Thursday, April 3, 2014

Product Review of Ultra Gel; Mom's Awesome Gravy!

Ultra Gel is a great product.  About a month ago, my brother was making some jam out of his frozen raspberries to serve at a dinner for our family and others.  He mashed the raspberries with a fork, added some sugar, and added Ultra Gel until it was the consistency of jam.  It was a delicious way to get raspberry jam with minimal effort.  

A few days ago, I cooked one of my favorite recipes:  "Slow-Cooked Roast" on Page 146 of my cookbook.  I strained the broth from this roast in preparation for my mom to use for a demonstration about making gravy.  She wasn't just teaching me how she makes gravy.  My 85-year-old mother also taught a group of young women (ages 14-15) how to make gravy, which is awesome! :)

She taught them to make a cornstarch gravy (2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons cornstarch whisked into 1/4 cup cold water and added to 1 1/2 cups boiling broth).  This is the type of gravy I have made since our diagnosis of celiac disease.  I have been intrigued, however, by how my mom makes gravy with Ultra Gel.  So I was watching intently as she taught these young women how to make gravy with Ultra Gel  (4 to 4 1/2 tablespoons Ultra Gel whisked into 1 1/2 cups boiling broth).  It was every bit as good as the cornstarch gravy, and even better since the beef flavor came out more fully.  Maybe it is because you don't have to dissolve Ultra Gel in a liquid before it is added to the broth.

I wish you could see how well my mom navigates around with a power chair or a walker or a cane since her second hip replacement a few years ago.  She has pain from three bone diseases due to late diagnosis of celiac disease, yet she doesn't let that stop her from helping and teaching and showing service.   She taught these young women last night--not just to make gravy--but how much fun cooking can be.  She is a great example to me. The following quotes personify how I perceive that she embraced the teaching she received from her own mother, my grandmother:

"A mother’s love and high expectations lead her children to act responsibly without excuses, to be serious about education and personal development, and to make ongoing contributions to the well-being of all around them."

"[Her] intuition is to do good and to be good..."  
"No amount of money, authority, or public acclaim can exceed the ultimate rewards of family."  

These quotes remind me of my wonderful daughter-in-law, as well.  As my husband noted after a visit to their home recently, she is a great mother to our granddaughter and puts a lot of effort and love into motherhood.  She is an amazing person and nurtures and teaches our granddaughter, even when she could be doing many other things right now with her gifts and talents.  

Our daughter-in-law has also willingly adapted their diet to help our granddaughter to feel better.  So far, our granddaughter hasn't shown positive testing for celiac disease, but a diagnosis of gluten intolerance has been given.  A gluten-free diet has been the key to keep the rashes away that have shown up due to eating something with wheat.  

I am grateful for the wonderful example of these two women!  

Saturday, March 22, 2014

My Version of Loaded Chicken from Winger's Restaurant; The Joy of Giving and Receiving

Recently, I had a take-out lunch from Winger's with several of my friends. It is always a happy day when I see a variety of gluten-free items on the menu. :)

(Photo Source:  Google Images)

Here is my gluten-free version of Winger's Loaded Chicken.  The flavor of the chicken with the bacon, mushrooms, and cheese is so tasty! I hope you enjoy it.

Bacon and Mushroom Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped onion
4 tablespoons bacon pieces
½ cup shredded cheese
1½ tablespoon gluten-free soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1. Bake chicken and water in a 9 x 13 baking dish for 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees.

2. Sauté mushrooms and onions in olive oil.

3. Place chicken on plate and sprinkle with mushrooms, onions, bacon, and cheese. Microwave until cheese melts.

4. Add soy sauce, sugar, and vinegar and stir well.

5. Pour over chicken, or serve sauce on side for dipping.

Serves 4

My friend, Sheila, was one of the friends I was with when we had food from Winger's. I will never forget when Sheila made some delicious gluten-free macaroons and brought them to a cookie exchange party so I could have some cookies to take home. What a difference sharing with others can make in our lives! I feel that one of the reasons Sheila is happy is because she loves to serve and help others. Receiving a gluten-free treat from someone can bring so much joy as well!

As we strive to serve others, we may find out that it will benefit someone who is struggling and is having a particularly stressful time right now. The next time we make a loaf of gluten-free bread, I hope we will remember the following touching story told by Thomas S. Monson:

"Tiffany’s difficulties began last year when she had guests at her home for Thanksgiving and then again for Christmas. Her husband had been in medical school and was now in the second year of his medical residency. Because of the long work hours required of him, he was not able to help her as much as they both would have liked, and so most of that which needed to be accomplished during this holiday season, in addition to the care of their four young children, fell to Tiffany. She was becoming overwhelmed, and then she learned that one who was dear to her had been diagnosed with cancer. The stress and worry began to take a heavy toll on her, and she slipped into a period of discouragement and depression. She sought medical help, and yet nothing changed. Her appetite disappeared, and she began to lose weight, which her tiny frame could ill afford. She sought peace through the scriptures and prayed for deliverance from the gloom which was overtaking her. When neither peace nor help seemed to come, she began to feel abandoned by God. Her family and friends prayed for her and tried desperately to help. They delivered her favorite foods in an attempt to keep her physically healthy, but she could take only a few bites and then would be unable to finish.

"On one particularly trying day, a friend attempted in vain to entice her with foods she had always loved. When nothing worked, the friend said, 'There must be something that sounds good to you.'

"Tiffany thought for a moment and said, 'The only thing I can think of that sounds good is homemade bread.'

"But there was none on hand.

"The following afternoon Tiffany’s doorbell rang. Her husband happened to be home and answered it. When he returned, he was carrying a loaf of homemade bread. Tiffany was astonished when he told her it had come from a woman named Sherrie, whom they barely knew. She was a friend of Tiffany’s sister Nicole, who lived in Denver, Colorado. Sherrie had been introduced to Tiffany and her husband briefly several months earlier when Nicole and her family were staying with Tiffany for Thanksgiving. Sherrie, who lived in Omaha, had come to Tiffany’s home to visit with Nicole.

"Now, months later, with the delicious bread in hand, Tiffany called her sister Nicole to thank her for sending Sherrie on an errand of mercy. Instead, she learned Nicole had not instigated the visit and had no knowledge of it.

"The rest of the story unfolded as Nicole checked with her friend Sherrie to find out what had prompted her to deliver that loaf of bread. What she learned was an inspiration to her, to Tiffany, to Sherrie—and it is an inspiration to me.

"On that particular morning of the bread delivery, Sherrie had been prompted to make two loaves of bread instead of the one she had planned to make. She said she felt impressed to take the second loaf with her in her car that day, although she didn't know why. After lunch at a friend’s home, her one-year-old daughter began to cry and needed to be taken home for a nap. Sherrie hesitated when the unmistakable feeling came to her that she needed to deliver that extra loaf of bread to Nicole’s sister Tiffany, who lived 30 minutes away on the other side of town and whom she barely knew. She tried to rationalize away the thought, wanting to get her very tired daughter home and feeling sheepish about delivering a loaf of bread to people who were almost strangers. However, the impression to go to Tiffany’s home was strong, so she heeded the prompting.

"When she arrived, Tiffany’s husband answered the door. Sherrie reminded him that she was Nicole’s friend whom he’d met briefly at Thanksgiving, handed him the loaf of bread, and left.

"And so it happened that the Lord sent a virtual stranger across town to deliver not just the desired homemade bread but also a clear message of love to Tiffany. What happened to her cannot be explained in any other way. She had an urgent need to feel that she wasn't alone—that God was aware of her and had not abandoned her. That bread—the very thing she wanted—was delivered to her by someone she barely knew, someone who had no knowledge of her need but who listened to the prompting of the Spirit and followed that prompting. It became an obvious sign to Tiffany that her Heavenly Father was aware of her needs and loved her enough to send help. He had responded to her cries for relief."

Friday, March 7, 2014

Recipe for Honey Garlic Chicken; Kristie's Example of Endurance

I am excited about the healthy adaptations that are included in my new cookbook (2nd edition).  Here is one of the recipes.  My husband actually invented the sauce, and we love it!

Honey Garlic Chicken

Healthy Adaptation


1-2 cups cooked brown rice
1-2 boneless, skinless chicken
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup diced green or red bell
½ cup diced onion
5-6 sliced mushrooms
2 teaspoons crushed garlic
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon apple cider
1 tablespoon butter or Earth
 Balance® margarine
½ cup honey
gluten-free corn tortillas
tomatoes, diced
avocados, diced
lettuce, shredded
ranch dressing

1.  Prepare cooked rice.

2.  Slice chicken breasts into chunks and cook in oil, along with diced bell pepper and onion.  Add sliced mushrooms and cooked rice.

3.  (Reduce the sauce ingredients by half if you don't want as much sweet flavor for the amount of rice and vegetables).   In a glass measuring cup or small bowl, add garlic, salt, vinegar, butter, and honey.  Microwave until combined and pour-able.

4.  Pour over chicken and fry for several more minutes.  Make a wrap using a warmed corn tortilla topped with cooked chicken, rice, vegetable mixture, tomatoes, avocados, lettuce, and ranch dressing.  (I also added cooked zucchini and yellow squash this time, as you see in the photo.) :)

Lately my blog posts have included some of my heroes, and today's post is no exception.  My friend, Kristie, doesn't have celiac disease, but her husband does, as well as one of her sons.  

She has a wonderful family.  In fact, one of her sons stopped to help me a few months ago when he noticed that I slid on icy roads and ended up without harm--but very stuck--in a snow bank.  They are friendly and helpful people.  

Kristie spoke before a large group of young adults about a year and a half ago and recounted what happened as her son, Tyson, was killed in an accident.  Her husband and another son were injured.  Here is a segment from her talk:

Tyson’s injuries were critical. He was intubated on arrival at the hospital, and rushed for a CT scan. During the CT scan he coded. Our good friend started CPR and was able to get his heart beating again. I was grateful to be able to be by his side.

The CT showed that Tyson had sustained a shattered spleen, multiple liver lacerations, and bone fractures. He was immediately taken into surgery. His spleen was removed and his liver was packed in an attempt to stop the bleeding. It was determined he should be life-flighted.  During the second surgery he coded multiple times and was resuscitated. I was able to be with him when he was brought into the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Tyson had the best medical care that was available; including IV’s, blood transfusions, platelets and clotting factors. None of this was able to stop the bleeding. His internal bleeding was so severe that it was impossible for the medical team to replace the blood he was losing.

My husband was not able to accompany me to Salt Lake because his injuries were so significant. It was very difficult for him and for me to be separated. A family member stayed with him during the night and I will be forever grateful that they were there with him when I called to tell him that Tyson had died in the early morning hours; eleven hours and two surgeries after the accident.

I can tell you that this is not what I prayed for...I remember thinking everything would be alright but I didn't know what side of “alright” I was going to be on.

After Tyson died, kindness was again extended to our family...Looking back I am still humbled by the sacrifices family, friends, and others made on our behalf. 

Kristie commented in an email to me, "These past nine years have been filled with tumultuous moments and tender mercies.  Truly blessings come through trials and endurance...I am grateful for so many blessings in my life."  Kristie know how to endure life's difficulties with strength.  Thomas S. Monson said,  

"This should be our purpose—to persevere and endure, yes, but also to become more spiritually refined as we make our way through sunshine and sorrow. Were it not for challenges to overcome and problems to solve, we would remain much as we are, with little or no progress... The poet expressed much the same thought in these words:

Good timber does not grow with ease,
The stronger wind, the stronger trees.
The further sky, the greater length.
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.8

Friday, February 28, 2014

Product Review of Multi-Grain Crisps; Amanda's Success

My niece, Amanda brought a delicious spinach and artichoke dip to share with us on Sunday.  She is an outstanding cook, just like her mom.  She also thoughtfully brought some Crunchmaster Multi-Grain Crisps along so we would have some gluten-free crackers to eat with her dip.  I have had this brand of crackers before, but if I remember right...they were bigger.  These crackers were quite small, which is an ingenious way to get more dip per cracker and reduces the chance of anyone double dipping. :)  See...there is a science to this--to maximize the taste and make our taste buds happy!  I am rating these crackers at 7 out of 10, if you have a good dip covering them.

                                                  Photo Source:

Amanda works as a nurse in an emergency room.  I can't imagine the pressure she feels in a job of this nature.  Just as D. Todd Christofferson stated, "I wish to express gratitude for the influence of good women...Women bring with them into the world a certain virtue, a divine gift that makes them adept at instilling such qualities as faith, courage, empathy, and refinement in relationships and in cultures."

Amanda doesn't realize how much she embodies this quote, because she just simply works hard and quietly sets an example for those around her.  Her standard for what is right always shines through at work and in other settings.  As I see it, Amanda's success is based partially upon these ideas as outlined by Richard G. Scott:

Establish a set of principles by which you will guide every aspect of your life—in your home, in your Church service, in your profession, in your community. 
Don’t make exceptions to your standards. Never compromise them. Be loyal to the teachings you have received from your parents and Church leaders. They are the things of greatest worth. If you integrate your formal education with what you know about the teachings of the Lord and the examples of those worthy people who are role models to you, you will have a solid foundation. You will be productive and do things that are worthwhile for others.
Be loyal. Be loyal to your parents and your loved ones. When you seek work, find something that challenges you, that raises you to higher levels of performance. It may be harder, but you will grow, develop better, and contribute more good. You really have no idea yet who you are and what you can accomplish in life. You have great potential far beyond what you can imagine today.
Serve others. Sharing what you know with others will bring you happiness and bless their lives.
Smile. I don’t mean that you need to be cracking jokes every day, but a good joke now and then is an escape valve. Life is not all that bad. You will soon learn that everybody has problems and nobody wants to hear about yours. Put those things aside and smile.
Don’t complain. Life isn’t always fair. That’s a fact. But it’s always charged with marvelous opportunities if you know how to find them.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Perfect Fluffy Frosting You Will Love; The Example of Two Amazing Ladies

Yum!  Don't you love a good frosting on a sugar cookie?  Last week my oldest daughter had fun making these cookies for Valentine's Day, arranging the cookies in a tin, and taking photos.  We all loved the cookies, too, and we all had to give ourselves a limit so we didn't eat too many in a day!

She decided to substitute raspberry flavoring for the almond flavoring in my frosting recipe.  I love either flavoring, but the raspberry flavoring was a fun change!  (This recipe can be found in my cookbook and in my blog post from 12/21/11).

When Valentine's Day was coming, I started thinking more about my husband and children...and also about a few of my friends who are going through some difficult times.  My youngest daughter made a cute origami puppy for each of them out of pink paper and decorated it with hearts to try to cheer them up.

One of the ladies found out recently that her husband lost his job.  I am so impressed with her attitude about it. With her permission, I am going to quote her text message from yesterday.  She wrote, "I have been through worse and things are always changing in life, so I just have to remember that it's a matter of time and it will be a different story."  There is an amazing level of strength in those words!

Just three houses away from her is the home of another friend.  She was the principal at the school when our sons were young.  She has since retired and she and her husband take care of their son who is in the advanced stages of Huntington's Disease.  When I told her how much her example of untiring care for him has meant to me, she said, "Susan, what other choice do we have?"

Both of these ladies could choose to have a bitter, anger-filled attitude.  Yet they go on with courage, despite the discouraging days, and continue to strengthen others.

Thomas S. Monson said, “We truly need Him every hour, whether they be hours of sunshine or of rain. May His promise ever be our watchword: ‘I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee’ (Joshua 1:5)” (“I Will Not Fail Thee, nor Forsake Thee,” October 2013).

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Recipe for Vegetable Pizza; The Value of Friends

Thank goodness for friends!  It is amazing the difference one person can make in brightening our lives! This morning I was thinking about my friend, Nanette.  I met her back in 8th grade when she moved into our school.  Her friendship was actually an answer to a prayer, since I had been struggling and had been wishing for a "best friend."  All these years later, when I think about Nanette I get a happy feeling in my heart because she brightens my life and is so supportive of my blog, my cookbook, and me!  Who would have thought we would both be diagnosed with celiac disease?!

Then I got thinking about my friend, Brenda.  Even though she is busy with her work of helping to improve the health and comfort of others (and we don't talk on the phone as much as we used to), I know we can pick up our friendship where we left off when we have the opportunity to chat for a few minutes.  I am not sure how I would have gotten through the hard days of spilled milk and temper tantrums when our kids were young without those conversations with Brenda, and life was happier as we shared laughs about the funny things our kids said and did.

These cold days in February go by much quicker on the days that my friend, Abby, comes to my house to exercise with me.  While we jog on the treadmill and lift weights, we talk about our struggles and joys.  Several times, she spent some time after exercising to help me make apple pie filling with apples from our tree that I had kept in the cold garage for about four months until I could find time to do some canning.  :)  It was so much more fun than doing canning by myself!  When we got done making the apple pie filling, she tried a piece of my vegetable pizza...and she really liked it.  (See this recipe below). 

In addition, my husband, children, daughter-in-law, granddaughter, and extended family all bring to my life a joyful friendship!  I am grateful for them!  

Marlin K. Jensen said, "I feel that friendship is a fundamental need of our world. I think in all of us there is a profound longing for friendship, a deep yearning for the satisfaction and security that close and lasting relationships can give."

Vegetable Pizza

Prepared pizza crust (see my cookbook for this recipe)
½ cup cooked chicken
1 package "steam in the bag"  broccoli/cauliflower
1 large diced green or red bell pepper
1 small thinly sliced yellow summer squash
1 small thinly sliced zucchini squash
½ cup chopped green onion with tops
Garlic salt
2-4 tablespoons hummus or pesto
½ cup shredded cheese
1 large diced tomato

Prepare cooked chicken and pizza crust.  Steam or microwave broccoli/cauliflower.

Sauté bell pepper, yellow squash, zucchini squash, and green onions in olive oil until tender.  Sprinkle lightly with garlic salt.

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Spread hummus or pesto across crust.  Cover crust evenly with cooked vegetables.

Top pizza with shredded cheese.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Add fresh tomatoes before serving.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Cookbook Corrections for Second Edition (first 250 copies)

Christmas was coming...and my graphic designer and I were working feverishly on the second edition of my cookbook.  Can you picture trying to add in finishing a cookbook to the busy nature of the Christmas season?  Unfortunately, mistakes seem to be made more often when we are in a hurry or when we are tired.  With that in mind, and since we are not perfect,  (though my graphic designer is nearly perfect and extremely awesome) are some mistakes that happened along the way with the printing of the first 250 cookbooks.

1.  Page 42:  Please add a step to heat oven to 350 degrees before baking the bread.

2.  P. 210, Please use the directions from the top recipe for the bottom recipe, as well.  The college student who helped me transfer recipes from Word to InDesign accidentally brought instructions over from another recipe. :)

3.  In the index, the K should be L and the L should be M. 

There are other small errors...but hopefully nothing too major.  Thanks for your support...even with my imperfections. :)