Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Potato and Sausage Soup (gluten and dairy free version included!)

Here's a potato soup recipe I tweaked to remove processed food items and include a gluten and dairy free version. It is super yummy, perfect for a cold winter day!

Potato and Sausage Soup

6 cups potatoes (cubed - can be peeled or unpeeled)
1/2c celery (or more if you like a lot of celery) (diced)
1/2 an onion - diced
~1lb italian sausage (can substitute ham or bacon as well)
32 oz chicken broth (I use free range organic)
salt and pepper to taste

White Sauce (regular)
5T butter
5T all-purpose flour
2 cups milk

White sauce (gluten and dairy free)
1 1/2 T olive oil
5T gluten free baking flour (I used Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Baking Flour)
2 cups unsweetened almond milk

In a large pot brown the sausage. Add onions and sauté until soft. Add the potatoes, celery, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the potatoes are soft. Salt and pepper to taste.

In a separate sauce pan, melt butter (heat oil). Add flour and stir to combine until there are no lumps (for the gf version, the oil will not adsorb all the oil, so you will have lumps and dry flour remaining, no worries). Add the milk, continuously stirring, keep those lumps away! Mixture will thicken (takes about 4ish minutes- keep stirring!).

Add white sauce to the potato mixture and stir to combine.

Serve with shredded cheddar cheese sprinkled on top.

If you refrigerate the soup and reheat, I found that the soup was VERY thick so I added water while reheating until I got a soupy consistency.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013


The mind is a funny thing sometimes.

Yesterday was infusion day. I wasn't feeling great, but was still better than I have been in past months on infusion day. I walked into the infusion room and there was just one other gal sitting in there. I had never seen her before and I know I would have remembered seeing her - she was young, probably my age or a year or two younger. It's usually older people in the room. She looked pretty peppy, but didn't seem interested in conversation as she kept her head down in the book she had brought. I was kinda bummed, because I enjoy visiting with people in the infusion room.

My infusion nurse hooked me up and within about twenty minutes, I started feeling pretty bad. My head felt like a headache was about to start, which I have heard happens to some folks during infusions, but has never happened to me. My head felt thick and fuzzy, like my thoughts were all moving through some thick fluid. Apparently, I fell asleep, because I awoke to the nurse removing the line from my arm. I noticed Peppy-Girl was asleep in her chair as well. I headed to the restroom, a must after getting a liter of saline pumped into you :) and had one of those "yikes, what happened to my face!?" moments when I glanced in the mirror. I looked so tired and pale and sick.

Peppy-Girl and I ended up riding the elevator down to the parking garage together and I noticed she wasn't Peppy-Girl anymore, but Tired-and-Drawn-Girl. She commented to me how tired the infusions make her. I agreed, although, I had never connected my sleepiness during infusions to the drugs themselves, I figured sitting in a comfy big chair and just relaxing was causing me to be sleepy. I had never experienced the physical roughness of an infusion, during the infusion, until today.

My infusions take place up in the medical center in Houston and it's a long drive back to my house...through rush hour traffic, so I usually head over to my friends' who live about ten minutes from my doctors and have dinner with them and their kiddos and wait out the traffic. As I was driving over there, I was overcome by how poorly I was feeling. I got a bit teary-eyed. I pulled into a Starbucks to grab my usual reward for getting an infusion (and a much needed pick-me-up at this point!) As I waited in the drive-thru line, my mind wandered to a chapter I had read recently in some book about a Hebrew word that meant "goodness."

As I drove to my friends' house, I thought about how good the Lord was to allow me to have friends with cute kids to snuggle with after my infusion and good food to eat with them rather than sitting in Houston traffic for over an hour.

I thought about how good the Lord was to be able to have a conversation with Peppy-turned-Tired-Girl  and that we were able to share and sympathize with one another.

I thought how good the Lord was to be able to allow me to feel so poorly, because that meant the drugs that I had just been given were working to make me feel better. That little B-cell killers were waging a war at that moment in my body to push back the crazy Melissa-immune system and calm them down.

And I thought how good the Lord was to allow me to see His goodness, rather than feel sorry for myself or to continue thinking on how I was feeling at that moment.

The mind is a funny thing. Because that entire drive - to my friends house and home again - I couldn't think of the actual Hebrew word. It took me fifteen minutes to finally find it (I'm reading too many books at the same time right now). The word is "hesed" and it is the Hebrew word for "goodness." How wonderful and funny - that in the moment when I very much needed to remember His goodness, my mind called up a memory of reading about the Hebrew word for goodness.

Wonderful and funny, yes. But also, just another example of His hesed towards me.

Playing with these cute kids in their fort before dinner :)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Gluten-free, almost dairy-free, Pumpkin Muffins

So, I've updated my Pumpkin Bread/Muffin recipe to make gluten-free and almost dairy-free (still has butter in it, you could use shortening instead and make it completely dairy-free) muffins

Pumpkin Muffins - gluten-free and almost dairy-free
Sift together:
1 3/4 C. gluten-free multi-purpose flour (I used King Arthur Flour)

1/4 tsp xantham gum for every 1c gf flour used
1/4tsp double acting baking powder (can substitute gf baking powder)
1 tsp baking soda (can substitute gf baking soda)
1 tsp salt
rounded 1/2 tsp cinnamon
rounded 1/4 tsp nutmeg
rounded 1/4tsp ginger

Preheat over to 350F.

In a bowl, beat 2/3 c brown sugar, 2/3c white sugar, 1/3c butter, and 2 eggs.
Add and beat in 1 c canned pumpkin

Add the dry ingredients to the bowl alternately with 1/3 c almond milk, 1/2 tsp vanilla. Beat only enough to make sure flour mixture/milk is mixed in- don't over beat.

Place batter in aluminum muffin cups (muffins will stick if you use just paper cups) and bake ~28 minutes - time varies depending on how full the cups are so keep an eye on them. Cool on wire rack. Eat fresh or freeze (see update below on freezing).

**Update** These also froze and thawed really well. I had them in the freezer for about 3 weeks and they still tasted great!