My Sweet Marie

Archive for September 2012

On Tuesday it’ll be my sweetie’s birthday! We celebrated early yesterday with our girls and their families! We , as in I, made a nice meal complete with cake and ice cream! This year Denis asked for carrot cake and I was happy to oblige since this summer I found the “Namaste Gluten-free mixes”! They have a spice cake that rivals any cake mix, let alone a gluten-free one! I toss in coconut, pecans and raisins and call it morning-glory cake! I top it with an icing made of icing sugar,coconut oil and almond milk, and a dash of vanilla…can you say yummy?

We had three options on the ice cream, a rare treat in our home! We had mint chocolate chip, vanilla and we had a coconut milk ice cream that was turtle flavor! Between us all, we finished off a couple of the cartons! Melanie and Holly and I were absolutely crazy about the turtle ice cream, it was dairy,soy and gluten-free! You got to love that! We made the most noise at the table!

Our dinner table is getting crammed with all the kids, we need to come up with a plan where we are not all eating with our elbows glued to our ribs! One slip of a fork and you could lose an eye! Our family has grown so much in the last five years, it’s hardly recognisable! This is a great thing in my eyes!

We feted on jalapeno poppers, humus, fresh salsa for snacks before the real food got served! For the actual dinner we had spinach salad, smoked pork chops a la Denis, steak, scalloped potatoes, and a mix of green and yellow beans! Just a few of Denis’ favourites! We made two pots of scalloped potatoes, one was a regular ooey-goey cheesy casserole, the other was dairy and gluten-free! The Dayia cheeses that I got at Whole Foods last week came in handy! It’s a bit of work to make dishes for the ‘special’ people but when everyone else is having something, it sure is nice to have some too even if it is a different version of it!

Dinner is my favourite time when the kids visit, as that is really when the true character of the kids comes out! Blake goes into stuffing mode, eating anything and everything in sight, Heidi likes to tell stories while supper gets cold, Holly tells stories too but mostly giggles at Heidi and Evelyn just nibbles away at just about anything! It is amazing to me that only eight months ago she was a preemie and now here she is fully caught up and just as cute as can be!

If Denis were writing this blog, he’d tell you his favourite time is when he has one or two or three of the kids on his lap, us singing Happy birthday and he is blowing out the candles! It’s heart-warming to know how loved he is by those kids, as am I. The feeling is certainly mutual.

Family is love and love is family. that’s my story and I am sticking to it!

Happy birthday my love!

Sweet Marie

 

On Monday, when I went to the Soup Sisters function to volunteer we made appetizers for the group! One of the apps we made was jalapeno poppers! I had never made them this way and thought I’d share Suki’s ingenious take on poppers! It’s easy, gluten-free and I made them dairy-free too!

Ingredients:

  • 8 jalapenoes
  • spreadable herb and garlic goat’s cheese or cream cheese
  • 8 slices of prosciutto (about 100 grams)

Directions:

  1. Cut all of the jalapenoes in half, lengthwise.
  2. Carefully scoop out the membrane, careful to get all the white stuff and seeds. this is what makes the pepper hot! Gloves may be useful for this task!
  3. Fill the half pepper with the cheese.
  4. Wrap the filled pepper with the prosciutto. Repeat for each popper!
  5. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes or till the bacon is nicely cooked. The pepper and cheese will be ready all at the same time!
  6. Enjoy with a bit of tzatski, sour cream or ranch dressing! I’m serving mine with a mix of mayo and salsa today!

I generally don’t dine out very often, as I have so many allergies, that it is usually a real bother. Having said that, in the last week I have dined out 6 times! That’s a lot for most people! Being gluten intolerant can mean a not so fun experience in a restaurant but I have had a few nice surprises in the last week! Let me share with you!

I find it helpful to tell the server right off the bat that I have allergies and what is my best option today. At Buffalo Wild Wings I was pleasantly surprised to find them prepared for my questions! They had a list of all their menu items and which allergen is in each dish! Pretty impressive. I was so happy to see all of my options and had a great dinner! Check them out at www.buffalowildwings.com !

Then a few days later I was invited to the Red Lobster with friends. The waitress was unsure of what to offer but quickly sent over the manager who was very educated and informed on the menu! He was able to point out several options and I was impressed with my options! Go to www.redlobster.com

On our way to Ann Arbor just a couple of days later, we stopped in Port Huron at Pompeii, an italian restaurant and was so very happy to hear they had gluten-free spaghetti! What a treat! I had a spaghetti dish with lemon and capers and chicken, lovely indeed! Check them out at www.pompeiis.net next time you’re in Port Huron, their prices are reasonable, excellent service and delicious food!

The next day the Ya-ya’s lunched at Max and Erma’s. Again, they were prepared for my questions, even had a menu for gluten-free items! I had a delicious lunch of wings and salad, and even had a few nachos with guacamole! Check them out next time you are in Ann Arbor. They have delicious burgers too I am told! www.maxandermas.com

For dinner that night, we decided on southwestern food. Prickly Pear is downtown Ann Arbor and if you like margaritas, you must have the golden ones! Oh my, very tasty! Their food is fresh and so very nicely presented adn tasty to boot! Go to www.pricklypearcafe.com

So in short, a good tip when dining with allergies, is to talk to the dining staff right up front. Tell them what your allergies are and if they are too cavalier, don’t be afraid to get up and leave! I have found most places are very accommodating and go out of their way to help out!

If I could give a bit of advice to the restauranteurs, I’d tell you to consider a gluten-free option for your bread baskets.(Just don’t put g.f. bread in with the regular breads) I have to say when everybody around you is eating bread and you’re not, it’s a less than fun experience. Perhaps you could keep a dozen of gluten-free rolls or some GF bread in the freezer, then just warm it up as needed. **You shouldn’t toast it unless you have a toaster that is committed to gluten-free bread only. Cross-contamination can be a deadly issue for celiacs.

One last tip for the restaurants, I have yet to find a restaurant that has a gluten-free and dairy free option for dessert. Again, it’s a drag when your whole group is eating cake, pie or cheesecake and making all these oohs and aahs and you’re sitting there just wishing you could join them. May I suggest a rice pudding made with coconut milk? Or a gelato? And apple crisp made with gluten-free oats and gf flours? You can find millions of gluten-free recipes online as well!

Well folks, I hope you all find this helpful and your next dining experience is fun,friendly and tasty!

Sweet Marie

Yesterday, Heidi was over for a sleepover on her own! We don’t often get just Heidi, normally there’s the Blakie boy but he was having a Mom and Blake day so we took Heidi! Of course when there’s Heidi, there’s cookie baking! No wonder Denis loves having the grand-kids over, I am catching on here!! Heidi says lets’ make cookies but not gluten-free ones, I don’t like gluten-free cookies! I took that as a challenge and I said, “well, let’s make chocolate haystacks, I used to make these for your Mommy when she was 5 like you!”. I forgot to mention they can be made gluten-free! Here’s how you do it!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar (I know, I know, that’s a lot of sugar)
  • 1/2 cup milk ( I used almond milk, but you can use any milk)
  • 1/2 cup marg or butter or coconut oil
  • 3 cups oats ( I used gluten-free oats)
  • 1 cup coconut shredded
  • 6 tbsp of cocoa
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

  1. Bring the top 3 ingredients(sugar,marg and milk) to a boil. Remove from heat.
  2. Add in the rest of the ingredients (oats,coconut,cocoa,vanilla). Stir till thickened.
  3. Drop by spoonful on a waxed tray. chill.
  4. Once chilled, serve and enjoy!

For the record, Heidi highly approves of the cookies. I had to put them up high so she would stop! she’s a choco-holic like her Pepe! I hope you’ll love them too!

Did you ever have get tingles up your neck when someone is telling you something? Today I was attending a networking breakfast and one lady got up and talked about Soup Sisters. It’s a non-profit charitable social enterprise dedicated to providing comfort to women, children and youth through the making, sharing and donating of soup.

If you know me, you know that I am the soup queen! Actually there a few soup queens and kings in my family! It’s what we do! Mom taught us well! I bring soup to the homes of the sick, to people who have broken their arms or legs, had babies, got new jobs, to people who have lost someone etc. It’s the comfort food that fits all occasions and to hear of an organisation that makes soup for our women shelters here in London, well I am feeling the pull! I can’t help but think, I can do this! I need to do this!

Soup Sisters and Broth Brothers was founded in 2009 by Calgarian Sharon Hapton who had a very simple belief in the power of soup as a nurturing and nourishing gesture that could make a tangible difference.  Hapton believed that two of societies most prevalent issues, domestic abuse and youth homelessness would benefit from the care and warmth that comes in a bowl of  soup. A powerful message that says ‘we care’ is now being delivered to over 20 residential shelters across the country through home-made delicious soup made with the finest ingredients.”

“The concept is simple. Soup Sisters and Broth Brothers are year-round programs where participants pay a $50 registration fee to participate in a soup-making event at a local professional kitchen under the guidance of a chef facilitator. Each event produces approximately 150-200 servings of nourishing soup that are delivered fresh to a local shelter. Events are social evenings with lively conversation, chopping, laughter and warm kitchen camaraderie that culminate in a simple, sit-down supper of soup, salad, bread and wine for all participants.” (Quotes from soupsisters.org)

Can you imagine gathering a group of girlfriends, spending an evening cooking, giggling and eating? Throw in a glass of wine and bingo…girls night out! To make it all worth while, you are helping a great cause and feeding women and children who need a little leg up!

If you think you’d like to help, please go to www.soupsisters.org for more info and perhaps they have a group already set up in your city! They always need volunteers and/or more participants!

Warmest Regards,

Sweet Marie

I have been having a yen for short ribs for a while now and when I saw these short ribs at the market looking all yummy, I had to get them! I don’t find them to be of great value as the meat to bone ratio is rather slim pickings but they are so good! So I picked them up, brought them home and started to plan a meal around them! I decided on the slow cooker as I was feeling a bit on the lazy side and wanted to just relax all day and not worry about cooking! So I went with a sweet’sh kind of flavour to them. I started with some red wine, always a great start with beef, then a little sweet…here’s what I did:

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1/2 -3/4 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup chilli sauce (I used Willie’s, salsa would work too but not as sweet)
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp of tamari gluten-free or soy sauce or worcestire
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder or chipotle pepper
  • 1-2 lbs short ribs
  • 2-4 tbsp gluten-free flour

Directions:

  1. Dredge the ribs in  flour seasoned with salt and pepper.
  2. Brown the ribs in a saute pan, just till browned.
  3. In your slow cooker, add all the above ingredients while your ribs are simmering, except the flour! Stir.
  4. Once the ribs are cooked, add them to the slow cooker and turn it to low. cook for 6-8 hours.
  5. When the ribs are ready, take them out, turn the cooker to high and thicken your sauce with corn starch or a flour roux.  You know to not ever put a dry flour or corn starch directly into the sauce right? Always mix with either water, broth or melted butter first then stir it into your gravy/sauce to thicken!!
  6. These ribs are delicious served up with rice or egg noodles or…
  7. I decided about two hours into this process that I felt like stew so I added carrots, potatoes,peas and cauliflower and it was delicious! Either on their own or as the stew…it’s a yummy, easy dish to cook up!

Today is my sister Colette’s birthday! I should say my OLDER sister Colette as she’s always introducing me as her older sister but I am here to tell you that I am YOUNGER! Colette and I have always been close, we shared a double bed when we were little girls and so we had to share the blankets in the winter! We had to be close! Of course we have our little spats or time-outs! You ever have one of those with a sibling? Trust me, when you have seven siblings, time-outs are needed occasionally! Especially when you are all strong-willed like us!

My sister Colette is about the kindest woman you will ever meet! She will go way out of her way to help you out, give you her last dollar and then try to find a way to feed herself! She goes over and above to a fault! I remember once she got insulted as someone had left a food package on her doorstep at Christmas time, years ago when times were tough for her,and I explained to her that giving is a wonderful thing, but receiving graciously can be lovely too. She was so used to giving that receiving was uncomfortable for her.

Colette also has about the most exciting life going. She’s been hit by lightning, she’s had far more accidents than you want to know, she meets stars at random, she has phenomenal things happen all the time! She calls me quite often and before I can say hello, I’ll hear “you are not going to believe this”…I can’t tell you how many our phone calls have started this way!

Colette is many things and I could spend a lot of time writing about her, she is zany, she is a great cook, she is fun, she is funny, she is an intuitive, she is caring, she is a wonderful mother, sister,wife, aunt, daughter and friend. If you’re lucky enough to know her, you’ll know what I mean!

Having a sister is a gift, having three is phenomenal! I am a very lucky girl and I have four brothers to boot! I’m sure I can say for all of my siblings “Happy Birthday sister, we love you!”

Sweet Marie