Monday, November 19, 2012

Zucchini before and after

I made zucchini noodles again, yum yum yum. I luv zucc noods :)
Ever wonder what to do with the insides? There is something so good about golden sauteed onions and adding zucchini meat, that makes a really nice meal.

Ok, I'll fess up. I'm eating boring. Since I don't cook meat any more and haven't made it to any stores that have acceptable protein, I'm eating plants -lotsa plants. And quinoa pasta.

And that's all I've been doing with food.

In other news, I've survived another quarter at work, got a raise and now I'm going to be taking a couple classes for enrichment this month. Big stuff!

One class is on how to manipulate people in business and one is about career development - as in how to. I think the career development class will be most beneficial to me since I have few career goals. I'm hoping it will help me focus.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Weekly Meal Plan - Thanksgiving version

You know that most of this week is going to be Thanksgiving I'm making them good!
I have had great success and accolades the last couple years making the maple roasted acorn squash from the gluten free goddess blog, so I'm not going to mess with a good thing!

For the corn bread I like Bob's Red Mill Gluten free Corn Bread Mix. It makes a nice soft bread that isn't too crumbly, so it holds up well during the mixing.
The curry might sound a little crazy non-traditional for a Thanksgiving dinner, but trust me - it's delicious and no one will think anything of it except the aromatic spices bring out a nice contrast with the apples and cranberries. YUM!
Then there will be the usual staples:
Turkey - I plan to try my famous roast procurement method (  Boar's Head has so many yummy sounding options- how will I choose?
Baked potatoes - which can be mashed with milk/butter for the more traditional, then you have leftover baked potatoes for the rest of the week, which adds a little flair to the 3 day turkey sandwich scenario
Green Beans
Cranberry Sauce - homemade, of course. It's seriously faster and better than opening a can, unless you just crave the jellied kind (I understand!)
Raw Mushroom Gravy - to supplement whatever sauce I get from the Turkey. I adore Ani Phyo's recipe: No, it's not going to taste like meat but it's savory on potatoes and you'll love it, I promise!
Wild Rice
Random Sides as needed
Wine, Gin and Kool-Aid

For the beginning of the week there's Tuna Salad, Steak and Zucchini Parmesean.
What are you having for Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Weekly Meal Plan

"Chipotle" style barbacoa burrito bowls
Tuna Casserole
Veggie Soup
Veggie Stir-fry
Steak and Baked Potatoes

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Blogger is broken?

Sorry guys, I guess Blogger has decided to do something funky with my pictures.  I'll be doing some "best of" posts in the future...if I can decide what is the "best of" to post!

Chipotle style barbacoa - in the crock pot

 So, I love Chipotle's burrito bowls...but I find it a HUGE pain to go there and try to convince the non-English speaking employees that they need to change their gloves and not fondle the tortillas before they fix my food so that they don't poison me. So, I thought maybe, just maybe, I could make it myself at home.
An in-depth Google search yielded several copycat recipes, all very similar, so I settled on this one:
I halved it since my roast (London Broil) was only about 2 pounds. Was it good? I'd give it about an 8 on a scale of 10 (high). Personally, I didn't like the strong clove taste- I would probably go for a couple sprinkles instead of spoons of it. Otherwise, it was spicy and went pretty well on rice.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Weekly Gluten Free Menu - October 3

So...I cooked 3 pounds of Salmon today, jut to use it up - so this week's menu is basically, salmon, salmon, salmon!

Salmon with Spicy Mango Sauce on a bed of fresh spinach

Salmon with Sweet Red Chili Sauce on a bed of spinach

Salmon Salad sandwiches on Udi's GF bread

Amy's Gluten Free Macaroni and Cheese

Baked Potato Soup

Beef Stew

Sunday, September 30, 2012

I don't go all out for company ;0)

 I forgot to tent it with foil, so it go a little dry...
But, it took me exactly the time it took the oven to preheat to put this dinner for 6 together and only about 45 minutes to cook.
You guessed it - a Boar's Head roast Beef from the deli, I sliced it into thick pieces and then dumped a bag of frozen "Stew" vegetables in.  There are small potatoes, onions, celery and carrots in the mix.  It was really good!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Weekly Gluten Free Menu Plan

Spicy Avocado on parm "toast"

Black Bean Chili

Baked Salmon packets

Wild Rice Hot Dish

Tuna Salad with Pickles!!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

GF isn't always pretty but it tastes good

Yesh, this was supper the other night. Handful of walnuts and raisins, cooked pepperoni and black olives with slices of mozzerella and leftover Cheesecake flavored instant pudding. I also ran out of clean dishes so that pizza "crust" you see is, in fact, a couple paper plates.
What can I say? Some nights are just like that!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Just had to share the worst sunburn

This is what happens when I sit outside for 2 hours at 9000 ft elevation. Painful!

Saturday, September 15, 2012


 I made Danger the Crock I'm not sure if you can call it Danger Pudding anymore.
But, have you heard of the Sweet Potato Queens' Book of love? If not - go get it. I have lots of books but none loved so much as that and Gone With the Wind.
So, there are recipes in this book full of everything you need to know. Not so many gluten free but, Danger Pudding is one of them!
Jill says to boil your can of sweetened condensed milk on the stove to make Danger Pudding...but it's dangerous. So much so, that the manufacturer puts a warning on the label...duh.
So, one dreary evening I was scouting Pinterest and found a recipe for making "Homemade Caramel" in the Crock Pot. I didn't repin it -sorry. 
Honestly, I kept thinking it cooked for 2 hours so I started it at 8 PM and then thought better to check the instructions again and after an hour of searching my Internet history found it and it said cook 8 HOURS, cool 2 hours in the fridge. It is apparently crucial to cool it. I cannot vouch for that personally as I haven't done much experimenting. But, guess who had to set her alarm clock for 4 am?
Was it worth it? 4 am wake up call? No.  But, start it in the morning and have it for dessert? Yes.
P.S. the water looks gross in the crock because the can rusted a little during the cooking. Weird, no?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Weekly Menu - Sept 13

Vegetable Soup (Frozen Italian veggies and canned vegetable broth), possibly with minute rice
Boars Head Cajun Beef Roast and veggies
Crock Pot Potato soup
Eggs and Hash browns
Amy's GF cheese pizza with added Hormel Pepperoni Slices and black olives

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Review - WEN Pomegranate - My hair never looked worse

I've been hearing about WEN for years and never tried it because...well it's only on infomercials and we all know that 90% of infomercial products are huge let downs. Then one day, I was watching the commercials and they showed the curly haired girls. They had perfectly formed, lustrous curls "without using any other product". With a full money back guaranty, how could I lose?
First off, they only have 1 scent that is gluten free - ALL of the other scents have bonafide Wheat Gluten in them (WHY? WHY?).  The Pomegranate uses a soy base.  Here are the ingredients and directions:
I know, at first I was like "16 pumps!?!? Whoa!" But, seriously, you do need that much to saturate your hair.
Then I was like, "Whoa, I have to leave it on a long time"...then I realized I was leaving on my regular conditioner that long anyway.
But...the 12 ounce bottle I ordered directly from WEN "A 30 day supply", for $30 + S&H, lasted just over 1 week because I had to bump it up to the 16- 24 pumps, since I have thick, long hair.  The 8-16 pumps must be for seriously short hair, no longer than ear length.  So, I ordered a 32 ounce bottle off QVC so I could give it a real shot, for another $60.
I watched the video on QVC after I ordered and they were saying that you should see a 70% improvement in hair after 1 use. I'd been using it for a week and all it was doing was giving me frizz and random spots of goopy build up if I didn't saturate and soak long enough.  But I was determined to use it a full 30 days before requesting my refund. Also, I was hanging on to the hope that "The more you use it, the better it gets." from the commercials.
Here's what I ended up with after 30 days:
This is what I had "before":

You can see before, my curls weren't perfect, but they were manageable and even looked pretty much ok.  After using WEN they got frizzy and snarly and I lost any shine.  I do not recommend this product at all.
Also, did you notice I spent $90 for only 1 month's worth. SERIOUSLY! I went through 44 ounces of this cleansing conditioner in 30 days, not even washing every day! That is $2 per ounce. TWO DOLLARS!!
So, if you're considering trying out WEN, I'd suggest using QVC because when I emailed them to let them know I wanted a refund, they didn't even make me send the bottle back since it's a potential leaky goopy package and I got the credit within 48 hours.
I still wonder about all the great reviews they get and the fact that they've been in business for years (I remember seeing Alyssa Milano schlepping it in the 90's) so maybe it's just not formulated for my hair!
On a side note, for $90 per month, I think I could get wigs and extensions, if I was that determined to have "perfect" hair. But, I'm back to my $3 bottles of whatever smells good that last for a couple months and back to having happy shiny curls again. Yay!
Right now, I'm using Tresseme Flawless Curls shampoo and Conditioner ($2.25 each for 32 ounces). 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Treadmill + Julia Child = good times

So, I've been watching the French Chef on DVD while walking on the treadmill lately. At first, I thought it was a little...illogical, but it's actually quite educational!
For instance, I'm never going to truss up a chicken and eat it (allergies) but it was really interesting to watch her do it. Likewise, the lobster show was fascinating. I learned that it's actually quite humane to boil a lobster as long as you plunge it head first into the boiling water so that it is killed instantly.
Will I ever cook a lobster? Probably looked kind of gross. But further, I'd only do it if I was on the East coast and could get a fresh one!
Anyway, none of the shows (so far) have been mouth watering for me to watch. In fact, a lot of the preparation grosses me out completely and puts the kibosh on any post-workout snacking I might do. (Like the sausage show...gag me!)
But, she was so charming and I totally enjoy the shows. I see now why she is (still) an American Institution and loved by so many.  She always has this attitude of, if she can do it so can you. And no promises of a 30 minute easy dinner. It's an art. How to enjoy creating a meal that is as enjoyable to eat. Only I'd wash my hands more often than she does.
Just a bit of life from me to you...

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Cookies and Ice Cream

 The other day on my way home from work...ok it was my birthday...I decided I needed sugary goodness.
 When I got home, I checked to see which would be the least offensive points-wise...Udi's chocolate chip cookies (which I vowed never to buy again after the last package that was $6 of yuckiness but the memories of past yumminess overruled that...and I'm not necessarily glad. They aren't as good as I remember them being - recipe change, perhaps? but I digress...) or Breyer's coffee ice cream.
3 points for a teeny tiny cookie (remember I'm only getting 22 points per day here) or 4 points for 1/2 cup of ice cream. I will always choose the ice cream in the future. 1 cookie is pitiful, 1/2 cup of ice cream in a small bowl looks filling. In my opinion :)
In other news, the cheese addict in me found out that 1 Tablespoon of shredded parmesean cheese = 0 points! If you have 2 Tablespoons it's 1 point I guess you can only have 1 at a time!
a small hot chick salad is 0 points - that pretty much rocks!
So, what are your cravings and make -up meals?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Hot Chick salad aka a pound of spinach

So, I read this book and I would recommend it.  It got some mixed reviews - lots of haters out there. But the general philosophy is worth checking out. Plus, it's pretty funny and uplifting. Every single girl everywhere should read it.

And of course after a day of eating nothing but cookies, ice cream and Fritos, I had to have my pound of spinach with a ton of Parmesean cheese, Balsamic Vinegar and NO EVOO!! As prescribed in the book.
It was delicious.
So, you'll notice me incorporating more of their tips into my rotation. 
Like how to build a salad (chapter 2) and 10 things that are secretly magic (page 51).
Have you read this book? I know it's old...but sometimes old advice is good advice. Let me know what you think!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Do you use dehydrated chopped onions?

I got a container of dried chopped onions a while back for a recipe that I never even tried. Since then, I've been wondering what to do with them and then...
I was making a little salmon salad from canned salmon, mayo, salt and pepper and it needed something else.
So, I put in a bunch of the onions. It was great! Since they were still dry the distracted me from the fact that there were a few little bones in that salmons till (which I hear is good for you to eat - high calcium and all). The next day (of course there were leftovers!) the onions had soaked up some of the liquid and the flavor had melded so nice!
I'd highly recommend this little recipe - then let it sit in the fridge for a while before you serve.
Good stuff!
Don't forget to put a bunch of spinach in your sandwich too. Even better!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Fake Restaurant Food

I was thinking about things GF that restaurants serve and how easy it is to do at home. So here are a few things I did.  What are your favorite restaurant meals?

Tuna spring rolls $3 per person 2 WW points per roll.
Yes I used canned tuna (it was ok). Thai Kitchen makes 2 yummy sauces - mango and sweet red chili, they go great in shot glasses for easy dipping!
I love them with carrots (shredded or baby), green onions or scallions and avocado.

$3-4 per person. Ever notice how a salad seems better at a restaurant? I think it's because they make them fancy/pretty. I've started buying pre-washed organic greens ($3 for a tub that serves generously 4, conservatively 6), baby carrots ($3 for 16 z bag), tomatoes ($3 for 4 romas) and sweet peas ($2.50 9 oz bag). 5 minute salad, baby! Add cheese, nuts, fruit etc...pretty soon you're stuffed gourmet style at a fraction of the cost and time.  0 WW points

Pizza always seems fancier at a restaurant too. I threw some baby spinach on my $8 Amy's GF cheese pizza and it was lovely (I may have toasted it a little too long though). Serves 2, 10 WW points each.

I like to think I make a good argument for not eating out. Between waiting 15 - 45 minutes for a table...10 minutes to get your drinks and another 20 to get your food, given they don't make any mistakes or take a longer can easily eat at home, cheaper, cleaner and faster. The only draw back is that you have to clean up after...and that's what paper plates are for, ya?
Also, you know what you're eating for sure without having to grill a wait person or chef for ingredients. Whether you're watching food allergies, high blood pressure or your calories, it's a pain worth eliminating - in my humble opinion.
What are your tips for an easy meal?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Look Ma! I made bread!

Welcome to installment 2 of Cocoa's slide show instructions :0)
Step 1. Put the ingredients in the bread machine pan.

Step 2. Put pan in machine - don't push down too hard or it will get permanently stuck and you will have to pry it out with tools - which is not the manufacturer's intent.
Step 3. Choose option 9, if you have my machine. It lives under the cupboard so I had to use a mirror to get some light on it for the picture.  
Step 4. Close the lid. Don't forget to press "Start"...yes, I went to check on it an hour later and was stupefied.
Step 5. Store in airtight container.
When I make this bread I remember how much I miss Macaroni's Grill bread, then I remember it's not the bread I missed from Macaroni's - it's the dipping and go drizzle some evoo and balsamic in a plate with a dash of S&P and I'm happy again.
  What do you miss?

Friday, June 22, 2012

"I fake it homemade and I'm proud" roast ala Chez Cocoa

$12.49/ pound. That is how much my roast cost. Then I put 
in in a pan and served it, see?

Ok, so maybe I cut it out of the wrapper first and let all the bloody juice puddle around it.
Kind of hard to imagine it's fully cooked and this is what the deli slices up for you, eh?
Slicing it up makes it "cook" faster.
Tenting it with foil helps the "gravy"
Good alone or smothered in BBQ sauce.  
Also featured instructions on how to procure said roast here:
Have a nice weekend!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Alternate uses for an apple slicer

I've never actually owned a toaster...and it wasn't really until recently that I decided to make toast for myself (as an adult). But, I've found it's actually much easier in a non-stick skillet than it ever was in a toaster. Curious?
 It's easy - heat the pan on High until it's hot (30 secs or less), turn down heat to medium and put in your bread. Put the apple slicer (or other weight like a plate or large round jar) on top and when it stops steaming, flip and do the other side.  Why a weight you ask? Well, you can toast without it but the light weight makes it toast evenly rather tan just getting the parts that naturally touch the pan (like the middle).
Perfect toast! No pushing it down twice and ending up with burned fritters.
Also, have you ever noticed GF bread smells way worse than wheat bread when it burns? :(

Saturday, May 26, 2012

This salad brought to you by...

 Lunch...I struggle with lunches at work because I can't bring anything that may need refrigeration or re-heated because the fridge is always over flowing and the kitchen is an absolute disaster by 10AM. I swear, people live here...there are honest to God bags of groceries in the fridges and every morning there is a group of people whipping up breakfast in the kitchen. Everything from toast and pancakes to scrambled eggs. So by about 10 AM the counter is covered in toast crumbs, the fridge has been totally rearranged and the microwave has had several explosions in it...
If you know me at all, you know I'm not going anywhere near that!
So this is one of my go-to lunch ideas. A simple container filled with chopped veggies, fruit, cheese and of course, a Shot Glass...with dressing in it!
The dressing is sometimes from a bottle but most often a drizzle of evoo and a glug of balsamic - which doesn't require chilling at all. The shot glass is tall enough to not spill as long as I don't toss my container around too much and fits nicely in the dishwasher in those little spaces you never quite know how to fit something in to. 
 Plus, you know, it's fun to have a shot of Jameson in my lunch to ease into the afternoon   ;0)
What do you have for lunch? I'm always looking to mix it up!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

What do you think of Rice Cereal?

 I keep a box of Cream of Rice cereal in the cupboard but I hardly ever cook it...I have mixed feelings that stem from the fact that if you try to make it in the microwave it will boil over, no matter how careful you are,! I don't dig cooking in the morning.
Weekends are different though. I can cook breakfast like a mad woman - mostly because breakfast on Saturday is always after 11:00 AM.
 I went nutty today and made 4 servings, in an attempt to have prepared breakfast for the next couple days. Since it's a nightmare in the micro I made it on the stove in the biggest pan I had, just in case it was prone to boiling over. It wasn't...because the directions are different...which I found out afterwards when I decided to read the instructions! Ha ha. Boil the water then add the rice...but it works if you do it all at once. Evidence:

Big pan, little blob of cereal, but 4 days of breakfast - so Yay!

It is surprisingly filling and I found that it really doesn't require as much syrup as say...grits or oatmeal, to taste sweet enough. Probably because rice itself is fairly sweet.
So, I'm on the fence about it. I kind of prefer my instant packet of grits for simplicity but there is just something nice about a soft bowl of warm goo in the morning.
What do you think?

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Today I made collard green wraps and I thought, "I love collard greens!"

I can't help it- they make me happy. With tuna salad or hummus rolled up, I think it might be the perfect food.  So I started thinking about the things that I always keep in staples.  Everybody has staples. Before Celiac (bc) mine were ramen noodles, frozen vegetables and precooked chicken breasts. Now they look a little like this:
 Chocolate chip cookie dough Larabars - I have one for breakfast almost every day. When King Soopers runs them for $1 each, I clear the shelf.
Apparently, I have a thing for gf cookie dough...this is dairy free too and seriously heavenly.

 Parmesan pancakes - simple and go with everything. You can break them up for "croutons" in a salad or eat them like chips or toss them in with popcorn. 

Raisins...well, they go in lots of stuff and keep forever! I've taken to putting them in my tuna salad (goes good in those collard wraps!) and I find them to be a great snack with a handful of walnuts and chocolate chips - sort of trail mixy.

 A banana a day makes me happy - frozen and pulverized to creaminess is divine!

 Spinach may be one of the most perfect foods. I try to eat a pound a day ala Hot Chicks.

 I keep these in my drawer at work - so much better than a coke for that afternoon pick-me-up. Simple carbs = simple energy, no sugar/caffeine jitters then dragging. 

Expensive? Yes. Delicious? YES! Better than peanut? I think so...

What are your staples and must-haves at your house?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Skinny Muffins & Fat Muffins

So... I'm on Pinterest. Heard of it? So many great things on there to try...
So I saw this picture for 1 minute skinny gf muffins that sounded simple and fun and I tried it (recipe here: Mine ended up looking like this:

and did not taste good, but I can't say it tasted bad either. It didn't stick to the cup (as promised). It was definitely full of fiber though - I wouldn't recommend eating before something like a long car trip...
So, I think I'll stick to my 20 minute fat muffins:

 I use Pamela's baking and pancake mix and they are always delicious and never make me double over with stomach cramps.