Gluten Free Dairy Free Tuna Noodles

GF and DF Tuna Noodle Casserole

  • 1 half medium onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 quarter bell pepper, diced (I use red)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning or salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2-2  cups unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 1/4 cup vegan cheddar cheese shreds
  • 1 tablespoon potato flour
  • 1 or 2 7 oz cans tuna, drained
  • 3 cups (dry) gluten-free elbows
  • crushed potato chips or vegan Parmesan to top (optional)

Cook noodles according to package directions. Saute onion, celery and pepper in olive oil or vegan butter in a medium sauce pan. Add seasoning and milk. Heat through. When little bubbles form around edge of pan, stir in potato flour. When most of the lumps have disappeared (don’t worry, it will be fine, just keep stirring) add in the cheese shreds. On low heat, stir until cheese is melted. Remove from heat. Stir in tuna. This is the time to add more milk, if it looks too dry/thick. Mix tuna sauce into cooked and drained noodles. (OR now you can add more milk, if it looks too dry.) Pour noodles and sauce into 2 qt casserole dish. Top with crushed potato chips or vegan parm. Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes, uncovered.

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There it is. Up at the top so you don’t have to scroll through all my story-telling to get to the recipe. I hate when you have to search to find the recipe. (I know I am guilty of doing this.) I don’t care about your husband or your cat. I  really don’t want to hear about your fabulous trip to NYC. And I don’t want to see your gorgeous photos because I am jealous! (I have no talent in photography) I just want the recipe! So, now I can story-tell to my little heart’s content and it won’t be in anyone’s way.

I have a recipe for DF tuna and noodles, but now we are trying to be gluten free for my sweet daughter. This girl is a trooper. She has had so many health problems and I am just amazed at how she handles them. The only times I have been in the ER have been with her. I think that because her birth was so difficult, I am more nervous for her. I feel like she needs more protection. I also feel like I have let her down. I should have been more in tune to her body. I know I can’t make sure she doesn’t get sick, but oh, I want to do just that! Anyway, in my attempt to be a more overbearing mother I have decided to eliminate gluten from her diet. Now we are going to be dairy AND gluten free. I am praying that it makes a difference in her health. I am going to be super vigilant for 6 months to see if it makes any difference. Then I might relent and let her have Chick-fil-A nuggets because I hate to deny her of her favorite things. This is where my darling husband would say “Are you the mom?” Yes, I am the mom, but I also know how hard it is to not eat your favorite food. I so wanted my children to be able to eat whatever they wanted, but being healthy is more important. And that is the moral of today’s story.

Alaska! What to Wear?

I used to live in Alaska. My husband and I met and were married there. There are things that I miss about Alaska. Like the mountains, oh the mountains, and the wildlife and the fresh fish. But I don’t miss the mosquitoes, or the cold wet summers. Now, summer can be beautiful in Alaska. Short, but beautiful. There are summers that are warm and sunny. However, every few years summer is not like summer at all. This was one of those years. We had a couple of beautiful days, we even went swimming one day. But most of the time it was cool and raining.
We had been planning our Alaska trip for several months. Meaning that my husband bought plane tickets and then we did nothing at all to get ready until the day before we were set to leave. I looked online to find a packing list for summer in Alaska. Go ahead and look, the pickings are very slim. Especially if you aren’t going on a cruise. Luckily all I had to do was think back a few years and remember what I wore. Mostly jeans and short sleeve shirts. Maybe a dress, if it was warm enough. Shorts and tank tops aren’t really necessary in Alaska. To complicate matters our stay was for one month. And I had no idea how often we would have access to a washing machine. So, here is what to pack for one month in Alaska in the summer.

14 pairs of underwear
3 bras
10 pairs of socks
2 pairs of jeans
1 pair shorts
1 casual dress
4 short sleeve shirts
3 long sleeve shirts
2 sweatshirts
1 workout outfit
3 pairs of pajamas (1 summer weight, 2 winter)
1 pair hiking/tennis shoes
1 pair flip-flops
1 swim suit
1 jacket
1 beach towel

Clothes for Alaska

This is an updated list of what I should have packed. I actually brought two swim suits, but only wore one and I only brought 7 pairs of sock and bought 2 more while we were there. And one day I borrowed a pair of shorts from my aunt.

This is what I wore on the plane. The pants have a stretch waistband and are super comfy. I am not a fashion blogger (obviously), but I don’t want to look like a hot mess when I travel. This outfit with the stretchy pants and tank top under a button down denim shirt was comfortable and didn’t look horrible. I call that a win.

Travelling Clothes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a wonderful time visiting family and friends. And I am so happy to be home!

Please remind me to NEVER fly the red-eye again, especially with children.

 

What is in a Number?

I’m starting to think that my ‘ideal weight’ is an unrealistic number. Why did I pick this number? Have I ever been my ideal weight? Was it in high school? It is starting to piss me off. I log my calories and exercise online (MyFitnessPal). It’s a good tool. Too bad losing weight isn’t as easy as calories in versus calories burned. Many may argue that that is exactly what goes into losing weight, but I seem to be stuck. At the end of every day my app tells me that in five weeks I should weigh three pounds more than my ideal weight, this magic number that I am striving toward. However, I am still seven pounds away from this number. Three pounds, seven pounds, these are small numbers. I know there are millions of people struggling to lose large amounts of weight and my complaining is just petty. Here is the thing that I am wondering. Where do we come up with our ideal weight numbers. I looked online for my BMI. The healthy range for me is between 94.7 and 128 lbs. That is quite a range. 95 pounds? Really? 95 would be a healthy weight for me? Maybe if I was a vegan marathon runner. Or an Olympic gymnast. So, I chose a random number in the middle of my range, but I can’t get there. Should I keep struggling to get to my ideal weight or should I say “Never mind, THIS, the weight that I am right now, IS my ideal weight”. That sounds like a great idea.

 

THIS, the weight I am right now, IS my ideal weight!

Good-bye random number that may never appear on my scale! I am not going to feel guilty about not reaching an imaginary goal. I am going to celebrate the size that I am!

Jambalaya My Way

Marrying someone from a different ethnic/geographical background than your own expands your horizons. Learning to cook Louisiana style foods has been a learning process for me. I haven’t heard of other people making Jambalaya this way, but I think it works best. Most recipes call for cooking the rice in the same pot with the meat and tomatoes, but I had a hard time with my rice sticking or becoming a gummy mess. So I decided to cook my rice in the rice cooker and then just stir it in to the cooked meat and veggies.

2 cups uncooked rice (cook in rice cooker)
1 lb chicken (breast, thigh, combo)
12-16 oz anduille or smoked sausage
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 ribs celery, diced
1/2 Bell pepper, diced
1/2 bottle lite beer
16 oz canned tomatoes
2 tsp Garlic
2 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Oregano
1/4 tsp Basil
1/4 tsp Sage
salt and pepper to taste (or cajun/creole seasoning)
2 tsp shoyu (soy sauce), optional

So, what I do is cook the rice in the rice cooker and while that is going I start the chicken in a deep skillet on the stove. I usually cook it frozen (because planning ahead is not my forte) and then chop it up and plop it back into the pan. Then I add the sausage and brown it up a bit. Next comes the veggies. When the onion is translucent I deglaze the pan with beer.  Let the beer cook down a bit. Add the tomatoes and spices. Stir it all together and let it come to a simmer. Pile the rice on top and stir it all together. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.

It may not be the traditional way to make Jambalaya, but it works for me.

Easter Dinner Plus

I tend to over-cook on holidays. Growing up, our holidays were so focused on food that I feel like my children will be missing something if I don’t have a feast for them every holiday. So, Easter.

Brunch Menu:
Deviled eggs
bacon
sausage links
poppy-seed muffins
fruit and juice

Dinner Menu:
Roast Pork
mashed potatoes
carrots
potato salad
spinach salad
green beans
lemon meringue pie

This is what I planned for my family. Me, husband, two girls. Four people.  I was the only one to eat the roast on Sunday. Apparently, I should have assumed that my children would prefer left-over chili-mac to a roast dinner. The dreams of sitting down to a well laid table with flowers and candles and children in their frilly Easter dresses was dashed. The reality being children gobbling up chili-mac surrounded by pastel colored tin foil candy wrappers. And my husband sitting in his chair in the living room, eating only potato salad and sausages. That seems to be the way holidays go in our house. If I really cared I would force my family to change, but if they are happy, I’ll leave it alone.

I might have got a bit carried away, but, BUT I learned something! I put two small roasts in the crock pot and I have three different meals. After I had my roast dinner, I put the left over meat in Ziploc bag and stuck it in the fridge. The next day I took out the bag and kneaded the meat until it was shredded. I love to use a mixer to shred chicken when it is hot, but this was even easier. You just need more time. So, after I smooshed the meat around the bag I took out half and warmed it up with BBQ sauce (recipe below) and served pulled pork sandwiches. The other half I warmed up with salsa verde (Herdez brand) and made pork tacos. And tonight my family can decide if they want BBQ or tacos. I love left overs.

I did make a change to my menu; I made a chocolate chess pie instead of the lemon meringue. I wanted something a little easier, with fewer steps. Here are a couple of recipes so people like me might actually read this post.

 

Sonny’s BBQ Sauce
Ingredients:
1 ½ cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup red wine vinegar (scant)
1/3 cup water
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon garlic
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or less for the kids
Several dashes liquid smoke

Whisk it all together and heat on the stove if you want.

Chocolate Chess Pie

½ cup margarine
1 ½ cups sugar
¼ cup cocoa
3 eggs
1 tsp. cornmeal
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. vinegar
Unbaked 9” pie shell

Cream margarine and sugar. Add remaining ingredients, mix well. Turn into pie shell and bake at 325º for about 45 minutes or until firm. Let cool before serving. If it is still warm at serving time add a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This pie is also yummy the next day just out of the fridge. It is chocolate pie, it’s just good.

 

When I came up with the BBQ sauce recipe Sonny’s wasn’t selling their sauce except at their restaurants. When we lived in Florida we went to Sonny’s quite often and we always had sauce packets in the fridge. BBQ isn’t so popular in Idaho. We have a couple of places that we like to go, but (even though it’s a chain) I miss Sonny’s. Now I see that you can buy their sauce on Amazon, but I like the recipe I use. I really don’t feel compelled to spend $17 on BBQ sauce. If you have never been to a Sonny’s, the sauce is sweet, a little tangy and a little spicy, but mostly sweet. I like it that way. We once went to BBQ in Alabama and there was no sugar in their sauce; tomato base with mustard, vinegar and no sugar. No thank you. Yes, I am from the Northwest and no, I don’t know anything about barbecue, but I know what I like. (And that wasn’t it!)

The chocolate chess pie recipe is from my mom. You can leave out the cocoa and have a plain chess pie, which I love covered in fresh blackberry or raspberry syrup. THE taste of summer! Better make a note of that and make some chess pie and berry syrup in a few months. I love summer.

Idaho Hot Springs

Spring break in Idaho and my husband lured me to McCall with promises of hot springs. The day before we left he found out (shocking) that Gold Fork hot springs is closed on Tuesdays so we would have to find something else to do. Like take our girls skiing. My idea of skiing includes me by a fire with a hot drink, not actual skiing or running down the bunny slope beside my daughters. I love my children and I want them to do things I never got to do, like ski. But, I don’t like snow or cold or icy roads or going fast down hills. My husband has decided that we should go skiing once a year. This is after the last time we went skiing (3 years ago) and he declared that we were not snow people and would never go again! Next year I’m asking for a sled.

While in McCall we did visit two hot springs. Gold Fork, south of town is a favorite with our family. And Zim’s, north of Brundage Ski Resort will not make the favorite list. I’m starting a list.

Favorites:                                                       Don’t need to visit again:
Gold Fork, Donnely/Cascade                        Given’s Hot Springs, Melba
Miracle, Hagerman/Buhl                                Zim’s, New Meadows

Wouldn’t mind going again:                      Want to go:
Silver Creek Plunge, Garden Valley              The Springs, Idaho City
Banbury,Hagerman/Buhl                               Lava Hot Springs
Roy Stone, Sweet

Faves: We have visited Gold Fork twice now and Miracle multiple times. They both have multiple pools at different temperatures. We like that Miracle has nice bathrooms and showers, plus they have camping available. Gold Fork has porta-potties and no over night accommodations. They are both outdoors. We stay in McCall when we go to Gold Fork and Twin Falls when we go to Miracle.

Nope:  We have gone to Given’s a couple of times because it was pretty close to our old house. It reminds me of the public pool I grew up swimming in. It isn’t fancy or updated. It’s a bit trailer park-ish. It is covered, there are flush toilets and the pool is big and warm. Zim’s also is not fancy, there are two outdoor pools. One is warm and goes to 9′ deep and the other one is hot and is for soaking only. I’m not sure how often they clean the pools at Zim’s, but the walls were covered in algae when we were there.

Maybe:  Silver Creek was one of the first hot springs we visited in Idaho. It is part of a campground. The pool is outdoors and is not covered. It has a big shallow area great for kids and for sitting. Roy Stone is outdoors, but covered and is like a warm swimming pool. I would like to go again if we have friends or family because you can rent the pool for something like $20.  Plus it is close to home. We can go for the afternoon. Banbury is right across the road from Miracle and is owned by the same people.  The pool is large, outdoors, uncovered. It is great for swimming. They have camping and RV spots. If you are staying there you can go to Miracle as well. We really liked to swim in the morning at Banbury and soak in the evening at Miracle.

Re-boot camp

It is hard to eat healthy and exercise ALL the time. Sometimes I want chocolate cake more than I want to fit in my new little black dress. However, I don’t want to go through the hassle of returning my new LBD, so T-Tapp re-boot camp it is!

I read Extra Petite blog occasionally for fashion ideas.  I am fashionally challenged. I’m a mom, I live in Idaho, I don’t work outside of my home. I would like to be fashionable, but I don’t have much inspiration. Anyway, I finally decided to buy a good LBD and bought one from Ann Taylor. I usually buy my clothes from Old Navy or Land’s End, on sale, on clearance, I want a whole ton of clothes for $100, so buying a dress that was on sale for $100 was a big deal for me. (Yes, I am thrifty cheap) I knew I had been slacking off on my diet and exercise regime, but I didn’t want to buy a bigger dress, I bought the size I should be. I was able to zip it up and everything, but walking was a little difficult and the back was all lumpy above my (slightly inflated) bootie.  My husband thought I looked hot. I really shouldn’t ask him for fashion advice. I don’t need to loose 20 pounds or anything I just need a little adjustment. I think it was good that the dress didn’t fit. I can lie to myself about gaining a few pounds, I can find clothes that still fit me in my closet, but new clothes don’t lie. And plus expensive clothes are usually bigger than cheap clothes. Whatever, if I can’t fit myself into this dress in two weeks I’ll return it.

Spring break is in three weeks, my family and I are going to relax at a couple of our favorite hot springs. Idaho is full of hot springs. I think I’ll write something just about hot springs next time. Anyway, in three weeks I will be in a swim suit, in public, so I think that is a good incentive for my re-boot camp.

T-Tapp is my go-to exercise program. It isn’t glamorous, or sporty, or popular, but it works for me. My sister gets bored doing the same exercises over and over, but I like that I can memorize the moves. I also like that the workout is in a flowing sequence that I can do in 15-20 minutes. For my re-boot camp I am going back to the instructional videos. Slowing down and focusing on form will help my mind and body reset. I could just go back to my 20 minute daily work out, drink green smoothies and keep track of my calories on myfitnesspal.com, but I think I need a new beginning. I’m ready for Spring. Well, I’m ready to get ready for Spring!

Today’s Plan:

T-Tapp instructional video #2
Strawberry Lemonade Smoothie
Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad
Vegetable Minestrone Soup
8 glasses of water
Early to bed

 

Strawberry Lemonade Green Smoothie


1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 cup water
2 tablespoons raisins
4 tablespoons hemp protein powder
2 cups baby spinach
2 cups frozen strawberries
juice of 1 lemon
2 small bananas

Blend ingredients through spinach, when the spinach is blended add rest of ingredients and blend until smooth. I divided this into three servings at about 200 calories per serving (according to myfitnesspal.com).