Saturday, May 23, 2015

Apple, Blue Cheese, and Honey Tart Recipe- Gluten Free, Egg Free, Paleo Friendly

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You know what's funny? In many ways I grew up in a "foodie" home, regularly eating food from various cultures across the globe- kichri and mulligatawny soup, fried rice, mujjadara, and sushi- these were staples in my home- what I consider "normal" is so different from others because of that- I thought I knew so much about different foods.
And yet there are some foods that I never even knew existed, let alone tasted, until I was an adult.
Tarts are one of them.
Ok, I had pies, and I had quiches, but never this open faced tart that I made. I just thought tart was something sour...

But anyhow, back to why I'm even saying this...

I wanted to make a dessert with cheese in it, a cheese cake of sorts. But I have a problem.
I can only eat aged cheeses.
My body can't tolerate regular dairy- not butter, not yogurt, not sour cream, not milk- but aged cheeses it does fine with. I can eat all the cheeses that are approved on the GAPS diet and not have a reaction (being aged makes them more digestible, and therefore don't cause a reaction)- which is awesome for my cheese loving self... but really hard when you want to make a dessert that is with cheese, because finding a gluten free, egg free dessert using aged cheeses that doesn't also require cream cheese or cream... was nearly impossible.

Then I did some googling and saw it suggested to try drizzling honey on aged cheeses, like blue cheese, to make them dessert-like. It sounded weird at first, but I gave it a try- and it was unbelievably amazing! Like cheesecake, almost, but better.

So I decided that my cheese based dessert would be a tart, with apple, blue cheese, and honey.

Lets just say- it was out of this world amazing. Everyone in my family enjoyed it tremendously. And it hit the spot.

I'd like to say that this recipe is Paleo diet legal, but I can't say that with 100% certainty, because the views on aged cheeses in the Paleo circle are mixed- some say yes, some say no. But at the very least- this recipe works for me, and is healthy- so that's all that matters to me in the end of the day.

While I used blue cheese for this recipe, feel free to use whatever sharp cheese appeals to you- whether goat cheese, feta cheese, parmesan, or even cheddar.

P.S. A friend of mine who saw I made this commented "Aren't aged cheese expensive in your part of the world?" So yes- they are. This isn't exactly the most frugal recipe. However, once in a while, I do believe it is ok to treat yourself to something somewhat more expensive. And it wasn't even super expensive- the cheese in this recipe cost less than $3, so really not such a splurge, since even a little bit of these cheeses goes a long way.

P.P.S. If you're dairy free, I'm sure you can make this with a vegan cheese, like almond feta, or Daiya cheddar.

Apple, Blue Cheese, and Honey Tart Recipe- Gluten Free, Egg Free, Paleo Friendly

Friday, May 22, 2015

Homemade Tart Crust Recipe- Gluten Free, Grain Free, Paleo, Vegan, and Refined Sugar Free

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I had decided the other day that I wanted to make a tart, and bought all the ingredients to go on the tart.
But do you know how many tart recipes don't even include the recipe for the tart crust- they just say to use puff pastry?
I never use puff pastry. For many reasons. Number one- because I can't eat gluten, and the puff pastry locally is nearly all with gluten. And number two because it is not healthy. Puff pastry locally isn't made with butter or coconut oil- it's made with hydrogenated oils. Which I avoid like the plague, because I figure- if there's one thing that the mainstream medical community and alternative medicine community agree on, it's probably absolute truth- and everyone's in agreement about how bad hydrogenated oils are...

So anyhow, I figured I'll just make my homemade gluten free pie crust to use instead of the puff pastry that was showing up repeatedly in recipes.

And then the time came to make the tart... and I just didn't have the energy to make the pie crust- I didn't feel like grinding the four different flours I use for it, I didn't feel like taking out the food processor necessary for my pie crust, and then cleaning it afterwards, and I didn't feel like dealing with rolling out pie crusts, etc...

I mentioned this on Facebook, that I had no energy to make the tart I had planned to make, and my friend Carly shared her easy gluten free, grain free tart crust recipe with me- one that didn't require me to use 4 different types of flour or a food processor or a rolling pin.
But it had eggs and white sugar in it, both things I try to avoid, so I played around with that base, and came up with this recipe- which is Paleo diet friendly and vegan, and so much healthier than the alternative of puff pastry, and was easy to make to boot.

You can use this as the base for any of your sweet tarts or tartlets.

As for what I did with the tart- that'll have to wait until tomorrow for the recipe.

Homemade Tart Crust Recipe- Gluten Free, Grain Free, Paleo, Vegan, and Refined Sugar Free

Gluten Free Vegan Stuffed Mushrooms Recipe

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I'm having guests again this week (its not something we end up doing so often, but lately I guess we're having guests more than usual) and wanted to do something nice for them. I know that lots of the food that I cook is relatively exotic, and not everyone enjoys exotic foods as much as I do, so I make sure to ask my guests if they'd prefer more exotic or more "normal" foods when they come over.
I know some people have the mindset that if someone comes to someone else's house as a guest, they should just appreciate whatever is given to them, and there is no need to go out of your way as a host to make foods that your guests will like- that people should just eat what is served to them. And while that may be true as part of being a gracious guest, as a hostess, I believe my part is to make my guests as comfortable as possible, and give them the best that I physically/financially/emotionally can afford to do so. (I wrote about it, actually, in my post about Extreme Cheapskates, and specifically how about the person who fed salmon carcasses and salmon heads to the people who he cooked dinner for- and made them feel like puking.)
So anyhow, these guests chose "normal" food, but that doesn't mean I want to make it boring and simple. My challenge was to come up with something nice and impressive and tasty, that still fell under the realm of "normal" and "non exotic". While grocery shopping, I saw these large fresh white button mushrooms, each with a 3-4 inch diameter, and inspiration struck- stuffed mushrooms it would be. And vegan, to keep it cheaper, (Don't worry- I'm serving other dishes as well, this is just one of the things I'm serving...)
They came out great, and I look forward to serving them to my guests.

Gluten Free Vegan Stuffed Mushrooms Recipe

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Teaching My Young Children Important Money Lessons

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Photo credit- anankkml; freedigitalphotos.net
When I was a teenager, I said that when I had kids, I'd do certain things with my kids and money. When I was first married, I had other ideas about what I'd do to teach my kids about money management. And then when my kids were younger than they are now, I had even different ideas.
I find that my views on raising money smart kids evolves, and things that I said I'd do don't seem to be coming to fruition, and things that I said I'd never do sometimes end up happening... but you know what? I think parenting requires flexibility, and it's a good idea to do what works for you then, even if it isn't what you'd originally had in mind.

And so, I thought I'd talk about what I currently do with my kids to try to teach them important lessons about money in an age appropriate way.

My kids are 7, 5, 3, and 1- so most of these lessons are geared towards my older two- but who knows what the younger two are absorbing via osmosis...

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Frugal Accomplishments This Week

Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of...
The Price is Right!

Oh wait- wrong show.

But not exactly.

The price was right for all the things mentioned below- because they were either cheap or free!

I had an awesomely frugal week this week; I feel like I'm getting back into the groove!
(And now I sound like a super dorky person living in the wrong decade... Haha.)

Anyhow, here's what we did to save money this past week in our house-
And no, no cloth diapers this week. Well, maybe one or two... I'm again way behind on laundry...

Friday, May 15, 2015

Grain Free Stuffed Grape Leaves Recipe- Auto-Immune Paleo Freindly, Allergy Friendly

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I am having a guest over who told me that it's been hard for her lately, since she can't really eat out. Reason being that she is on a very strict diet, that there are many things she (hopefully temporarily) can't eat, until she is healed.  This diet essentially is a cross between the auto-immune Paleo diet, no cruciferous diet, GAPS diet, and a few other things thrown in (like no onions or garlic).
I mentioned to some people that I was trying to come up with a menu plan that she could eat, and people wanted to know why I was willing to drive myself crazy coming up with things- "she should bring her own food if there are so many things she can't eat", but honestly- I know what it's like to not be able to eat out easily because of a restricted diet, so I wanted to be able to treat her.
I have to say though that it was a big challenge to me to cook this way, because my usual staples that I rely on for flavor were out (onion, garlic, tomatoes, soy sauce, and cumin) so I had to get very creative and came up with a lot of tasty dishes.

My guest had mentioned to me that she really loves stuffed grape leaves, and she misses them, since they are heavy on the onions and rice. So I thought, as a treat, that I'd figure out a recipe for stuffed grape leaves- that she could eat!
This is what I came up with.
It's not the typical stuffed grape leaf recipe, but it's very yummy. And auto-immune Paleo friendly, so it should be suitable to people on most diets- though not vegans, obviously. I used grated zucchini in it, also to stretch the beef, and to make it less dry, as I find ground beef dishes without grains or potatoes end up being.

I used jarred grape leaves (that I got free), purely out of laziness- since grape leaves are in season now and available for me to forage about a 2 minute walk from my front door... Since the canned leaves are salty, the amount of salt I put in this recipe was perfect as is. If you use fresh grape leaves, I suggest adding a teaspoon of salt to the water before cooking.

If you want a more standard stuffed grape leaf recipe- check out this vegan one.

Grain Free Stuffed Grape Leaves Recipe- Auto-Immune Paleo Friendly

Tax Tips for New Parents

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This post was written by Charlotte is a Minneapolis mother of three, DIYer, and self-taught finance expert.

Did you have a baby this past year or are you expecting a baby in 2015? With the 2014 tax year recently completed, it makes sense to take the time now to figure out how you can get an even bigger return on your taxes in 2015. In addition to remembering to avoid common tax mistakes, make sure you also remember to take advantage of these tax breaks for parents to get the most out of your return!

Changes to Your Filing Status

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Got an Ikea Couch!

 photo IMG_0100_zpsnhma7bw0.jpgWhen Mike and I got married, we were on a very tight budget, and since we married young, we weren't coming into our marriage each with homes full of furniture, so we needed to furnish our apartment entirely from scratch. Because of this, we tried to keep things as low cost as possible, getting certain things refurbished, some second hand, a lot free... There was only one piece of furniture we bought new- a set of wooden bookshelves, bought from a really cheap store.
Over the years, some of our furniture got replaced, with either free or second hand furniture, and we ended up building two pieces of furniture ourselves- a loft bed and a shoe box/couch.

The thing is...
Much as I like our shoe box couch, there were some flaws in the design. Namely that it was first built into a shoe box, and only after that turned into a couch, so the dimensions of it are not the most comfortable for me- once the cushioning is on it, it ends up being just a little bit too short for my tall legs- I end up feeling like I am partially falling off when I sit on it... My kids like it, and it really is an awesome shoe box... but in my opinion, it is more shoe box, less couch. And I still needed something else to sit on.

Easy Gluten Free Substitutes

 photo cake_zpsx1dme0vi.jpgThis was written by freelance writer, Catherine.

Many people go on diets – some stick to them, others jump between fad diets and the latest ‘superfood’ to try and get a shortcut to a healthy life. But for other people, diets are enforced due to medical reasons. The moment when your doctor hands in a piece of paper will divide your life into two periods, before and after this. On that paper you’ll find two columns, the first one lists the foods that are prohibited, and the second section contains recommended products. And, unfortunately, the first column will appear to be much longer than the second one. In the case of Celiac disease and gluten intolerance, to be healthy you’d have to eliminate doughnuts, pasta, beer, bread, muffins, sauces, pastries, cakes and other tasty foods. Such a woeful perspective can make anybody depressed. From now it seems that your energy should be channeled into searching for substitutes of foods you like the most.

But don’t worry! There are a range of gluten free products available, and even specialist gluten free shops. And with a bit of know-how, you’ll soon discover that there are many natural gluten free foods you can add to your diet.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Carob Ginger Cookies Recipe- Gluten Free, Vegan, Refined Sugar Free

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Homemade carob powder, that I used to make this recipe
You know how annoying it is when you have a great recipe that you really wanted to share, but you forgot to take pictures when you made the recipe, and then by the time you get around to actually sharing the recipe, you don't even have the ingredients needed anymore to make them, so its not like you could just whip up a batch, take a pic, and call it a day?
Yea- that.
You see, it's almost summer here.
And that means that it is almost carob season.
But it's not.
And even though I was lucky enough to find a bunch of carob pods on the trees in the middle of the winter here, leftover from the previous summer, the supply was limited, and of the carob powder I made with them there is none left, and I'm loathe to spend money on carob powder when I can get it free in just a few months, just so I have a picture to go with this post.
Oh well.
A picture of my carob powder will just have to suffice.

I based this recipe off fellow forager's idea for carob ginger snaps- only hers were made with white sugar and gluten, and mine are not. I made quite a few other tweaks as well, but Leda Meredith gets the credit for the inspiration of combining the flavors of carob and ginger- it's perfection.

Carob Ginger Cookies Recipe- Gluten Free, Vegan, Refined Sugar Free

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