Creatively and Frugally Gluten Free

We’ve all been hit hard with the economy the way that it is and if you are like myself, you’ve been hit a bit harder because I am still out of work.  I wasn’t laid off or anything, I willing left my job and life in California to move back East to be with Bryan.  I don’t regret my decision by any means – I think it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. If I didn’t move in the summer who knows if or when it would have happened.  There were other factors (like our families) into moving when I did but he was the main reason.  Seeing as I left my job, I do not collect unemployment and have no income or health insurance. I spend my days searching and applying for jobs – which is usually about 20 jobs!  I’m not being picky and only applying for certain jobs, I am applying to anything and everything that I remotely qualify, however the call backs are scarce. sparse.  Honestly as depressing and defeating as it is, I keep doing it every day.  I know something will come along, I just hope it happens soon. It is funny because the few responses I have received back say I am over qualified and that is one thing I have never been told in my life, usually it is the opposite because even though I have about 10 years of administrative work under my belt (mostly in Higher Education admissions) I am under qualified because I don’t have a Bachelor’s degree (actually any degree for that matter).

I would love to someday have the ability to donate my time with an organization or be a part time food blogger and work part-time, but right now we need me to be working.  I enjoy working (and earning a pay check) actually I miss working.  People keep telling me that once I get a job I’ll be wishing for this time again, and I’m sure I will at some point but I think it might take a while for me to feel that way.

So with being out of work for a total of four months we have learned to not only live the gluten-free life creatively but also frugally!  I am a coupon clipper and at first Bryan would make fun of me for it but I think now he is pretty thankful for my OCD with coupons.  Each week when we get the grocery ads I scour them looking for the good sales.  We normally don’t buy anything that isn’t on sale.  I’m a big fan of the buy one get one items.  We buy more fresh items vs. processed items.

I also try to make as many gluten-free things that I possibly can instead of buying them at the stores such as granola, bread, salad dressings, cookies, ice tea, mochas, cakes and pies.  Sadly however, I am running low on all of my gluten-free flours and my xanthan gum! So I have to be careful until I can afford to order some new ones.  Today I was trying to think of other things I can make at home with the ingredients I have on hand instead of buying.  One thing that came to mind is taco seasoning.  We eat tacos fairly often because it is a quick and easy meal that we both enjoy.  So I did some searching around online to find out what people really put in taco seasoning because the packages are a bit vague listing “spices” – well that is obvious but which ones? Here is what I came up with, and should probably note we really enjoy spicy foods in our house so you might want to adjust this recipe to your level of spice preference.  We tried this tonight and it was really good, if I do say so myself!

CCGF’s Taco Seasoning (GF/OF/DF)

1 Tablespoon Corn Starch (I noticed some people used Potato Starch or Corn Flour)

1 Teaspoon Chili Powder (make sure it is gluten-free!)

1 Teaspoon Paprika

3/4 Teaspoon Salt

1/2 Teaspoon Cumin

1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (You might want to use only 1/4 teaspoon if you don’t like much spice)

1/2 Teaspoon Chipolte Pepper (You can omit this or use 1/4 teaspoon)

1/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder

1/4 Teaspoon Sugar

Add all of the ingredients to a bowl or plastic bag, mix well.  Store in an airtight container.


1lb – 1 1/2lb ground beef or turkey

Taco Seasoning (see above)

2/3 Cup water

Corn tortilla shells -hard or soft

Shredded lettuce (optional)

Shredded cheese (optional)

Sour cream (optional)

Avocado (optional)

In a large skillet on medium heat, brown beef and drain off any fat, about 8-10 minutes.  Add taco seasoning stir until well combined then add water.  Simmer over medium heat until sauce has thickened, about 3-4 minutes.  Serve in taco shells with your favorite toppings.  You can even make nachos with this instead!

Here is to living the gluten-free life creatively and frugally!

Chili – GF/OF

First off, I am very sorry for taking a picture with my cell phone.  I completely forgot to take a photo last night so when we had some for lunch today, I had to take a quick pic.  Guess I was a bit hungry and excited last night.

I have never made chili – well that isn’t 100% true, I did help my friend at one point make it but I’ve never made it myself so I did some looking around online for recipes.  There are countless chili recipes and so many delicious sounding ones.  However, all of the recipes called for onions and Bryan can’t eat those, so I was determined to make a flavorful chili minus the onions and gluten of course.  While shopping, I noticed that a few brands of chili powder contained gluten in them – thankfully the store brand didn’t and it was way less money! I found a few that sounded great, read them over and kind of picked different ingredients from each recipe and came up with my own.  Keeping my fingers crossed that it would taste okay, seeing as Bryan was having some classmates over to study for their midterm.  Probably not the smartest idea to cook/bake something you have never done before when people are coming over, but I did it anyway and it came out great!!

We really enjoy spicy food in our house, so I tried to make sure I had enough spice in the chili but not over powering.  The following recipe has a great kick to it so if you aren’t into spicy food, just adjust the seasoning to your taste level, maybe by cutting the measurements in half at first and go from there.  you could also add some extra tomatoes to help cool it off a bit.  Also a great topping to help with the heat – sour cream!  Bryan thought I was crazy when I picked it up at the store but after he tried it, he really liked it.

Chili – Gluten Free and Onion Free

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

4-6 celery stocks (cleaned and chopped)

5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 large green (or red) bell pepper, chopped

1 can of tomato paste

3 tablespoons chili powder (if you like less spice, use 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons)

2 tablespoons chopped chipolte chilis in adobo sauce

1 tablespoon of the adobe sauce from the chilis (this is in addition to the 2 tablespoons of the chopped chili’s)

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2  teaspoon cinnamon

2 pounds of ground beef

1 28oz can diced tomatoes with juice

1 bay leaf

2 cans 14.5 oz kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup water

Salt and ground pepper

In a 5-quart heavy pot or dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add garlic, celery and peppers. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the celery and peppers have softened – about 3 minutes.

Add tomato paste, chili powder, chipotle chili’s, adobo sauce, cumin and cinnamon to the garlic, celery and peppers.  Cook until everything is well combined and starts to brown, about 2-3 minutes.  Add ground beef, and brown, breaking it down into chunks and no longer pink.

Add the diced tomatoes with their juices, bay leaf, kidney beans and water.  Simmer for 45 minutes to one hour – taste and season with salt and pepper accordingly.

We served this with Bob’s Red Mill’s Gluten Free Corn Bread (topped with butter and honey, yummmm)

Top with:

Shredded cheese, sour cream, avocados, jalapenos etc.