Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Nursery!

Take a look at our little girl's nursery!

Before

After!
We needed to keep the guest bed in the nursery for two reasons. One, we had no where else to put it and two, we still wanted a place for guests to stay if needed. We have a pack and play to use in our room if we do have someone come and stay.



I didn't really have a theme for the room, just a color scheme that I wanted to try to stick to. I wanted to incorporate horses and owls without it being too "horsey".




Most importantly I wanted the room to be comfortable and inviting. We have a small house and this room has rarely been used until recently. I'm excited to spend more time in here! It was such a blast putting this room together and my husband often comments that it's the best room in the house.



Sunday, June 22, 2014

Copy Cat Chick-Fil-A Nuggets - Gluten Free

This recipe is awesome and works with regular all-purpose flour and milk as well, just omit the arrowroot powder or cornstarch.




1 pound or so of chicken (about 4 breasts, 6-8 tenders, etc. I just use however many I have on hand and adjust the flour mixture if I need more)
1/2 cup pickle juice
1 egg
1/4 cup milk (I use almond milk, you can also use heavy cream)

Mix together pickle juice, egg, and milk and marinate the chicken in this mixture for about an hour. You can you do whole breasts (though slice them in half if they are really thick), tenders, or cut them up into nuggets. 

Prepare a large pan of oil (just enough to submerge your chicken halfway) to around 350 degrees. If you don't have a thermometer sprinkle some water in the pan. If it starts bubbling and sizzling it's usually ready. You can also dip a wooden spoon or chopstick into the oil. 

1 cup Pamela's baking and pancake mix (or all-purpose flour)
1 tbsp arrowroot powder (cornstarch should work as well)
2 tbsp confectioners sugar
1 tsp paprika 
1/2 tsp black pepper (or less if you are not a huge black pepper fan)
1 tsp salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp basil

Mix dry ingredients in a gallon bag. Take marinated chicken, pour out the extra liquid and put into the bag of dry ingredients. Shake. Add chicken to the oil to fry. About 3-5 minutes on each side. 

**Helpful note - the first few times I made this I added one nugget to the oil to test it first. Also I typically use canola oil but I have tried coconut oil which is a healthier alternative. It will have a slight coconut taste to it, though my husband who does not like coconut does not mind it!

If you make it with chicken breasts make sure to have some buns and pickles ready for a delicious chicken sandwich! Next time I'll post my homemade gluten free roll recipe that I used when we made chicken sandwiches. This also works really well on a biscuit for breakfast!


Thursday, March 20, 2014

It's a GIRL!

Yesterday we finally found out the gender of this baby and it's a GIRL! Honestly we were a bit shocked, we really thought it might be a boy. It was a bit scary as I realized that now we have to name her and both Matt and I questioned whether or not we picked the right name. But after dropping Matt off at the mall I went to Babies R Us and one of the employees asked who I was shopping for. After she got over the shock that I was five months pregnant she asked if we knew the gender and name. It was the first time I said the name out loud to someone besides Matt. From that moment I have been extremely excited to welcome Tilly Elizabeth into this world.

Yesterday was wonderful and I thank everyone for their congratulations and their warm wishes. There is something very peaceful about knowing the gender and being able to call her by her name. I already grabbed letters for Tilly to paint and put above her crib. I'm really excited to get started on her nursery art and curtains. I looked for some ideas at Babies R Us and I fell in love with these owl sheets but not the whole color palette. I like the blue but maybe with gray and light pink? I'm not sure yet.


I also had to get this gem while shopping at Kohls.


Sorry Matt I know you would have loved a boy but at least you get to be surrounded by beautiful women :)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Menu Planning

So one of my goals with keeping up with my blog is to take more pictures. These posts may be a little light on the photos until I get better at that. I also don't have a great camera for indoor photos so they will mostly be from my phone. I would LOVE to get a DSLR camera before this baby comes. If anyone sees a good deal on one let me know! Especially if it take decent video :)

P.S. This child has been doing acrobatics in my belly all week! I guess the little one is enjoying all the room it has for the moment.

Currently I use Pinterest to find meals. I have been doing a lot of re-arranging on there in an attempt to organize my boards and pins. It's still a bit of a mess but I'm slowly getting it under control! Pinterest has been a huge help as it helped me organize my thoughts for my wedding, recipes I wanted to make gluten free, and now coming up with nursery ideas.


Here was last weeks meals:

Monday 


Salmon, Butternut Squash, and Cucumber Dill Salad - I forgot to take the picture until after I started eating! I discovered this cucumber dill salad when Matt and I first got married and we both love it. It's so good with Salmon. And thanks to Matt's mother I am now addicted to Butternut Squash! I never knew how awesome it was so thank you!

Tuesday

Greek Salad with Grilled Chicken - The salad was delicious (I used the Pioneer Woman's recipe for the dressing) but the chicken was bland. I wasn't sure how to season it for the salad.

Wednesday


Copycat Chick-Fil-A Nuggets and Mac and Cheese - These nuggets were AMAZING! Again I ate half my meal before taking a photo because it was so yummy! I found the recipe on Pinterest and was super happy with how easy they were. They also worked well for being gluten free. YAY! The mac and cheese is the Pioneer Woman's recipe that I just sub gluten free flour and add a tablespoon or two of Tapioca to thicken the sauce. 

Thursday

Leftover Day

Friday


PIZZA DAY! - I made pizza dough from scratch (Pamela's bread mix recipe for pizza crust) and made one thin and one thick crust pizza. I was craving a veggie pizza so I used tomato, bell pepper, olives, mushroom, and onion. I also make my own pizza sauce from scratch that is delicious!

Also last week I made a coffee station on a book shelf that use to house our DVD's. It turned out better than I expected and made more room on our kitchen counter. However, putting the chevron fabric up was a HUGE pain. The back of the bookshelf is thick cardboard that is stapled to the edges. So I pulled out all the staples until I got to where the shelf was going to be. Then I cut the fabric to size and re-inserted the staples through the fabric to hold it in place. I think maybe some paper glued on would be better next time? 




Friday, February 28, 2014

Update, and a change of subject.

I haven't posted in a long time. And honestly that's because I haven't done much baking in a long time! This blog's topics are going to shift a bit. Previously I wanted to use this blog as a bit of a recipe index for myself and anyone else looking for great gluten and dairy free recipes. However I have found myself wanting to blog about everything, not just baking, and I've decided to make this blog my home. See, a few months ago Matt and I decided to start a family. I'm so excited about the changes to come and I realized I need an outlet for my thoughts.

This blog will still be Sarah Loves to Bake, because I really do. But it will encompass my life and include my ramblings about meal planning (my current challenge), nursery preparation, all things baby, dogs, and a bit of marriage. I hope some of my family and friends may enjoy this but really and truly I'm doing this for myself. 

So here is a bit of life lately....

Baby Thoughts


We have a crib!! For some reason I was really anxious about getting a crib. I decided it was the one item I really didn't mind getting secondhand as wood is easily cleaned. I found a crib I loved at a great price and was lucky that it was right around the corner from my parents house. They picked it up for us and even got it ready for us to take home. I feel so much better now that we have a crib in the nursery...even if there is nothing else in there! I also got a great workout moving all the furniture out of there (this includes a double bed), cleaning the carpets, and moving everything back in. The crib was a bit difficult to put together as it was hard to hold the sides up while putting the screws in but it won't be hard to lower it as the baby gets bigger. It does convert to a toddler bed but I'm not sure if we will go there before baby 2 comes along. But that's a bit into the future :)

I am also very happy to have a plan for the nursery. Currently we live in a 2 bed/2 bath townhouse that we rent. The nursery houses our guest bed which I didn't want to get rid of. This proved a bit of a challenge as I tried to come up with a floor plan that would allow floor space but also fitting the crib, double bed, and an arm chair for nursing. Thanks to Pinterest I found a great way to arrange the furniture that allows the guest bed to be used if needed and leaves plenty of floor space for activities. Because our living room is not very big I do expect to use the nursery about half the time.



This picture is taken from the doorway. The closet is directly to the left. It has two doors that slide and fold in half, which I plan on removing. I want to place the tall white six drawer dresser we have in our master in the nursery closet (another idea from Pinterest!). There is about four to six feet from the closet opening to the end of the crib and with the doors off it makes the room feel even larger. I plan on getting a quilt for the bed for every day use that matches the nursery colors. I don't really like the current comforter but it is a great set for guests. I also plan to put lots of pillows along the wall so it acts more like a daybed. I would like to put a small nightstand in between the bed and the chair, which is to the right in the opposite corner. The chair currently has a brown leather like slipcover from our living room but I found a great cotton canvas cover that should fit it better and be great for kids and dogs.

I do have an idea of colors and decorations depending on the gender. We find out in about 2 and a half weeks so I'm not letting myself do anything else until we know! I'm also waiting for that nesting phase to hit before cleaning out the closet that is currently packed with random overflow items. We do have some things that would go great in a garage sale if anyone is planning one sometime soon!

Meal Planning


I have been trying to meal plan before we go to the grocery store and it's definitely a work in progress. However it does make grocery shopping much easier but I'm still working on spending less. The biggest challenge for me is buying fewer ingredients. So I'm trying to plan meals with few ingredients and maybe one big meal that costs a bit more. I'm also getting better at using those random items that end up in the pantry!


Dogs

One of the hardest things I have found with this cold weather is the motivation to walk the dogs! Last Friday was a set back as well when I decided to brave the cold wind only to be taken down by allergies. The pollen count was 255....in February! Gah. Walking the dogs helped me out in my first trimester when my body was all out of whack. I started yoga once I hit the second trimester but I have taken the dogs out less. I am really ready for some 60-70 degree weather. Where is spring?? 

On thing we have been working on with both dogs is no kissing. This is much easier for Bijou but extremely hard for Summer. Kisses are her love language! Plus Matt has a hard time telling her no...and sometimes i do too. Woops. We have a soft spot for pittie kisses. But she is getting better when we tell her no kisses. I also like to put my finger up, like the number one, and press it to her nose as if I'm shushing her. This helps put a bit of space between her nose and my face and reminds her she needs to back off. 

Honestly that has been my one worry with the dogs and the baby. Bijou is going to be difficult in the beginning as she has never been good with change. But I do hope she will settle in after a few weeks when she realizes the baby isn't going anywhere. I think Summer will transition much easier as long as her excitement doesn't get the best of her. But after a couple days she should go back to her usual chill demeanor when the 'newness' wears off.

I guess the only other training thing we have done is one we were very inconsistent with before. We make the girls sit and wait while we put their food bowls down and they are not allowed to eat until we say OK. I like to make them wait for a different period of time each time so they don't try to anticipate the OK. Bijou kept jumping the gun for a bit so I let Summer eat while Bijou had to sit and wait. She hasn't jumped the gun since. She even looks to me after I say OK and waits for me to nod my head before eating so she doesn't get in trouble again. Hehe! I love making them do this as it's an easy way to practice obedience and respect. Our dogs aren't perfect but they behave themselves well enough. 

Being Gluten Free

For a while now I have slowly added dairy into my diet. I mostly stay dairy free at home but will allow myself to have real dairy when eating eat. This has worked really well for almost a year now. Every so often I find myself getting some stomach pains and have to stop dairy for a few weeks. However...I started craving a lot of dairy when I got pregnant. My first trimester I ate a ton of real dairy, including cheese, with no side effects. Now I've cut back again and am probably closer to 50/50 on real versus dairy free items.

Now an interesting side effect of pregnancy has been with my gluten intolerance. I haven't touched gluten in over 2 years. I also had no desire to. But after some research I learned that the symptoms of a gluten intolerance disappear during pregnancy. Your immune system is down when pregnant to stop your body from attacking the fetus. This also means your immune system will no longer attack your intestines when you eat gluten. So with that fact, along with my crazy fear that I would make my child allergic to gluten since I don't eat it, I decided to try gluten. AH! It was seriously difficult to get myself to take that first bite. I had been dying for a Pillsbury cinnamon roll so I made a batch of those. And then sat there staring at the cinnamon roll for thirty minutes. I really can't describe to you how hard it was when it seems like such an easy thing to do. But after suffering from gluten 'attacks' for so long it was hard to make myself take that bite.

But I did take that bite. And another. And another. Until that whole cinnamon roll was gone. And then I had another. It is the strangest feeling to eat something that I have vehemently avoided for 2 years. Since then I have tried quite a few things and was surprised how I actually didn't miss most of them. I have been lucky to find great gluten free substitutions that I now like even better than their gluten counterparts. There are a few things that I have truly missed. Pizza. REAL pizza. I had a delicious Sicilian pizza in New York City. No gluten free dough has ever come close to that. And burritos. You just can't make a burrito with a corn tortilla. The other nice thing about being able to eat gluten is not having to be a pest when eating out. I also got to enjoy a dessert at Matt's formal.

I look exhausted but I'm about to eat a gluten filled pizza.


Despite the fact that I now am not violently ill when ingesting gluten I am still being careful. I don't want to overload my system as it is still hurting my intestines. But it is nice to have this time to cheat and hopefully I can save my child from a food allergy. Did you know they did studies and kids are less likely to form a peanut allergy if their mom ate peanuts while pregnant? That's where I got this idea from and why I also make sure to eat my serving of peanut butter :)

Friday, October 4, 2013

I'm on Bloglovin!

If you want an easy way to keep up with my blog follow my blog with Bloglovin. I use this reader to follow all of the blogs I read and it's a lifesaver! See ya there ;)

Monday, September 30, 2013

Flat Apple Pie with Oat Crumble

I was reading through Self magazine that I inherited from my older sister and came across a recipe for Apple Pie.  I had just bought Pillsbury's pastry and pie crust and decided this would be a perfect recipe to try it out! Pillsbury just released their gluten free line in stores during September and I was really excited to try them out.  Last week I tried their gluten free chocolate chip cookie dough. First off - I know that these are not the healthiest options when it comes to baking however it is always nice to have a quick and easy gluten free option when you are just craving cookies. Honestly though besides the modified food starches the ingredients are pretty normal. They won't kill you. So if you are looking for a quick way to satiate that sweet tooth definitely pick up the cookie dough. Only downside - they did have a slight potato after taste on the first couple bites.

So I decided to try out the pie and pastry crust with a delicious apple pie. Unfortunately I didn't realize until after I had been to the store that I don't own a pie pan. Thankfully I had recently seen flat apple pie on an episode of the Pioneer Woman. So inspired by both recipes I came up with the following YUMMY recipe. The pie and pastry dough worked really well for this recipe and tasted amazing. I am interested in trying more recipes using this dough. P.S. I was extremely excited that the dough puffed up.



Flat Apple Pie with Oat Crumble

1 tub Pillsbury Pie and Pastry Dough (or your own pastry dough)
5 medium apples (I used 4 small Yellow Delicious and two large Granny Smith apples. I could have been fine with 1 less apple but better safe than too little apple)
1/3 cup plus 6 tbsp brown sugar, divided
2 tbsp Tapioca Flour (you could use another starch like corn or potato)
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup GF flour (I of course used Pamela's baking mix) 4 tbsp butter **i used the Earth Balance coconut spread - my favorite butter substitute. If using coconut oil or coconut spread use 1 less tbsp.

1. Peel, core, and slice the apples. A normal recipe will tell you to slice them 1/8 inch thick. However I will tell you to slice them as thick or thin as you want. After the first apple I stopped caring and just sliced away.
2. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
3. In a large bowl combine apple slices, 1/3 cup brown sugar, tapioca flour, juice, and cinnamon.
4. In a smaller bowl combine remaining 6 tbsp brown sugar, oats, 1/4 cup GF flour, pinch of salt, and butter.
5. Place half the dough between two sheets of parchment or wax paper and roll into a large circle. I used a standard sized cookie sheet and rolled it until the circle almost touched the shorter ends of the sheet. (Okay I'm not sure there is a standard size so I went and measured it and it's about 10 inches wide.)
6. Place half the apple mixture in the center of rolled dough. Use the parchment paper to help you bring the edges of the dough over the apple mixture. See below picture:

7. Sprinkle half the oat mixture on top then lightly cover the pie with a sheet of aluminum foil. This helps the apples cook since many recipes have a crust on top.
8. Bake for 20-25 minutes then drop the temperature to 350 degrees and bake another 10-15 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 10-20 minutes. Just watch that your crust isn't getting too dark on the edges. As soon as the crust is a nice golden brown it's time for it to come out!
9. Serve warm or if your weird like my husband freeze it and eat cold ;)


mmmm apples and cinnamon - my favorite