Friday, September 30, 2011

Rice Dream® brand Rice Drink

Our family went through an entire school year eating oatmeal for breakfast every single morning. 

Somewhere around the 342 day mark, the wee ones began refusing my tenderly prepared, hot breakfast filled with love. 

Around day 343 we went back to our old standby. Cold cereal. 

As a result, we've entered into a whole new level of rice milk consumption. 

Our favorite rice milk product is Organic Rice Dream® Original Enriched rice drink. It's smooth with a low key flavor. It doesn't have funny chunky stuff floating around, thank heavens. And it's enriched with the same vitamins and minerals normally found in cow's milk. It's a nice way to get extra calcium, Vitamins A, D and B12 into our dairy-free diet.

They sell it in shelf stable 32 oz boxes that are perfect for taking on trips and going camping. We go through so much of this stuff that the refrigerated 64 oz option found in the dairy section of the grocery store is really convenient and delicious.

Rice Dream® also makes frozen non-dairy deserts—aka ice cream—that are divine. But that's a different post for a different day!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fish Tacos with Grilled Tropical Fruit Salsa

Another variation on a theme. Fish tacos. Grilled tropical fruit salsa. I ain't ready to say good-bye to summer just yet.

Fish Tacos with Grilled Tropical Fruit Salsa


1 1/2 lbs mild white fish fillets
1/4 watermelon, sliced and grilled
1 pineapple, sliced and grilled
1 mango, sliced and grilled
2 ripe avocados, chopped
3 TBS cilantro, chopped (more or less to taste)
2 TBS light agave nectar
1/8 tsp salt
cajun seasoning
butter (or butter substitute)
12 corn tortillas

The Preparation Method:

Begin heating the grill on high.

Slice watermelon, pineapple and mango. Brush both sides with a light coat of agave nectar. Place on a very hot grill. Grill about five minutes or until fruit is soft and has nice grill marks. Flipping once halfway through.

Turn oven broiler on high.

Wash and pat dry the white fish. Place in a baking dish one layer thick. Sprinkle a heavy dose of cajun seasoning over the top. The more the better with this stuff! Add small bits of butter over the top about four inches apart.

Place under the broiler for approximately 7 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

Pull the fruit off the grill. Dice the watermelon, pineapple, mango and avocado. Mix together in a large bowl with 1/8 tsp salt and 3 TBS chopped cilantro. Pour any remaining agave nectar in the mix.

Serve inside warmed corn tortillas. We like to fry each tortilla in a piping hot skillet with a touch of oil to make it slightly brown and very soft. Salting the fried tortilla makes it even better. Enjoy!

John Mayer Trio - Ain't No Sunshine

Monday, September 26, 2011

Simple Joy ~ Last Day of Summer

Last day of Summer 2011. 

I'll take it laying down on a picnic blanket with my sweetheart by my side.

At least in my dreams that's what I did.

In all actuality, I spent it laying down in bed with a blasted head cold.

The joy is in the dreaming this go around!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Clearly Define Needs vs. Wants

Garage Sale Rules of Engagement

Rule #3: Clearly Define Needs vs. Wants

It's Saturday. Garage sale day. Hooray!

I love garage sale-ing more than I love a lot of other things in life. Garage sale-ing comes in a close fifth to dancing, chocolate, sunshine and laying in bed past 7am.

My husband has not always loved me for this undying passion of mine. I have been known to walk out the door at 6am on a Saturday morning with a small cup of coffee in hand only to return at 12 noon with a full carload of items we need and can't live another day without.

Over the years I have slowly learned that this method of treasure hunting has not treated our small home well. At the point we find ourselves swimming in things we might use someday, my husband has had to put his foot down. I'll admit that I have struggled showing restraint. Somehow those items which I believe have a true purpose in our home will still find themselves in my car around the 11 o'clock hour.

Recently, with the advent of smart phone technology so readily at my fingertips, I've begun a new method of distinguishing between my needs and my wants. Admittedly, there are times when it gets quite confusing in my head trying to tell the difference.

Take for instance the above pictured vintage Dolly Madison Hand Crank Ice Cream Freezer. I found it at a church yard sale. Clearly someone dug this thing out of the basement. It was cool. It was retro. It needed to by mine.

Here is the conversation I had with myself as I tried to understand the confusion I was feeling in that moment filled with passion and excitement:

"You've been wanting to make homemade ice cream for months now. This is your chance."

"But you have nowhere in your kitchen to store this gigantic contraption."

"True, but I can certainly find something to clear away to make room."

"You know that you won't make hand crank ice cream more than once a year... if you're lucky."

"No way, not true. I'll certainly make it every week if I have such a handy contraption such as this Dolly Madison Hand Crank Ice Cream Freezer in my kitchen."

And on and on I go until I finally decided to text my hubby a picture of the darned thing. "Babe, I need this. I've been wanting one forever. What do you think?"

Three minutes later, the answer is clear. No. Hell no. We can't go back to swimming in things we might use someday.

Agreed. He's right. No. Hell no. Walk away Judith. Walk away.

I'm glad I did. The Dolly Madison Hand Crank Ice Cream Freezer incident was a few weeks ago—and looky-here— low and behold I'm still alive without it. Have I thought about making homemade ice cream between then and now? Yes, yes I have. But it was fleeting. Would I have taken the time to hand crank my ice cream between then and now? Heck no. It was a good decision to leave it for another ambitious soul on that church lawn.

So next time you're out there in the field and feeling confused as you try to distinguish your needs from your wants you may consider asking yourself these three questions:

1) Is there a spot in my home so barren it is virtually begging to be filled with this item?

2) Is there some place I've been meaning to clear out for ages and this item will give me the motivation to do so?

3) Have I been eyeing this item at full price in the retail store and have been waiting for an opportunity like this to procure it for pennies on the dollar?

So get out there this week fellow garage sale lovers... find your treasures and show some restraint. Your housemates will thank you for it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Jack Daniel's Garlic Chicken with Fettuccine Alfredo (Gluten and Dairy Free)

Forgive me if my recent trend of recipes with alcohol is irritating. Last week I made an unofficial plan to try Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey in recipes for every type of meat I could think of. Today's recipe is a chicken marinade. 

Besides, what else would I do with this huge jug of whiskey?

In an attempt to educate myself while cooking I was doing some research on the interwebs about marinating meat with alcohol. I had been under the belief that it was a fine idea to throw some of the hard stuff into a marinade to make the meat more tender. It seems some would disagree stating that the alcohol cooks the exterior of the meat in effect keeping the flavors of the marinade from absorbing fully into the body of the meat. 

I quickly gave up the debate and carried on with my plan of adding the hard stuff to the rest of the ingredients. All I can say is that the chicken turned out very tender and flavorful. I cast my vote in favor of alcohol in marinades.  

Jack Daniel's Garlic Chicken with Fettuccine Alfredo (gluten and dairy free)

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, fat trimmed and butterflied to make thin fillets
1/4 C olive oil or canola oil
1 tsp dry mustard (or prepared mustard if out of dry mustard like I was)
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey
5 large garlic cloves, minced

The Preparation Method:

Gather ingredients.

Whisk together in a bowl. Add butterflied chicken breast fillets. Poke lots of tiny holes in the chicken with a fork. This helps the flavors penetrate the meat even further, just in case the alcohol was making it hard. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour, up to four hours.

When ready for dinner, place the chicken breasts on a very hot grill. Be sure to carefully spoon the minced garlic from the marinade all over the breasts.

Turn once and cook 'til done.

Serve over Fettuccine Alfredo with a side of broccoli. Here's the link to my gluten and dairy free Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo recipe. Yum-yum-a-yum-yum!


Eli Young Band - Always The Love Songs

Monday, September 19, 2011

Simple Joy ~ Coffee Bubbles

There are some mornings when staring at the bubbles in my coffee brings me great amusement and satisfaction. 

Today was one of those mornings.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Jack and Coke Pot Roast

I'll admit it. Over the past decade of my official homemaking career I have been crowned Queen of Bland and Dry Pot Roasts. 

Yesterday, I shed that title.

It all changed when I welcomed Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey and Coca-Cola Classic into my kitchen at 7:30 in the morning.

I took this classic drink combination and poured it over a well marbled pork shoulder roast, tossed in a coarsely chopped yellow onion and red bell pepper and called it a day. Ol' Bessie (my dear crockpot) went to work for the next 8-10 hours in The Little White Kitchen and come dinnertime we were all pleasantly surprised that the Queen had been dethroned.

Here's the recipe. It's so easy you might faint.

Jack and Coke Pork Roast

2-3 pounds pork shoulder roast (look for lots of marbling with fat throughout the roast)
1 can coca-cola classic
1/2 cup Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
(serve over rice)

The Preparation Method:
Place chopped vegetables in the bottom of crockpot. Lay pork roast over the top. Season roast with salt and pepper. Add the whole can of coca-cola and 1/2 cup Jack Daniels. Cover. Set heat to high. Walk away. Come back 8-10 hours later. 

Test doneness with a fork. The roast should fall apart at a touch. If it's not falling apart, it needs to cook longer.  

When ready, serve meat and vegetables over rice. Here's to moist and flavorful pot roasts!

Mr. McGraw mentions Coke in this song. Perfect musical accompaniment for the preparation of this quick and easy dinner.

Tim McGraw - Something Like That

Monday, September 12, 2011

Simple Joy ~ Handwashables

When the label reads, Hand Wash, I ignore it. 

I don't ignore the important message and put the item in the machine washer anyhow. Noooooo, I am dar too serious about following the commands on my clothing tags. 

Rather I ignore the article of clothing, leaving it to the bottom of the laundry pile, hoping somehow it will rise out of the pressing weight from above and wash itself. 

These are my hopes. Somehow this has never actually happened. 

Nor has my fairy godmother ever shown up—with bon-bons and ice cream in hand—to manually remove said handwashable item from the depths of the wash basket while I sat on the couch eating those bon-bons and ice cream only to find in an hours time all of my delicate handwashables hanging neatly on the line.

But the other month I found myself heading out of town on a business trip and I needed some clothes, something other than my usual 'mom' gear. I found half a laundry bin with likely candidates. So I got to it and spent a small portion of my evening sudsing and swishing, swishing and rinsing (but not wringing or twisting). Before I knew it I was pleasantly enjoying this much ignored chore.

I'm heading out of town on another business trip and have found myself looking forward to my new favorite household duty. 

Bring on the suds and the swish. I'm in need of some simple joy today!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Gin and Tonic with a Twist of Kiwi and Lime

Fall is fast approaching. Football season is here. Frolicking with loved ones in the crisp September air is a must.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I don't know a thing about football. Nor do I care to learn the ins and outs of what's happening on that field. It seems complicated to me. First downs, second downs, touchdowns. Typically you'll find me cheering for the boys who are falling behind while commenting on who I think is going to break down in tears back in the locker room.

Despite my atypical approach to viewing major league sports (is that the proper way to refer to professional football or do you only say 'major league' when talking about baseball?), I can't deny my enjoyment of the tailgate party. The burgers, the beer, the bean bag lawn games, kids running around like wild. So much fun for the whole family. 

Tomorrow afternoon we're headed to the home-field opener for our local college team (is that the proper way to refer to the first home game?), not because we have tickets to the game but because friends are gathering to partake in this glorious fall tradition. I look forward to the burgers, the bean bag lawn games and the wild children, but being gluten-free means that I won't be able to enjoy the most important "b" in this equation—the beer.

In lieu of my favorite six-pack of bubbly brew I'll be bringing my favorite souped-up cocktail—the not-so-famous Gin and Tonic with a Twist of Kiwi and Lime. 

Unlike the game of football, the recipe is not complicated:

1 ripe kiwi, smushed and squashed to release the juices
a cup full of ice
1/3 parts Gin
2/3 parts tonic water
squeeze of lime

Mix it all together. Join me in the enjoyment of this atypical tailgating cocktail! 

Cheers, friends.


Kenny Chesney - The Boys of Fall

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Simple Joy ~ Ten Toys Per Child

Remember last week when I posted about Bubba cutting his own hair while all the children were "quietly coloring" at the kitchen table? Turns out there's more to this story, folks.

Over the weekend a friend sent me this note:

"Maybe he really needed 15 toys! Creativity is an amazing adventure! So cute and so damn funny! At least your sweet little girl did not cut her hair!"

I guess I have more to tell you. Let me back up a little.

The day I wrote that post I spent the morning at coffee with some girlfriends.

I was retelling the story about the five minutes alone, the oh-no they've been way too quiet for far too long realization, and the fact that the older kids didn't stop Bubba from whacking at his luxurious locks.

Over cappuccinos and lattes and cute chubby babies I was also explaining the new M.O. (modus operandi) set forth by my dear husband regarding toys in our home.

Two weeks ago we adopted the Ten Toys Per Child policy.

Let me back up a little further. You see, recently he went on a trip where he stayed in the home of some dear friends. This family of four lives in a very small home. Our home is small. Theirs is smaller. They described a simple rule they keep with their kids that has lead to greater happiness, stronger focus and fuller creativity.

The Rule: Ten Toys Per Child

My hubby came home raving about how great it was being in a home without—please excuse my French—all this sh*t laying around all. He has been an advocate for extracting the massive quantities of—please excuse my French—sh*t that so easily accumulates when you have three little people and two big people living in a home together.

The pack-rat in me said, "Oh no, but we might need it. We can't live without 23 plastic horses, a giant robot, 600 million flash cards and 42 miniature dinosaurs."

The housewife in me said, "Anything to make my job easier and I'll take it."

I hesitantly agreed with the new plan. We presented it to the kids. They jumped on board immediately running to their rooms to fill garage sale bags with their things. Clearly the thousands of precious little plastic thingies laying around here didn't really mean all that much to them after all.

We had a garage sale. They sold everything and kept the money for themselves. (Enter Pokemon cards. But that's a different story for a different day.)

Now that we function in a Ten Toys Per Child house I have to agree that the reduction of clutter has led to greater happiness, stronger focus and fuller creativity for all.

Enter last week's Five Minutes Alone episode: Quietly Coloring at the Dining Room Table.

After the children woke up in the morning, I began quizzing them about the previous night's events trying desperately to understand why no one stopped the baby from cutting his own hair. Quite quickly it was revealed that Bubba wasn't the only one taking liberty with the scissors. Turns out he got the idea from his older sister who got the idea from her older brother. Yes indeed, all three children cut their hair that evening.

Which brings me back to the note my friend sent over the weekend:

"Maybe he really needed 15 toys! Creativity is an amazing adventure! So cute and so damn funny! At least your sweet little girl did not cut her hair!"

Ahhhhh, the simple joy of youthful creativity!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Five Minutes Alone ~ Haircut

This is Bubba.

This is Bubba with his nifty new haircut by mama.

(Notice the sideburns and short bangs. I'll admit, it needed help.)

This is Bubba after he spent Five Minutes Alone with the kids scissors at the dining room table while he and his siblings were "coloring quietly".

This is Lance Corporal Bubba after daddy's attempt to correct the Five Minutes Alone episode with a new high and tight 'do featuring Vanilla Ice flair. 
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