August 9, 2016

Today Elliott walked up to me and said, “I like your new best friend mommy.” “Who is my new best friend?” “I like your new best friend named, Ladder…. and I like your friends Paint and Brush.”

Clues that you have spent a lot of time painting in recent days…..


Family Backpacking Food Prep, Dehydrating fruit

Good morning!


Family Backpacking Food Prep

Here’s a sneak peak at what has been happening in our kitchen the past few weeks….

LOOOOOTS of dehydrating going on! Because we’re packing up and heading to Shackleford banks, NC with the kids! We’re super excited about this trip, but in all honesty it is a LOT of prepping and planning. So, I just keep my eye on the prize…. the gorgeous stars at night over the ocean, the shores of shells and not just any shells CONCH shells…. wild horses…. opening up the tent and being on a beach on the Atlantic…. nighttime camp fires with kids sipping on hot cocoa while I read Misty of Chincoteague Island to them so they can dream of horses and beaches!

But, there is very little information on packing food for a FAMILY out there. Individuals? Absolutely, no problem…. but families?


Elliott (3.5yo) sporting his brand new Deuter kikki bag for our upcoming family backpacking excursions.

It’s like crickets…. and I wonder why that is…. is it because it’s hard? Lots of work? Kinda scary to take kids places without food, water, stores, etc? Has that stopped millions of parents from traveling and touring their kids through Disney World every day before? So, on I trudge. We’ve always been a camping family…. we’re just taking it to the next level now that all the kids are old enough. So, Christmas theme this year was all about backpacking…. lightweight sleeping bags, packs, hydration packs, etc etc. (Yes, even my 3.5yo. ;-)) It’s like a dawning of a new era….

To start out the food planning and prepping, I made out a menu…. refined it, refined it again and again…. made sure it was meeting all the nutritional needs…. and then started separating ingredients into items to dehydrate. Then when it’s all done, we combine items into bags, combine bags of things together to make meals and vacuum seal it all into a neat little package. The difference from what we can find on the web and what we’re doing is…. size and weight. My one concern is heating it all… the largest pot that we’re bringing is a 2L pot, so we want to make sure everything can always fit in there…. and one of our biggest obstacles was the form of stove to bring. We finally jumped through a few hoops and were okay-ed the transportation of “hexamine” on the ferry to get to the island…. so we ordered an esbit stove and tablets, but the pot that fits it is only a 20oz pot…. so we can boil water in 2C increments. That’ll be fine for breakfast and coffee…. but for lunch and dinner we’ll likely be boiling small amounts, adding to food, and then just having to wait for more water….. but if we had a traditional stove with us we’d be fine with our 2liter pot, so…. yeah…

For the fruit then! I decided on a variety… and I also dehydrated blueberries, but they were a pretty big pain, lol, so I’m not sure I would ever do it again. I took a whole bag of frozen berries, poked them, and it still took about 24hours of drying and when I packaged them all with oatmeal I noticed a little juice from a few yet…. so they’re in the freezer and we’ll eat those first.

As for the rest! I dried apples, pineapples, peaches, strawberries, and bananas!

I didn’t bother treating the apples or bananas…. we’re good with the color. So, since these two were the most “prep” I’ll start here! I peeled the apples, cored them, then sliced into 1/4″ slices. laid out on the sheets and dried them at 135*…. I think they took about 8 hours. Bananas, peal, slice, lay out, and dry (all fruit was dried at 135*). Recommendation for bananas would be to use parchment paper…. but my trays have a flexible mat so I was able to pop them off.

Strawberries, I used a few bags of frozen strawberries. Recommendations: Cut them thicker then I did, lol…. I think maybe 1/2″ sections…. I didn’t realize there was as much water in them and when I took them out they were (are) pretty paper thin, lol. 1 large bag of frozen berries became 1 cup worth of berries…..

Peaches and pineapples…. well I cheated. We have an Aldi by us and they sell organic canned foods for cheaper than non-organic at any other grocery store…. so…. I think 4 cans of pineapples, 2 cans of peaches. Again…. leave the peaches, I sliced mine in half and they reduced to nothing. I left the pineapple and they’re perfect. Both remain a little sticky…. but that’s okay, it’ll pair perfectly with salted nuts! (sweet and salty…. always yummy!)


Dehydrated Fruit for our upcoming Family Backpacking Trip. Pictured are the results of 2 large bags of frozen strawberries, 10 apples, 4 cans of pineapple, 2 cans of peaches, and 8 large bananas. Additionally we dehydrated a bag of frozen blueberries (which reduced to about 1/2 cup) and we’ll purchase raisins and craisins for a total of 8 different fruits to add to oatmeals and for snacking on.

There’s a Gluten-free Backpacking trip in my future!

I have had so much food pass through my kitchen that I failed to photo or blog about, lol…. but it’s okay. Catch up time? Why sure, that sounds fun!

All of November came and went, I made a super cute cake for my son’s birthday…. he turned 11. Surprise, surprise….. the cake was gluten-free and vegan! And the boys hardly touched it….. apparently 11yo boys prefer burning calories at parties rather than consuming them…. they spent HOURS chasing each other around the house with nerf guns.
DSC_1191Thanksgiving came and went…. we ate at my parents, so I just prepared a few things for myself and the rest of them ate what they could! I did however get one last freakishly late in the season score from my garden! (And then it snowed the next day.) And I made my mom a fun cake for her birthday….
DSC_1216 DSC_1221
Then into December we got to have some fun. I hosted dinner…. and while I definitely did not have time to take fun photos, we did a 7 course meal…. stuffed mushrooms using a dairy-free cream cheese, onion, pepper…. a little daiya on top. lots of cranberries were used in the making of the meal… but this cranberry sorbet was my favorite!


Then after Christmas had past… my daughter turned THIRTEEN!! I am officially the parent of a teenager.


And then…. moving into February….. we decided to play with natural food coloring and used boiled beet water for these yummy cookies to send into my first graders class party.

And since sometimes the sweets get all the attention my youngest and I had a fun day making chips! We made sweet potato and beet chips and loved every delicious bite. And these weren’t the “healthy” oven baked chips…. no…. fully fried in a wok full of peanut oil. Sometimes…. you just gotta fry something.


And now that we’re all caught up to the present…. let me fill you in! We are planning a backpacking trip with the four kids the end of this month (March) and I am in the process of making, dehydrating, and packaging food for the 6 of us for 9 days. The kitchen has been a mess for days….. more to come on that. But here’s a fun preview…. tofu jerky!! I was kinda worried it wouldn’t have a good texture, but it turned out so good that I need to share the full recipe soon.


So, that’s what I got…. October-March highlights.


Meatball Appetizers


Here’s the recipe (makes about 100 1″ meatballs.)
2 bags of Gardein gluten-free beefless ground OR 3lbs ground beef
1.5 C gluten-free breadcrumbs
2 TBLS ground flax
1/4 C hot water (mix with the flax and let it gel.)
1 medium onion
salt and pepper (maybe 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp ground pepper)
1/2 C water

24oz grape jelly
2 bottles of chili sauce

defrost the beefless ground by heating it up in a skillet or a microwave.  Alternately if using real beef, brown the meat in a skillet and drain the fat. Mix together with the bread crumbs, onion, flax eggs, salt and pepper. Slowly add a little bit of water at a time and thoroughly mix. You don’t want it to get too wet, so take your time. You need it to be nice and sticky and hold form well.

Form 1″ balls and place on pan (You can fit them closely…. just make sure they don’t touch.) Bake in a preheated oven at 350* for about 20 mins. (I do not recommend turning them.)

Pull them out of the oven and allow to cool for at least 10 mins. Then carefully remove them from the pan with a spatula and add to a crock pot (or nesco roaster) On low heat… or about 200-250*. The bottoms might stick to the pan, just be careful… the longer you allow them to cool the easier they are to remove because they firm up as they cool.

Mix the chili sauce and the grape jelly and completely coat the meatballs in the sauce. Allow it to heat up in the roaster or crock pot and the flavor to seep into the meatballs. (At LEAST 1 hour…. longer gives more flavor.)

If you want the meatballs to be quite firm, remove them from the heat and allow to cool, chill in the fridge overnight. Then reheat when needed…. but you can eat them straight away.

Tada!! Midwest meat eating neighbors will feel right at home with these…. and kids will gobble them up!DSC_1167  DSC_1173

P.S. If you don’t want to pay $9 for a few cups of gluten-free bread crumbs…. it is EASY to get. Just make a loaf of gluten-free bread without xanthan or flax, slice it and let it sit out overnight and the next morning I assure you….. you’ll have bread crumbs! 😉

Gluten-free Corn Dogs

DSC_1152  My kids like corn dogs…. and I always did as a kid too…. so it isn’t a huge surprise that I would find myself needing to find a way to make some. Today is my youngest son’s 3rd birthday! And he wants corn dogs for dinner…

So, let’s make this simple. The “dog” part of these is just “smart dogs” 8 in a pack for $3…. reasonable.. but if you aren’t into faux meats, just use your favorite turkey or all beef hotdog. Leaving only the batter and the oil for frying!

Here is my recipe for the cornbread I used: DSC_1150

1/2 C sorghum flour
1/4 C rice flour
1/4 C tapioca starch
3/4 C cornmeal
3TBLS raw sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 TBLS ground flax
1 1/4 C soy milk
1/2 C cooking oil

mix the dry ingredients together first.  Then add in the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well.

Using a wok, heat oil on a medium heat… you can test to see if it’s ready by dropping in a small amount of batter.

Then, with a bowl of clean water (and clean hands) take one of your dogs of choice, get your hands wet, and then grab roughly a 1/2 C of batter… and using your hands work the batter around the dog so it’s completely encased. Gently roll/ drop it into the hot oil and let it sit for a minute or two before turning…. it should have a nice color to it, but you don’t want it burnt. using a slotted spoon or spatula, remove from the oil and allow to cool/ dry on a cooling rack over a towel.

repeat for the rest of the dogs! Once they’re all cooled enough to handle, skewer them with a stick and voila! Corn dogs that are gluten, dairy, and egg free.


As an extra bonus, if you have left over batter (and I’m pretty sure you will!) You can drop 1″ sized circles into the oil and fry it up and make some super yummy hush puppies!!


Gluten-free Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies


Oh. my. This recipe makes the yummiest peanut butter cookies I’ve ever had, and I insist…. of all the recipes on here, this be the one you try. (Unless you have a peanut allergy, and then…. well…not you.)


Gluten-free and Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies: (makes about 60)
preheat oven to 375*

1 C Peanut butter
1 C chopped cashews
1/2 C Earthbalance (vegan margarine)
1 C Raw Sugar
1/3 C Brown Sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp Vanilla
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 C sorghum flour
2/3 C Rice flour
2/3 C tapioca starch
2 TBLS ground flax
1/3 C Vegetable oil
1/6-1/3 C water

Extra raw sugar for rolling.

Preheat oven to 375* and in a stand mixer, mix peanut butter, cashews, softened earthbalance, sugar, and brown sugar. Mix til nice and creamy. Then, add in baking soda, baking powder, vanilla, flours (1/3 cup at a time), flax and oil. Lastly add in the water. Add enough to get the dough to clump together easily, but not so much that it gets too soft. (You want it stiffer)

Roll 1″ balls into the raw sugar and place on baking sheet. After the sheet is full, press down with a fork in a criss cross pattern. Bake for 7mins. Cool on pan, use a spatula to remove when cooled. EAT!!! The textures…. especially with a warmed middle…. are indescribably magnificent. The large Raw sugar granules…. the saltiness of the cashews…. the melty peanut butteriness…. it’s just delicious! The only think you will want is a glass of your favorite cold non-dairy milk.

Gluten-free Vegan TACO PIZZA!!


I have fond childhood memories of times at the beach in gulf shores Alabama with relatives and family….. long days on the beach making sand castles, jumping waves….. showering off and peeling seaweed out of my swimsuit…. followed by Godfather’s taco pizza before another late night swim session in the pool. Good times.

The other day my husband said, “I think you should make a taco pizza…. I really like taco pizza.” and I said, “Yeah…. but I don’t know how I’d make a vegan taco pizza that’s still gluten-free.” And the conversation ended there.
DSC_1119 And THEN…. I discovered that at a different grocery store I usually don’t shop at…. Gardein sells a gluten-free beefless ground. (And I found it on a buy one get one free sale for the extra win.)

We tried it hot, we tried it cold, we tried it with sauce, without, with dairy-free sour cream, without….. and while my husband’s favorite way was with dairy-free sour cream while it was hot….. I really liked it best cold no sour cream. I think I just like cold left over pizza though, the flavors have time to meld better or something. Anyway, he gives it two thumbs up, It was close enough to the real deal that it brought up my memories of the beach and the smell of salty sea water….

so here goes: DSC_1116

Follow the recipe here, but in place of oregano and basil, add in chilli powder and cumin…. and go ahead and add in a 1tsp of xanthan…. it gets pretty heavy with all the toppings on there!



3/4 C pizza sauce (recipe below)
3/4 C taco sauce
1/4 C refried beans
1 tsp cumin
1 TBLS Chili powder
1 TBLS paprika
1/2 tsp salt
Mix it all up!!

***This is my recipe for a base pizza sauce: enough for two 14″ pizzas

12 oz tomato paste
1 1/4 cup water
1/8 cup vegetable oil
1-2 TBLS raw sugar
2 TBLS ground flax
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder


Prepare the beefless ground by heating up in a skillet with about a 1/4 cup of water, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp cumin, 1 TBLS chili powder, and 1 TBLS paprika.

On your baked pizza crust, generously spread the taco pizza sauce, then a layer of daiya cheddar cheeze, a layer of the beefless ground, and another layer of daiya cheeze. Bake for 12mins at 400*.

After baking, top with some shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes and peppers, sliced olives, and a little more cheese…. and if you like it extra spicy, drizzle more taco sauce on the top! (and there is always the option of adding some dairy-free sour cream!)

DSC_1120Hope you give it a try and enjoy it!!