Saturday, December 28, 2013

Gluten Free Cornbread

I was raised on cornbread and sweet tea.  I'm of the opinion that life just isn't really being lived if you give these essentials up!  Sure, limit them maybe, but going gluten free would have been devastating if I would have had to give up everything ~ so I'm adapting.

My gluten free cornbread is a mock of my Mom's.  It is not sweet.  It is not thick.  It in no way resembles that "stuff" you mix in the small box.  If you are accustomed to the sweet/fluffy/cake-like cornbread that is close to a dessert, know that this is entirely savory and may be a bit Earthy to your palate at first.

I kinda like that Earthy word and apparently I r-e-a-l-l-y like my cornbread that way.  Don't we need to train ourselves to recognize more depth of flavor anyways....drift a bit from all that sweet, ya know?

Well, Mom's cornbread is crisp on the edges and is D-I-V-I-N-E when taken straight from the hot oven and spread with a good quality butter.

It took a few tries, but I promise, I have nailed it!

First, add two tablespoons of coconut oil in a 12-inch cast iron skillet and place in a HOT oven.  (400-450 degrees)

Second, in a mixing bowl combine:
   1 cup gluten free baking mix
   1 cup cornmeal ((not cornmeal mix, that is most frequently NOT gluten free))
   1/2 tsp. salt
   2 eggs
   12 oz. evaporated milk (1 can) OR  12 oz buttermilk

Once the skillet is HOT and the coconut oil has melted, coating the skillet well, remove from oven and use a spoon to dip a bit of the hot oil out and add that to the batter in your mixing bowl.  Mom does I do this!  Mix and then quickly pour the entire batter into the HOT skillet.  You should hear a crackle, this is the crust forming, which will prevent it from sticking to your skillet.  Place skillet in the oven and cook until lightly golden brown.

In my oven, I heated my skillet with the oil at 450 degrees, then turned the oven to 400 to cook the cornbread.  I cooked it on a lower rack for 15-18 minutes, then moved it to the top rack on broil for the final 5 minutes.  You should be able to accurately tell how fast the bottom of the cornbread is cooking based on the crispness around the outside edge.  Admittedly my old oven has a slower broil than I recall my modern oven having, so watch closely!

You can slice the cornbread into wedges directly from the pan and serve, or you can turn it out similar to a cake on a plate so that the uniform bottom side is now up....a crisp layer, ready to be buttered!

If you really must have it sweet, add honey, it is lovely!  We LOVE it with a scoop of Homemade Pimento Cheese on top ~ it's reminiscent of a fancy grilled cheese, which sure is a treat for a gluten free girl!  There is really no way to go wrong, serve it next to pinto beans if you want to feel super Southern ;)

And....if you are new to cooking gluten free or possibly accommodating a guest in your home, TRUST ME, you may have to search to find gluten free cornmeal.  I read sooo many bags of "cornmeal" that all contained wheat or flour.  I suggest checking the designated gluten free section of your local grocer.

Yum.  I'm wishing I had some now!

Homemade Pimento Cheese

I adore nothing more than to pack a picnic and one of our family's favorite picnic foods is homemade pimento cheese.  I have always made it very frequently in the spring and summer as I can always find a reason to pack a picnic but, over the past few weeks we have been eating it with several other Holiday favorites and it has been a good fit.

I frequently have friends ask for my recipe and I'm hesitant to share it because it is so simple! For years I responded with you just "make pimento cheese!"  But as time has passed I realize that my homemade pimento cheese really is different from storebought, and I do a couple of things different from most.

So, here you go!

Mix Well ~
8 oz. colby-jack cheese
4 oz. pimentos with juice
approx 1/2 cup mayonnaise 
pepper to your liking 

Now, here are the important things:

  • You MUST shred your own cheese, either with a hand grater or food processor --- do not buy shredded cheese from the store (contains a waxy like substance that dulls the flavor of the cheese).
  • You MUST include all of the juice from the pimentos.
  • Sure, you could use cheddar and occasionally if I am making a large batch for a get together I will mix in some cheddar, but to REALLY experience the GOOD stuff, yeah, stick to colby-jack!
  • Like many foods, pimento cheese it best when served fresh.  It will save for several days in the refrigerator, but if you are making it to impress your friends, then make it just a few hours in advance.
  • This recipe serves me, you are going to want to go ahead and multiply the recipe ~ it's that good. 
  • I HIGHLY recommend Duke's Mayo. It's just the best. No paid endorsement. The end.

There is really no wrong way to serve pimento cheese.  It is excellent on a roll or cracker, but we are a gluten free household so I've been making it and serving it scooped on top of gluten free cornbread (piping hot, straight from the oven).   If you love a fancy grilled cheese then I guarantee you will love pimento cheese on a hot slice of cornbread!

Enjoy this simple and GOOD recipe, friends!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Young Living Essential Rewards

I get this question multiple times a here you go! Hopefully this helps if you are new to the world of Essential Oils and our Oily Family!

Did you just "by chance" end up here and want to learn more about Essential Oils?  Perhaps these pages would interest you:  Essential Oils Journey   /  Day 1  /  Beating Sick Season   

Thanks for visiting!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Save the World Kinda Chicken

I love to cook.  Truthfully I do.  Something always gets in the way of that healthy supper though, right?  Time to cook supper arrives, you have all the healthy intentions in the world, but the phone rings, a neighbor pops by, there is one child with a dirty diaper and another asking you to "build him a play horse out of a Walmart sack" before his world ends ((seriously, crazy vivid imagination)).... before you know it healthy intentions have jumped the tracks.

Sure, maybe you have stopped yourself from ordering a pizza, but are you turning to processed foods in the freezer?  Thankfully the "real food movement" is doing an awesome job of turning this all around for so many families.  More and more are realizing that what foods you fuel your bodies with REALLY does effect the end result.  Less meltdowns from the kiddos, less inflammation & headaches in the adults - yep, it doesn't take long for the results to make it worth the extra effort to say goodbye to processed foods.  I'm to the feel good part, and I'm not turning back.

I tried before.  I failed before.  I over-thought it. I complicated it.  Protein + Veggie cooked in a healthy fat, seasoned well.  I complicated that sooo many times!

So now I cook spaghetti squash alfredo or cauliflower mash or paleo pizza and make things that are truly healthy that take a bit more time and planning...but, not every night.  I'm really comfortable with this whole "healthy eating" thing, but I'm comfortable because I have a faithful go-to for nights that just feel crazy.  It's a Save the World Kinda Chicken... seriously easy, seriously tasty, seriously good for you.

Because we made the decision to eat according to the Paleo lifestyle last year when I was needing to lose all my weight from pregnancy with Jules, I learned to cook with coconut oil.  Lifechanger!  How an oil can taste so "clean" is amazing to me.  No oily flavor and no grease, just good for you.

The key is to always have chicken breasts in the fridge (or freezer) and keep your fridge stocked with fresh vegetables.  Of course eating seasonal is best, and I try to adhere to that, but you know what vegetables your family will eat, and you can see what is best at your market -

Now trust me.  If you don't typically season your food liberally, you're going to want to work on that and be sure to season both sides of your chicken!

Carrots are a favorite for our family and I am always surprised how super fast they cook if I throw them in with the chicken and coconut oil from the start.  Carrots typically take longer than any other vegetable I prepare.  So chicken in the pan first, then open your well stocked fridge and grab whatever produce looks great that night!  
We love adding:
 carrots + spinach
 onions + yellow squash + zucchini 
 carrots + broccoli 
yellow squash + broccoli
carrots + green peas + onions
cauliflower + broccoli + carrots
spaghetti squash + broccoli
yellow/red/orange peppers + onions
cabbage + carrots

The pan drippings from the chicken combined with the coconut oil (though it takes very little) will typically create a little pan-like-sauce.  Many nights I fill the pan full of vegetables and we just eat this single dish.  The kids may eat a banana or some homemade cinnamon applesauce, but generally they eat what we eat.  We started encouraging them to eat this way by allowing them to have ketchup or ranch, something fun to dip in, but I find them more and more not asking for it!  If you're"starving" (not that I know what that really is), then you could "rice" some cauliflower ((cauliflower pulsed to a rice consistency and then cooked)) and serve the chicken and veggies over it.  If you're allowing yourself some dairy you can also stir in a couple of tablespoons of sour cream just as the cooking is finishing.  Provided you have seasoned everything in the pan well, the sour cream creates a yummy sauce that pairs well with most anything.

It's just simple and wholesome.  Wholesome feels good, ya' know?  This chicken kinda saved my world and I hope it helps keep you on track also!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Gluten Free Walnut Crust

I've mentioned repeatedly as of late that we are making {{somewhat major}} dietary changes in our household.  We got sick of being sick!  More than anything, we decided it was time to really just take the reins and see to it that we were feeling GREAT everyday.  It makes me sad that so frequently we have the opportunity to change, but it takes some major life threatening illness to really kick us in gear.  We made a conscious decision to embrace life NOW and do what we can to make our bodies operate as well as they can, based on simple food changes.
While I don't feel as though the entire family has as poor of a response to gluten as I do, we have been eating according to the Paleo lifestyle for quite a while now, so me "going gluten free" really has been an easy transition for the family. 
Let's talk Holiday's though..... pie, pie, oh me oh my, I love pie!  I live in the South y' would be ALL WRONG for me to attempt a Holiday without a PIE!  Apple is my Lifetime Love's favorite and this crust totally works for that!  It also works great for Chocolate Cream Pie and if you're a cheesecake fan but can no longer eat the graham cracker crust..? Well, this is your replacement!!  {{Thanksgiving = Pumpkin Cheesecake in Walnut Crust!}}
1 1/2 c. walnuts  //  1/4 c. sugar // 4 T. unsalted, melted butter
It is JUST like a graham cracker crust.
Butter a 9 inch pie pan (or springform pan) & heat oven to 350 degrees.
In a food processor, pulse the walnuts & sugar, finely grinding them.  Add in the unsalted butter and pulse an additional few times until they become the consistency of its nemesis - the graham cracker crust, basically like moist sand.
Press the walnut mixture into the buttered pan and blind bake it for twelve minutes.  It should be slightly golden around the edges.  Most likely your crust will have additional cook time based off the type of pie you will be filling it with, so no need to really cook it for a long time!  This is allowing the "shell" to form to properly hold the contents that will be added.

Gluten Free Folks..... you're going to love!
((ok, paleo enthusiasts and anyone watching their carb intake as well!))
Now, carry on with all the PIE GOODNESS!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

I'm Grateful

I made a commitment to GATHER all the GOODNESS I could when I turned thirty has filled my heart with thanksgiving ~ truly so much GOODNESS that fills our days, and for that I'm grateful.
I'm seeing the small things, as well as the BIG now, and for that I'm grateful.
I'm grateful for my faith that has grown through trials in marriage,  infertility, relocation, & parenting. I'm grateful for a supportive spouse who meets all our financial needs and seriously is my best friend.  He prays with us, insist his babies say ma'm and sir and endures my thrifting and crafting addictions.

I'm grateful for babies. I cherish that feeling of babies asleep on my chest, their amazingly sweet breath and the feeling they give me of "I am needed."
I'm grateful for a son who has his Daddy's tender heart. A son who prays for his friends,  loves singing hymns and has a sense of humor that is just a gift.  I'm grateful he asks to take walks because he loves the outdoors, has enthusiasm for books, and loves cooking....oh and eating ~ I'm super grateful that he loves everything I cook! 


I'm grateful to have a daughter because it's more rewarding than I ever imagined.  I find new pieces of me all the time because of her. I'm grateful that she's "a noticer," genuine & compassionate.  I adore the way she communicates and the way she loves her brother.

I'm grateful that God closed one door & opened another in its place. Our church family is truly family - fulfilling a need our hearts had. Such loving servants who provide encouragement & friendship.  I'm incredibly grateful for those who give of their time to teach our babies about the Bible and show them love.
I'm grateful for a home that brings me such joy; a home that I can entertain friends & family in comfortably.
I'm grateful to have my health which allows me to focus on wellcare more than treating illness. I'm grateful to have the resources needed to eat well and care for my family. I'm grateful  that I can experience the seasons in both the weather and friendships. I'm grateful for the ability to educate myself so readily and the ease of both communication & inspiration at my fingertips. 

I'm grateful, friends. My days are filled with GOODNESS and I'm so grateful for the ability to see that!

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Barefoot Seamstress - store is OPEN!

So, I have this dear friend....Becky.

Becky and I met through Instagram and it was just an immediate friendship.  I was living on the farm then and I can recall how even the most simple comments she would write on my photos would brighten my day.  I could tell I adored her style and one trip to her blog, The BarefootSeamstress, made me fall crazy in love with her talent.  "Seamstress" is never a word I could use to describe myself, but y'all, seriously - she is soooo GOOD!

Becky loves burlap, vintage fabrics and all sorts of scrappy goodness.  Know what else she likes?  Plaid + Lace.  These Plaid + Lace inifinity scarves are just ahhhmazing!  {You're going to want to nudge your hubby and tell him these are a MUST for Christmas!}  I'm not sure what color to choose...both, just maybe!
See this adorable garland?  I'm. In. Love.

Well, I'm pretty much in love with it all -

Good news - Becky is reopening her Etsy store NOW and you can run over and use my coupon code to get a little of this GOODNESS for yourself!
You can find & follow her here:
Let's bless Becky and her sweet family, friends....I adore her so!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Fall is my season.

Fall is my season.  Fall is my happy place. 
Having never seen this season in our "new" old home, I had only imagined how incredible these HUGE trees in the downtown district would be....

I could likely do an entire photo book of fall... I lived with my camera in my hand!  Trees are pretty much my favorite!

We took lots of walks spotting fall all around us-
I soaked up every ounce of beauty my eyes could hold.

My dear friend The Barefoot Seamstress mailed me a box of fall GOODNESS, ensuring that I had beauty inside and out; isn't the fabric garland she made just the best?
That star was all of $1 thrifted and I threw the mantle together in a flash, but it made me happy everytime I walked in the room. 

I cooked more than my fair share of apples.  My friends are probably thrilled to get past apple season!
Oh my Rooney...yeah, he's declared he loves the cooler weather and playing in leaf piles. 
Fall is my season. Fall is my happy place.

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Health Journal


Let me just tell you, my grandmother would be sooo incredibly proud of me!  As one suffering from lupus she journaled EVERYTHING health related.  Really, the thought should have crossed my mind sooner!

You see, I was worried about the potential learning curve with Young Living Essential Oils at first.  Not skeptic like some people are; I grew up in a very holistically minded household so I know that homeopathy can and does work.  I was just worried, for lack of a better word, that I would struggle to understand what to use & when.  I felt like I would be totally overwhelmed.  So I had this idea...

I decided the day the premium kit landed on my doorstep that I would start journaling the health of our family.  Sure, what oils I am using daily is an important part, but I am also keeping record of dietary concerns that I have (food plays such a major role in health), symptoms that we each possess from time to time, and even changes that I am making in our home such as detergents & cleaners that can effect our wellness (such as eczema & allergies). 

As a parent and caretaker it is so easy to get caught up in the actual care for our loved ones that eventually the days run together!  We "think" we recall how frequently our headaches are and we "think" we recall when the preschooler first complained of having a sore throat and the toddler starting coughing....

Keeping a journal of all things health based will help you to see patterns that effect your family's wellness.  Maybe when you look back you realize that in fact you have a recurring trigger for those headaches, or maybe you see that when you started diffusing a particular essential your children were no longer bringing home all the bugs that their classmates were.

There is a lot of potential with this, and ultimately you can tailor it to suit your family's needs.  You will see that as I journal I typically list an action made to improve our health and then days or even weeks later if I can visibly tell that the action in fact benefited that family member, then I add that little checkmark - this way when I refer back I know it proved a success and should be used in the future.

So all that worry about the learning curve with essential oils?  Complete waste of time.  The combination of this great Quick Reference Guide and my own health journal ((in addition to some free educational tools available to my team)), it has really just been a breeze.  Feeling GOOD is easier than I ever knew possible!

I share my "oily stories" because it is so exciting to see our family benefit from the what I call the "original medicines".  I'm NOT a doctor.  If you wish to read about how I got started with Young Living Essential Oils, start HERE.  You can read more about my journey with oils HERE.