Speaking of parties…

Sam went to his first birthday party of the school year this past weekend. Sam is new to this school and when he got the invitation he was really excited to go. I noticed the hours of the party were around lunch time so we called to confirm that lunch was being served and when we found out it was pizza…we got down to work…

I just love Udi’s pizza crusts, not only are they the best GF pizza crusts I have ever had, they are awfully darn convenient and fit perfectly in my pizza box!

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First I top the Udi's crust with Ragu or Great Value brand pizza sauce

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then with shredded mozzarella cheese and canned mushrooms (do not discard the juice...freeze in an ice cube tray for future condensed mushroom soup!)

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I swear this is what everyone loves about my pizza...fresh cut pepperoni, not the super thin presliced stuff, it is amazing the difference in taste)

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Growing up in Ohio, a lot of pizza places cut the pizza in squares...I still do that

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Into the box it goes

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Now for the cupcake…

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All the components

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"Burping" the icing

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I try to "bakery-itize it." A little flair over the traditional spread on with a knife icing

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Sam's "Cup-A-Cake" transporter

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And off to the party for a great time!

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Just one of the gang...sorry if these photos look funny...I tried to crop out the other kiddos whose parents might not appreciate me publicizing them on the web!

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A wonderful day with good friends and great GF food!

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Mac and Cheese

I am a homemade Macaroni and Cheese kind of girl. My hubby makes a very good one with a blend of 4 different cheeses, prosciutto and a bread crumb topping. But lets face it, not all kids will embrace this type of macaroni and cheese! My 6 year old likes it, my 2 year old will either put it on his head or throw it on the floor for the dogs to eat!

I make my own copycat version of Kraft’s “Mac and Cheese” because I have had Annie’s GF Rice Pasta and Cheddar and Trader Joe’s GF Rice Pasta and Cheddar and I personally do not like either of them. Mostly, it is because I don’t like the pasta. It is either too chewy or if you cook it a little longer to avoid the chewiness then it is mushy. My boys had gone without mac and cheese since we became a GF household simply because they would not eat it when I bought it. I know a lot of people do like it, but I am not convinced it is because of the taste, but rather because of the convenience!

I started to look around for other ideas to make this quintessential kid favorite and got the idea to use Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Topping in the blue can and just sub in my own pasta. Not bad but not great.

So looking further I decided to try  Frontier Natural Products Mild Cheddar Powder and Frontier Natural Products White Cheddar Cheese Powder (as you can see, it is A LOT cheaper, less shipping, on Amazon). I called the company and while they would not say whether or not these products were definitely gluten free, the woman I spoke to said they use Good Manufacturing Practices and clean the lines between products. She said what is listed on the ingredient label is what is (intentionally) in the product. She said because they do not test for gluten in the end product (from cross-contamination), then they cannot say for sure it is gluten free. This is where you will have to make a decision for yourself.

That’s the rub. Do you strictly buy products that are labeled “gluten-free”, and/or “made in a dedicated gluten free facility” or “no gluten ingredients used” or “manufactured in a facility that uses Good Manufacturing Practices,” etc. etc. That is a personal decision that each one of us needs to make until the FDA formally adopts a definition of “Gluten Free.”

After speaking with Frontier, I decided to accept the risk. I think both powders are tasty and thus far I have never had a gluten reaction. BUT, just because I haven’t exhibited any symptoms, does not mean my insides are not reacting… I do however get the celiac blood panel run each year to check my levels and I just had a biopsy in May that showed very happy villi!!

When it comes to pasta, Tinkyada is pretty much it for me, and I always buy the Tinkyada with Rice Bran. It has THE BEST texture of all the GF pastas I have tried. The pastas with Rice Bran also have 2 grams of fiber per serving.

I hardly use butter at all anymore…I use Smart Balance and so far, it has proven a worthy (if not better) replacement in just about everything I have used it in (not so much on popcorn though). I have fried, baked and used it on bread…

So here is the breakdown on making your own Mac and Cheese (I bought a box of Kraft a while back and cut out the directions and adhered it to a recipe card. I also weighed the packet of cheese).

GF “Kraft Style” Mac and Cheese

4 Tbs. Margarine ( I use Smart Balance)

1/4 cup milk (I use Skim)

1 1/2 oz. Cheese Powder

7 1/2 oz. GF Macaroni or other shape

Prepare macaroni as directed. Drain (Do Not Rinse)

Add Margarine, milk, and cheese powder to the pasta and stir well.

Orange Mac and Cheese

Classic Style Mac and Cheese with Tinkyada's Brown Rice Pasta Elbows

White Cheddar Mac and Cheese

White Cheddar Mac and Cheese using Tinkyada's Little Dreams Pasta

** Dairy Free: I am working on trying to incorporate dairy-free suggestions into my recipes. We are not dairy free, but I have several friends who are. It can be common when first diagnosed with celiac disease to be lactose intolerant as well, at least until the villi are healed. I also know there are a lot of GF people that avoid casein. One of my best friends, Mary is very interested in Nutritional Yeast as a dairy free “cheese alternative.” I have never had it but it appears to be gluten free as well, the author of “Book of Yum” uses it and she is gluten free too. I will study up and start trying some Dairy Free alternatives!

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