Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Mac and Cheese Help

Macaroni and cheese was one of the things that Zoe loved during her pre-GFCF days. And as much as I'd like to think that I've come up with substitutes for all her favorite things, this is one area where I've come up woefully short. I've tried to recreate mac and cheese three or four different times, and they've all been major "flopolas" (thanks to Lynn for that word--it very adquately describes my mac and cheese results). I've even tried a few boxes of mock mac and cheese; in a word, they stunk.

I've found some new motivation for trying to recreate this again. Alicat over at Something So Clever posted a fantastic recipe for a mac and cheese (not gfcf), which I made for lunch for Flamenco Dad, Ayden and me. Zoe was at school; I didn't want to make it while she was here and have to tell her she couldn't eat it. Anyway, Ali's dish was great--Dad says it's the best mac and cheese he's ever had--but it left me wanting to try this GFCF mac and cheese thing again. So I'm going to do some more research on this and see what I come up with this time. I'm also calling on all my gfcf buddies out there for advice. If you've made it work, please let me know; I want to give it another shot.

By the way, here's the link to Ali's site

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Out-of-Towners

As I mentioned in my Saturday posting, last week was hectic. The week started with Flamenco Dad going out of town for a concert, which meant Mom was on duty 24/7. Then we got to spend lots of time with several out-of-town guests, which was great fun. The concert Dad went to was to see Pepe Romero, who is one of the greatest guitarists of our time. He is the gentleman chatting on the phone in the first photo (I'll get to that in a minute). My husband has been fortunate to study with Pepe in master classes in the past; and we've had the pleasure of getting time to socialize with him whenever he's come into town. When my husband returned home, we went out for dinner and drinks with Pepe and some of our other friends that are part of the "guitar circle" in this area.

Pepe came back to our city to perform a benefit concert with The Romeros, which is a guitar quartet comprised of Pepe, his brother Celin, and his nephews Celino and Angelito. Celin and Angelito are the other two men in the top photo (Celino was a bit camera shy that evening). The concert was excellent--no surprise there--and afterwards we retreated to the home of some friends for a late evening of partying. As is true to form with musicians, they like to have fun. We stayed up till about three hangin' with the Romeros and friends.

The next day, my college roommate came over for dinner. She was in town for a conference (she lives in Virginia), and she stopped by for some home-cooked food after the last day of her event. Eunice and I hadn't seen each other in years. In fact, the last time we saw each other, Zoe was just a baby! We've kept in touch on a pretty regular basis over the years, but it was great having her here in person. I made her some Puerto Rican food, which she hadn't had since the last time I had her over. We talked for hours; she played with the kids; we gave her a brief flamenco demonstration. It was just like old times. We're planning a girls' getaway weekend with another friend of ours from UM; I'm so excited! I'm going to have to rest up--all this staying up late has worn me out!

Saturday, January 20, 2007


After an insanely busy week, we decided to hit the beach this afternoon. This photo was taken today; a beautiful sunset view of the Gulf of Mexico. Breathtaking, to be sure. The fresh air definitely helps to replenish a tired body.

Once the sun finally set, we hit a phenomenal Thai restaurant we know and we indulged in some delicious treats. The restaurant also has a great sushi chef. Zoe had sushi for the first time today, and she absolutely loved it. We feasted on spring rolls, curried fried rice, Thai beef with basil leaves, and some plum wine (well, the adults had the plum wine). The kids, exhausted from the activity and the long drive home, promptly went to bed. The adults will stay up late for tea, dessert, and maybe Saturday Night Live--if we don't pass out first.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Under Pressure

Someone was kind enough to give me a gift card for Bed Bath & Beyond for Christmas. Browsing through all the goodies they have to offer at that store is like porn for me. I bought a pressure cooker, which doesn't seem very exciting to some. But, the prospect of cooking at high pressure (which equals high speed) is very attractive to a young mom with two kids running about. According to the manual, the pressure cooker can reduce cooking time by up to 70%; today I put it to the test.

I bought a chuck roast yesterday at Publix, which is the meat I cooked today. Now, making beef stew is kind of a crapshoot here at my house; sometimes it's very tender, sometimes not so much. Today I browned the meat in a bit of vegetable oil with some salt and pepper. Then I added a bit of garlic and oregano, my favorite aromatics (carrot, celery, and onion) and a potato. I topped that with a bit of tomato sauce, clamped on the lid, and let her rip.

It was the most tender stew I have ever made. Now, it wasn't without it's issues; namely, it needed more seasoning. I did add some more salt and pepper to it after the stew was done, and it turned out just fine. I was concerned about adding too much seasoning up front because pressure cooking--according to the manual--does tend to intensify flavors. Other than that, the experiment was a great success: full, happy bellies confirm it.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Bed's Too Big Without You

Pardon my shameless use of a line from a Police song. Flamenco Dad is out of town--to see a guitar concert--and won't be back until tomorrow. To hear my friends tell it, I'm one of those rare birds who actually enjoys spending lots of time with her spouse. I'm not sure I believe them when they say they're actually happy when their husbands go away. It seems like they find it more fashionable to say it. But I'm not too proud to say that I miss my husband when he goes away (thankfully he plays locally more often than he goes on tours). I hope he enjoys himself on his trip; but I'll be thrilled to be the first to say "welcome home."

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Presenting a Different Point of View

I stumbled upon an interesting essay while surfing for sites about autism. It was written by a man named Frank Klein; he is a high-functioning autistic man in his mid-30s. Klein's argument is that finding a cure for autism would eliminate what makes him him. Klein says that he is on board with finding cures for the painful aspects of autism; but that since being autistic is so closely tied into a person's identity, that curing the disorder is equal to destroying the person. Certainly a different perspective on curing the disorder. Anyway, I found it fascinating; I read some of his other essays and found them all to be interesting reads. Here is the link:

Friday, January 12, 2007

Pineapple-Upside Down Yummy Goodness

So here it is: the bit of culinary yumminess that has my family smiling (See photo). I've made this twice so far: once for Christmas and once yesterday. It is a truly delicious treat, particularly for someone like me who absolutely adores tropical fruits. If a food has pineapple, coconut, or both in it, it's a pretty safe bet that I'm going to love it. And love it I do.

Please note that the recipe uses soy milk, but you can use either buttermilk(if you do dairy) or the nondairy milk of your choice (rice milk might be nice here).


1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1 can (14.5 oz) pineapple rings in juice, drained

7-8 maraschino cherries

1/4 cup canola oil

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 Tbs. grated lemon zest

1 1/2 cups GF Flour Blend

1 tsp. xantham gum

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

2 tsp. vinegar and enough soy milk to equal 3/4 cup

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 10-inch pie plate or skillet and sprinkle with brown sugar evenly over bottom of pan. Place pineapple slices and cherries in pan. With electric mixer on medium, combine oil and sugar. Set mixer to low, then add in eggs and lemon zest .

In medium bowl combine flour, xantham gum, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, combine milk and vanilla. Add flour mixture and milk mixture to the egg mixture, alternating wet and dry ingredients. Pour batter into skillet and bake for 40-45 minutes. Cool for 5-10 minutes, then invert onto serving plate.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Lemon Chicken

Last night I made a delicious lemon-rosemary chicken dish that was a big hit with my kids. Those of you who have children can attest to the fact that it's often impossible to please them at dinnertime. Anyway, I paired it with some rice and steamed vegetables. After all the holiday gluttony, it felt good to eat something healthy.


3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 lemons
1/4 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely minced
2 Tbs. fresh rosemary
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tsp. cornstarch
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes(optional)
parsley (optional)
1/4 tsp. salt, + more to taste
1/4 tsp. pepper

Filet the chicken breasts and season them with salt and pepper. Grate the zest of one lemon, then juice both lemons. Heat olive oil in a pan; then brown chicken in pan, about 3 minutes per side. Take chicken out of pan, and discard all but 2 Tbs. olive oil. Combine the cornstarch with the chicken broth. Add the garlic to the pan, followed by the rosemary. Once garlic starts to turn golden add the broth/cornstarch mixture, lemon zest and lemon juice. Return the chicken to the pan, cover and allow to simmer until chicken is cooked through thoroughly and sauce has thickened. Add more salt if needed. Garnish with red pepper flakes and parsley.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Holiday Recap, Part Three: Three Kings Day

Seems like an odd photo to post on this blog, I know. But it so accurately captures the raucous nature of our Christmas gathering with my inlaws that I had to post it here. This is my niece, Lisa, dodging a flying Christmas bow--thrown by my husband. That bow landed smack in between the eyes of my husband's aunt (gasp!), who at sixty-four has slower reflexes than the thirteen-year-old in the photo. Man, I'm so glad I put my camera on the tripod that day; otherwise, this picture never would have come out right.

We didn't get together on Christmas because some family members were out of town, and others had already made plans with their respective in-laws. So we decided to get together on Three Kings Day, or Epiphany, since it marks the end of the Christmas season for us.

If you haven't guessed it already, my husband's family knows how to get wild at a party. I can only imagine if alcohol had been served; oh, the madness that would have followed! My husband's peeps are relatively laid-back, easy going types. Believe me, though, once the hubby and his brothers get together, their almost kid-like joie de vivre kicks in, and everybody has a blast.

We served a wide array of different Puerto Rican treats, including my mother-in-law's pasteles. They are similar to tamales, but they have a masa made of green plantains, green bananas, and other root vegetables. They have a delicious pork filling. My mother-in-law also made beef tongue, rice, and stuffed chicken breasts. I made some desserts--some gfcf, some not. Everybody left here full(to say the least) and happy. And at long last, I get to put my Christmas decorations away.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Ready for '007

I'll come right out and say it: I don't like resolutions. Every year I make 'em, and every year I break 'em. It usually takes all of two weeks for that to happen. And I keep making the same ones, which is hilarious; no wonder I keep getting that feeling of deja vu around this time of year. So, no more unrealistic goals for the New Year. I resolve to do the following, more realistic sounding things:

1. To practice living every day with an open heart and a patient mind (read: try not to strangle my kids when they accidentally flush a foreign object down the toilet--again).

2. To take better care of myself: body, mind, and spirit (no more of that lose 50 lbs. by my birthday-no matter what--crap).

3. To remember to tell my husband how much I appreciate his love and friendship every day.

4. To make that GFCF Pineapple Upside-Down Cake I made this Christmas more often. Okay, ALOT more often.

I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Holiday Recap, Part Two: Home on the Range

A few days after Christmas, Flamenco Dad and I loaded up the kids and gear and took the L-O-O-N-G trip to see my family. My kids love visiting the family. Since they're the only grandchildren on my side of the family, that means they get spoiled. Alot. And since my family doesn't get to see the kids all that often, they get to ooh and aah over how big they've gotten while the hubby and I get a chance to sit around and breathe for a bit.

One of the fun things we got to do while visiting was to take the kids to see the horses my mom and stepfather just bought. They bought three horses, two males and one female, back in October. The horses are in the process of being broken (gosh I hate that term), so the kiddies can't ride them yet. But they did get to pet them, watch them get their exercise and get their baths, and roam around the farm and stables. The photo is of Zoe and Pretty, the female horse. Zoe got to spend a great deal of time with Pretty; and even though it looks like a sad photo, Zoe was really happy to be in the company of the horse. It seemed like she stared into Pretty's eyes for hours.

While the trip to visit my mother seems long, the good news is that it's about to get shorter. She's building a house about 120 miles closer to me, which shortens our drive to see her, her hubby, and my grandma. Hooray! It's nearly done; she and her husband are closing at the end of the month. My brother, who lives about five minutes from my mom's current home, will still be further away; but we can meet up at mom's, which is not a bad thing. We took a picture of Ayden in front of the new house. He was more interested in playing in the dirt than checking out the house. Hey, the kid's got his priorities, you know!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Holiday Recap: Part One

My holiday recap is quite late in getting here. And there is much to tell; so much so that I'll have to give it in installments. The photo above is on Christmas morning. Zoe is pointing to the plate of gfcf cookies and chocolate soy milk that we left for Santa. Apparently, he liked what we had to offer, because he ate it all except for one tiny part of a cookie. Santa was very generous this year--the kids had a blast this Christmas!

After the gift opening concluded, we got to work on our gfcf Christmas meal. It was truly delicious! I made turkey (I admit to being a turkey junkie), gfcf stuffing, sweet potato bake, sauteed spinach and veggies, and a gfcf pineapple upside down cake. We had some relatives over, and they didn't miss the gluten or dairy at all! In fact, when we told them (and after they noticed that Zoe ate absolutely everything on the table) they were quite surprised. My husband even commented this weekend about the fact that he likes some of the gfcf alternatives over their traditional counterparts. Yippee!

Anyway, more to follow. Tomorrow I'll share part II of the holiday recap: the visit to my family, and the kids' first trip to the horse farm.