and you can cook almost anything with it! The shrimp recipe I have for you today I believe I took out of a magazine I picked up at a grocery store. It was a free magazine, one that give recipes and such telling you which specific items you need to buy from that store (because why would you get it somewhere else?) in order to make the recipes.

So, if you are in the mood for an easy, light, and spring-like meal, this is one for you!

Sauteed Shrimp

1 lb. peeled, deveined raw shrimp (if you are an expert shrimper, you can get unpeeled shrimp, but I refuse to peel and devein them – it’s really gross)
1 lime, squeezed for juice
2 Tb. olive oil
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. minced garlic (about 2 medium cloves)
1/2 tsp. ground cumin

Toss the shrimp and 2 tsp. lime juice, olive oil, chili powder, garlic, and cumin in a medium bowl. Heat a large skillet over medium-high for about 3 minutes. Add shrimp and saute for 3 minutes or until cooked through (when shrimpy’s are opaque, they are done, if they’re clear, they need some more cookin’!). Scoop and turn shrimp continuously while cooking. Shrimp should curl up and be opaque when cooked through. After you’re done you will end up with something similar to this:

 

We ate ours with a side of green beans, but you can use these in shrimp tacos, eat them over Mexican rice (or normal rice) or your favorite g-f pasta, or really pretty much anything.

Again, so sorry for being such a spring slacker. I will try to do better by you.

Until then, happy eating!

1 Comment

Filed under Gluten-Free Recipes

Almost Ratatouille

Happy Thursday!

The delightful cooler weather has definitely brightened my mood! (I am NOT a summer person. I tolerate spring.) It seems so much easier to cook tasty things when it is chilly outside.

So for your dining pleasure I have a new recipe, Vegetable Tian. I found it here. This person served it as a side dish, but since the Jeremy and I are trying to eat healthier we had it as a main dish and really, it was perfect for the two of us.

Now you may be thinking about how much you love ratatouille and how you can’t wait to make it, but let me warn you this isn’t actually ratatouille. Ratatouille has sauce, this does not. As far as I can tell that is the major distinction. But I’m fairly sure if you are a ratatouille fan, you will like this.

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 Tb. olive oil (split)
1 large sweet yellow onion, cut in half and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 russet potatoes, unpeeled (if they are smaller, use 2, if larger 1)
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
3 large Roma tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
dried thyme or Italian seasoning, to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Here’s what you do:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a round baking dish with nonstick spray (olive oil spray would probably be good, but I just had regular and it turned out fine). Heat 1 Tb. olive over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onions once the oil is hot and saute them until they are see through. Add the garlic and cook everything for one more minute (don’t overcook the garlic or it will become bitter). Spread the mixture on the bottom of your baking dish.

Next, slice the potatoes, zucchini, squash, and tomatoes (about 1/4 in. thick). Layer them over the onions, alternating between veggies to your hearts fancy. You can make a fun spiral type pattern because your dish is round. Here is what mine looks like:

Make sure that you only do one layer. Season with salt and pepper and thyme (you can really add ANY seasoning you want – Jeremy likes spicy things so we often use red pepper, also I really used Italian seasoning because I love it). Drizzle the other Tb. of olive oil over the top.

COVER WITH FOIL (this is important and I forgot to do it*) and bake for 35 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. UNCOVER and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, then bake (still uncovered) for 25-30 more minutes or until the cheese is browned.

Serve and enjoy!

*Note: It is still good if you forget to cover it, it’s just a bit drier. When I took it out the first time it didn’t seem right, so I added more olive oil for moisture, then I cooked it covered for like 15 of the remaining 25 minutes, which turned out fine, just the cheese didn’t really brown as well as it was supposed to. Oh well, I’ll know for next time and you, dear reader, can learn from my mistakes! Yay for you!

I hope you enjoy this delicious vegetable dish, either as a side or a main, it is a great way to get some greens (and reds, and yellows, and browns)!

Happy Eating!

2 Comments

Filed under Gluten-Free Recipes

Creamy Mexican Soup

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I don’t have anything clever and Irish to share with you, but I do have a delicious and easy soup for this incredibly mild winter/spring we are having all over the nation. I found this soup on pinterest, but there was no original website. If you want to you can see the pin by clicking here. (Side note: feel free to follow me on pinterest! I often pin the things I post on my blog if I have a photo of it.)

Ingredients:
1 can of rotel
1 can of corn
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 frozen chicken breasts
8 oz. cream cheese (one block)
1 pkg dry ranch dressing mix (McCormick’s or Simply Organic for g-f)
1 Tb. cumin
1 tsp. onion powder (or garlic powder, which is what I used because I didn’t have any onion powder, and it tasted great)
1 tsp. chili powder

Directions:
Place all ingredients in your slow cooker. Make sure you cut your cream cheese block into smaller bits so they will melt more easily. (Note: for a creamier soup melt your cream cheese in a small saucepan on the stove before adding to the slow cooker.) Cook on low for 6-8 hours, stirring once or twice to ensure ingredients are well mixed. Tear chicken breasts apart just before serving (this should be very easy). Eat with corn chips if desired.

I hope you enjoy this twist on traditional Mexican soup!

Happy Eating

Leave a comment

Filed under Gluten-Free Recipes

Zucchini Nachos (and Salsa)

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

For some reason the warmer it gets the busier things seem to become. I don’t know why that is, or if that’s just me, but it seems I’m in a bigger hurry to get food quickly during the spring. Finding quick, gluten-free options can be difficult. Fortunately, for years one of my go-to quick meals has been nachos; but my version of nachos is usually just cheese and chips. This is definitely not the healthiest go-to meal, but it works to stave off my hunger, at least for a little while.

Recently, I was discussing this very issue with my mom, and she told me something she had done to liven up her nachos. Put zucchini and salsa on them.

This may sound strange, but trust me, it is delicious! So, in the spirit of brevity, I will tell you how to assemble these delicious, inexpensive, and slightly healthier nachos.

Ingredients:
Corn chips
Zucchini, sliced and quartered
Cheddar cheese, shredded (Surprisingly, Wal-Mart brand pre-shredded cheese is gluten-free, other brands use gluten products to keep the cheese from clumping)
Salsa of choice (See extremely easey recipe below for the salsa I use)

Directions:
Arrange corn chips on a plate. Evenly distribute zucchini and cheese across the chips. Heat in the microwave until about half the cheese is melted (about 30 seconds). Remove from microwave and evenly distribute salsa across nachos. Heat again in microwave until cheese is completely melted (about 30 more seconds).

Viola! Delicious nachos for one!

If you want to make more than one serving, you can either make two separate plates, or you can bake the nachos in the oven. If going the oven route, simply place the oven on broil, cover a lipped baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil (for easier cleanup), assemble nachos on the baking sheet, and pop in the oven for 5 minutes or less. You don’t need to wait to add the salsa if you are using the oven method.

Copycat Chili’s Salsa

If you are like myself and my husband, you and whoever you eat with most often cannot agree on one kind of salsa.

Jeremy (my husband), is from Louisiana and spice runs through his veins, so he likes his salsa to burn him (he really likes habanero salsas, he even tried some ghost pepper salsa and liked it). I like spice, but Jeremy’s level of spice tends to hurt me more than provide me with appreciation for the flavor. As a result, we’ve always had to buy two different kinds of salsa. The only salsa we both really liked was served at Chili’s, but that didn’t really help us at home.

Until recently, that is.

I was perusing Pinterest and came across a recipe for copycat chili’s salsa (click here to see original recipe). It seemed easy, so I thought it wouldn’t hurt to try it out.

IT WORKED.

In my humble, but accurate, opinion this salsa is better than Chili’s, and it is cheaper to make than most salsas are to buy. The best news? BOTH Jeremy and I love it! So, without further ado, here it is:

2, 14.5 oz. cans whole tomatoes, drained (I usually just get one, 28 oz. can, it’s cheaper)
1, 4 oz. can diced or whole jalapenos (NOT PICKLED – this is very important because the pickling changes the taste. I found these in the Hispanic Food section at Kroger.)
1/4 cup yellow onion, quartered (I don’t usually measure this, I just cut off a chunk of onion and throw it in the blender)
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar

Blend all of the of the ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. The End.

Super easy and tasty! You should know, however, that the longer the salsa sits, the spicier it gets. So if it’s not spicy enough for you right after you make it, try it again the next day, it will probably be more to your standards.

Hint: for more spice, use a bit more onion, for less, use a little less onion.

I hope you enjoy your delicious new nacho option!

Let me know if you have any comments and, as always,

Happy Eating!!

Leave a comment

Filed under Gluten-Free Recipes