Gluten-Free Cheesy Spinach Muffin

I saw these on Pinterest and they were two pretty to pass up. I decided to try them while the little one slept today and I had to use what I had on hand to make them gluten-free. Here is what I did…




3.5 oz fresh spinach

2.5 oz feta (crumbled)

3.5 oz. sharp cheddar (shredded)

2 roma tomatoes

.75 cup Gluten-Free Bisquick

1.25 cups Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour

1 tsp. sea salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 eggs

.25 cup olive oil

1 cup 2% milk

1 tsp. Herbs de Provence

A few shakes of black pepper


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Chop up the spinach a bit. Put it in the blender along with eggs, olive oil and milk. Blend to the point where the spinach is in small bits.

3. In my mixer, I combined the GF Bisquick, GF All-Purpose Flour, seal salt, baking powder, eggs, Herbs de Provence, pepper and shredded sharp cheddar.

4. Pour in spinach/egg/milk/oil mixture and combine well. Fold in feta.

5. Spray muffin pan with olive oil spray. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, I filled each muffin pan spot.

6. Slice two roma tomatoes in 12 slices and put on dop of each muffin.

7. Bake for 25 minutes. Yields 12 muffins.


Chicken Soup with Kale & Sweet Potatoes

I was at a women’s event at our church and someone brought something similar to this soup. I went home and looked up a recipe on Pinterest and found this. But, oh, there were so many steps! I decided to make my version with a lot of short-cuts.

Chicken Soup with Kale & Sweet Potatoes


  • Chopped up carrots, onions and celery (Trader Joe’s sells this & I used the whole container)
  • Chopped up garlic & scallions (Trader Joe’s also sells this & I used about half of the container)
  • Kale (bought a pre-washed & chopped package at Trader Joe’s, used about half the package)
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 sweet potatoes, skin removed, cubed
  • Chicken (I had a rotisserie chicken from Costco. I shredded the meat and added about 3 cups to the soup)
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 package of bacon
  • Sale & pepper to taste

And, here is how I made it:

1. Pour 6 cups of broth into crock pot.

2. Sautéed the carrot, onion & celery mix in a pan in some butter. Added it to the crock pot.

3. Sautéed the garlic & scallions in some butter. Added it to the crock pot.

4. Went through the kale and pulled out any tough stems (I don’t like them). I wilted the kale in some water on the stove for a  minute or two. I have no idea if this was necessary or not. I just didn’t want it to be tough in the soup. When finished, I added it to the crock pot.

5. Cubed the sweet potatoes and threw them in the crock pot.

6. Shredded the chicken and added it to the crock pot.

7. Added the nutmeg and small about of salt & pepper to crock pot.

8. Set the crock pot on high. The potatoes were tender in about an hour or so. Then just set the crock pot to warm until dinner time.

Before dinner, I made a package of bacon. I crumbled mine and added it to the soup along with a little Parmesan cheese (suggested in the original recipe). The boys preferred their bacon on the side.  If I was making this for myself only, I would add a jalapeno to the mix for a little spice.

The miracle of the soup is that my kids ate it! DIB (who I am hopeful that I can turn into a little foodie) had two bowls. AIB was much more hesitant but didn’t argue too much.

Going Gluten Free

In the last week or so, I’ve had several friends talk to me about going gluten-free. About six years ago, I asked my doctor to test me for a wheat allergy after years of digestive problems. She said she really didn’t think that was the issue but went ahead and ran the blood test. Much to her surprise, it came back with an indicator that I may be wheat and/or gluten-intolerant. She recommended I visit a gastroenternologist. The did a scope of my intestines and the results were “suspicious but not conclusive). He told me to go ahead and cut gluten out of my diet and see what happen. Within two-weeks, all the stomach problems I had experienced for several years were gone. I know for others it can take longer to see results – maybe more like a month of being gluten-free.

One of the firsts books I bought was The Gluten-Free Bible by Jax Peters Lowell. It is pretty overwhelming but covers pretty much everything. I never read the whole book but used it as a reference point as I started to eat gluten-free. Basically, I just stopped eating anything with wheat. That meant no pizza, no sandwiches, no pasta, no crackers, no cereal, etc. A few things have changed since I went gluten-free. The FDA now mandates that any products containing any of the eight major food allergens (milk, eggs, fish, Crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat or soybeans) must be clearly stated on the label. This certainly helps but wheat-free does not necessarily mean gluten-free. Trader Joe’s puts a label on all gluten-free products and most major grocery stores now have a small gluten-free section (or products that have gluten-free signage throughout the store). It is a lot easier to eat a gluten-free diet now than it was several years ago. Someone said to me the other day, “You were gluten-free before it was cool.”

So, here are my top-five tips for going gluten-free simply (you can get more adventurous after you try it out for a bit):

  1. The perimeter of the grocery store is your friend. Fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy gluten-free (unless something has been added to them). Rice and potatoes are also okay in their natural state (you have to be careful with mixes though).
  2. Before eating at a restaurant (including fast-food), search online to see if they have a gluten-free/wheat-free menu or call ahead to see if they can tell you what they can provide. I always hate when they make a big deal about it at the table. Some places have even had the chef come to our table to talk to me. I HATE this. Once at Pei Wei, the server came to the table and said, “Who ordered the allergy meal?” Sounds delicious. So, I prepare ahead of time. If you have no choice about where you are eating, be prepared to eat a very plain salad (Sad but true).
  3. Don’t cheat. I’ve never really determined if I am gluten-intolerant or if I have celiac disease. The symptoms I have sound more like gluten-intolerance. If I accidentally have something (and this rarely happens), I can tell within twenty-four hours. People ask me all the time if I cheat and I always tell them if just isn’t worth it. That said, I don’t stress out about cross-contamination as much as others may. For example, I know Qdoba states that there is  possibility for cross-contamination in the preparation of their wheat-free/gluten-free products. I eat there often and have never had an issue. You have to determine how sensitive you are and if it is a risk you want to take.
  4. Eat before you go out and/or offer to bring something. I know this sounds kind of annoying but you never know what you might be able to eat when going to a shower, party or other social event at someone’s home. If we are eating a the house of someone who does not know us well, I always tell them ahead of time that I am gluten-free. I offer to bring something, especially if they seem overwhelmed with the idea of cooking within these restrictions.
  5. Find a gluten-free bakery near you. I am at Sugar Kisses at least once a week. I seem to hear about a new one every month and if you want bread but don’t want to make it yourself, this is probably your best bet. There are a few brands sold in grocery stores with decent options. I like Udi’s products and Whole Food’s (both are usually in the freezer section).
I hope that helps. For kids going gluten-free, I saw this book over the weekend. Since gluten-intolerance/celiac  disease are hereditary, I’m almost counting on Baby Girl to have the same issues as me (because I’m an optimist like that).

Hungry Lady

I had a pretty minimal appetite in my first trimester and a normal one in my second. I was hoping that would stay the same but in the last week I have found myself really hungry. I was priding myself a bit on not being the “eating-all-the-time-pregnant-lady” so I’ve been humbled. It goes back to that not wanting to be a cliché thing. It is stupid, I know.

This recipe is known as “Cheryl’s Muffins” among my friends but Cheryl says the original recipe is from Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet. Sometimes for those of us who are “intestinal-ly challenged”, it can be hard to find tasty recipes but I love these. Even though I’ve had the muffins a few times, this is the first time I made them. I was looking for a high-fiber, high-protein, gluten-free option to curb my appetitie.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Nut Muffins

  • 5 cups ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 5 eggs
  • *1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • *1 tsp. cinnamon
  • *1/2 bag mini-chocolate chips
  • *1/4 cup ground flax seed

*these are Cheryl’s additions to the original recipe

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes (they brown quickly so keep an eye on them…they may need less time).

I bought the almond meal at Trader Joe’s ($3.99 per bag, there are about 4 cups per bag). Others have bought bulk almonds at Costco and ground them up into meal in their food processor but my mini-prep won’t do that and I’m too lazy to add the extra step anyway.  I also used flax seed that also included ground blueberries since it was all Trader Joe’s had when I was buying the ingredients (you can’t taste the blueberries at all). I am planning to add some pureed carrots and/or spinach next time.

I think they are delicious and they make a very filling breakfast.  D liked them (he added a little butter and drank them with a glass of milk). They are not low in calories but they are full of stuff that is good for you.

Twelve more weeks to go!

Saturday Seven

1. D and I are up north without kiddos this weekend! We have generous friends who have let us borrow their vacation home and we are relaxing. D is out golfing and I’m sitting in our friends’ lovely home, drinking coffee (decaf!), and watching Project Runway.

2. Even though we are not doing a ton of sight-seeing while we are up north this time, we keep thinking of all the things we want to do with the kids next summer (and in future summers to come). You hear a lot of negativity about Michigan (specifically, Detroit) in the news but Michigan is a beautiful place! The Sleeping Bear Dunes were just named America’s Most Beautiful Place by Good Morning America.

3. Our dear friends happen to be up north as well this week so we met up for dinner last night in Charlevoix. After dinner, I discovered a new favorite ice cream flavor: Charlevoix Mud (vanilla ice cream swirled with caramel and dark chocolate flecks).

4. I love to shop (and sell) on Craigslist and this week I found my best find yet: an UPPAbaby Vista stroller. When we found out we were pregnant, my mom bought me Baby Bargains and this is the best rated stroller according to them. But the price tag is very, very high! I didn’t even consider it as an option but then saw one listed on Craigslist for a fraction of the new price and with multiple accessories included. We picked it up before we headed up north. The woman who sold it to be had taken such good care of it so it looks brand new. I’m so excited about it and, at the same time, so aware of how un-cool that makes me.

5. I saw The Help last week and was pleasantly surprised. I loved the book so much and thought the trailers for the movie looked so silly. But I was still curious and I’m glad I went to see it. Besides Viola Davis, who played Aibileen, my favorite character was Celia Foote (played by Jessica Chastain). She was so genuine and imperfect.

6. DIB & AIB went maternity clothes shopping with me on Wednesday. What a couple of troopers! There is no way that can be fun for them and I made sure to reward them with Auntie Anne’s Pretzels and time in the play-place at the mall. AIB got a big kick out of wearing the fake bump they have in the changing room in the maternity clothes store. He almost left with it on.

7. D is back from golf and we are off to eat somewhere in the cute little downtown nearby. I’m so thankful for quality time with my favorite person.

From the Blog World

I love the internet. I could be embarrassed about the number of blogs I read but I’m not.  Here is what has jumped out to me through my blog reader and/or social networking in the past week.

Kristen talked about the relationships formed through the blogging and social networking world. It is 2011, people, this happens. In fact, it was the catalyst for us becoming foster parents. Which leads me to my next link.

An exciting post from my newest online friend…

Did you know you could miss someone you’ve never met? I long for them to fill this lovely room with their energy and joy. I, just like my Father, look forward to revealing this beautiful room to my future children. I long to see the delight on their faces when they discover what has already been created specifically for them, a place that no one can take from them, a place that’s safe and bright, a mix of past and present, a place to grow.

Jodi shares about the joys and struggles of being married to someone in ministry…

Every pastor’s wife I’ve ever met (and I’ve met a lot) has struggled with the dual nature of the pastor’s wife role. It’s simultaneously exciting and fulfilling and really, really hard.

Yesterday, I lost my patience with my kids more time than I really want to admit. Sometimes, I think, “Where is that nurturing gene I was so sure I had before kids?” I apologized to both of them before bed time and we prayed and asked God to help each of us be kinder and more patient with each other. I appreciated these simple tips from Elizabeth Esther on being a nurturing mother.

One that I would add to her list that I find is an issue for me is making sure to eat well. It is easy for me to feed my kids and make sure they get protein,  fruits and veggies (specifically, using this method). However, I notice that I rarely feed myself as well as I feed them. There are too many days when noon rolls around and all I’ve had is several cups of coffee. Hunger gives me a headache and also makes me way less patient than I’m capable of being.  I’ll feed them lunch, get them to rest/nap time and then eat something that is quick and easy and probably without any protein or good nutritional value. Even five years into being gluten-free, I’m still figuring out what is quick and easy and healthy. What I really  need to do is plan ahead to make sure I have options in the house for me. Anyone else have this problem or something similar?

Saturday Seven

1. I saw this on 22 Words this week and it just makes me smile.


2. I received a late birthday gift this week and it was one of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received. My friend gave me a necklace with the initials of all our kids on it (the ones we are adopting and the ones who went home to their families). I’m pretty sure I won’t be taking it off anytime soon. We are incredibly blessed by people who encourage and support the way we have chosen to grow our family. It really means the world to us.

3. There is a new pizza place right by our house with gluten-free pizza that is not insanely overpriced. It was fun to get to eat pizza like everyone else in the family this weekend. It might just become a Friday-night-thing for us.

4. Wednesday morning we were on our way to preschool and the cars in front of me on the highway suddenly stopped. The car directly in front of me swerved into the right lane and I was able to stop without hitting anyone. Unfortunately, the guy behind me wasn’t and we were rear-ended. Thankfully, we were all okay. We pulled over to the side of the road and I checked to make sure all three boys were fine. Then I told them we were waiting for the police to come and that is when the excitement began. For a three and five year old boy, meeting a policeman is pretty much the best thing ever. The officer that helped us was so kind, talked to them while they stared at him wide-eyed and gave them “badges” (really, just shiny stickers). Then D got to tell everyone in his class how we got “crashed” on the way to school.

5. I went to a Mom2Mom sale this morning and found some great summer clothes for the boys, especially some great plaid shorts (so cute). But those sales stress me out! I feel like there is some kind of etiquette that I do not understand. No joke, I volunteered at one a few years back, and when I was done I got in my car and cried. Perhaps, an overreaction but to this day these things just make my anxiety level rise.

6. Occasionally, we are asked how long it takes to feel love for the kids that have been placed in our home (these questions are nearly always asked in a respectful and kind way, not in front of the kids and I don’t mind answering). I think something that happened this week sums up pretty well how quickly affection can form. I went to pick up all three boys from my parents house. We know very little about C’s situation. When you do respite care, they only provide you with the most necessary information. From his paperwork, I know that his plan is for reunification at this point. When I walked into my parents house, my dad was holding C. Without even saying “hi” first or anything, my dad said, “So, is he adoptable?” They were already buddies, even after having spent just hours together.  Attachment and bonding are complicated and are definitely an ongoing process but I think love and affection comes pretty quickly. (At least this has been our experience; I don’t want to speak for the adoption community as a whole).

7. That said, C goes back to his long-term foster home on Monday. We would totally keep him if we could but my hope for him is that his family is doing their best to make it so that he can live with them as soon as possible. We hope we get to see him again someday.

Saturday Seven

1. Party! We celebrated our five year old with family last night. He had a fantastic time and could not be more thrilled about all his presents. He is very loved! And I’m searching Craigslist and Target for toy storage options.

2. I have two plans for my birthday money: paint for the living room/family room/kitchen and a new purse. I had several purses picked out and I thought I was ready to take the leap and buy one with my birthday money. But it turns out that I’m cheap and I just can’t bring myself to spend a lot on a purse. By pure luck, I stopped in at Parisian and found a bag the fit my specifications 40% off. The sale went until 2pm and I walked into the store at about 1:45pm. I found the purse, picked a color really fast and walked out with this. The main thing I wanted was lots of pockets and a cross-body strap.

3. And since I did not spend what I thought I would on a purse for my birthday, I am looking forward to putting one of these colorful runners in the kitchen once it is painted. And maybe this wall clock too.

1. Cayden Runner 2. Green Wall Clock 3. Example of our new paint color – Coastal Fog 4. Kyle Green Runner

4. Spilled Milk recently did an episode on “Spouseless Eating” which I thought was so funny. I often wonder what D eats when I’m gone. I’m pretty sure it is mostly cereal. My eating habits when I’m on my own have a big range. They can either be really, really unhealthy (French onion dip and potato chips) or just something my husband would never eat (Chickpeas, spinach, red pepper flakes and a fried egg on top). Anyone else change what they eat when they are on their own?

5. Last weekend, I drove back and fourth to Cincinatti to visit this guy.

We bonded. He decided he loves his auntie.

6. On my ride to and from Cincinnati, I listened to the audio version of Adopted for Life (a free download for just a few more days). We have lots of copies of this book and have given it to many people but I had never read the whole thing. I was really encouraged and challenged by Dr. Moore. I identified with his struggle in parenting his adopted children.

Just as it is common to under-discipline children who’ve been adopted, it’s just as common for parents to try to over-discipline them…Here I am speaking of a lack of patience, an expectation that children should be well-behaved and well-adjusted at an accelerated pace.

This was the problem in my case. I was gentle and loving with the children, but I was constantly correcting misbehavior – including things that weren’t defiance or disobedience, just immaturity. My problem was simple, and as devilish, as pride. I didn’t want to be embarrassed. I didn’t want all those people who thought our adopting was foolish to be proven right.

I saw myself so much in this quote. I know when I am unable to predict the boys’ behavior I either avoid socialization with others all together (especially those who I perceive as skeptical of adoption) or become a hovering mom watching their every move. It would be better for all of us if I could get over myself a bit and trust that God knew what He was doing when He called us to adoption.

7. Lastly, I’ve already fallen behind on my bible verse memorization plan but I still think I can get this done by the end of February:

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called songs of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

(Matthew 5:7-10, ESV)

Saturday Seven

Ready for some light reading? There has been a lot going on and my brain isn’t ready to put any of my more serious thoughts into blog format yet.

1. Continuing with my goal to make one new recipe a week, Thursday night we had rosemary-lemon chicken (inspired by this recipe) and honey-mustard carrots (inspired by this recipe). I have to say inspired by because I didn’t follow either recipe exactly.

With the chicken, I had a pack of boneless, skinless chicken breast tenderloin. I cut them into small size pieces (think chicken nugget size), tossed them with olive oil, the juice from half a lemon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, and four small cloves of minced garlic. On a lightly greased baking sheet, I stuck them under the broiler for 10-12 minutes.

For the carrots, I didn’t have Dijon mustard, just honey Dijon. I boiled about 25 baby carrots in water for 15 minutes, drained the water out, melted one tablespoon butter mixed with a tablespoon of honey mustard. Tossed the carrots in and added a small amount of water. I turned the heat way up to make the honey mustard/butter/water combo more saucy. I didn’t add sugar like the recipe suggested.

I liked the chicken and carrots a lot. I served it all with some wild rice from Trader Joe’s. D told me he was glad he didn’t live in an Asian country (I guess he didn’t like the rice). The boys didn’t love it but that was not shocking.

2. D2 and I had a little talk last night (after dinner led to some bad behavior) about eating foods that we don’t love. We talked about how being in a family means sometimes we eat foods that are not our favorite, like when Mommy eats hot dogs because her boys love them. I realized that they still don’t totally understand what a family is even though we have explained that a few times. Still something we are working on.

3. We had our first meeting with our adoption worker this week. It was pretty uneventful but I am so glad to get the process started. She estimated 4-6 months to have things completed. I promptly called our doctor’s office after she left to schedule physicals (required for by D & I to complete things). The woman on the phone said the soonest she could get me in was February 28th. What?!? I told her we were trying to get physicals to complete adoption paperwork and she somehow found appointments on February 4th and 7th. So, I guess that is called playing the “adoption-card.”

4. I have this friend, Katie. She is really cool and younger than me. A few weeks ago, while shopping Old Navy’s 40%-off-clearance-items-deal for the boys, I saw a cute red, gingham shirt (like the one pictured) in the women’s section. I though, “Katie would wear that and look so cute. I’d look like a farmer.” But I bought it anyway since it was about $5. I ran into Katie a few days later and she was wearing a blue-version of the shirt and looking oh-so-cute. So, when she came over the other night, I bravely tried out my shirt for the first time. She approved but I think I still look at bit like a farmer in it.

5. I’m still looking for the “perfect bag” (really stupid, silly problem…I know). After searching Etsy, I’m a bit worried that a cotton, fabric bag won’t hold up for my lifestyle (toting fruit snacks, water bottles, etc.) I saw a new bag from Fossil on jill gg’s good life for less and that got me curious.

(one, two, three & four)

I don’t think I’ve ever spent more than $40 on a bag (and that was in my childless-working-full-time days). But I think a really good bag would be something I could use for a long time. I hoping for sales from Fossil. Maybe some online coupons. A generous donor (just kidding). Any of these four would be fantastic.

6. Kelly’s Korner did a link-up yesterday asking people to share a link to their adoption story. And yesterday, I saw this great post on adoption as well – she is a total inspiration to me. I love hearing other’s stories and learning from other adoptive families.

7. I’ll close with this. Wednesday, night I was approached by A with the question, “Mommy, you be Spider-mahn?”

Can’t say no to that.

Saturday Seven

1. I have to admit something. I stopped reading the blog that hosts 7 Quick Takes Friday a long time ago. There is nothing wrong with it but it just didn’t make it when I cut my blogroll by fifty-percent. But I like doing these short, quick posts every-once in a while so I kept participating but it felt wrong. Thus, for 2011, the Saturday Seven is born.

2. I almost didn’t even want to look back at last year’s resolutions. I already know they were not all accomplished but here is a run-down:

  • Become parents: done. And I don’t think we are doing too bad a job (but I’m always open to learning how to do it better)
  • Read thru the Bible: Not so much. I read half of the Old Testament and the Gospels. It just did not happen this year.
  • Eat at home: Mostly done. We enjoyed our CSA this summer but it was way more food than we could handle. I still need to figure out how to cook for four people, including one with a food intolerance (me) and three with very limited food preferences.
  • Read five books: Well, I did not read all the ones I listed but I did read To Kill a Mockingbird, I’m Down, Cringe, Love & Logic Magic for Early Childhood, The Help, Growing Up Black in White, The Girl in the Orange Dress, and The Connected Child. Plus, a lot of children’s books (notable mentions go to Grace for President, Corduroy, The Hello, Goodbye Window, The Jesus Storybook Bible and Bear Snores On).
  • Get in shape: Hah! Our elliptical machine stopped working and we gladly said goodbye to it last week via Freecycle. I ran like four times. I took many walks pushing a two-year-old and large baby this summer. But, no, I did not get in shape.

3. Things that did happen in 2010 that I did not predict:

  • I got my nose pierced (after wanting to do so for nearly 10 years).
  • We bought a mini-van. We are now one of many, many silver mini-vans on the streets of the suburbs of Detroit.
  • We cared for six children in our home – five boys and one little girl. I didn’t expect to have this many placements our first year of foster parenting. And I didn’t expect to love being a mom to a little girl so much (after years of saying I only wanted boys, M changed my mind).
  • Enrolling a child in preschool at the private school my husband and I attended. Eating my words.

4. Goals for 2011…

  • A new wall color for the living room, hallway and kitchen
  • Finally watch the tutorial DVD that came with my camera
  • Memorize 24 Bible verses
  • Connected and happy boys
  • More prayer, more Bible reading, more journaling/writing
  • Cook one new recipe per week

5. Some things I am really looking forward to in 2011…

  • The arrival of my best friend’s baby boy (any time now!)
  • A new niece in March…or February 🙂
  • Preschool soccer games
  • Reading books on our new iPad (I’ve already started with Same Kind of Different as Me). Our house is being overtaken by books – I am happy to have this space saving way to read.

6. My favorite television shows of 2010: Mad Men, Parenthood, 30 Rock and Modern Family. My favorite movie on 2010: The Social Network (although, most others didn’t stand a chance because I could not stay awake for them).

7. Here is my first verse for 2011…

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)