A Gaggle of Girls
I'm a divorced mom of 3 gluten-free daughters. We've outgrown dairy, soy, egg, and corn allergies, but still deal with a berry allergy in my youngest.
More about us
email me
Bentos for A Gaggle of Girls
The Year of Living Change-erously
I'm a Mormon.

We are hosted by Invehosting

Archive for December, 2007

postheadericon Coping with the aftermath of holiday foods

You walk into a house that isn’t yours. You have arrived at a holiday party, and there is a lot of food. Food is the way many people show love (think of all those cookies you receive!). You hang up your coat, and then greet your hosts, friends, and family. You are offered a variety of drinks, and choose something you like to keep your mouth moist as you talk. After some chatting, you become hungry, so you walk over to the spread of food.

On the table(s), there are glazed sugar cookies, decorated gingerbread, fudge, salmon and crackers, ham, roast beef and cheese with sandwich buns, shrimp and cocktail sauce, chili, cheese and crackers, a bowl of dried fruits, some roasted nuts in a bowl, and some raw veggies with a dip. It’s a lot of food!

What do you do? What food allergies/intolerances do you cope with? Read the rest of the essay

postheadericon Spinach, Sausage, and Spuds

Each week I make up a menu, and then a grocery list from it, and then cook from it, crossing things off as they are made. This works out great, unless I manage to lose the menu after shopping. I couldn’t remember what I had planned to cook, but the potatoes and sausage were calling to me, and this is what we ended up with. Very yummy, and reasonably easy. It took a little more than 30 minutes, but still qualifies as quick eats to me. I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of it, though – that’ll have to wait until next time!

This is a delicious gfcf, gluten free, family-friendly recipe! It is also (if you double check ingredients!) a wheat free, dairy free, soy free, egg free, tree nut free, peanut free, fish free, shellfish free, corn free, and top 8 allergen free recipe.


  • 1 to 1 1/2 lbs uncooked sausage
  • 4 medium size white potatoes
  • 5 oz frozen chopped spinach (1/3 of a 16 oz bag – the blocks are impossible to work with, splurge on the bags!)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • splash cooking oil
  • 1 batch dairy-free White Sauce
  • a few shakes Tony Chacheres Cajun seasoning

Preheat oven to 400.

In a medium-large skillet, heat oil to medium heat. Add onions. Cut sausage into about 1/2″ thick rounds, and add to the onions. Stir, and continue cooking until sausage is browned on all sides.

While the sausage and onions are cooking, make the White Sauce.

Poke the potatoes a couple times with a fork, and then put them in the microwave for 4 minutes. This will give them a head start on cooking so that they need less time in the oven to cook through.

Cut the potatoes into chunks, and add to a 9×13 pan. Add sausages and onion. Mix together gently, and add in the frozen spinach. Pour white sauce over everything, and gently mix until everything is coated in sauce and the food is well distributed in the pan.

Sprinkle a little Tony Chacheres Cajun seasoning over the top.

Bake for 20 minutes in the oven and put some veggies in to roast at the same time.

Yum! There weren’t many leftovers here for my husband’s lunch!

postheadericon Creamy vegetable curry

My family loves my tomato-based curry, and I vastly prefer coconut milk-based curries. I tried to mix a few ingredients they love in the tomato curry, but using coconut milk. It seemed to work – everyone ate it happily! Any meal where people finish without an argument is one that is worth repeating a few times!

This is a delicious gfcf, gluten free, family-friendly recipe! It is also (if you double check ingredients!) a wheat free, dairy free, soy free, egg free, tree nut free, peanut free, fish free, shellfish free, corn free, top 8 allergen free, and South Beach phase 2 safe recipe. The recipe can served vegetarian and vegan, or with meat.


  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 TBS Patak’s curry paste
  • 1 head cauliflower, or 1 16oz bag frozen cauliflower
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 14oz can coconut milk
  • 2 handfuls red or brown lentils
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 14oz can chickpeas, drained
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1-2 lbs pork cutlets, pork loin, or just pork, cubed (optional)
  • Cooked rice or cooked lentils on the side


Heat the oil in a large heavy saucepan or pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic. Cook until the onions soften.

Add the pork (if using) and brown, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes.

Stir in the curry paste. Add lentils, coconut milk, and water.

Turn the heat up, and add vegetables. Break the cauliflower into florets directly into the pot, or pour bag of frozen cauliflower into pot. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well. If needed, add more liquid – the vegetables and meat should be somewhat submerged.

When the sauce begins to boil, cover loosely. Lower the heat slightly, and cook at a low boil for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom and burn.

After 20 minutes, the sauce should be somewhat thickened, the pork tender, and the cauliflower will have broken into small pieces.

Serve this with lentils or brown rice beneath to absorb the sauce. Delicious!

postheadericon A few tips to help you on your Food Allergy trip

This post is part of the Food Allergy Blog Carnival

We’ve been living with dairy alternatives for 9 years now. We’ve been living gluten-free due to Celiac Disease for almost 5 years. We’ve been living berry-free for a bit over a year. In the past 9 years we’ve gone through times of needing to avoid citrus, soy, eggs, and corn. Not all at once, though! 😉 I’ve picked up a few ideas on how to make the transition to a new diet, and/or living with a restricted diet easier, and I hope they’re helpful.

I’ve got a new tip to start us off – my friend has a child who is anaphylactic to almost everything (no, really!). On their front door is a a sign saying “No Food Allowed”, because they live in a neighborhood with a bunch of kids who were coming over with food. If we lived in a neighborhood with a bunch of kids, we might well have a sign like that up, too. It’s a great way to reduce the risk of cross-contamination in your house, though you might have to pay for a bit more food so the neighbor kids have something to eat when they’re visiting!
Read more tips

postheadericon Shrimp alfredo – gluten and dairy free

When I was mostly vegetarian with the exception of some occasional shrimp/lobster/crawdads when we ate out, I loved to order shrimp alfredo or crawdad alfredo. Mmmmm…. Well, eating out is trickier now, so I figured out a way to make something that tasted a lot like what I loved in the restaurants. If you don’t want a bit of kick, leave out the Tony Chachere’s, but my favorite alfredos were always from the Cajun restaurants!

This is a delicious gfcf, gluten free, family-friendly recipe! It is also (if you double check ingredients!) a wheat free, dairy free, soy free, egg free, tree nut free, peanut free, fish free, and corn free recipe


Peel and de-tail the shrimp. If you buy de-veined large shrimp, it’s a reasonably quick process, just tedious. Remember the trick for frozen shrimp – to thaw them quickly, put them in a bowl with cool water running over them – should be cold, but ready to peel in about 30 minutes.

Prepare the pot for boiling water for the pasta (make sure to salt the water!), and put it on a back burner on high. When it boils, cook the pasta according to package instructions. Tinkyada pasta takes a while to cook (15 minutes), so keep your pastas cooking time in mind when you’re preparing the rest of the meal.

While the water is getting ready to boil, make the White Sauce.

Next, pour some oil in a large skillet, and bring it to medium heat. Sauté the garlic until it’s tender. When the pasta only has a few minutes left, add the shrimp, and sprinkle with the Tony Chachere’s. I use tongs to move the shrimp around the skillet quickly and easily. As soon as all of the shrimp are pink, add peas and take it off the heat. Add white sauce to the shrimp, and mix together.

Drain the pasta, and pour it into a pretty serving dish (or back into the pot), and then gently mix in the sauce, shrimp, and peas. Serve with a nice salad, and enjoy!

postheadericon Creamy vegan lasagna

This is a delicious, family-friendly gfcf, gluten free recipe! It is also wheat free, dairy free, soy free, egg free, tree nut free, peanut free, fish free, shellfish free, top 8 allergen free, corn free, vegetarian & vegan recipe. It could be OK for South Beach phase 1 by serving the filling as a side-dish. If you use whole-grain pasta, this should be OK as is for South Beach phase 2.

We serve this with a side of Italian sausages, as there’s no meat in it. You could probably put ground turkey in with the vegetables, but I like it being Vegan, as then I can serve it to vegetarian friends. We all love this recipe, and it takes care of my need for something creamy and Italian without eating dairy.

Creamy Lasagne


  • 1 batch White sauce
  • 2-3+ cups marinara sauce (how much you use depends on how soupy you want it)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced
  • 1 bag baby spinach (10 oz) (or 1 lb of regular spinach that has been cleaned, de-stemmed, and torn into pieces)
  • 1 package crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced (7-10 oz)
  • 1 package GF lasagna noodles (we like Tinkyada Brown Rice Lasagne)
  • olive oil

Preheat oven to 350F

Heat olive oil in skillet over low heat and let garlic simmer for a few minutes – watch to make sure it doesn’t brown.

Turn heat up to medium and add eggplant and mushrooms. Cover and cook until eggplant is very tender (almost mushy), stirring occasionally. This takes about 5-10 minutes.

Make the white sauce while the eggplant & mushrooms are cooking.

Lasagne and Sausage

Add spinach to the skillet, stir and take off heat once spinach has just wilted. Add 1/2 of the white sauce to this mixture, and stir to combine.

Barely cover the bottom of a 9×13 (or so) baking pan with marinara sauce. Lay 3 uncooked lasagna noodles across the bottom of the pan. Spoon half the spinach/eggplant/mushroom mixture over the noodles. Ladle some marinara on top of the vegetables. Top with 3 more lasagna noodles. Repeat with another layer, and top with 3 more lasagna noodles.

You will have now used 9 lasagna noodles. Put the rest away for something else – sometimes we break them up for use in soup.

Pour white sauce on top of the final layer of noodles.

Cover tightly with foil and bake 45 minutes at 375 degrees. Take off cover, and bake additional 10-15 minutes until everything is browned and bubbly (I sometimes turn on the broiler for the last 2 minutes to brown the top).

This ends up tasting like it has cheese in it. YUM. No one ever even notices that there’s eggplant in it or that it is gluten & dairy-free. Serve with a side of some sort of protein (we like turkey Italian sausages), and you’re ready to eat!

postheadericon At last – A foodie book that doesn’t make the allergic folks cringe!

I’m sending you to one of my book reviews today – Phoebe Damrosch has written a book about love and food that is wonderful, and reads like a novel. While Damrosch doesn’t have food allergies, she mentions them frequently and treats them seriously, as does the restaurant where she worked – Per Se in NYC. It’s a refreshing change from most other foodie memoirs!

I received an advance reader’s copy of Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter by Phoebe Damrosch from Harper Collins for review at the end of the summer. Unfortunately, it got put in the wrong stack of books, and I just now rediscovered it. I’m very disappointed I didn’t read it earlier.

I don’t want to pigeon hole Service Included into one category. It is a story about a woman’s experience as a “Captain”, or one of the main waitresses, in a four star restaurant in NYC. However, she isn’t a waitress to support another artistic career – she’s there because she’s in love with the food It’s also the story of a woman falling in love with a man who joins her in her food love affair, and brings the wine. This is a non-fiction book that reads as smoothly as a novel.

If you wanted a recipe for Service Included, I would say that it’s got a splash of Kitchen Confidential, a few pinches of Cooking for Mr. Latte, and a twist of Garlic and Sapphires. There’s a secret ingredient in there, too – Phoebe Damrosch’s perspective and personality, which makes everything “just right”. Read the rest of the review…

postheadericon Snowdrops – chocolate chip meringues

These are a favorite holiday cookie from my childhood, my Nana made them every year. I was so sad when we went dairy-free, as it was then impossible to find dairy-free mini chocolate chips. Thank goodness for Enjoy Life chocolate chips! You can also make them with regular sized chocolate chips, but they are even yummier with the mini chips.

I am hopeless with meringues – they always end up sticky, but these appear to be foolproof. You should still try to avoid baking them on wet days, but otherwise they are incredibly easy and keep very well in an airtight container.

These cookies are gfcf, wheat, gluten, dairy, soy, corn, tree nut, peanut, fish, and shellfish free. and delicious!


  • 2 egg whites

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 10oz bag mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 370 degrees F. This is NOT a typo!

Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer.

Sloooowly add the sugar, vanilla, and salt to the eggs. Continue to beat eggs until they form stiff peaks.

Fold in the chocolate chips.

Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper, Reynolds Release, or silpat.

Drop teaspoonfuls of batter onto the sheets. You want small, snowdrops. They still work if they end up larger because you have “help” from children, though.

Put the cookie sheets in the oven, and TURN IT OFF. Then walk away. This doesn’t require an oven with a pilot light or anything – it works fine in electric ovens

Leave them there overnight (ideally), or for at least 5 hours. I do it overnight, as otherwise I would be tempted to check on them. Put a sticky note on the oven to remind people that they may not open the oven.

Take them off the cookie sheets in the morning and place in an airtight container. Give as many as survive your hungry family to your most loved friends and family.

postheadericon Chocolate-Covered Peanut-Butter Balls

This Recipe Contains Peanuts!

This is a delicious gfcf, gluten free, family-friendly recipe! It is also (if you double check ingredients!) a wheat free, dairy free, soy free, egg free, fish free, shellfish free, corn free, and vegan recipe.

My grandmother makes a recipe similar to this, but hers has graham cracker crumbs in it. I adore hers, and these are pretty darn good, and without the gluten or dairy!

Chocolate covered peanut butter balls


  • 4 cups powdered sugar

  • 1 stick margarine (aka 1/2 cup), melted
  • 2 cups (or 1 18 oz container) chunky peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (use the thick part from a chilled can)
  • 1 TBS vanilla
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 bags (12 oz size) chocolate chips/chunks (aka 3 cups)
  • 3 TBS shortening (we use Spectrum)
  • several lightly salted peanuts

Combine ingredients through salt. Mix well.

Scoop into walnut-sized balls, and place on waxed paper. Chill in refrigerator (or back porch in winter) for at least an hour.

Melt the chocolate & shortening together, and use a fork or spoon to dip the peanut butter balls in the chocolate.

Decorate each one with a peanut on top. Chill again, then eat! Mmmm….

postheadericon Dairy-Free Penuche Fudge

This is one I have missed sooooo much since going gluten and dairy free. I love penuche fudge. I think it’s a regional thing, as my husband had never heard of it before he met me. Yum

Penuche Fudge


  • 2 1/2 cups light brown sugar

  • 1 TBS maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk (chill the can and measure out the thick part, not the watery part)
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 1 TBS margarine
  • 1 TBS Karo syrup (light or dark) – sub cane syrup if corn-free
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Put ingredients through Karo syrup into a heavy saucepan with a candy thermometer. Stir frequently until it comes to a boil.

Allow it to boil for about 20 minutes, until it reaches soft ball stage.

Remove from the heat, and place pan in a bowl of cool water. Stir in the vanilla and nuts. Keep stirring until it becomes thick and stops looking glossy.

Pour into a greased 8×8 pan, and let set. Cut into squares and serve. Delicious!

Look at our lunches!
Foods we have made
Recipe Categories