Menu Plan Monday... a little late

Yesterday was just full of little moments. The sun was shining brightly and there was this lovely feeling of peace floating on the air. I enjoyed each of those moments, spending my day avoiding the hustle and bustle and electronic hum that most of my days are filled with. Spending some time in my yard to take in some of the first color in my flower bed.

I also spent some time with my weeping cherry tree, anticipating what these tiny little buds will bring when spring is in full swing.

And so I am only thinking of this weeks menu today. You'll have to pardon me. Spend some time outside if the weather permits it. Slow down for a bit, you never know what you may discover.

Monday: Shrimp Caesar salads

Tuesday: Beef tacos with homemade corn tortillas

Wednesday: Hearty Soup (will share recipe on What can I eat that's Gluten Free?)

Thursday: Garlic lemon chicken with a side of lemon scented white rice.

Friday: Venison steaks in a bordelaise-esc sauce and baked potato side.

Saturday: BBQ chicken drummets and pasta salad

Sunday: Leftovers of some variety.

What Can I Eat That's Gluten Free? Meatloaf.

Linda at The Gluten Free Homemaker has been putting on the What Can I Eat That's Gluten Free? carnival every week for quite some time. Its a great place to go for gluten free meal ideas. Head over to Linda's blog and check it out. Feel free to participate as everybody is welcome.

My contribution this week is meatloaf, its been around forever. A comforting feels like home meal that just hits the spot sometimes. Everybody raves about "Mom's meatloaf" and hopes that their version is close to it, if only to bring up fond memories. I love my mother's meatloaf, however if you, like me are gluten intolerant than you probably can't use your mother's recipe.

Over the years I've made many a meatloaf, using a plethora of ingredient combinations. I can honestly say that I now have "my" meatloaf recipe, the one I use every time I go to make one. Everybody who eats it loves it (so far) which of course makes me feel good. I'm hoping that some day my son will ask for my recipe so he can conjure up fond memories in his own home.

Here's the skinny on my take on meatloaf, not so much a recipe as a guideline since I don't use any measurements and adjust the ingredient amounts based on how much meat I use. I don't use any kind of breadcrumbs or fillers, it really doesn't need it (your loaf will not fall apart) and I like the texture much better without it. I also occasionally will shred a carrot into the mixture as its the only way my three year old will eat any veggies.

Not my mother's meatloaf, gluten free:


1 to 1.5 pounds ground meat (I generally use ground beef, or a combination of beef and venison or beef and turkey, always as lean as possible.)
1 small onion finally diced
2 or 3 mushrooms, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon or so oregano
1 tablespoon or so Worcestershire sauce (I use Lea and Perrins as it's gluten free)
3-4 dashes gluten free soy sauce
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste

Topping ingredients:

Mix the following ingredients in a small bowl. Apply to meatloaf halfway through cooking time.
3/4 cups ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
A dash of soy sauce


Saute onions, mushrooms and oregano on medium-high heat until onions are translucent. Add garlic and cook briefly. Add these to a large mixing bowl.

Add the egg, salt and pepper, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce to the bowl and mix thoroughly with the other ingredients.

Add meat and use your hands to mix it with the other ingredients, making sure they are evenly distributed throughout the meat, without overworking it.

Use a square baking dish and form your meat mixture into a loaf. Bake at 375 for 45 to 60 minutes or until up to temperature. About halfway through cooking time I usually put the topping on the loaf so it has a change to do its thing, I put any extra sauce on the table as my husband likes to slather it on his portion.

Menu Plan Monday

I haven't put together a weekly menu in some time. I'm not sure why because when I do dinners are so easy to put together, I already know what I'm making and there's not a struggle. When I don't, cooking dinner becomes a last minute chaotic pile of whatever was easiest to thaw out in 30 minutes. So I'm going to try and make it a habit to write out a weekly menu once more.

This week will be easy meals, I'm a bit of an invalid and can barely use my left arm... who knows. There is a lot of pain and little range of motion. So I'll plan meals accordingly.

Monday: Baked Potatoes

Tuesday: Meatloaf and Brown Rice Pilaf

Wednesday: Pork Medallions with leftover pilaf

Thursday: Leftover make-over, Really Good Chili

Friday: Chicken Breasts with Balsamic Vinegar and Garlic... and a vegetable of some sort :-)

Saturday: Leftovers, if there is any or Spaghetti

Sunday: Dinner out.

Lesson learned.

It's Valentine's and I actually found the time and inclination to get a babysitter so I could go out with my husband (something I haven't been able to do in some time) so last night we had our Valentine's dinner date. We started out with a little wine tasting at Terra Blanca, accompanied by some extraordinary chocolate and then set out to eat. Our regular dinner stomping grounds Bonefish Grill and P.F. Chang's were both a more than two hour wait to be seated and had no reservations availiable until after 9 pm. Outback had a more than three hour wait and so my three gluten free dinner options were out. We were hungry and completely amazed at how many people chose to have an early Valentine dinner with their loved one. Our options were limited and we racked our brains for a solution.

We decided to try seafood, I can usually find something safe to eat and most kitchens are very helpful, making sure I'm not glutened. Anthony's in Richland had a 45 minute wait, which was much more doable than our other options, so we headed over there. I went to order and was intently searching my menu for the easiest item to make gluten free, my waiter seeing my level of concentration asked if he could steer me in a direction. I offered that I was looking for something non glutenous. He beamed, "We happen to have a gluten free menu, let me get that for you!" He was knowledgeable in the gluten free requirements and everything came out perfect.

Wow, I was so excited. Here I assumed that the restaurant didn't have a gluten free menu and so I didn't ask. Lesson learned, in the future I'll give the establishment the benefit of the doubt and ask before I make assumptions. My dinner was fabulous and the staff very friendly. Here I am, not sick and still smiling about the pleasant surprise of gluten free options and the delicious meal I had last night. I will be keeping them in mind next time I need a gluten free meal out.

Leftover Makeover - Brown Rice and Chicken and Product Review

It's winter. The sky is a constant dreary gray and there is a chill in the air that just won't go away. The kitchen so warm and welcoming in the spring, summer and fall has cooled a little and doesn't seem to call quite so loudly. I've been cooking yes, some of my favorites, favorites that I've shared with you before and so haven't found the need to re-post them. I've tried a couple of new things, and taken pictures so that I can share when it comes time. However I've noticed that it has been some time since I posted last and so today I will renew my cooking/blogging vigor and get back on the bandwagon.

I'll kick off by sharing what I thought of the Rachael Ray Casserole dish I recently received for review from When I received the package and opened it the first thing that came to mind was that I really liked the color very rich and right in line with my kitchen decor. I decided I would cook with it that very same night.

The first dish I made was swiss steaks. They turned out lovely, just the way they were supposed to. When it came to removing the casserole from the oven I realized that it has a flat bottom, much different than most of my casserole dishes which all have a slightly concave bottom. Wow, I really like that feature. The flat bottom allowed it to sit very nicely on top of the stove coils as well as the trivet on the table. With my other casseroles I'm always fighting their urge to tip a little if not exactly centered on a surface. I didn't have to do that at all with this dish. The handles are also nice and big and rather than on the sides of the dish, they are on top... which in my clumsy hands means I'm less likely to get burnt. Another thing I like is that the lid is recessed a little rather than sitting on top so if I happen to tilt the dish the lid won't just fall off, a problem I have with my other dishes.

I cooked with the casserole dish again a couple of nights later. This time I was doing a leftover makeover. Something I've been doing a lot of lately and am enjoying the challenge of. For this meal I had some leftover brown rice and chicken from the night before.

I decided to whip up some cheese sauce using Bette Hagman's "Cream Soup Base" that I have premixed and some cheddar. I tossed in some broccoli, chopped up the chicken added a little salt and pepper and mixed it and the sauce all in with the rice and baked it for 30 minutes at 375 topping it with some shredded cheddar and crushed potato chips (ruffle variety) halfway through successfully turning leftovers into a really tasty casserole.

Leftover Makeover - Brown rice and chicken casserole.

Happy Valentine's to all of you. I think the Bonefish Grill or PF Chang's (both offering gluten free menus) might get a visit from my husband and I this weekend to enjoy day.