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Monday, February 18, 2013

Tomato Pesto Bites

Sometimes, looking for a snack leads to an impromptu recipe using whatever ingredients can be found in the refrigerator. This recipe is great for when you want a snack, but don't want (or have) chips or the "typical" snack foods.

Plus, it's easy to make, gluten free, and low carb!

You will need:
  • Medium tomato, approx. one per person
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Pesto
  • Shredded mozzarella
  • Bacon (cooked)
  • Ground basil (optional)
To make, slice the tomatoes into slices approximately 1/4 inch thick. Because you will be picking them up to eat them, you don't want the tomato slices to fall apart, or the ingredients to fall through. Layer pesto, ricotta, and mozzarella on top of the slices. Top with a piece of bacon, and garnish with basil.

This makes a low calorie and surprisingly filling snack, which could also serve as an appetizer!

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Grilled Pepperoni & Cheese

This is a pretty straightforward "recipe", but my husband made it and it was delicious, so I'm sharing it with you. Maybe someone has never made grilled cheese before, and will appreciate it!

When going gluten free, I was surprised to discover that it really was not very difficult, especially because the online grocery delivery service I use has nutrition filters which clearly mark which foods are "safe". Additionally, I don't eat very much bread anyway, so I was all set with quinoa noodles and gluten free flour for recipes that called for a tablespoon or two.

But then we started talking about grilled cheese sandwiches, and, as is probably the case with all dietary restrictions, I started craving something that definitely, absolutely required the forbidden bread.

Luckily, I found a "tapioca loaf" of bread, which is wheat, gluten, and dairy free. Prepared for the possibility of an unpleasant surprise, MC (Mr. Cole) used it in the grilled cheese recipe.

  • Slices of bread (2 per sandwich)
  • 2 slices of cheddar per sandwich
  • Pepperoni as desired
  • Butter
Butter the slices of bread on one side (this will be the outside of the sandwich). Place the 2 slices of cheese in between the slices of bread (buttered sides out). If you are using pepperoni or other ingredients in the sandwiches, place them between the slices of cheese. Cook each sandwich on both sides in a sauce pan until the bread is golden brown, and the cheese has melted.

MC notes that the gluten free bread seemed to cook a little faster than regular bread. I didn't notice a difference between regular bread and gluten free bread we used, but he said it had a bit of the texture of angel food cake, though it was still enjoyable.

Of course, grilled cheese would not be complete without tomato soup! I don't have a recipe to share today, because we didn't make it from scratch, but I did notice that I was only able to find gluten free tomato soup sold in a carton, rather than a can.

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Easy Mac & Cheese (With Gluten Free Option)

Macaroni and cheese is quite possibly one of my favorite foods, and this recipe is one that can easily be made gluten free if needed. In fact, it's pretty easy to make overall!


  • Noodles of your choice (I used one 13 oz box of regular wheat penne, and about half of an 8 oz. box of gluten free quinoa noodles)
  • One 8 oz cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 fat)
  • 2 cups of shredded cheese of your choice (recommended that you use mostly cheddar, but feel free to mix it up!)
  • 3 tbsp flour (I used Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free)
  • 1/2-1 tsp of ground cayenne pepper, depending on your preference
  • 2 tbsp butter or olive oil
  • 2 cups of milk (I used skim in the recipe)

Boil and strain the noodles according to the package directions. In a medium pan add butter/olive oil and cream cheese. It is helpful to cut the cream cheese into smaller pieces before tossing it into the pan, if you are using an 8 ounce block. Cook this on medium-high heat for a few minutes to soften the cream cheese further.

Add the milk slowly, and the flour and cayenne pepper. Mix ingredients to continue melting the cream cheese. When the mixture is smooth, add your shredded cheese. Continue cooking and stirring until you have a creamy cheese sauce.

Pour the cheese sauce over the noodles, and you're finished!

Using the amount of ingredients listed for the cheese sauce, I had just enough for 15-16 oz of noodles. If you are gluten free, you will likely only need to swap out the flour and noodles for gluten free options. The cheese sauce tastes no different with gluten free flour as opposed to regular white flour, which is great if you, like me, are cooking for a household where not everyone else is avoiding gluten.

Wheat noodles, and gluten free macaroni & cheese!
The overall cooking time is 15-20 minutes, making a meal that is quick and delicious!

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Saturday, February 9, 2013

DIY Faux Headboard

When we moved into our apartment, we really didn't think about decorating right away. As a result, we have nice furniture, but our place doesn't look completely "put together".

Take our bedroom for example: it has the basic furniture like a bed (obviously) and shelves/dressers for clothes. Our walls are bare, and they are a particular shade of "previously-rented-and-spackled-apartment white". Our bed is new, but doesn't have a headboard, and since we want to get a larger bed in the near future, it wouldn't make sense to buy a headboard in the near future.

So I broke out my crafty side and made a faux headboard!

It's less of a physical headboard, and more the illusion of one. To make it, I used three 11 x 14 inch canvasses (bought in bulk from Amazon), a window scarf, and a collection of 3M hooks and hanging strips.

I painted the canvasses with grey acrylic paint. They tended to absorb the paint, so I needed 3 coats to really cover them.

After the paint was dry, I used ribbon to create three different patterns. I had some paper tape (for taping gauze and bandages), which was useful for holding the ribbon in place while arranging it, without messing up the grey paint.

I used a thin coat of mod podge as glue under the ribbons, and left enough ribbon at the edges to wrap around the back. The edges were taped at the back to finish the canvas.

Next, I attached three metallic 3M hooks to the wall, about 45 inches above the top of the mattress. The window scarf was draped over them, and then I attached the painted canvasses to the wall to get the finished product.

That's it! I completed the project within only a few hours, most of which was waiting for the paint to dry. The turquoise ribbon was a little lighter than I had hoped, but overall it turned out nicely. Plus, I have so many canvasses I can always redo them if I need to!

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Purple Yucca

For the Raven's Superbowl, we were in search of all things purple, including purple drinks. We decided to make a party-friendly punch, and used our basic knowledge of colors to turn a traditionally pink-hued Yucca into a Ravens-spirited beverage.

The Yucca recipe is fairly simple. You will need:

  • A large punch bowl or medium sized cooler (clean or disposable)
  • 12 lemons
  • Carton of strawberries (size is not particularly important)
  • Handle of vodka of your choice
  • Carton or bottle of pink lemonade
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • Bag of ice
  • Pinch of love
For a purple Yucca, you will need to add:

  • Handle of blue vodka or liquor (we used UV Blue Raspberry vodka)
Because the Yucca is a fairly strong punch, and the traditional recipe calls for an entire handle of vodka, we used half of the handle of regular clear vodka to start.

To make the Yucca, wash all of your fruit. Slice the lemons in half, squeeze the juice into the punch bowl and  toss the lemon in. Slice up your strawberries and add them to the recipe as well. Add your ice, lemonade, sugar, and vodka, and stir. You may need to play around with your colors a bit to the exact purple color that you are looking for, so start by adding half of the blue vodka, and add more as needed.

To allow the ice to melt, you will want to prepare this 3-4 hours in advance.The punch is a clear purple color (easier to see in a clear glass) and is a refreshing, fruity, lemonade flavor!

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