Bacon Wrapped BBQ Meatballs w/Lauren’s sweet sauce or Steve’s spicy sauce

 

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Well, I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We travelled to Arkansas and Illinois to be with family.  It was so nice to have Lauren home for a little while.  She is very involved in things at school and hasn’t come home as often as she did her Freshman year.  It has been an adjustment for the three of us left at the Bierman house.  Madison and her boyfriend came, too.  It was nice to have the family together again.

Lauren moved out of the dorm and into an apartment this year, so she has been cooking all of her own meals.  It is amazing the time that has freed up for me.  Steve and I took food to her one week back in October because she went on a retreat with her discipleship group and was gone all weekend, so she didn’t have time to make meals like she usually does.  Steve has been working on creating a barbecue sauce for Lauren that was free of her allergens.  I think he has pretty much perfected these.  We really like them.  These meatballs are a great tailgate food or appetizer for a party.  They are always a hit when we make them.  I hope you will enjoy them, too!

Bacon wrapped BBQ meatballs

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste
  • nitrate free bacon (we use Applegate Farms)
  • allergen free bbq sauce  (recipe posted below)

 

 

 

 

  • Place your ground beef in a large bowl and season to taste.
  • Form approximately 24 meatballs.  Then, cut your bacon slices into thirds.
  • Wrap one of your newly cut slices of bacon around your meatball and place on foil lined baking sheet.
  • Place in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.
  • Take baking sheet out of oven and drain.  Brush with BBQ sauce and place back in the oven for another 7 minutes.
  • Open the oven and brush the meatballs with BBQ sauce again.
  • Place back in to oven for another 5 minutes.

Remove from baking sheet and Enjoy!

 

Lauren’s Sweet Sauce

  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 4 heaping Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp minced dried onion
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups ketchup (we use Muir Glen)
  • 1/8 medium red onion coarsely chopped

In saucepan, combine all ingredients and bring to a slow boil over medium heat.  Continue to boil over low heat for 15 minutes or until sauce thickens.

Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Place in the refrigerator overnight.  The next day, heat back up and strain onion out of the sauce.  Put in a squeeze bottle.

 

Steve’s Spicy Sauce

  • 4 tsp chili powder
  • 4 heaping Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp dried minced onion
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/8 medium red onion coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper

In saucepan, combine all ingredients and bring to a slow boil over medium heat.  Continue to boil over low heat for 15 minutes or until sauce thickens.

Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Place in the refrigerator overnight.  The next day, heat back up and strain onion out of the sauce.  Put in a squeeze bottle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hamburger steak w/onion and mushroom gravy, Yellow crookneck squash, Zucchini, and Purple hull peas

 

 

 

Our first meal with ALL of the vegetables from the garden!  Our tomatoes all got blight.  Our bell peppers didn’t produce, but the squash, zucchini, peas, beans, and okra have all done remarkably well.  We have a small garden.  It is a raised 10 x 12 space, but enough for us and we are very pleased with it.  It has been real hot this July, so this is probably the end of the squash, but everything else is flourishing.

For the squash and zucchini, I sliced an onion and sautéed in olive oil in a pan on the stove.  I then added thinly sliced squash and zucchini.  I salted and peppered to taste and put the lid on top and let cook.  The last thing I do is add a sprinkle of sugar.  The peas were also fresh from my garden.  I rinsed them off and placed them in a pot on the stove on high.  Right after I put them in the pot, I realized that I didn’t have an onion for the peas, so I improvised and used a tbsp of minced Phew! I then put two slices of Applegate Farms bacon in with the peas.  Salt and pepper to taste.  I let the peas come to a boil and then reduced the heat and let simmer until done.  Approximately 45 minutes.   See how I made the hamburger steak with onion and mushroom gravy below.

Hoping you are enjoying All the Things out of your garden this summer, as well!

Cindy

Hamburger Steak w/onion and mushroom gravy

1 lb ground beef

salt

pepper

garlic salt

1 onion sliced

8 oz baby Portobello mushrooms sliced

1/2 c water

1 tbsp arrowroot starch

  1. Mix ground beef with salt, pepper, and garlic salt to taste.  Make into 4 patties.  Place in pre-heated cast iron skillet on medium.  Cook until nicely browned on each side.  Remove patties to plate and keep warm.

2. Place sliced onion in skillet and allow to turn translucent, 1-2 minutes.  Mix in                     sliced mushrooms with onion.  Stir with spatula, scraping bottom of skillet, as you              stir.

3. Put 1 tbsp of arrowroot starch in 1/2 cup of water and mix well.  Pour into skillet               with onions and mushrooms and stir to thicken.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

A Good Home-Cooked Meal (allergen-free, of course)

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fried pork chops, green beans and mashed potatoes with gravy

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peach cobbler

Well, I just knew after I decided to be home with the kids this summer that I would get it together and lose some weight.  Haha!  I crack myself up.  Uh, yeah, that hasn’t happened.  I have decided that instead of fat, we would use the word voluptuous.  Merriam-Webster says: adjective – of a woman: very attractive because of having large hips…  Yes.  That sounds much better.  I like the very attractive part.

Have y’all ever watched The Pioneer Woman.  Oh. My. Word.  I honestly DID have a very productive day yesterday.  I got loads of laundry done – literally, dishes washed, cleaned out the refrigerator, and started cleaning out a closet, and took Lauren driving, but the TV was on and the Pioneer Woman! I just had to make that meal…but I had to make it Lauren friendly.  So, we took a trip to get the items that we needed and came home and I got to work.  We purchased thin, bone-in, pork chops.  I think the ones she used were boneless.  We then got the green beans.  I love Pero Farms Organic green beans, a red bell pepper, a Vidalia onion (is there any other?) and some fresh peaches.

I put the peach cobbler together, first.  Now, since I have to make our meals wheat, dairy, egg, nut free, I did not use her recipe.  I have been trying to find one that doesn’t taste rubbery or just not good.  It is a difficult task, without wheat or eggs, to make a bread pudding or cobbler texture.  A few weeks ago, I used a combination of brown rice flour and tapioca flour and too much coconut oil.  It was okay, but not much like the real thing. More like that rubbery consistency that happens when I am still trying to figure it out.  I always try to get as close as possible to the real thing, so that Lauren can enjoy what the rest of the family does.  This time, I found one of her yellow cake mixes in the pantry, so I thought that would taste good and be easy.  Not 10 million ingredients or steps.  If you are an allergy parent, you get that last statement.  I will post the recipe I came up with below.

The next thing I did was made a mistake.  I started frying the chops.  I should have started the green beans first, as they take longer. Also, I have no pictures of the process of these because my nickname could be the messy cook.  It looked like a bomb went off in my kitchen.  If you follow some of the same people I do on instagram, pictures of my kitchen at the time would only traumatize you…and ain’t nobody got time for that!  So!

I used grape seed oil to fry my pork chops in.  I set my temperature on medium to medium-high heat.  A little salt, pepper, and chili powder to season.  I dredged through some brown rice flour and into the cast iron skillet they went.  Two and a half minutes on each side and done.  For Lauren’s mashed potatoes, I peel and cut up 4-5 russet potatoes and boil until tender with a fork, about 10 minutes.  Drain and then place in our kitchen aid mixer.  I whip the potatoes with the wire whisk attachment while adding rice milk.  Salt and pepper to taste.

For the green beans, I basically used Ree Drummond’s, The Best Green Beans Ever recipe.  I did change just a tad.  I used 1 clove of garlic, instead of 2, just because I have become sensitive to too much garlic, lately.  I don’t know why.  My body has gone haywire, since I hit my 40’s.  I used 1/4 cup red bell pepper, instead of the 1/2 cup that she uses.  I also fried 2 slices of Applegate Farm’s bacon to saute’ the onion and garlic in, and crumbled the bacon on top just before serving.

To make the gravy, I just poured some water and rice milk, and a touch of chicken broth  into the cast iron skillet and turned up the heat until it got bubbly.  Then, I used arrowroot starch and brown rice flour to thicken.  I salted and peppered to taste.  I crumbled any bacon I had in it and a little of the sautéed onion from the green bean mixture.  It turned out great.  I wasn’t sure if it would taste good or not.  As a southern girl raised on Mississippi cookin’ (my momma, meemaw, and grandma), we use just a pinch of this and a dash of that, so I can’t really say what the measurements were for the gravy.  I just winged it.  They usually put a pat of butter in things like gravy, but I can’t do that with Lauren, so that is why I used all the other things to give flavor to the gravy.  It really did turn out nicely.

Funny thing.  The guys, who do not have food allergies, loved the peach cobbler.  Lauren has decided after 2 tries that she just doesn’t really like peaches.  We topped her cobbler off with Rice Dream Frozen Dessert in Vanilla.  She, at least, loved her ice-cream and all the rest.  This meal was definitely a hit!  Here’s hoping that all of your favorite yummy foods of summer are as delicious as we found this meal.

Lauren’s Easy Peach Cobbler

Ingredients

2 cups of peaches peeled, pitted, and sliced

1/4 c water

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 cup Cherrybrook Kitchen Gluten Free/Wheat Free Yellow Cake Mix (also peanut, nut, dairy, egg free)

3/4 full fat coconut milk (canned coconut milk)

cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a saucepan, add peaches and water.  Bring to a boil.  Then, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Place 1 tbsp of coconut oil in 8 x 8 baking dish.  Set on top of stove so that oil will melt.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine 1 cup cake mix and coconut milk.
  5. Pour batter on top of the coconut oil, drain the peaches, and spoon them evenly over the batter.  Sprinkle cinnamon over the top.
  6. Bake cobbler for 25 minutes or until done.
  7. Serve warm with your favorite non-dairy topping.

Ree Drummond’s, The Best Green Beans Ever and Pan Fried Pork Chops on foodnetwork.com is where you will find the other recipes.

 

 

 

 

 

An unconventional beach trip

Well, when I started this blog, I told you that it would be about ALL the things and this past week has definitely fit the description! Our summer vacation this year was a trip to the beach.  We had not been to the beach in 4 years.  That is a long time when you live in Birmingham, which is relatively close.  We, as usual, cooked meals for Lauren before hand, so she could eat safely and packed all of the essentials such as sunscreen, towels, swimsuits, and sunglasses, but included in our items to pack was also a suit with dress shoes, a tie, and plane reservations for one.  You see, we received a phone call the day before we left that Steve’s uncle had passed away.  Steve is very close to his family and loved his uncle very much, so he made arrangements to fly out of Destin to Illinois and back while the younger two kids and I stayed in Destin.  Our oldest had to stay home to work.  She is learning about the joys of the adult world, being new on the job, and all that entails.  It was very different not having her with us.  I think it was the first time vacation did not include our entire immediate family.

Our first night in Destin we went out to eat, and just like always, Lauren took a meal with her.  She is anaphylactic to multiple foods, so that is what has been safest for her to do.  We went to Lulu’s and received what would turn out to be the brightest spot on our trip.  The waitress came up to our table to take our order and, just like every time we go out to eat, Lauren explained that she had severe food allergies, but had everything she needed and thanked her.  Our waitress advised that they had an allergy menu and offered that to Lauren.  Now, we have had restaurants tell us that they had special items on their menus for allergies before, but it is not like Lauren has a gluten intolerance or is allergic to just one thing, but Lauren politely obliged and took the menu to glance at.  As she perused the menu the waitress stayed and began to explain that the managers there are trained to handle all food allergy orders.  She walked away for a moment and brought back a manager who knelt down and discussed Lauren’s allergies with her at length.  He took notes, made suggestions and asked questions and then advised that he is anaphylactic to fish and shellfish and has worked for this company for 9 years and never had a reaction.  He went on to explain that the allergy free food is prepared in a separate kitchen area and with separate kitchen staff and he would bring out her food to her staggered with our orders.  They are a peanut free restaurant and have tree nuts on a dessert and that is all.  We were flabbergasted and elated at the lengths this company goes to accommodate someone with food allergies, like Lauren.  Lauren is anaphylactic to wheat, dairy, eggs, and peanuts.  Due to cross contamination possibilities, she also has to avoid tree nuts.  She wound up ordering a fresh and fancy salad with grilled chicken and vinegar and oil dressing.  She couldn’t finish it and had takeout for the very first time!  To someone who has not been so extremely limited in their life, this may seem trivial, but to us, it was everything.  They are right on the beach, have live music, a laid back atmosphere, and a fantastic gift shop.  They are in Destin, Florida and Gulf Shores, Alabama and we will definitely be going back.

As I said earlier, that was the one bright spot on our trip.  Not only did we receive the phone call about Steve’s uncle the day before our trip, but Lauren’s “friend” came to visit that day, too.  She has also been in a severe eczema flare that has covered her entire body.  This is the second severe bought she has had like this.  Bless her heart!  She was miserable.  She was itchy head to toe.  I am constantly amazed at how gracefully she handles all that she deals with on a daily basis.  She has the trifecta: food allergies, asthma, and eczema.  She is almost 19 and handles life, like a pro.  I am a 47-year-old that sometimes feels grumpier and grumpier about life.

Steve left our second day on vacation and was gone for essentially 2 days.  The kids and I went out to the beach for a little while, but then just came in and watched movies together.  This is the latest in the summer we have ever gone to the beach and it was  crowded.  The public access has grown smaller and the large condos on either side of the public access is now roped off and chairs and umbrellas set up along the shore as far as the eye can see in each direction.  This creates a tense environment where people kind of have to stake their claim for a spot on the beach.  It can get tense and we were actually bullied off the beach one morning.  We evidently set our chairs too close to another family that did not appreciate it.  The passive-aggressiveness was real, y’all!  We had no tent or umbrella, just 2 small beach chairs, but we were there and I guess that was enough to just be taking up a space at all.  It was disappointing.  I was so looking forward to just relaxing and listening to the waves and looking out at the ocean.  One does not go to the beach to be stressed about being in someone’s way.  It was kind of awful.  Throw in a strong disagreement or two with your husband on your what was supposed to be a much-needed relaxing beach vacation and you decide that the saying, “A bad day at the beach is better than a good day anywhere else” just doesn’t sit very well.

I didn’t want this to be a negative Nellie post, but I did want to be honest because this blog is about ALL THE THINGS, so ALL THE THINGS is what you’re gonna get.  Sometimes life goes smoothly and sometimes it does not.  This vacation was not the easiest.  We did not get the everybody dressed in matchy clothes, beautiful sunset, hair and makeup just right and all bright smiles and no blemishes family photo this year.  It. just. did. not. happen…and I don’t think it was supposed to.  Life is messy.  Lauren is dealing with not fun health issues, family members pass away unexpectedly,  marriages go through rough spots.  The beach isn’t always sunny or uncrowded,  or a yellow flag, perfect wave day.   Sometimes it rains.  Sometimes it storms.  Sometimes it’s a double red flag day and the beach is closed.  (Yes, that happened, too.) but in the grand scheme of things we can be thankful that God is still God and His mercies are new every morning and we have a home to come home to, a job to pay the bills, and my garden is flourishing in my backyard.  Sometimes, it’s the little things.  So even though our beach trip wasn’t the most relaxing or conventional, we were able to go this year and Lauren had a reaction free meal at a restaurant on restaurant dishes and a drink in the restaurant cup with a straw.  That sounds silly, I know, but not to her.  I promise.

Praying that ALL THE THINGS of your summer are drama and stress free!

Cindy

 

 

Yummy Chocolate Chip Cookies (wheat, dairy, egg, nut free)

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After several years of trying different mixes and recipes on line, we finally got to a taste that we like.  Enjoy!  (the all purpose flour recipe below, I think, is from a food allergy magazine or either a gluten free book I have used for years, not sure.)

 

Ingredients

2/3 c.      shortening

½ c.         light brown sugar

½ c.         granulated sugar

1 tsp.      alcohol free vanilla extract

1 3.9 oz. applesauce (snack cup size)

1 ¾ c.     all purpose flour

½ tsp.     baking soda

½ tsp.     salt

¾ – 1 c. mini dairy free chocolate chips (we use Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Use ungreased cookie sheet.  In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the shortening, brown sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla and applesauce.  In a separate medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt with a wire whisk.  Add to shortening mixture and combine until creamy.  Stir in chocolate chips and drop with a rounded teaspoon onto prepared baking sheet.

Bake 12-14 minutes or until lightly brown.  Cool slightly on baking sheet and serve.  Makes approximately 24 cookies.

 

All Purpose Flour Recipe  (makes 6 cups)

2 cups brown rice flour

2 cups white rice flour

1 1/3 cups potato starch

2/3 cup tapioca starch

 

Mix ingredients together.  Store in a tightly covered container.