Monday, May 25, 2015

Warm weather is finally here!

After this tough winter, I am ready to spend each weekend out at the grill! The same grill that was covered in snow about 3 months ago is now fired up and cooking!

Because I don't have time during the week, I tend to grill two or 3 proteins and a bunch of veggies on Saturday or Sunday. I use them to make meals through Wednesday like tacos, Asian noodles or just plain leftovers.

As I posted on my Facebook page earlier this weekend, I grilled up some pizza last night! I used a frozen crust, from Against the Grain (which is amazing!) and then topped it with fresh mozzarella and cheddar with marina. One pizza stayed cheese and the other was Hawaiian. I delegated and had my husband cut up a fresh pineapple (he likes to eat around the core after) and then sliced up some ham lunch meat. I use Hormel's Natural, which is gluten and nitrate free. You can use any pizza you want, even a whole frozen pizza and grill it instead of heating up your house with your oven and less clean up needed too!

Our house has gone completely gluten free because my son's blood tests showed that he is still getting a trace of gluten and because I switched kids' lunches a couple of weeks ago and gave the child with celiac a wheat roll. The aftermath made up my mind to go to a completely gluten free house. Tim is still allowed his beer. Paul won't try drinking that yet :)

Think simple this summer. Grilling doesn't have to be complicated. Grill a frozen pizza. Grill ears of corn (with husks on after soaking in water for at least an hour). Grill hot dogs. Grill peaches. Grill whatever you like. As I usually say, hopefully I will post more about what we are cooking at the Ericson house!

Here are some links of my previous summer fun or grilled food ideas and recipes! Enjoy the warm weather!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Gluten free fresh pasta, really?

Yes really. I used to love making pasta from scratch and eating fresh pasta. There is just something so comforting about it. I had just gotten the handle on a good recipe when our house went gluten free. My challenge now is to find the right gluten free recipe (and get a pasta machine!). I am determined!

I knocked one item off my 2015 Cooking Bucket list and made a brown rice pasta last week. It was really good, but I don't have a pasta machine or the attachment for my Kitchen Aid, so I tried to hand roll it, like I used to with fresh gluten filled pasta. This did not work as well. I rolled it until it was almost transparent, but it was still a little too thick and gummy when I cooked it. Taste was there, but consistency was not. This was the recipe I used: I may try a couple of other recipes to see if hand rolling can work with them. If they don't, you know what my next investment will be!

I didn't have any sauce in the house, so used some tomatoes, onions, garlic, salt and pepper and sauteed together for a about 10-15 minutes.

I served it with some steamed peas and sockeye salmon I cooked in a foil packet in the oven with salt, pepper, lemon slices.

This weekend I may try to make Julia Child's coq au vin! Not the most appropriate football or tailgating food, but hopefully it will be good :) Here is a link to some old blogs that have more gameday appropriate food. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Rethinking my cooking bucket list and looking forward to 2015

Happy Holidays! Happy New Year! We made it through the holidays with only slight cross-contamination issues. Paul had minor reactions, but fortunately nothing too bad. One instance was completely my fault. I was so excited that he wanted to try a pickle because he usually won't touch them, that I didn't even think to look until after he ate a couple of bites whether or not it was gluten free. Sure enough, he woke up with stomach pains that night.

I managed to cook a completely gluten free Christmas dinner with grilled pork roast (started on grill and finished in oven) with a blueberry balsamic brown sugar gravy, mashed potatoes with marscapone, goat cheese, gruyere and of course butter. I roasted brussel sprouts with bacon (fresh from the pig of a co-worker of Tim's) and we had a salad.


Dessert was a chocolate trifle with chocolate pudding, GF brownies and fresh whipped cream. Then people could choose to top it with crushed heath bar or GF oreos.


I even made most of the same treats I usually do at Christmas, just gave them a gluten free spin! I used Snyder's gluten free pretzels and Hershey kisses to make a salty-sweet treat and I used the sugar cookie recipe on the back of the GF King Arthur Flour box to make sugar cookies that were a big hit!



My mom also helped the kids decorate gingerbread houses. I used plastic houses that you just put the frosting on and stick the candies on. Great for gluten free eating! No one really eats the gingerbread anyway :)

Earlier my dad and I made gluten free boerwors, which is becoming a yearly tradition :) We had it the day after Christmas for another family party with the traditional pap (kind of like polenta) and a tomato and onion sauce.

Now it is time for school vacation. I am also taking the week off work to be with the kids. Hopefully I'll get some cooking done to make the craziness of school/work weeks a little easier until February vacation. I'm also taking some time to reflect, as I usually do about my cooking bucket list of the past year and what to add for this year. I had to put my cooking bucket list last year on hold to make room for a new way of cooking, eating and feeding my family, due to my son's Celiac diagnosis. I would like to revisit some of my favorites, making them gluten free and add some new goals as we continue on this journey.

This was my 2014 list, I actually finished 4 items :

Cooking bucket list for 2014:

1. Rusks (think South African biscotti)
2. Macaroons - COMPLETED!

3. Scones - COMPLETED

4. Brussel Sprouts (I've never cooked them. My husband loves them, so I'm taking one for the team so my kids won't inherit my food prejudices :) ) - COMPLETED


5. Pretzels
6. Poached Salmon
7. Beef Wellington
8. Coq au Vin
9. Khachapuri (a Georgian cheesy bread)
10. Duck (not necessarily a whole duck, we'll see how adventurous I feel)


12. Chilaquiles (My favorite Mexican breakfast!!) 

So for 2015, here are my gluten free goals and cooking bucket list: 

1. Gluten free Pretzels or pretzel rolls
2. Poached Salmon (can easily be done naturally gluten free)
3. Gluten free Puff pastry
4. Gluten free Beef Wellington (need to do #3 1st!)
5. Coq au Vin (can easily be done naturally gluten free)
6. Duck (can easily be done naturally gluten free)
7. Chilaquiles (can easily be done naturally gluten free)
8. Find my own blend of GFflours that make best all purpose flour
9. Gluten free pasta from scratch
10. Gluten free gnocchi from scratch
11. Gluten free bread from scratch that is good enough for anyone to eat!
12. Gluten free pizza dough that is good enough for anyone to eat!

Well, looks like I have some cooking to do! I am also going to try as much as possible to cook one recipe from my cookbooks each week. I have many, many new gluten free cookbooks to explore and recipes in old cookbooks to make gluten free! I'll need more than a year to do that :) I will keep you all posted, probably through Facebook when I have time. I'm always here to answer questions and chat about food though! Feel free to email me at or post a question on my Facebook page. Wishing you all the best in 2015!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Back to reality, work and school...

I finally feel like I am coming out of the storm that was in my head after my son's celiac diagnosis. I have my cooking groove back. We even made a trip out to the midwest and hosted friends at our house without any incident. I feel more grounded, more myself. I grilled pizza for the first time in a long time! One gluten free and one not. No cross contamination! Yay! Now I just need to figure out who to make my own gluten free pizza dough and how to make my gluten filled pizza dough without feeling like I have to scrub down the entire kitchen so no flour cross contaminates anything! We also met with my son's nutritionist at Children's, who made me feel good, like we are on the right track. Woo hoo! Let's just hope his blood tests in the fall come back showing that the diet is working! Fingers crossed.

Anyway, back to the food! End of summer and early fall still leaves plenty of time to grill. I love to grill pizza, sausages, steak, chicken, pork, salmon, shrimp, corn, green beans, zucchini and I could keep going. To make our grill gluten free, I scrubbed it down and then turned all the burners on and let everything just cook off for about 30 minutes. When I grill something with gluten, like pizza, I usually cover that section of the grill with foil and go through the heating process before the next time I grill. I'm probably going a little overboard, but better safe than sorry!

I'm starting to see my favorite fall foods in the grocery stores...butternut squash, acorn squash, I can't wait! That however means its also back to school and for me back to work! My kids will all be in school full day so that means three lunches to make, everyday. I have to also send a snack for my 1st grader and donate bulk for the class for the twins and make sure Paul has a selection of gluten free snacks at school. My entire Friday was basically spent at 2 different grocery stores and I still didn't get everything! Luckily the 2nd store (Big Y) has a Kid's club, where the kids are happy to play the Wii while I shop, but of course make the sitter buzz me while I'm in the middle of checking out because they have to the go the bathroom :)

Here is what my menu plan looks like for back to school week, starting with tomorrow, Tuesday (the first day of school!):


Breakfast - oatmeal and fruit (if I find the energy tomorrow I will make THIS one in the crock pot over night, if not it is Chex gluten free oatmeal packets. (Oats are inherently gluten free, but are often grown and/or processed with wheat, so you have to make sure it is gluten free if you need that).

Lunch - Leftover asian noodles (used rice noodles and gf soy sauce with leftover grilled chicken for dinner on Monday night),  hummus with carrots and fruit

Dinner - Grilled cheese and french onion soup in the crock pot. I have adapted the recipe linked from my earlier blog post and just throw everything in the crockpot (substitute white balsamic for the beer) for 6-8 hours on low.

Snacks - yogurt, grapes


Breakfast - hard boiled eggs with fruit

Lunch - ham and cheese or sun butter (hopefully the kids like it! I have never used it before) and jelly sandwiches with fruit. (I use Udi's bread for Paul)

Dinner - pancakes [King Arthur Flour's GF pancake mix or Bisquik's GF pancake mix are the best I've found so far, until I make my own blend :)] and sausage with fruit

Snacks - cheese and crackers, bananas


Breakfast - cereal and fruit

Lunch - turkey and cream cheese roll ups, celery, sunbutter and craisin  "ants on a log" and pretzels

Dinner - Pasta with meatballs (going to try ronzoni gluten free) and the meatballs are Mama Mancini's Gluten Free from the fridge section in Shaw's. I add some fresh ricotta and basil. Yum.

Snacks - yogurt, plums


Breakfast - Toast with peanut butter and honey and fruit

Lunch - ham and cheese or sunbutter and jelly sandwiches with fruit OR Leftovers

Dinner - Pizza (I usually use Udi's GF crust for the kids and whole foods or trader joe's pizza dough for Tim and I) served with salad  or carrots and hummus and fruit.

Snacks - celery, cream cheese and craisin "ants on a snow covered log", pirates booty

Coming up...if the cold weather starts to set in, chili with zucchini cheddar corn bread and my butternut squash soup! all in the crock pot :) Stay tuned! I'm writing down my ingredients now so will actually have measurements for recipes!

Good luck with the new school year everyone! You can always ask Mamma if you need any new ideas or have a question about what to make! Just email me at

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Gluten Free's really good. Really!

I know, I know, some of you still think gluten free is a fad and many think it doesn't taste good. For us that is definitely not the truth. It has not changed my menus as much as I thought it would. It just changes the preparation and how I shop. I don't use the same ketchup for example or hot dogs or soy sauce, but I still use all those items. They just have a gluten free version. Some gluten free versions of things are the same but some are not. By process of elimination and good advice :) we are figuring out what works for us. Betty Crocker's gluten free brownie mix...Goooood! Bob's Red Mill pancake mix...not so good.

Tonight we had some delicious (if I say so myself) grilled chicken, green beans and potato salad. I marinated the chicken (drumsticks and thighs) in one part olive oil, one and a half part balsamic vinegar (Trader Joe's told me that theirs is gluten free), one garlic clove (minced), teaspoon onion powder, pinch of salt, pinch of pepper, 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary from our garden or a 2 tablespoons of dry. Throw them on a hot grill to sear on both sides then move to top rack of grill to cook on indirect heat. Use a meat thermometer to make sure its cooked through to 170-180.  Takes about 20-30 minutes.

For the green beans Karina, Tim and I cleaned them by snapping off the ends. I tossed them with 2 Tbsp olive oil, pinch of salt, pinch of pepper, 1/4 tsp onion powder and a dash of garlic powder. Made an envelope out of foil and enclosed the green beans in them and put them on the grill. On direct heat for first 3-4 minutes then turn burners off and grill for another 5-6 minutes.

The potato salad was leftover from the 4th of July party we went to a friend's house yesterday. Hannaford's cleverly put the bags of small potatoes next to each other. One was yukon gold (white), other was red potatoes (red) and lastly purple potatoes (or blue). Of course I fell for that marketing ploy and bought a bag of each :) I boiled them in salt water and then tossed with one 4 oz Fage plain greek yogurt (GF) with a couple of squirts of Stop and Shop Honey mustard (GF) and a couple of chopped sprigs of dill from our garden. Even better today. I kept a small bowl of the potatoes without dressing aside, because my kids don't like it.

Nice way to end a beautiful day. Sunny and low 80s with a nice breeze. Wish everyday could feel like this. Summertime :)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A New Food Adventure...Gluten-free not just trendy but necessary

This has been my longest hiatus from posting since I started Mamma's Cooking over 6 years ago. This blog has morphed along with the changes in our family. Initially, I blogged about making food for my first baby. Then it went through her toddler years with the addition of her twin brothers and my back and forth working outside of the house, working from home and periods of hard work as a stay-at-home mom. That boomerang has continued for the past 4 years as I strive, like many, to find that balance between career, home and self.

If you follow me on Facebook you will have seen some of the recent changes to our family diet. Our weekly pasta nights, quesadilla nights, pizza nights and pancake Sundays have been turned upside down. My son, Paul, was diagnosed with Celiac disease. This is an autoimmune disorder that effects the stomach and esophagus. He had stomach issues for a while, we tried cutting out dairy to no avail and I asked his doctor to test him. Autoimmune disorders, including Celiac, run in my family. Today there is a simple blood test that can tell you if you are likely to have celiac. An endoscopy can confirm it. Let me tell you how fun that was with a 3 year old stubborn boy who hates being told what to do! The Celiac diagnosis is a blessing in disguise. Yes, I'd rather he did not have it, but if he gets "glutened" once it is not going to require an epi pen or hospitalization for an allergic reaction. Rather, if he is continually "glutened" it will have severe consequences for his health and growth. 

I thought gluten-free was just a trend. Everyone is going gluten-free. There are people, like Paul, who need to be completely gluten-free and others who do it to help them eat less processed food and live a healthier lifestyle. It has made us eat healthier. It also costs a lot more but we wouldn't think twice about paying for a medication, so why not pay more for gluten free foods to keep up health?

It has been overwhelming, but will be manageable. We eat lots of the same items, just healthier versions. Sure, Paul asks sometimes for Goldfish or cake, but there are so many alternatives these days that he is easily appeased and distracted. Visiting other people's houses and eating out are a challenge, but nothing that we cannot overcome.

This is a copy of the email we sent to family when we discovered the diagnosis, 

"Hope you all are well. We are settling in back at home after a whirlwind trip to Disney World last week. The kids had a blast! Fortunately and unfortunately, just before we left we got an official diagnosis of Celiac disease for Paul. He has had stomach issues for months and we have tried various things, but knowing that celiac and autoimmune diseases run in the our family, Marie pushed to have him tested and there is something to be said for a mother's intuition :) 

We just wanted to give you all a little information on Celiac if you are interested in learning more. We do not expect when we visit your homes for you to be fully prepared for gluten free meals. We will have a travel kit so we make sure to keep Paul safe. Unfortunately even a crumb can set off a flare up once gluten has been fully removed. We even had to buy a separate toaster, utensils, plates, tupperware, cutting boards, etc for our kitchen! Gluten is in things you wouldn't even think of like ketchup, soy sauce, mustard, some candies,some ice cream and more. He can't even have things made on equipment that may have wheat. Oats are a good example of something that is naturally gluten free but is often grown in the same fields and processed in the same factories as wheat, so it must say gluten free on the box/bag or else it is not safe.

We are trying to teach Paul not to accept food offered without asking first if it is gluten free, but for now are just not letting him accept offered food. He doesn't fully understand yet, but with the help of our GI and nutritionist at Children's and his teachers and nurse at his pre-school he will adapt :) 

If you have any questions, let us know."

We have been grilling a lot and eating brown rice pasta and taco shells that are gluten free. We found a great gluten free pizza crust (Udi's) that works really well until I figure out my own recipe. We  still have pizza night, taco Tuesday and pancake Sunday, just modified. There are so many wonderful foods that are naturally gluten free, we just need to make sure that they are not processed with any wheat, rye, barley or related products. 

Paul is now feeling better, smiling, potty trained!!!!, and enjoying life as a healthy 4 year old. My new bucket list and food challenges will come, but this year keeping everyone healthy is first on our minds. I hope you'll stay with me as I document this journey.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Bucket list completed and new goals for 2014!

Fourth day into the new year and we are sitting in the house with piles of snow outside warming up after the final round of shoveling. Feels like deja vu from all the storms we had last February. While my kids play bowling on the Wii and my husband is working from home, I am taking a few minutes to give you an update on my cooking bucket list of 2013...oh wait, Neil wants milk and Karina already wants a snack...So back to the bucket list...What's that Paul? You want some juice?...and this is why I haven't written a blog in a few months. If I get a chance before complete meltdowns from cabin fever occur, I also want to write my goals for my 2014 cooking bucket list and some new projects.

2013 Cooking Bucket list - COMPLETE!* (and I did 5 of them in December again)

1.  Boerevors sausage (South African farmer's sausage)
I made 5  batches of this sausage tweaking the recipe each time. Over the holidays my dad and I made the best batch so far! That recipe will be a family secret for now :) 

2.  Souffle
I made a chocolate souffle using Martha Stewart's recipe as a guide. Didn't rise as much as I wanted it to, but it was gone in 10 minutes! 

3.  Melk tert (a South African milk tart)
I used my mother's recipe and it was delicious. Instead of making a crust, I used the mini phyllo shells, which got a little soggy in the fridge overnight. Next time I would either serve them immediately or use the crust in the recipe if making ahead.

4.  Pasta 
I ended up make canneloni and filling it with ricotta and spinach and serving with tomato sauce. Delicious! Not as thin as they would be had a I used a pasta machine, but thin enough. Karina and I rolled and rolled and rolled until thin. I made a version of a dish I had last year when I went to Mario Batali's Eatly in NYC. 

5.  Carbonara
This was delicious! The whole family loved it. I mean, bacon, eggs, cheese, peas and pasta. You really can't go wrong. Traditional is with spaghetti or linguine noodles but the kids chose the orecchiette.

6.  Filet a whole fish
I cleaned and filleted a red snapper. It wasn't pretty, but I did it and turned it into the most delicious ceviche!

7.  Ceviche
This was my favorite. "Cooked" the snapper in lime juice for 4 hours and tossed it with avocado, tomatoes, a little red onion, olive oil and cilantro and ate it with tortilla chips. LOVED IT! Karina even loved it. Now that I've done it once though, I will definitely ask the fish monger to clean and filet it for me. Make sure you tell the fishmonger that you are making ceviche and want a fish that was brought in that morning. Call ahead. It is worth it!

8.  Paella
This was also a family favorite. I made some spanish chorizo from scratch, brined the chicken using smoked paprika and cumin. Everything  came out great, except the mussels. I didn't time those right and some didn't open enough. I will definitely make this again!

9.  Octopus* - Did not do this the Octopus that were available were on the "Avoid" list of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Seafood Watch.

10. Jam
So I may have copped out a little on this one, but I never said I would do canning :) I just simmered a bunch of berries over the summer that were on the verge of going bad. Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries cooked with a little bit of water, balsamic vinegar and sugar. It was delicious on ice cream and on toast for breakfast.

11. Yorkshire pudding
This was delicious! I will definitely be making this again. It is super easy. So much easier than I thought it would be. I looked at a couple of recipes and used this one from I didn't make a roast that night, so I replaced the beef drippings with beef stock and served it with some leftover sausage and squash.

12. Cream puffs
I used one of my South African cookbooks for this and it was fairly successful. The best discovery was the "mock" pastry cream recipe from the de Villiers, Cook it and Enjoy It. You just whip together a little butter with sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice. Amazing!

For 2014 I have created a bucket list for the year and I'm starting on an ambitious project of cooking a recipe from one of my cookbooks each week, that I have not made before. I have 50 cookbooks, so that gives me 2 weeks off :) Hopefully I will have time to blog about it. If not visit my Facebook page to get updates! 

Cooking bucket list for 2014:

1. Rusks (think South African biscotti)
2. Macaroons
3. Scones
4. Brussel Sprouts (I've never cooked them. My husband loves them, so I'm taking one for the team so my kids won't inherit my food prejudices :) )
5. Pretzels
6. Poached Salmon
7. Beef Wellington
8. Coq au Vin
9. Khachapuri (a Georgian cheesy bread)
10. Duck (not necessarily a whole duck, we'll see how adventurous I feel)
11. Tortillas
12. Chilaquiles (My favorite Mexican breakfast!!) 

Happy New Year everyone!