Peanut-, Almond-, and Every-Kind-of-Nut-Butter Recall (and a Little Something About Eggs)

I’m pretty sure everyone has heard about the Trader Joe’s peanut butter recall, which has expanded to include waaaaayyyy more than just a couple of TJ’s peanut butters. It appears that nut butters from Sunland, Inc., which manufactures for multiple brands, are the source of the recall. It’s up over one hundred products now. Almond butter has been a staple in my home the last year, so I’m definitely concerned about what products are in my home. You can keep up to speed on additional recalls and added products (cookies, etc.) HERE.

Also, as part of my minimal contribution to this blog, I wanted to share an interesting article I read last week about whether organic eggs are a scam. It has made me think about how loosely the buzzword organic is thrown around without a clear definition attached to it. I want to be more mindful of where my food comes from, for health reasons and because I think animals who provide sustenance for me should be treated humanely. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article.

This infographic at the end of the article condenses down some of the info:

Has the peanut butter recall affected you? What are your thoughts on humane and cruelty-free farming and ranching? 

Slow Cooking Crazy Update–1 Month In

So I’m one month into my Slow Cooking Crazy experiment. So far so good. Not every recipe has been the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten, but it all has been edible, hot, and ready when I get home from work–which is heaven for a busy girl like me.

I have learned a few things so far and I wanted to share them with you:
1.) I may have overestimated what will fit in my freezer. The door now has a tendency to pop open anytime anyone shuts the fridge door too hard. Luckily, that’s happening less and less often as we’ve eaten some of my stash!
2.) Freezing seems to dilute flavors, so, for my next round, I may increase herbs and spices by about 30%. And, in the meantime, I’m adding a little extra when I defrost and cook.
3.) I’m not great at eating leftovers. Too many times in a row of eating the same thing makes me bored and kinda grossed out. Husband is much better than me in this regard, but I still think I need to reduce the portions in each bag for the next round.
4.) I have got to get better at remembering to make quick runs to the store for fresh veggies. I’ve missed them and some fresh greens at each meal would probably make my leftovers more palatable.

All in all, this whole thing gets a big thumbs up–from me and Husband. He’s thrilled that I’m less stressed and that I’ve been spending much more time hanging out with him and less time in the kitchen. Of course, he’s not really a picky eater–so that helps.

Has anyone else tried this or anything like this? Was it successful for you?

Bacon Shortage?!?

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Whoa. This article was one of the first things I read this morning, and I was devastated. I love me some ham, bacon, and pork tenderloin! I will be stocking up once I eat my way through some of my freezer stockpile. Anyone else planning to stock up?

Also, you can buy this AWESOME bacon print here!

Slow Your Roll Recipe FAIL: Coconut Ginger Chicken and Veggies

If you read my adventures in slow cooking crazy, you’ll know I’m on a serious slow cooker roll. I thought I’d share my recipes so you can slow your roll too!

This recipe comes from Aimee at Simple Bites. It’s one of the more complicated slow cooker recipes I used, but the comments on the blog were so positive, I thought it was probably worth it. I modified it to work with my freezer bag system, but otherwise I didn’t change a thing. However, what came out was kind of bland. It was still edible, but I wasn’t psyched to eat it–which is a shame because it smelled AMAZING. There are a few things I may have done wrong here: I couldn’t find fresh ginger, so I used dried ginger, and my curry wasn’t of the best quality. (I also skipped the cornstarch since I’m corn-free, so my sauce was a little thin but I was expecting that and leaving out cornstarch doesn’t affect flavor). I’m also starting to wonder if freezing my recipes dilutes the flavors. I may add extra herbs and try this one again since it smelled and looked so delicious.

Any suggestions on how to up the flavor factor in this recipe?

The good news is that this recipe makes a LOT of food, so it’s a lot of bang for your buck.   Husband and I each ate 2 servings as is. Then I chopped up the rest (2 additional servings) and turned it into curried fried rice with plenty of Sriracha chili sauce and gf soy sauce for some flavor and kick. That took care of both of us for dinner and I had enough left over for a big lunch the next day.

 

 

 

Slow Cooker Coconut Ginger Chicken and Veggies

  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 inch cube of ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1 small sweet onion, peeled, quartered
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or breasts), cut into four
  • 2 cans coconut milk, not shaken
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup peas or frozen vegetables of your choice

For the spice blend

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground tumeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt

IN THE BAG: Combine ingredients from the spice blend together and set aside. In a mini food processor, combine garlic, ginger and onion and pulse until it forms a paste. In a deep sauté pan or Dutch oven, heat olive oil and melt butter. Add pureed aromatics and stir well. Cook for a few minutes, then add spice blend. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Move aromatics to one side of the pan and add chicken pieces to the pan. Cook chicken slightly on all sides, using a sturdy wooden spoon to move it around the pan. It should get thoroughly coated with the spice mixture. Open the cans of coconut milk and remove the cream from the top using a soup spoon. You should have about 1 cup. Pour the coconut milk over the chicken and with both cans, it should just barely cover the chicken. Let cool and then store in freezer bag. In a smaller bag within the larger bag, store coconut cream whisked thoroughly.

TO COOK: Cook on low for 4 hours. Add coconut cream and stir well. Add frozen peas or other vegetables of your choice. Cook for another half an hour or until you deem the chicken cooked and the vegetables hot.

Best Peanut Butter Cookies. Ever.

I came across this recipe on Pinterest the other day, and it completely validated my time spent on Pinterest.

Preheat your oven to 350; you’ll have the batter mixed and spooned onto the cookie sheet before it’s up to temperature. Here’s what you need:

  • One cup of peanut butter (I use Jiff Natural)
  • One cup of sugar (I use organic cane sugar from Costco)
  • One egg
  • One teaspoon of vanilla

Mix the ingredients thoroughly, but if you put some muscle into it, you don’t actually need to get out the mixer. (This might be my favorite part.) Stir it up and drop round tablespoons of dough onto the cookie sheet. Press crossways with the tines of a fork and bake for 10 minutes. Voila! This should make about 15 cookies.

After these turned out so well, I decided to try a batch with half a cup of oats and some chocolate chips. These will need to bake a minute or two longer, but they’re also delicious!ImageImage

My apologies for the dark photos; I need to work on that. The true test of this recipe is the fact that my husband loves them, and as I told him, these are not gluten-free cookies—they’re amazing cookies that happen to be gluten-free. Enjoy!

Slow Your Roll Recipe: Chicken Caesar Sandwiches (or Salads!)

If you read my adventures in slow cooking crazy, you’ll know I’m on a serious slow cooker roll. I thought I’d share my recipes so you can slow your roll too!

This recipe is awesome for football nights–it makes awesome sandwiches that can be eaten on the couch in front of the game. I got this recipe from the lovely Kristy at Sweet Treats & More, who adapted it from Betty Crocker. It’s totally delish and really different than most slow cooker meals–Kristy knows what she’s doing, y’all! It was so good that I forgot to take a picture of it. I think I inhaled it rather than actually chewing…whoops! Anyway, this picture comes from Sweet Treats & More. I’ll post an update with my photo next time I make this. We had plenty of leftovers and the recipe listed below made us 5 gluten-free sandwiches (the Udi’s bread I use is on the smaller side) and 2 salads topped with chicken. That’s a ton of bang for your buck!

Slow Cooker Chicken Caesar Sandwiches

  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 bottle of your favorite Caesar Dressing (I used Brianna’s Asiago Caesar)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
  • Buns or bread

IN THE BAG: Chicken. In a smaller bag within larger bag include parsley, cheese, salt, and pepper.

TO COOK: Place chicken in a slow cooker, cover and cook on low heat for 6-7 hours. Remove chicken from cooker using a slotted spoon.  Place on a cutting board and pull chicken into shreds. Place chicken back in the cooker and pour dressing, Parmesan cheese, parsley, and pepper over the top.  Stir until mixed evenly. Cover and cook on high heat for 30-35 minutes or until mixture is hot. Serve on top of salad or as sandwich filling with potato chips and a side salad.

Glamorous and Gluten-Free: Makeup, Hair, and Spa Tips for Gluten-Free Beauty Junkies

My vanity and home to many, many beauty products

We talk a lot about food on this blog (yum!), but there are other traps for gluten-free gluttons like ourselves that don’t relate to food at all. The biggest one? Makeup and skincare products! More products than you may realize have gluten hiding in them and if you are badly allergic or have celiac’s (or both like me!), just getting gluten on your skin can really bother you and lead to hives, a rash, or swelling–not pretty! Some eye shadow, for example, makes my eyelids swell and get droopy. Nothing says “I feel pretty” like droopy eyelids! (Please note sarcasm.) But, seriously, that’s the whole point of makeup right? To look and feel pretty?

Everyone has a different level of gluten-sensitivity and it can be really tricky to navigate the world of gf beauty products, especially since (unlike with food) most labels don’t say: “Is produced in a plant that also process wheat, corn, ect…” I always recommend checking a company’s website before making a purchase or giving their customer service line a call.

My sister (who is not gluten-free) is a hair stylist and a serious product junkie who has a blog of her own all about beauty products. She’s always recommending awesome stuff for me to try and is really good about checking the labels for me. Definitely ask your stylist or esthetician for some product advice and always let them know that you are gluten-free before you receive any service. Believe me, you do not want dye containing gluten all over your scalp or–even worse–a new gluten-filled moisturizer slathered all over your face and neck during a facial or a massage! Most of these pros are well up to speed on new products in their industry and are always trying new things out, and they definitely don’t want you heading home from the spa itchy or sick.

The products I use and love include:

bareMinerals Matte Powder

bareMinerals Faux Tan All-Over Face

bareMinerals Warmth

Cover FX Luminescent Powder 

Nars Eyeshadows

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment

L’Oreal Lineur Intense Felt Tip Liquid Eye Liner

Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Flawless Wear Concealer SPF 10

Covergirl LASHBLAST Fusion Mascara (I throw away my tube at the end of each month and get a new one, so I keep my mascara inexpensive)

Dessert Essences Skincare Line for Dry/Sensitive Skin (they have a ton of gf products and you can test these out at your local Whole Foods)

The Body Shop’s Olive Oil Shower Gel and Lotion (the Coconut is pretty awesome too!)

Aveda Dry Remedy Shampoo and Conditioner 

Bumble & Bumble Straight Blow-Dry

L’Oreal Elnett Satin Extra Strong Hold Hair Spray

Again, these products don’t bother me, but some of them are processed in plants that process other items with gluten, so you should test them out at your local Sephora or Ulta before making a purchase, especially since make-up can be a major splurge! I also highly encourage you to check the ingredients every time you buy since companies can change their ingredients without advertising it. I check in to my favorite brands’ websites and email customer service every once in a while to ensure nothing has changed, and you should too. Better safe than sorry!

Crazy-Face

I like to go in to test with clean skin on my arms in a short-sleeve T-shirt or tank top. Then I wander around checking labels. If a product seems gluten-free I’ll rub a little on my arm and mark down the product name and it’s location on my arm in a small notebook (I know I probably look crazy-face doing this to other mall shoppers, but not any more crazy-face than I do with droopy eyelids!). Then I go window shop for about 30 minutes. If my skin hasn’t reacted by then, I know it’s probably safe to buy the product!

This isn’t a fool-proof method, obviously. I’ve definitely gotten home with a few products only to find that by the third or fourth wear I’m itchy or droopy or swollen. (I have quite a few allergies, so sometimes it isn’t the gluten at all, but some plant or other chemical.) But it’s a risk I’m willing to take since I love makeup and I’m not about to give it up just because I’m gluten-free! This method works best at makeup stores like Sephora that have testers for everything. But you can employ the same method at Target or Wal-Mart for lotions and body wash–just don’t open all their makeup to test it, OK? You will get in big trouble for that!

Here are some other great resources for tips on gluten-free makeup and product options or to check the products you already own for ingredients or known allergens:

http://www.glutenfreemakeupgal.com/

http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

The Celiac Diva’s Gluten-Free Beauty Product Page

Slow Your Roll Recipe: Henri’s French Chicken

If you read my adventures in slow cooking crazy, you’ll know I’m on a serious slow cooker roll. I thought I’d share my recipes so you can slow your roll too!

This first recipe has been a standby of mine since college when my friend’s mom, Henri, made this on a visit to her house. It didn’t start out as a slow cooker recipe, but it converted nicely!

 

Henri’s French Chicken

  • Chicken breasts
  • 1 cup Queso Fresco, shredded (If you don’t live in an area that stocks Mexican cheese, you can sub in any soft white cheese. I like to use Boursin)
  • 1 cup White Wine
  • 1 cup Chicken broth
  • Pearl onions
  • Baby Carrots, halved
  • Red Potatoes, quartered
  • Garlic
  • Italian Parsley to taste, chopped
  • Rosemary to taste, chopped

IN THE BAG: Combine all ingredients.

TO COOK: Cook on low 8 hours. Serve with side salad.

Slow Your Roll Tip: Slow Cooker Liner Bags

These slow cooker liner bags are the best thing since sliced gluten-free bread. They make clean-up a breeze–just toss the bag and wash your crock pot (which won’t have any gross stuck-on food in it). I may need to buy stock in this company with all of the action my Slow Cooker is getting these days!

Slow Cooking Crazy

So the past few months have been a little busy (understatement of the year). Between almost non-stop travel for friends’ wedding weekends, a full summer social calendar, and plenty of late nights at the office, my husband and I haven’t been the best at making sure we eat healthy dinners.

I finally hit my limit last week and decided that something had to change. So I came up with a plan to prep a bunch of slow cooker meals, freeze them, and then have them ready to cook all day while I was at work. I figured that a few days worth of prep would pay off big time over the next few months when I would only need to make a side salad or stir fry some veggies each night to go with the pre-prepared main courses. Here’s what I did:

Step 1: Take stock and organize

I spent one of my rare weekend afternoons at home going through my pantry, fridge, and freezer and cataloging every item in each of them. This is my “in stock” list. Then I threw out anything past it’s expiration date and scrubbed all my shelves and bins before organizing what we had. Once I had clean, organized, and cataloged my fridge, freezer, and pantry, I was ready for step 2.

Step 2: Bind it up

I gathered a pretty binder, dividers, and a few pockets for loose stuff to create a meal planning binder. I made a section for my in-stock list, shopping lists, recipes, coupons, and a calendar. Then I printed off all of my go-to slow cooker recipes plus a bunch I’d pinned on my “Slow Your Roll” board. I also printed some pretty blank calendars for the next few months with plenty of writing space for step 3.

Step 3: Write it out

I started with blank calendars and filled in standing meals out (like dinner every Sunday with my parents and date night with my husband every Friday), parties and dinner parties on our social calendar, travel dates, and holidays (thanksgiving, for example, means leftovers for a few days). I was left with about 4 nights a week of dinners I needed to fill in. Then I went through my collected recipes and looked for several that had some overlap in ingredients (carrots, onions, peppers, ect…). I planned to make a double batch of each recipe, so I went through my calendar and filled in my slow cooker meals until I had several months all filled in. (I made sure to make some nights as leftover nights too!) With my calendar filled in and my recipes selected, I made a grocery list of everything I’d need to make double batches of each recipe. Then I cross referenced my shopping list with my “in stock” list to ensure I didn’t buy stuff that I already had on hand. I pulled out any coupons I had for items on the list and was ready for step 4.

Step 4: Shop ’til you drop

I got my husband to help for this part, since I was shopping big. First stop was Costco for big packs of meat, bags of veggies, and plenty of gallon-sized Ziplock freezer bags. Next up, I went to Kroger and Whole Foods for smaller amounts of stuff that I needed and gluten-free specific items. I was making 48 individual meals, which meant a lot of food. But when I did the math, each meal clocked in at $12, or $3 a serving–not too shabby for me! I’m not the best about budgeting 🙂

Step 5: Prep and freeze

After I hauled all the groceries in from the car, it was time to cook. I started by writing out important steps for each recipe on the ziplock bags–like if I needed to add any ingredients before cooking or what to serve with the dish. Then I chopped, diced, sliced, and generally spent 3 evenings cooking like my life depended on it. Although, I guess it would be more accurate to say prepping like my life depended on it. There was actually very little cooking involved–just mixing sauces, and making sure all the ingredients for each meal were prepped and put not the correct bags.

It took a while, but now that I’m done, I have enough meals frozen to last me through Christmas. I’m not going to lie–there were a few challenges to this plan that I hadn’t anticipated. My freezer is now so full that it pops open if you close the fridge too hard and it can be difficult to remember where I put each meal to retrieve it for defrosting and cooking. I’m also pretty sure that my husband thinks I’m crazy–I asked him a question when he was drifting off to sleep and his answer was “What’s wrong with you? The freezer is full. No more food.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement. I asked him about it the next morning and he said seeing all tHat food on the counter, my hours of prep, and the packed freezer was like watching a slow train wreck and has referred to it as my slow-burn crazy ever since. But even he admits it’s a good idea. It just seemed like I had jumped off the deep end until I explained it to him.

I’m still not sure how this will all work or if we’ll even like all of the meals, but I love the idea and I’ve got all my fingers crossed that this is a system that could really help me out. I love the idea of a little planning and prep meaning much less work for months at a time. So if it works, I think I may be adding a deep freeze to my Christmas list. One would look awfully nice in our basement. Anyone else tried this system? Or have another system that they use? Or just a deep freeze that they can recommend? I can’t be the only one with slow burn crazy going on when it comes to my slow cooker, can I?