Search This Blog

Sunday, November 11, 2012

2012 Thanksgiving Special

Happy Thanksgiving!             

Welcome to my Thanksgiving Special. J I love holidays! It’s a time to gather with friends and family, stuff ourselves with lots of great food, hot/cold beverages, and laughter. The one thing I embrace is a stress free day. Remember to breath and create pleasant memories.

Here are some tips on how to achieve such a goal; Plan Ahead: Always make a menu and know where your recipes are and have them in one place. Organize your day by sketching out a time line for the day (and day before if needed). Then keep your menu and outline for next year. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: Everything is small stuff. If something is not working out, skip it or ask for help and move on. Remember everything doesn’t have to be perfect to enjoy the day. Share the Menu: Have others help by bringing a dish. For an example my mother makes the best stuffing and now makes it gluten free! My sister-n-law and brother are bringing the sweet potatoes. You get the idea. J So sit back with a glass of wine and enjoy the day.

Our Family Thanksgiving Menu: Serves 8ppl at $47.37 or $5.92 a person

 15lb. Turkey (est. $20.00)

We have found over the years that Meyers works for us when buying our turkey. They have good quality and if you watch they have awesome price.

Cooking tips: Joy of Cooking is my side kick. Have a good roaster & baster. Have at least 1lb of turkey per guests. Make sure your turkey is thawed all the way. Research how long it will take for your size turkey to both thaw and cook. Remember to save the dripping for gf gravy.

GF Stuffing created by Terri Merriman aka Mom: serves 10ppl at $6.00 or $0.60 a person

·        1 Bob Evans Sausage (est. $3.00 @ local store)

·        1 Loaf of gf bread (est. $1.75, ref to everyday loaf blog)

·        1 Can of Chicken broth ($0.00 homemade and in freezer)

·        Diced 2 to 3 stalks of Celery ($0.60 @ Aldi’s=whole celery is $1.00)

·        Diced 1 whole Onion ($0.33 @ Aldi’s = $2.00 a bag of onions)

·        3 Tablespoons of butter ($0.07 @ Aldi’s=$0.79 for 32Tbsp)

·        2 eggs ($0.25 @ Aldi’s=$1.50 for 1 dozen)

       I.          Cut bread into cubes and toast (about 15/20 min at 350 degrees)

     II.          In a sauce pan cook the celery and onion in butter.

    III.          Then add sausage to celery & onion. Fully cook sausage.

    IV.          Add bread cubes and sausage mix into a large bowl.  Add eggs. Mix well.

     V.          Put mixture into a 9 by 13 casserole dish (adjust as needed mixture should be about 1 to 1 ½ inch thick in dish).

    VI.          Cover with chicken broth till wet (not just moist). Let set in fridge overnight.

  VII.          Cover with foil and cook at 350 for about 45 min to an hour (until no longer wet but still moist).  Uncover and cook for additional 15 minutes.  llo and

Sweet Potatoes/Yams created by Anne Abbott-Merriman: Serves 10ppl at $1.39 or $0.14 a person

o   1 Bag of Sweet Potatoes ($1.00 @ Aldi’s for 3lbs)

o   2 Sticks of butter/margarine ($0.39 @ Aldi’s=$0.79 for 4 sticks)

o   4 Tablespoons of Sugar ($0.00, already in home pantry)

o   4 tablespoons of Cinnamon ($0.00, already in home pantry)

                           I.          Clean and poke sweet potatoes with a fork. Then wrap in foil and bake at 400 degrees for about an hour or till fully cooked.

                         II.          Cut in half and put on a serving dish.

                        III.          Mix sugar and cinnamon. Wipe butter and add sugar/cinnamon mix, put in a small serving bowl with butter knife. Serve on side with sweet potatoes.

For those who enjoy Sweet Potato Casserole and may need a recipe try


Broccoli & Cheese Casserole created by Mildred Tucci (aka grandma):

Serves 8ppl for $8.74 or $1.09 a person


·        2 12oz bag of frozen broccoli (or 2 heads of fresh broccoli cut into bit size and cooked). ($2.00 @ Kroger’s=$1.00 a bag in 10 for 10)

·        1lb of shredded sharp cheddar cheese ($2.99 @ Aldi’s)

·        10 Tablespoons of butter/margarine ($0.25 @Aldi’s=$0.79 for 32Tbsp)

·        4 cups of self-crushed gf multi grain crackers ($3.50 @Sam’s Club=$7.00 box)

                                               I.          Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a medium sized casserole dish.

                                             II.          Put 2 cups of the crushed gf multi grain crackers on the bottom of the dish.

                                            III.          Place 5 Tablespoons of butter on top of crackers.

                                            IV.          Then put a layer of frozen broccoli, layer of cheese, layer of broccoli, and layer of cheese.

                                             V.          Cover with 2 cups of crushed cracker and top with 5 Tablespoons of butter.

                                            VI.          Cooked covered for 45 minutes. Uncover and cook for additional 15 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and brown.


Whole Cranberry Sauce by Joy of Cooking: Serves 8ppl for $3.00 or $0.38 a person

·       1 Pound of fresh cranberries (est. $2.00 @ local store)

·       2 Cups of Sugar ($0.00 all-ready in home pantry)

·       2 Cups of Water ($0.00)

·       2 teaspoons of grated orange zest

Please refer to Joy of Cooking for recipe.


            Mashed Potatoes: serves 8ppl at $2.24 or $0.28 a person

o   5 pounds of potatoes ($1.00 @ Aldi’s=$2.00 for 10lbs)

o   1 Stick of butter/margarine ($0.19 @ Aldi’s=$0.79 for 4 sticks)

o   1/2 cup of Greek Yogurt (est. $0.88 @ Aldi’s=est. $3.50 a container)

o   ½ Cup of Milk (est. $0.17 @ local store=est. $2.75 a gallon)

Fill a pasta pot a little over half way with water add 1 tablespoon of salt and bring to a boil. Clean and peel potatoes. Cut in half long ways and then each half into fours. Put into boiling water. Cook until soft. Strain water and put cooked potatoes into a large bowl. Add butter and Greek yogurt. With a hand blender mix still smooth. Place in serving bowl and serve.

Pumpkin Pie by Libby’s: Serves 8ppl for $6.00 or $0.75 a person

Please refer to recipe on the can of Libby’s pumpkin (or whichever brand you use). For the gf crust the best to use is Gluten Free Pantry perfect pie crust mix (averages around $3.00 which is included in the above price).

Tip for the gf crust: Don’t worry about rolling the dough. Skip it and use your hands to flatten the ball of dough and then shape into pie dish. This will save you time and frustration.

Other Tips:

GF Gravy: Use drippings from the turkey & a cornstarch slurry (instead of flour). Please refer to the blog about cornstarch to read about how the slurry will react (correct temperatures a must for gravy to gel).

GF Bread: Gluten Free Pantry and Wildtree make a good consistent bread Mix. Or refer to Everyday Loaf in one of my earlier blogs.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Gluten Free Baked Ziti & Pumpkin Bars

Hello and Welcome!

Ahhh, I love the chill in the fall air. This past weekend my husband and I worked on leafs in the yard. Afterwards I snuggled on the couch with a hot beverage and thought about what to make for dinner. This time of the year is perfect to treat ourselves to some comfort food. A couple of my top five comfort foods include Baked Ziti and Pumpkin Bars. When I looked in our pantry all the ingredients were there to recreate these comfort foods into gf comfort food. It was a big hit! Enjoy ;)



Part One: Recipe
GF Baked Ziti

(Created by Anne Abbott-Merriman)


· 1 Bob Evans Italian Sausage                                     (around $3.00 at local store)

· 1lb of dried gluten free ziti noodles             (around $5.00 at local store)

· 1 large can of marinara sauce (about 3 ½ cups)   (around $1.50 at local store)to

· 1/2 Cup parmesan cheese                            (already in pantry $0.00)

· 1lb of shredded mozzarella                              (est. $2.79 at Aldi’s)

· 1 medium onion diced                                  (around $1.50 for 5 onions at Aldi’s)

· Garlic powder                                                            (already in pantry or $0.99 at Aldi’s)

· Salt & Black Pepper                                       (already in pantry $0.00)

· 2 pinches of dried hot peppers flakes          (already in pantry $0.00)


       I.          Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease 9 by 13 pan or 5 quart French oven.


     II.          Fill a pasta pan half full of warm to hot water and bring to a boil. Add 2 pinches of salt, tablespoon of olive oil (helpful hint:  oil will help the gf ziti to not stick), and a pound of gluten free ziti (or penne pasta). Cook noodles a couple minutes short of cook time on the box (remember the noodles are going to cook in oven too). After noodles are done drain the water and run cold water over them (helpful hint: using your hand gently stir the noodles while rinsing with cold water to ensure all noodles stop cooking and do not stick).


    III.          In a medium sized skillet drizzle olive oil and cook 1 medium diced onion till translucent. Then add Bob Evans Italian sausage, crushed red hot peppers, salt/pepper (to taste), garlic powder (to taste) and cook till meat is completely brown.    


   IV.          In a large bowl add all of marinara sauce, ½lb of mozzarella cheese, ½ cup of parmesan cheese (optional), cooked Italian sausage, salt/pepper (to taste), and garlic powder (to taste). Mix well then fold in cooked noodles.


     V.          Place mixture into 9 by 13 inch pan and top with ½lb of mozzarella cheese and sprinkle parmesan cheese. Then cover. Cook for 30 minutes (uncovering the last 10 minutes). Cheese needs to be bubbling and golden brown.

Serves 8 (about $1.85 per serving)


Part Two: Tip

Pumpkin Bars                                                                        

(Recipe courtesy Patty Ronning as adapted by Paula Deen)

(Converted to gluten free by Anne Abbott-Merriman)
This is a really good dessert recipe and easy to convert to gluten free. Simply substitute the all-purpose flour with Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix. Also leave out the vanilla in the cream cheese icing. Your friends & family will never know its gluten free ;).


Part Three: Educational

Over the years I have heard both that not all vanilla is gluten free. I have found that vanilla extract and natural vanilla flavor is safe. Here is a link if you would like to read more.


Part Four: New Item
Dr. Joel Fuhrman, 3 Steps to Incredible Health Recipe Book.
Most 150 recipes are gluten free & all give great energy! Take a look for yourself;) I love comfort food as most, but still have a need to be healthy;) .

Part Five: Grocery List

            Refer to part one, prices and locations are next to the ingredients.


Please note that prices may vary with locations different then Central Ohio.


Monday, November 5, 2012

GF Pizza and Quick Easy Salad

Hello and Welcome!

Be prepared, I will be having much more recipes being posted more frequently with the upcoming holidays. Today I am sharing one of my family’s’ favorite meals (and one of the easiest). I’m sure by now some of you have heard, made, or ate cauliflower pizza. The recipe I use has been simplified from the others I have tried. Most that I have seen are flavoring the crust & there is no need. Save yourself the time and flavor your pizza with your sauce & or toppings. I have served my recipe to several kids (not telling them it’s anything then ordinary pizza) and they love it. Often I freeze the crust and use when needed (like a Saturday buckeye game). With the holiday season swing in to gear, having a couple of these in the freezer helps for fun stress free evenings. Enjoy:)

Part One: Recipe
Cauliflower Pizza

(Created by Anne Abbott-Merriman)


· 1 Medium to Large Head of Cauliflower (makes two pizzas)

· 2 Cups of Shredded Mozzarella (+ more for desired topping)

· 2 Eggsto

· 1/2 Cup parmesan cheese (optional topping)

· 1 Tablespoons of tomato paste

· Desired toppings for pizza (example: pepperoni, green peppers, black olives, etc.)

· 2 Tablespoons of garlic powder

· 2 pinches of sea salt

· 2 pinches of black pepper


       I.          Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease medium to large size pizza pan and set aside. (helpful hint: none stick metal pizza pans work better then pizza stones)

     II.          Fill a pasta pan half full of warm to hot water and bring to a boil.


    III.          Clean and cut the head of Cauliflower into large chunks (slightly bigger then bit size or so). Put cauliflower chunks into boiling water. Let boil till tender (about 15 minutes).

   IV.          Strain Cauliflower and let sit for about 5 minutes to properly drain water.


     V.          Make pizza sauce: Take a medium size mug and put in 1 Tablespoon of tomato paste. Then fill the mug about half way to less than half with warm water (always use less water at first and if the paste is too thick add more water till desired consistency). Mix with a fork till smooth.


   VI.          Take the strained Cauliflower and put into a blender or food processor. Blend/puree the cauliflower into a paste. Take out two medium sized storage containers. (Our family uses large plastic soup containers from the Asian restaurant down the street).


  VII.          In each container place 2 cups of pureed cauliflower, 2 cups of mozzarella, and 1 Egg. Completely mix with a fork. (If only making one large pizza:  label the extra container and place in freezer until desired time to of use. Please note to open frozen cauliflower and discard extra liquid before thawing.)  


VIII.          Place one completed container’s content onto greased pizza pan.  And put into preheated oven for 35/40 minutes (edges will be brown and the middle golden).


    IX.          After 35/40 minutes take the crust out of the oven and add pizza sauce, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Then add cheese and desired toppings (helpful hint: go light on the toppings, as to not weigh down the crust too much).


     X.          Put back in oven with toppings for about 15minutes or until cheese is bubbling and browning.  After taking out of oven let it rest for at least 10/15 minutes (or it will be on the runny side). Sometimes eating the pizza with a fork can be handy but not always needed. One pizza feeds 4 people.


Serves 4 to 8 people & (averages $2.75 for a lg pizza)


Part Two: Tip

Quick Easy Side Salad                                                       

Clean/cut one head of lettuce and put in a medium bowl. Add one can of whole pitted black olives and about a ½ cup to a cup of Italian dressing (we use Olive Gardens dressing as a treat). Take a plate that fits or is slightly bigger than your bowl and put on top of bowl. Then shake the current mixture till dressing is covering everything (add more dressing if desired). Remove plate and toss strained giardiniera mix on top. Finish off with a dusting of parmesan. Serves 4 to 6 people & averages $0.80 a person.


Part Three: Educational


Part Four: New Item

Pamela’s Ultimate Baking & Pancake Mix vs. GF Bisquick: Both of these are wonderful products so it really comes down to price. GF Bisquick averages $6.49 for 1lb and Pamela’s averages $13.00 for 4lbs (= $3.25 a lb.). It has also been easier to locate Pamela’s products at my local grocery store (in the gluten free or organic section).

When converting a normal baking recipe to gf and the recipe calls for all-purpose flour you can substitute all-purpose flour with the Baking/Pancake mix. I have used both brands to alter Paula Dean’s Pumpkin Squares (find recipe at and both batches turned out wonderful. However we liked the batch that used the Pamela’s Ultimate Baking & Pancake Mix.

Part Five: Grocery List

·       1 Head of Cauliflower around $1.50 at Aldi’s

·       Eggs: One dozen around $1.35 at Aldi's

·       Diced Tomato’s: $0.00 from garden

·       Parmesan Cheese: around $8.00 at Sam’s Club (already in pantry)

·       Canned Olives: $0.75 at Aldi’s

·       Dried Herbs: $1.00 each at Aldi’s or $0.00 fresh from garden

·       Mozzarella Cheese: one 1lb bag around $2.95 at Aldi’s

·       Garlic Powder: $0.99 at Aldi’s

·       1 Head of Lettuce: $0.99 at Aldi’s

·       Olive Garden Dressing around $6.00 for 2 bottles at Sam’s Club

·       1 Jar of giardiniera mix at local store around $3.00


Please note that prices may vary with locations different then Central Ohio.