Monday, December 31, 2012

Blogger Calendar & Planner You Can Edit!

I'm sure by now you've seen the plethora of blogging calendars and planners on the web.  They are all over Pinterest.  There's even a round up on Babble of the top 10.  My personal favorite is from Beckie at Infarrantly Creative.  You'll notice that mine is very similar to Beckie's.  It had everything I wanted in a blog calendar and planner except I had to print it. I wanted to be able to type on it.

I figured I couldn't be the only blogger who was or wanted to go paperless.  I couldn't find a way to turn any of the current ones into to an editable document so I made my own.

To download as an editable document:  You need to download as a docx and then enable editing in Word.  That's it!  Everything can be changed to make it your own though.
Editable Calendar Editable Blog Planner

Friday, December 28, 2012

Gluten Free Cheesecake Recipe

We love cheesecake here.  I had tried to make it sans crust but that wasn't very yummy.  It needed the texture differences.  So I toyed with different crust ideas until I hit upon this one.

Gluten Free Cheesecake
as adapted from Tyler's Ultimate Cheesecake


1 1/2 cups Gluten Free Cinnamon Cereal (such as Cinnamon Chex)
3 1/2 cups Gluten Free Rice Cereal (such as Rice Chex)
1 stick unsalted butter, melted


5 cups Gluten Free Rice Cereal (such as Rice Chex)
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted


2 (8 oz) bricks of cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 pint sour cream
1 lemon, zested
1 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 325 F.  Start water to boil, a tea pot is best.  Put one oven rack as low as it will go and one in the middle.


In a food processor crush the cereals.  Transfer the crumbs to a bowl and mix with remaining crust ingredients until evenly mixed.  Transfer the crumb mixture to an 8-inch springform pan (10-inch can be used for a shorter cake) that has been lightly greased.  Use the bottom of a measuring cup or glass to tamp the crumbs into the pan.  Press crumb mixture up the sides 1 inch.  Place in the refrigerator to set while you make the filling.


Place cream cheese in the bowl of your mixer and mix for 1 minute on low or until smooth.  Add 1 egg at a time mixing until egg in incorporated before adding the next one.  Gradually add sugar and beat for 1-2 minutes until creamy.  Scrape the sides, bottom and beaters of your mixer.  Add remaining ingredients, sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla until mixed.  Do not over mix!  Pour filling into crust.

Place a small pan on lowest rack and fill with boiling water.  Sit cheesecake directly above the water on next rack.  Bake for 45 minutes until the middle is just barely giggles.  Turn oven off and let sit for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and refrigerate until cold, 4 hours.  Cut into 8 slices and top with your favorite topping or eat plain.

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012 in Review

As the new year approaches it's time to look back on the past year.  My blogging has suffered in the last few months as work and life have gotten in the middle.  My mind is swirling with ideas for 2013 though.  So let's look back on what posts made 2012 great here at Home Ec. with Mel.

Top 10 Posts from 2012

10. Quick n' Easy Boot Fillers

8. Lunch Box Purse

7. Black Bean Brownies

6. Ruffled Bedspread Part 1

5. Quick and Easy Potholders

4. Fabric Covered Earrings

3. Gluten Free Pizza

2. Brassy Apple Spotlight

And the Number 1 post for the second year in a row:

1. Crab Rangoon and Crack Dips

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Gluten Free on A Budget

Let's face it gluten-free can be super expensive.  In my area there is a very wonderful woman who provides us with a comp list for Wal-Mart each week.  It's awesome!  Here in the boondocks it's Wal-Mart 20 miles away or a 50 mile trip for any other option really.  She's somewhere north of 1,000 people that subscribe to her comp list.  Today, she contacted me about gluten-free on a budget.  One of those people was asking questions on how to do it.  I realized he or she might not be the only person out there wondering the same thing.  It's not easy.  You'll have to get creative and learn how to recreate, do without, and sacrifice.

The Comp List (If you are in Northeast Kansas check out the list) - Really the best way to save money on gluten-free diet is to simply buy whole foods.  The comp list saves us on fuel since we don't have to drive so far.  Here's how I do it.  Each week I get the spreadsheet that is sent to me.  I open in Excel and scroll through.  I delete anything that isn't gluten free, i.e. cookies, candies, ect.  I then glance over the ads for things that I do use that might not be on the list.  The list is a free service and she does an amazing job but she has no idea that I can't use the cheapest brand of spaghetti sauce for example.  There might be a brand that I can use on sale somewhere that I can use but it's not the cheapest.  When there's something I use a lot of I stock up that way I don't have to buy it when it's on sale.

Coupons - I don't use them.  They are hard to find.  Stockpiling Mom's does have a gluten free category but there are usually not any that I would use.  There's also Sunday Coupon Preview I always browse it in case there are enough coupons to make it worth my while to buy a paper.  Some companies will send you a few coupons if you email them.  Bob's Red Mill sent me three 55 cent off coupons.

Gluten Free Saver - This is kind of like Groupon for the gluten free community.  Just like Groupon if you help them advertise by sending out their links they'll put some money in your account so you can purchase deals at even a bigger savings.  This is the only way I buy mixes or boxed stuff anymore.  The link here will help me.

Amazon - Amazon has a great selection of gluten free products.  If you use something a lot this is a great place to order it.  Plus you can save a few extra pennies by subscribing to a product and having it sent to you on a regular basis.  This is not the place to try a new product.  Everything is sold in bulk and you are then stuck with it.  Be wise! Anything purchased via my Amazon links will toss me a couple of pennies and those pennies help keep the blog on line.

We don't buy very many gluten-free convince items any more.  At one time that's all I baked with but the money wasted just wasn't worth it.  We've learned to just eat my failures and move on. I'm even looking into buying a flour mill.  I need to do some more research to make sure that it truly cost effective but that's the way I am leaning now.

Now for what I buy.  I'm just going through the store the way we go.

Fresh Vegetables and Fruit - I do not buy things that have been waxed.  There is no concrete proof that the wax is gluten-free and I have read of people having issues with it. I also buy and stock up when it's on sale.  I hate paying full price for these things.
Romaine Lettuce (not iceberg! Why? Iceberg is hard to digest your digestive system is already under enough stress)
Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables - As your tummy will tolerate.  Just because an item is naturally gluten free doesn't mean you'll be able to eat it without digestive issues.  Things that are hard on anyone's stomach will still be hard on your stomach too.   

Fresh Meat - This should be pretty easy to figure out. ;)  Even though there are only two of us I still buy family package size of all meat.  If I can buy a full piece versus them cutting it I do that.  For example, I buy a whole pork loin roast and then cut pork chops off of that.  The same with stew meat, a roast is much cheaper per pound.  There are times that you can buy a whole KC Strip loin, usually at smaller grocery stores.  The last time we found one of them it was $50.00.  We got about fifteen 3/4 inch steaks from it.  They were much larger and thicker than what you normally find in the store.  Plus the store charges more.  The one exception here is chicken.  We only eat the breast so that's all I buy it's not saving money when you aren't using part of it.

These are where the bulk of your food budget will go.  This is the basics of your diet and the rest will have to be as are tolerated.  We eat very minimal amounts of dairy and eggs.  They don't agree with the hubby.

Cheese - I only buy Kraft brand cheese.  I stock up when it is on sale.  Due to hub's semi-lactose intolerance I don't use it as much as I once did.

Deli - I usually skip this section of the store.  I suck at baking gluten free bread and we seldom buy loaves of bread.  Sandwiches are special occasion meals in our house.  When we do buy from the deli I go to the small grocery store in our area, Country Mart.  All of the meats and cheeses that they carry are gluten free!

Dairy - Real butter! Yep folks I buy the real thing for many reasons.  Back when my dad had his first heart attack the doctor said he could eat the real thing since our bodies are accustomed to processing the fat found in butter.  Plus I subscribe to the thoughts of all things in moderation and if I can't pronounce it I don't eat it.
Eggs, Daisy Sour Cream (only one I trust), 8th Continent Soy Milk.  If I need it I buy Greek yogurt.  I've found that Greek yogurt is a great sub for cream of soups in casseroles.  I tried the straining of regular yogurt to make "cheaper" Greek yogurt. It worked except for one thing I needed twice as much which meant I ended up spending the same amount of money.  I also buy buttermilk to make salad dressing.

Junk Food Aisles - Soda if it's on sale, Little Guy Corn Chips*, whole kerrenal popcorn, and on rare occasions Lay's Potato Chips or Staxs.  Staxs are like Pringles but gluten-free.  It's not that we don't eat potato chips but I make my own.  *Little Guy chips are produced in KC.  I've found them in a few stores in our area.  They are thin, they aren't very salty, pretty fresh, and minimal ingredients.

Baking Aisle - Rice Flour, this isn't the cheapest thing in the store I know but it's cheaper than a mix.  Cornstarch is one of my staples.  I bake with it and thicken sauces with it.  I also buy sugars, chocolate chips, and spices.  Not spice blends unless I can verify that they are gluten free.  Otherwise I buy the spices and blend them myself.  I also keep almond flour, potato flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, and xanthum gum in my freezer.  These things are very expensive but I only use a little at a time and they last close to a year a bag.

Breakfast food Aisle - Chex cereal when it's on sale.  I stock up and don't buy unless it is on sale.  I use it for a lot of things like grahman cracker crusts and bread crumbs.  Not to mention snacks for the hubs.

The rest of the store I make pretty quick work and stock up when it's on sale.  Beans (dried and gluten free canned beans), rice (I buy the biggest bag they have), canned tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, mayo, ketchup, mustard, Pace salsa,  tea bags, coffee, frozen veggies, and on occasion gluten free tater tots.

Learn to make gluten free foods yourself.  Everyone deserves a cookie or a cake from time to time.  Learn to eat whatever comes out of your oven. (This was hard for me.)  Think outside of the box.  If all else fails send me an email and I'll listen and help.

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Home Stories A2Z

Monday, September 17, 2012

Ways To Connect

I just wanted to do a quick update on the ways to connect with Home Ec. with Mel.  If you look just above this post you'll see the awesome banner with all of the links.  Let's go through them.

Blog Frog - Blog Frog is an online community.  If you join my community you can post on the forums and your blog posts will show up under the blog post tab.  It's a great way to get your blog posts in front of others. I'd love to chat with you there.  I get a notification if anything new is posted.

Facebook - Come stalk me there. :)

RSS Feed - Let's you subscribe to Home Ec With Mel so you never miss a new post!

Flickr - See what's coming out of my camera.  It may not be crafty or food but it's always fun.

Google+ - It's fairly new and I'm still finding my footing on it.  I'm always up for adding someone to a circle.

Pinterest - Find out what inspires me!

Twitter - You can stalk me there too.

I have YouTube up there but haven't used it yet. 

Email - you are more than welcome to email me at craftingtodo at gmail dot com.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Halloween Costume Round Up

It's almost time for Halloween.  I've been scouring the internet for the best handmade costumes.  It is my hope that one of these will be on you or your little one in a few weeks.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Goldbaums Gluten-Free Giveaway and Review

Remember a few months ago when I reviewed Goldbaums Gluten-Free Ice Cream Cones?  Well they are doing a raffle for $200 of gluten free food!!!  How awesome is that?  I think it is amazingly awesome, $200 of free food is great for anyone.  How do you get in on it you might ask?  Simply click here and fill out the simple form.  It is as easy as that.

Now for the review!  When I got the ice cream cones I also got some pasta.  I'll admit I was leary of the pasta on looks alone.  They look great and normal in the photos but, they have this odd slightly green look when they arrived.

Here's the thing though the color was no indication of how good this pasta is when it is cooked.  When it was cooked the odd color went away and the flavor and texture was spot on.  I didn't do anything "special" with the pasta.  Mac & Cheese and pasta salad was made with the elbow.  I did two batches of spaghetti and one turned out right and the other didn't.  The one that didn't was ALL MY FAULT.  I didn't follow the package directions which is key.  When it says to rinse the pasta do it.  

Cooking the pasta was different than traditional pasta.  You bring water to a boil, add salt and a tablespoon of oil.  Then you add the pasta and cook 3-5 minutes and then take it off the heat and cover it.  You then have to let it set about 15 minutes for it to finish cooking.  Rinse and then use as you would traditional pasta.  

Don't forget to enter the raffle to get some of this great pasta for free!  If you can't wait or aren't the lucky winner you can purchase Goldbaums Pasta from Amazon.  Remember purchases from Amazon via a link on this site helps keep the site going.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Crack Revisited

I really like dips at parties.  I can control the dippers to make sure they are gluten free and if I only have gluten free dippers no worries of CC.  They are a familiar item which means no one will ever go "Oh it's different".  Plus they are quick and easy.  This is still one of my most popular posts to this day.

Crack (Hey I didn't name it lol)

Photo From Plain

I had seen the potato casserole made from this dip on Pinterest and decided to go for it.  We tried the potatoes and they were good too.  Last December I made this dip six times.  It's that big of a hit.  We ate it with corn tortillas chips.  I made a few variations of it last year.  I did it with pork bacon bits, turkey bacon bits, and the pink fake ones.  Did you know the pink fake ones are vegetarian?  I didn't until my husband told me.  My favorite was the pork bacon it seemed to have more flavor but the turkey wasn't bad.  I didn't like the pink fake ones at all.  They became a little odd but my father in law enjoyed it and that's what mattered.  I didn't make him a full recipe, I just mixed the dip with out the bacon bits and then took his out and add the bits to each bowl.  Again that's the secret when entertaining with food restrictions what can you quickly and easily do to include everyone.  It took a whole extra ten seconds and another dish, nothing in the grand scheme of party food making.  

Cheddar Bacon Dip (a.k.a Crack)

16 oz sour cream
1 packet Ranch dressing mix (Hidden Valley is Gluten free)
3 oz bacon bits (in the bag not jar) (Oscar Mayer is gluten free)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Mix together and refrigerate 24 hours. Serve with chips and/or veggies.

4x6 Printable Recipe 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Planning A Party - KISS

My first "party" after I started cooking gluten free was Thanksgiving.  I almost cooked myself to death.  Why you might ask?  I thought I needed to make two versions of just about everything plus I misjudged the amount of food we could eat.  There were seven us to eat dinner that year.  I made one turkey, two gravies (I do this every year though), mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, gluten free green bean casserole, regular green bean casserole, regular stuffing, gluten free stuffing, gluten free pumpkin muffin roasted veggie stuffing,  gluten free pumpkin pie, regular pumpkin pie, gluten free chocolate pie, and gluten free chocolate pie.  Not only is that just a ton of food for seven people to eat it was a logistical nightmare.  There was the obsessive cleaning and separating to stop cross contamination.  There was the oven space needed, the shear volume of food to shop for and buy, not to mention the needed refrigeration space.  I quickly realized I didn't need to do all that to still have a wonderful dinner or any party for that matter.

From garyknight via Flickr

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Guest Posting, Judging, and the Upcoming Plan

WOW has the last few weeks been a blur.  School is back in session and I think I've found my feet again.  :) At least I hope I have any way.  As soon as I remember to take a photo I'll share my bulletin board idea with all of you.  I'm pretty proud of it but some how come home each day without a picture of it.  Maybe I should  email myself a reminder.

This week I'm over The CSI Project.  You can read my introduction to the group, some photo saving tips, and find out the schedule so you too can enter the contest this week.  Please enter, I'd love to see your photos.  I'll also share one of me, a first I believe here at Home Ec. with Mel.

Yes those are real live cows behind me.  That's also a real barb wire fence.  When I talk about living in a rural area I'm not kidding you.  These cows live a half of a mile from me.

Now for the upcoming plan here.  Fall is right around the corner and I want to help you all be prepared.  Lots of entertaining takes place between September and February and that is what our focus will be.  We'll cover decorating, simply of course, menu planning, and food preparation.  Entertaining can be overwhelming when there aren't food restrictions on the menu, it can be more so when you have to cook for both gluten free and non gluten free.  We'll get through this together.  I promise!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Perfect Grilled Pork Chops with Fancy Waffle Fries

When the heat wave hits I don't turn on my stove or oven.  I still have to feed my husband and myself though.  So what do I do?  I use the slow cooker and grill.  Today's yummy is brought to you by the grill.

What you need for the pork chops:
Up to 6 1/2 inch thick pork loin chops
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
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