Gluten Free Biscuits

Becoming gluten free has been a wonderful thing for myself but I have to say I do have foods that I miss. Every weekend I make a big breakfast for my family but when I first went gluten free I quit eating breakfast with my family. I tried a few recipes here and there like Almond Flour Pancakes that are a great gluten free option but I had a craving for a favorite weekend standby of ours, Biscuits and Gravy.

I have written about our love of biscuits and gravy before. We are a southern family. I was raised in the south and 3 of my kid’s were born in the south. Biscuits and gravy are a staple in our house and even have made special appearances for brinner from time to time.  I had my work cut out for myself. I needed to figure out how to make a gluten free biscuit. I tried several different biscuit recipes from gluten free websites to adapting regular recipes to gluten free. It took some trail and error but I finally found a recipe that worked. I went back to one of the first biscuit recipes I had ever made, J.P.’s Big Daddy Biscuit’s recipe on Allrecipes and made it gluten free. It is now my go to biscuit recipe.

Gluten Free biscuits are made in a similar manor as regular biscuit. The only difference I found was the dough was stickier so keep either gluten free all purpose flour or rice flour around  for dusting.

Gluten Free Biscuits | Country Girl Gourmet

I don’t roll out my biscuit dough. I never have. I pat it out to my desired thickness. Usually about an inch thick.

Gluten Free Biscuits | Country Girl Gourmet

I also do not own a biscuit cutter. I use a pampered chef mixing cup. My mom always used a glass. Don’t be afraid to think out of the box when it comes to cutting your biscuits.

Gluten Free Biscuits | Country Girl Gourmet

I place them on the cookie sheet and then let them rest about 10 minutes are so before baking.

Gluten Free Biscuits | Country Girl Gourmet

They bake for 20 minutes and come out nice and golden. I have learned that gluten free biscuits do not rise as much as regular biscuits but that is ok. The flavor is there and that is what we want. The biscuits are now ready for eating your favorite ways.

Gluten Free Biscuits | Country Girl Gourmet

They are perfect with sausage gravy. Just use Rice Flour (white or brown) instead of All Purpose Flour as your gravy thickener. You can check out my regular sausage gravy recipe HERE.
Gluten Free Biscuits | Country Girl Gourmet

Or maybe just a bit of butter and homemade Strawberry Jam is how you like your biscuits.

Gluten Free Biscuits | Country Girl Gourmet

These biscuits are really great for all your biscuit needs and wants. Try them for yourself and tell me what you think!

Gluten Free Biscuits

adapted from J.P. Big Daddy Biscuits on Allrecipes

   
Ingredients

  • 2 cups gluten free all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon xantham gum
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 1 cup milk

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, mix together gluten free all purpose flour, baking powder, xantham gum, salt, and sugar. Cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  3. Add milk and combine until all moistened. Do not over mix.
  4. Put gluten free flour on counter and take dough and pat out or roll to a about 1in thick.
  5. Cut biscuits with a large cutter or glass dipped in flour. Repeat until all dough is used. Brush off the excess flour, and place biscuits onto an ungreased baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly golden.
  7. Gluten Free Biscuits | Country Girl Gourmet

Mommy Guilt

I started running when my youngest was a year old. It was easy. Once her brothers were in school into the jogging stroller she went and we would go. Her brothers were all in school including an extended school year program so my breaks from running were maybe a week or two at a time. I had no issues taking these short breaks as we were always on the go. Fast forward a few years to now to a time when one would think it would be easier to just get and go run I have found the opposite. Since school let out for summer many days I find myself struggling with mommy guilt.

Mommy Guilt |Country Girl Gourmet

 

Mommy guilt isn’t anything new for many mothers. You simply feel guilty for not spending time with your kid’s/family. You are going out and doing something for yourself. Something that keeps you healthy, both mentally and physically. The problem is though while you know things will be ok while you go out there is often times something that comes up that gets you to skip your workout. Then you are stuck in mommy guilt land. It is a place where you work out and then feel guilty because your kid’s missed you or wanted to do something with you or when you spend time with your kids you feel guilty missing your workout.

There are plenty of websites out there that tell you to prioritize your needs and not worry your child will be fine. They make it appear that everyone else is dealing with things just fine. This kind of thing only makes things worse for those of us who are type A’s. How can they be handling things so perfectly? What am I not doing right? Maybe just some effective time management is all that is needed. I really don’t think so though. In my opinion what it really boils down to is a balancing act and we need to quit beating ourselves up when things do not go as planned.   Yes, effective time management is helpful but life happens and even the best laid plans and good intentions get pushed aside for a variety of reasons. It can be something big or small, trivial or important, the list of possibilities is endless but in the big scheme of life it really doesn’t matter.

It is wonderful showing your kids that mommy is fit and healthy. Kids need that positive role model. It works too! My daughter was 3 years old and told me that when she grows up she wants to run fast like mommy. She does run now and she is faster than mommy! She has run USATF track and field and cross country since she was 5 years old. My oldest is a runner also and is beginning his first year on high school cross country at the moment. My middle two don’t have the same zest for running but will get outside. So I use this to my advantage. I need to get out and exercise and my kids want to do something so we do something together. We ride our mountain bikes on nearby trails or in our neighborhood. We go for a hike on a nearby trail. My kids even lift weights and work out in our garage with us.

Getting out and doing things with my kids with my kids may not be that same type of workout I would have done by myself but it is killing 2 birds with one stone. I am working out and getting my exercise in while at the same time we are spending time together. The spending time together is a bit more of a priority for me. That is what I want my kid’s to remember. They can one day look back on their childhood and remember how mom was always busy training or they can remember going on a bike ride where their water bottle bounced out of their bikes basket among other seemingly trivial things.

Mommy Guilt | Country Girl Gourmet

 

Maybe it is about prioritizing things in your life after all? Summer is short and here in a few weeks my kid’s will be back in school. Things will go back to our normal routines and I can get back on track. Until then I will be happy creating memories with my kids.

Mommy Guilt | Country Girl Gourmet

 

 How have you had mommy guilt while your kid’s have been out for summer break? How did you deal with it?

Honey Vanilla Ice Cream

You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream! I love ice cream, it is probably one of my favorite foods. It is all too easy to pick some up from the store to bring home for a treat. My kids love it when we pick up some and do your own sundaes. Having ice cream as a bed time snack and making toad stew is a favorite memory of mine from my grandma’s. She always had plenty of Schwan’s ice cream at her house. I am sure the memories of my grandma only add to my love of ice cream.

Unfortunately for me though going to the store and just picking out ice cream is no longer an easy task. Finding ice creams that I can eat that are gluten free is generally easy. I am allergic to coconut and that is where I have problems now. Coconut Oil is appearing in more and more products and sometimes it appears suddenly in a product we have eaten for years after  making a product new and improved. Ice cream is now one of those products that for whatever reason often has coconut oil in it. Between being gluten free and my coconut allergy, I am now a pro at reading labels.

Honey Vanilla Ice Cream | Country Girl Gourmet #icecream

So yes, I am one of those people that while they are grocery shopping that is examining labels. I have to or else I am stuck with an itchy and sometimes swollen feeling throat, hives and whatever else. Food allergies and intolerance’s aren’t fun.

In all of my reading of labels I have been puzzled by some labels of what would be thought to be rather simple foods like ice cream. I understand there are some preservatives in there and then there are thickeners but food coloring for vanilla ice cream, huh?  I’m not Food Babe and have no desire to be like her but I do have to question some things that are being put in the food that we buy. Plus we are talking about ice cream, isn’t it suppose to be basically milk, cream and sugar?

Honey Vanilla Ice Cream | Country Girl Gourmet #icecream

I am thankful that I can cook and make things so that I know exactly what ingredients are in the things that I am eating.  After finally putting the drum of my ice cream maker in my deep freezer I think I will be making more ice cream at home. Cost wise it is about the same to make a batch of ice cream  as it is to buy some brands. Ice Cream really isn’t that hard to make. It just takes a little time but it is worth it in the end.

I just discovered a great recipe for a honey vanilla ice cream that I think will be my new go to. It is made with honey and brown sugar instead of  white sugar creating a beautiful taste profile. It is a deeper vanilla ice cream flavor. It is smooth and creamy too! It was so much better than anything you can buy in the store and easy to make too. It was an easy process of simmering milk and then slowly adding the milk to the egg yolk, brown sugar and honey and touch of salt. Once you temper the milk and egg mixture you put it back on the stove and cook until it coats a spoon. Remove it from the heat and add your cream and vanilla extract and throw the ice cream mix in the fridge to cool for a few hours. I like to do this part at night so in the morning my ice cream is ready to churn. Once you churn it you can eat it right away or you can place it in the freezer and let it harden up. After churning in my Kitchen Aid mine was like a soft serve consistency so I put mine in containers and froze for later. Freezing allowed it to harden up and make it perfectly scoopable.  My family loved this ice cream plain and with caramel and/or chocolate. It is sadly all gone and my kids keep begging to make more. With simple ingredients I think I can make that happen for them.

If your family likes ice cream as much as my family does I am sure they will love to make this rich and creamy homemade ice cream too!

Honey Vanilla Ice Cream | Country Girl Gourmet #icecream

 

Honey Vanilla Ice Cream

from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 (7 inch) vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream

Directions

  1. In a medium pan, heat the milk and vanilla bean to simmering. Do not boil. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, brown sugar, honey, and salt until light colored and frothy. While whisking constantly, slowly combine the hot milk with the egg mixture. Transfer the mixture back to the sauce pan. Cook over medium heat until mixture reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit (82 degrees Celsius) when tested with a candy thermometer, or becomes thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. Remove from heat.
  2. Remove the vanilla bean from the mixture and reserve. Strain custard into a large bowl. Scrape seeds from the vanilla bean into the custard. (Vanilla bean pod may be used again.) Stir the heavy cream into the custard. Cover the surface of the custard with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.
  3. When cold, freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.

NOTE-

You can substitute 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract if you don’t have a vanilla bean in your pantry. Add the vanilla extract to the custard mixture with the heavy cream.

 

Honey Vanilla Ice Cream | Country Girl Gourmet #icecream

 

Being Gluten Free

It seems everywhere I turn lately there is something about being Gluten Free. Little did I know before finally deciding to do a gluten free trial that being gluten free was on the road to be the next greatest diet trend. While it has brought some great gluten free food options it has brought with it backlash as well. Yes, I can laugh at late night talk shows when they quiz people on what evil gluten is. It is a bit of a different feeling I get from bloggers that bring forth their opinions about the gluten free life and this “fad” is ridiculous. Being Gluten Free isn’t easy. It is not the right option for everyone and it isn’t something someone should decide to do without researching the pro’s and cons and looking at their medical needs.

Being Gluten Free

After the birth of my 3rd son I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder and it was after that I have spent countless hours in different doctor offices trying to figure out what was going on with me. I still don’t have any real answers, one doctor says I have lupus and the next disagrees. The only thing that remains the same was I have something autoimmune going on. I only grew frustrated and my dislike of going to the doctor grew. Tired of being prescribed medications that only mask my symptoms instead of getting to the root of the issue I took my health in my own hands. I researched for a few months, reading journal articles and other studies before finally deciding that a gluten free diet may be what my body needs.  After all I figured a trial of couldn’t hurt.  I had been gluten free for a couple weeks when my husband’s grandfather passed and we went to Ohio. At this point I wasn’t  sure how much being gluten free was helping but I soon learned it was. While at my inlaw’s I ate gluten and  my stomach problems were back. My stomach was bloated right away  and I would soon be in all types of gastric distress. Soon as I got home I went back to my gluten free ways and my stomach thanked me. Heck, my whole body thanked me.

I have been gluten free for almost 8 months now. It has been a learning lesson the entire way. I have learned what I can and cannot eat. I have slipped up too just as I am sure others on this journey have done. After all nobody is perfect. The first time I went out to eat was overwhelming. My husband and I went to a local gastropub and I was so worried about accidentally eating gluten. I did ask my server questions that she begrudgingly answered. She was probably like these other servers that are blogging about their patrons that come in asking gluten free questions and then drink a beer. Well, I was that patron. I was so worried about what I was going to eat that I didn’t think at all about what I drank. I realized my mistake as I was drinking my beer. I had that oh crap what should I do followed by the oh crap that server probably thinks I am an idiot. The truth as my husband pointed out was she probably had no clue. The number of people who actually know what gluten is, while growing is small.  If my server did know what gluten is and was secretly judging me, oh well. I doubt she is perfect.

I have learned of foods with “hidden”gluten. These are foods you wouldn’t think have gluten in them. Some of these foods include:

  • Soy Sauce
  • Cream Based Soups (Cream of…)
  • Salad Dressings
  • Lunch Meats
  • Spice, Gravy, and/or Sauce Mixes
  • Candy (such as Twizzlers)
  • Eggs served at restaurants

HERE is a really good list to check out to learn more about hidden gluten sources. Being gluten free you learn to read labels well. You become that person in the grocery store examining ingredient lists.

Another place hidden gluten lingers is possible cross contamination when it comes to condiments like butter and then there is your toaster when it comes to gluten crumbs getting into your gluten free food. I have always hated crumbs in the butter and now I have given myself an excuse to buy my own little tub. It is all those little things that you don’t think of.

I have learned to be prepared and to bring my own food when we are headed out of town. I recently went to a weekend long Army family event and based on past experiences I thought I would be ok but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Pasta buffets are not friends of those who are gluten free.  Our active duty spouses at least were required to eat what was served so I ended up looking like that picky kid eating plain salad greens. That night after our class we headed to Walmart and I picked up some food. Thank goodness for nearby grocery stores!

Not all places are bad when it comes to finding gluten free food. Many restaurants have options and if you are lucky it is more than just salad. Just remember if you are getting french fries there may be a cross contamination risk if they fry breaded foods in the same fryer as their french fries. Some places will even go above and beyond to help you and make sure your meal is gluten free.  Disney World is great when it comes to special diets and I was really pleased when we visited this past spring. It was one thing to be ordering food and my husband and I in line waiting our turn discussing gluten free meals I could have and the cast member ordering it gluten free before I even said anything.  I was unbelievably excited while we were in Animal Kingdom and we walked by a gluten free food cart. I was in love! They had everything from gluten free beer to gluten free doughnuts. I had my first doughnut in months and it was delicious!

Being Gluten Free

My Gluten Free Doughnut from Disney World

Not all baked goods are created equal in the gluten free world. It has been a learning curve to figure out how to bake. I have learned that xantham gum is my friend when baking and it is necessary. I have learned all gluten free flour blends are not equal and some are better than others. It has taken me a few months but I have finally figured out biscuits so I can make biscuits and gravy. Cupcakes will be next. I miss cupcakes!

Being Gluten Free

This leads me into the most common things people say when they find out you are gluten free. You are almost always told, I could never give up  fill in the blank awesome gluten food. Yes, there are foods I miss but they are coming out with more and more great gluten free products. Then there is the standard I know of someone that is gluten free like their sister-in-law’s best friend’s aunt. Umm, ok? There are other people that are gluten free. In fact, 1 in 133 people have celiac and it is estimated that 83% of Americans are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed (from celiccentral.org). Then there are those that ask if being gluten free is a good way to lose weight. If you eat a lot of crap and you start eating healthier then yes you will lose weight. Myself and my family ate healthy to begin with. We try to keep processed foods to a minimum. I haven’t bought a box of Kraft mac n Cheese since early 2010. So for myself, no I did not lose weight. I have actually gained weight! Go figure!  Giving up my favorite homemade bake treats and training for 2 half marathons you would think I would lose. Oh well, I guess. People are curious so the list of things people say is endless. You just have to let people know you are gluten free because our body doesn’t like gluten and we eat this way to make our bodies happy.

There is a lot that goes into being gluten free and I have only touched the surface. It has been the best choice for my personal health. Being gluten free isn’t just a fad crazy diet for me, it is my way of life. It helps me feel better. Being truly gluten free is not something you can take a day off from unless you want your body to essentially hate you.  Yeah, so being gluten free may be the cool thing to do right now. I will take it especially if companies want to finally produce products that those of us who are gluten free miss.  If only we could get others not to think that being gluten free is so odd.

Simple Watermelon Sorbet

Don’t tell my favorite produce stand but I have been buying watermelons from Walmart. At $2 a seedless watermelon I just could not buy them. My family has been eating them just about as fast as I can buy them too. Then again there are 6 of us. Food doesn’t last long around this house so I had to hide some watermelon from my family to make a special treat. My friend Stella from  Stella Reynoso.com shared on her Instagram a ice cream maker free way to make sorbet. Since I almost always forget to throw my Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Maker base in the freezer I was intrigued. I really, really like sorbet and I have wanted to make some for a long time. With those $2 watermelons the timing was perfect.

Sorbet is simple. It is typically made with fruit and is just fruit puree and/or juice, sugar and water.  The  sugar and water is made into a simple syrup and then added to fruit puree and frozen. It really doesn’t get much simpler than that.

Where this recipe is different is that most sorbet recipes tell you to place the fruit mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze. If you have a bit of time there is another way if you do not have an ice cream maker or if you just keep forgetting to put the base in the freezer and all you need is a Ziploc freezer bag. Yep, a Ziploc bag. All you need to do is pour  the fruit mixture into a large Ziploc plastic freezer bag and seal it up. While it is freezing move the contents around in the bag every 15 minutes  for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Simple Watermelon Sorbet without an Ice Cream Maker!

 

You want it to get frozen and slushy. Then all there is left to do is to transfer it into a plastic container and seal. Let it sit for a couple hours and then you have some delicious sorbet that rivals what you can buy in the store! I have made this recipe several times now and I have gone onto experimenting with different fruits. Strawberry worked beautifully in this recipe. Try it for yourself! You will be amazed at how easy and good this sorbet is!
Simple Watermelon Sorbet without an Ice Cream Maker!

 

Simple Watermelon Sorbet

from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 1/2-1 cup white sugar (based on your fruit’s sweetness)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 cups cubed seeded watermelon

Directions

  1. Combine sugar, water, and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat; cook and stir until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and refrigerate until cooled, about 30 minutes.
  2. .Blend watermelon in a blender or food processor until pureed. Stir pureed watermelon into sugar mixture.
  3. Pour mixture into a large resealable plastic freezer bag. Seal, and freeze for 45 minutes to an hour. Move the contents around in the bag every 15 minutes while freezing. OR…. Transfer watermelon mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Transfer sorbet to a one- or two-quart lidded plastic container; cover surface with plastic wrap and seal. For best results, sorbet should ripen in the freezer for at least 2 hours or overnight

Spaghetti with Garlic, Red Pepper and Olive Oil

When my husband and I were first married and didn’t have much money I would often throw things together for meals. Sometimes these things were hits and others were misses. One of my favorite hits was simple spaghetti mixed with “butter”, garlic and parmesan. Not the good parmesan though, the stuff that comes in the green can and even at that it wasn’t Kraft. It was some generic version they sold at the commissary. Oh and that garlic was garlic powder, the at the time 50cent a bottle garlic powder. The butter well it was margarine. I remember eating it one day when my sister and her now ex-husband came over and he thought it was the the weirdest thing. Then again he was from Albuquerque, New Mexico so if it didn’t have green chiles it was weird.

The simple spaghetti was something quick and easy I could put together and became comfort food. I even taught my oldest how to make it but now our ingredients are a little different. Now I use real butter, parmesan  and garlic. While working with Barilla this month I was introduced to a even more grown up version of this simple dish and I was hooked. Heck, my whole family was to the point they were fighting over it. Thank goodness I can get gluten free pasta and Barilla makes a pretty good gluten free pasta so I can continue having this for a quick lunch or dinner.

If you are in a pinch and looking for something tasty and quick and easy to make this is the recipe to try. Try for yourself, you will be happy you did. It may become one of your comfort food favorite dishes.

Spaghetti with Garlic, Red Pepper and Olive Oil | Country Girl Gourmet

Spaghetti with Garlic, Red Pepper and Olive Oil

from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 1 (16 ounce) box Barilla PLUS® Thin Spaghetti
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, parsley and red pepper flakes; saute 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Cook Plus® Thin Spaghetti according to package directions.
  4. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water. Immediately add hot pasta to skillet. Stir in reserved pasta cooking water. Mix well. Add cheese and toss lightly.
  5. Transfer to a serving platter or bowl.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Tips

The Disney Princess Half Marathon registration opened up on July 15th to all of us that are not annual passholders or have DVC. The struggle was real. Active.com was slammed with people attempting to register. I was lucky and it took about a half hour, while others waited an hour or longer. There was a lot of refreshing, freaking out when payment screens went blank and for myself (and possibly others) feelings of relief when that email saying I was registered came minutes later.

Are you planning to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon? Check out these tips! #princesshalf

The Glass Slipper Challenge was full in under 2 hours and the half marathon and 10k were full in around 6. I can say for myself  I was thankful that I did not wait to register like my husband suggested. For whatever the reason may be Disney races have been selling out and selling out fast. We are not talking about in days but in hours here.  Could be because the secret is out and everyone is learning how awesome their races are. They are definitely my favorite after running other half marathons. I have yet to run a half marathon where on the course other runners are so friendly and encouraging. Then there is the awesome course support and the support after the race is awesome as well. In addition to all of this you can stop and have your picture taken with your favorite Disney characters. Seriously what is there not to like! Thankfully for those that still would like to run but were not able to register there are options available. You can still enter with charities and some trip planners have entries available.

So if this is your first time running the Princess Half Marathon I am going to guess that you are full of questions. I know I was. I searched and searched for info but to my surprise it was not easy to find. I want to help all of y’all out though. I’m going to answer some popular questions the best that I can and if you have a question. Let me know and I will add it and answer it.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Tips

Is Race Retreat worth the money?

This is what your $120 for Race Retreat gets you:

  • Climate Control
  • Private bag check,
  • “Private” port-a-potties
  • Changing area
  • Padded streching area
  • Character Meet and Greets
  • Self Treat Medical Station/ First Aid
  • Pre race food- Bagels and Fruit
  • Post race food- Hot Breakfast and fruit and champagne or mimosas
  • Post race, commemorative towel, flip flops or comfy socks
  • Massages (self pay)
  • Kid area with bean bag chairs and Disney movies on TV
  • Live result area TV streaming finish

Race Retreat is one of those things that everyone has to decide is this something I need for my Disney Princess experience. You could also think of it as how pampered do I need to be? Although the climate control  sounds lovely I just couldn’t make myself pay for it. If you choose to skip it yes, you will be left to be outside in the elements and that could mean, it is hot or cold or just right. There are areas by the stage for character meet and greets pre-race. There just are longer lines. They offer lounge chairs or you could sit on the ground. Last year I saw people bring dollar store pool floaties to sit on. The lines for the porta potties aren’t really that bad. They keep moving. I was in line no more than 15 minutes. The only problem I had was the porta potties do not have lights so I had to use the flashlight on my phone. Gear check was quick and easy, no lines and it is done by your last name. Post race there are medical tents and a self pay massage tent. Last year it was $1 a minute but it was cash only. As for the food element I am very simple when it comes to my pre-race fuel and being gluten free bagels and fruit  won’t work for me. Post race, i’m ok with my food box, I usually can’t eat for a couple hours after a long run. Plus in the post race area there is food and alcohol available for purchase.

Race Retreat is $120

Pasta in the Park 

There are mixed feelings about Pasta in the Park. You are given admission into Epcot (at 6pm) and you can ride a few rides while you are there so that is a plus.  It is also said there are some great character meet and greets another plus. The food some like it and others don’t. It is served buffet style and there are several choices. A common complaint is the time. When you have to be up at 2:30am to run a half you want to get to bed and try to get some rest. Going to Pasta in the park and staying to get everything you paid for (this includes special seating for Illuminations fireworks show) can lead to a late night. Personally this is something I skip. I eat a gluten free diet so I would be limited to what I can eat plus I like to try to go to bed early the night before.

**note** Disney is awesome about special diets and they can be contacted to see if any accommodations are being made for special diets.

Pasta in the Park is $54 for adults, $30 for children, children 3 and under are free

Breakfast

The Princess breakfast is another option that is hit and miss with other princesses and their families. I haven’t talked to many people who loved it or said it was worth it. In fact many people suggest making reservations at your favorite restaurant for breakfast instead. Complaint’s have ranged from the food being just ok to there being long lines for the character meet and greets.

Breakfast is $39adult $26 child

 

ChEAR Squad

There are many places along the half marathon route that non runners can see runners for the half marathon to include Main Street at the Magic Kingdom and the Finish Line area. Disney does offer what they call ChEAR Squad that has reserved viewing areas  for those who purchase Gold or Platinum and other perks. For instance the platinum ChEAR Squad includes Race Retreat and that gives non runners a place to hang out if the weather is really hot or cold. There is reserved seating in front of the castle in the Magic Kingdom that has a nice view. There have been mixed views on the finished line seating. It is first come first serve.  Another plus depending on the package you choose (silver- platinum) are different souvenirs (typically a t-shirt and blanket but it may include other things) or Cheer Squad Gear. For ChEAR Squad this is something that you need to discuss with those that are coming with you and what they want. For instance, if you are choosing the Race Retreat  you may want to get the platinum chEAR Squad to enjoy your after half marathon breakfast together.

ChEAR Squad Packages:

Bronze -
Complementary
Silver -
$39.00
Gold -
$65.00 – Disney Princess Half Marathon
Platinum -
$120.00 – Disney Princess Half Marathon

 

Where to Stay

One of the biggest questions is where should you stay. This race is so large  that even locals stay on property and after my experience with the Rock N Roll Raleigh I don’t blame them. I highly suggest stay on Disney Property (to include Shades of Green). With the Disney Princess Half Marathon all resorts are host resorts. That means all resorts have race day transportation and not just that but transportation to the Expo also. Disney has resorts at all prices too and from time to time offer various different specials. Last year I stayed at the Caribbean Beach resort and it was great. Although I had rented  car to drive to Orlando there was no need for me to drive it around and that saved me some money. Disney has a great transportation system that you are able to utilize to go all over the Disney property. I went to Downtown Disney and the restaurants and gift shops at my resort. You do have to wait on buses and depending on your resort you may have several stops.
I have to add in that Magic Bands are pretty cool. You have your room key on your wrist so you don’t need to worry about where you are going to stash your room key especially if you don’t check your bag.
Everyone has their own favorite resort so I won’t suggest one over another but will say if you want to stay at a particular resort I suggest that you book your room early. The longer you wait the fewer resorts that will have availability.
If you choose to stay off Disney property remember to leave with more than enough time to get to the parks on race day.

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Are you planning to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon? Check out these tips! #princesshalf

To wear a costume or to not wear a question

I remember last year spending a ton of time worried about the costume question. I decided on wearing one, I wanted to dress like Cinderella. I pinned different outfits on Pinterest. Then I started to get worried about what running 13.1 miles in a costume would be like but on the other hand I didn’t want to be the only person not in a costume. I decided on making my own sparkle skirt but I waited too long to make it. I waited until February and at that point I couldn’t find the correct color fabric to make my skirt. It was too late to order fabric or skirt. I planned to go with my DIY Sweaty band and blue shirt and either capris or shorts. I debated buying a spark skirt at the expo but I decided against it. I didn’t want to wear something new on race day. I was perfectly fine in what I was wearing too! Not everyone wears a costume or even just a sparkle skirt.  There is a large variety of running outfits on race day. There is a variety of costumes, sparkle skirts, princess colored clothes, matching shirts and outfits to their favorite running clothes. Where what you want and what is comfortable for you! Wearing something 13.1miles and chaffing isn’t fun so if you choose to wear a costume test your run day outfit out before the big day.

 

Corrals

When signing up for the half marathon you were asked for a time you expected to finish and if you had a finish time for another 10k or half marathon. For corral placement  they are looking for that official time otherwise you will be placed in one of the last corrals. I highly suggest running at least a 10k  before December 1st and submitting a time for corral placement. Submitting a time and hopefully being placed in a higher corral will give you a bit of extra time for the race when it comes to taking a break for photos. You need to be able to run/walk a 16 minute mile including any stops if you are in the last corral. If you cannot maintain that there is a good possibility that you could be swept.

Are you planning to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon? Check out these tips! #princesshalf

 

Injuries, Pregnancy Etc.

It happens sometimes and there is nothing you can do to prevent it. Something comes up and you are no longer able to run the half marathon. Unfortunately you cannot get a refund but you can defer your entry  for a fee until the following year.

Bib/Packet Pick up

Bib Pick up is on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Expo. There is no race day bib pick up. Pick up is pretty simple. In the weeks prior to the half marathon you will be emailed your waiver form. If you forget your waiver don’t worry! There are computers set up so you can print it out at the expo. If you cannot make it to pick up your race packet you can no longer have someone pick up race packets on your behalf.

Are you planning to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon? Check out these tips! #princesshalf

Expo

The expo for Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend is huge. Even saying it is huge is an understatement. It is a runners dream. Everything you could possibly want for running can be found. If you forgot your gels, you can most likely find the type you use here. Same for GPS’s, compression socks and more. They also have a great Run Disney area but I will add things sell out fast. I didn’t get to the Expo until Saturday last year and 13.1 car magnets/stickers and the t-shirt I wanted to buy my husband were sold out.  Last year you could go to the KT tape booth and get taped, for free. Yes there was a line but it wasn’t too bad. In addition to KT tape there were all sorts of free goodies being handed out. Jeff Galloway can also be spotted near the Run Disney tent at times. Plus they give great lectures.

Are you planning to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon? Check out these tips! #princesshalf

Dooney And Burke Purses

Are you a purse person? Every year there is a special Dooney and Burke purse that is sold at Disney Princess Half Marathon. To help with some of the craziness of the Expo these purses can be pre-ordered. Yes, you get a preview of what the purses look like ahead of time. Keep a look out for the email.

New Balance Shoes

New Balance makes a few pair of commemorative shoes for the half marathon that are well sought after every year. After all who wouldn’t want running shoes with Cinderella on them? Last year they used a Virtual Queue system for those interested in buying the shoes. If you are interested keep an eye on your emails for how they will be doing the shoes this year.

Water and Fuel on the Course

Another question that is often asked is if you should carry your own water or rely on what RunDisney provides. This is a personal choice some carry there own and others rely on what is on the course. There are several water and gatorade stops along the half marathon route so have no fear of not being able to get water if you need it. I train with a fuel belt with water and Nunn and that is what i’m used too so I choose to wear my fuel belt during the half’s I have run. It is what i’m used to and it is what works for me. As for fuel on the course they offer Cliff gels around mile 8-9. When it comes to gels and nutrition try different types and find what works for you. There is nothing worse than trying a gel and it doesn’t agree with you. That is something no one wants to deal with on race day. I prefer Gu’s especially the Salted Caramel ones but there are all different types of gels and other fuel choices available. Some people skip the fancy fuel and go with things like pretzels, raisins or even honey packets.

Balloon Ladies

There is something that strikes fear into slower runners at Disney races, the Balloon Ladies! Yes they actually have balloons and if your pace is slower than their 16minute mile you will be picked up and not allowed to finish. These ladies are volunteers and are in the last corral and are the last people to cross the start line. Once they cross the start that is when the 16minute mile starts. They are rumored to be very friendly so don’t be scared of them but if you see them coming you may want to pick up your pace.

Character Meet and Greets

One of the great things about Disney races are the character meet and greets along the half marathon route. The Princess half marathon has several great characters that will be out including some that are rarely seen such as the villains. Bring a small camera or use your phones’s camera to catch these memories. Since I was running alone I had no issues having a cast member take a picture for me when I asked. Marathon Photo is also at some stops as well as sprinkled all over the race route.  Just remember the clock doesn’t stop because you did, watch your time at character stops.

Are you planning to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon? Check out these tips! #princesshalf

 

Florida Hills

Huh, Florida Hills? Growing up in Florida I learned hills are few and far between. Florida is pretty flat. Florida does have plenty of overpasses and during the princess half you get to go up and over them toward the end of the half as you return to Epcot. To help motivate you the green toy soldier is out there to umm, motivate you . Don’t forget hills when you train if you can.

Training and Nutrition

I am only going to briefly touch on nutrition and training. This is a subject that needs to be personalized to each person as what works for one person may not work for another. While some people have done this race with little training and lived to tell about it. The road to success starts with training and to stick to your training. Many people use couch to 5k to get them started and Galloway has a good program for running and walking, Galloway also has free training schedules on Rundisney, there are also tons on Pinterest and runners world. I will suggest to train for more than 13.1 miles with whatever training program that you do choose. The reason for this is simple. On race day you walk from the parking area to the pre race area and then you walk about another mile from pre race to the corrals. This walking is awesome to help warm you up for your run. In addition to all the walking you do to get to the start during the race any weaving you do will add up and in the end you rack up more miles than 13.1.

As for nutrition how well you fuel your body will help you when it comes time to run. When you fuel up on junk you can feel it. I know when i’ve tried to run after eating junk I always felt sluggish and heavy.

Final Thoughts

Disney Princess is a fun and supportive race. Women you have never met before will be there to say an encouraging word or just sing a silly song. On race day remember your training, you have seven months of training ahead, make them count. Disney races are typically not races to plan to PR but it can happen. I know first hand, I PR’ed last year. It just made my race day more magical. The biggest thing I can tell you is to take it all in and have fun while you are out there!

Are you planning to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon? Check out these tips! #princesshalf

 

 

 

****disclaimer***** I was NOT compensated for this post. All opinions are my own****

 

 

Gluten Free Rotini with a Charred Green Onion Pesto, Toasted Cashews and Cranberries

Something I really like is making pesto out of not your typical pesto ingredients. Pesto does not need to have a Basil and Pine Nut base. For Instance, I have a wonderful Spinach and Pecan Pesto I make every now and then. When I found out I was working with Barilla this month and saw some of their recipes, their Charred Green Onion Pesto stood out. An added plus to this recipe is that it called for their Gluten Free pasta that I had finally found in a local grocery store. Alike some other pastas I had tried it was a corn and rice pasta that is GMO free. I have been on the search for a good gluten free pasta and I think I may have found my new go-to pasta. Best part about the pasta is my family wasn’t asking is this gluten free.

The pesto was very easy to make and was surprisingly tasty. I love it when recipes comes together like that! You simply roast your green onions in the oven for 10 minutes, then let them cool and once cool you through into the food processor. Add some cashews, parmesan cheese, a couple ice cubes, a tad bit of water and olive oil and pulse a bit more and voila! You have pesto! Toss with your rotini and some soaked dried cranberries and you have your pasta dish. It would be great with some grilled chicken breast also. Try it for yourself and let me know what you think!

Gluten Free Rotini with a Charred Green Onion Pesto, Toasted Cashews and Cranberries

Gluten Free Rotini with a Charred Green Onion Pesto, Toasted Cashews and Cranberries

from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 1 (12 ounce) box Barilla® Gluten Free Rotini
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano cheese
  • ice cubes
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup hot water

Directions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F and bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Place cranberries in bowl of hot water to soak.
  3. Toss the green onions with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a sheet tray and roast in the oven until lightly charred, about 10 minutes. Remove the onions from the oven and let them cool down.
  4. In a blender combine the onions, cashews and Parmigiano cheese, pulse for 5 seconds.
  5. Slowly drizzle in the remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the ice cubes and puree. Remove the pesto from the blender and place in a large bowl.
  6. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, drain reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Drain cranberries.
  7. Add the cooking liquid, pasta and drained cranberries to the pesto, then stir to combine.

Gluten Free Rotini with a Charred Green Onion Pesto, Toasted Cashews and Cranberries

5 Tips for Avoiding Volunteer Burnout

Just a year ago my life and what was my normal changed. The Army had decided it was time for our family to move and we had started making our way to our new duty station, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Fort Bragg wasn’t a new destination for us. It is where we started our families’ journey in military life. I knew what to expect for the most part. I had bloomed when I was planted at Fort Bragg before and I was sure it would be no problem to do it again. PCSing always brings with it all sorts of unique challenges and new adventures and even though we had spent 7 years at Fort Bragg several years prior I need to start over and bloom where I was being planted once again.

It didn’t take long to unpack and once I had it was back to what I had always done, volunteering. I jumped back in wasting no time at all. I stopped in a Blue Star Families, Books on Bases event  and lent a hand and offered my help for future events. Soon there after I volunteered with the USO at a Jack Daniels Salute to the Troops care package event with country singer and former 82nd Airborne soldier, Craig Morgan and EJ Snyder possibly best known from Naked and Afraid  one person over from me.

Volunteer Burnout (Craig Morgan) | Country Girl GourmetI applied for volunteer jobs online through Army Community Service, became an Operation Homefront volunteer again… well at least according to email correspondence I was one. I also told my children’s teachers if they needed volunteers I was more than happy to lend a hand.  I even became a Family Readiness Group  volunteer once again. Once my kids were back in school I suddenly found myself with “extra” time I once spent working on one of my varied volunteering jobs.

I spent my mornings job hunting and working on my blog and other Allrecipes activities. I started work on a family cookbook. I could go run without a worry. It was during one of my half marathon training runs I came to the realization that not volunteering may be just what I needed. In all honesty sometimes it takes time to realize things and I realized I had fallen victim to one of the things I always tried to fight against. I had Volunteer Burnout.

It is with no real surprise it happened. I have volunteered in some way or form since high school from planting trees in the community to tutoring middle school students. Once I married my husband  and became part of the Army family community I started volunteering with his companies Family Readiness Group(FRG). Well, back then it was called a Family Support Group. It was while my husband was on recruiting duty that my volunteering went to a new level. I was a FRG leader, I was always at my kid’s school helping with something and I had started advocating for military families. I was constantly busy doing something, helping out. I just did and did some more, I felt horrible saying NO.  Volunteering just became what I did and continued to do when we moved to the Fort Bliss area. I was always sure to say thank you to my volunteers and was always concerned that I was asking too much of them but I never did the same for myself.  I was the FRG leader running a 5k and answering my phone to help a fellow spouse. Yes, I did that.  Her questions were not emergencies and were something that could wait 20 minutes until I was done. I did this too many times to count. Blame my type A personality, the wanting of things to be perfect and the people pleaser in myself I put my volunteer responsibilities above my personal needs.

I did this for years, yes years. Becoming yet another victim of volunteer burnout ultimately was no surprise. Don’t get me wrong I loved and still do enjoy volunteering. It is something that I will never completely stop doing. Now I will just do things a little differently. I will put myself first and make sure I have time for myself. Over the last year I have been getting back to what makes myself me and have found myself less stressed out. Others have even noted how I even seem to be happier. A wonderful comment but it has me wondering how I must have appeared before, yikes! While this change was forced upon me it has made me a better person. I still volunteer but I am a much happier volunteer now and keep a few tips in mind.

5 Tips to Avoid Volunteer Burnout | Country Girl Gourmet

 

5 Tips for Avoiding Volunteer Burnout

1. Schedule your volunteer time.   When taking on a volunteer job most give you a description of the expected hours per week that are expected. Yes, sometimes you will need to spend more hours than expected while others less. A huge things you can do for yourself is set hours you are “on the clock”. Do you have an email account associated with your volunteer job? Stop checking it all the time! Have set hours that you set aside for responding to emails. As a volunteer you are not expected to work nonstop. That is not good for you. You need your breaks. Remember your time is valuable!

2. Take Care of Yourself. Get enough sleep. Eat healthy foods instead of junk food. Exercise regularly. Take time for you and your hobbies.  Go on vacation and leave your volunteer work at home. Be sure to make time to relax and unwind. You may think you don’t need a break but take one anyways.

3. Learn how to say NO with grace.  When I was joking that when I moved my email was going to be sexybooty69 to avoid being contacted it should have been a sign that I was on burnout road.  If you are coming up with ideas in your head about how to avoid volunteering instead of just saying NO you may be on the road to burnout. Saying NO isn’t a bad thing, it can be difficult especially when you feel like you are letting someone down. Over committing and spreading yourself too thin can have an adverse effect on your volunteering efforts and you. Volunteering is good but moderation is key. Remember, they don’t give a special award for being a volunteer martyr.

4. Ask for Help. For some asking for help is hard. I have friends that know if i’m asking for help I must need it because i’m one of those that rarely asks for help. I will try to be Superwoman and do it all myself. Being Superwoman can leave you more stressed. You don’t have to do it all yourself though. Delegate, ask for help. Give your volunteers more responsibility. Just remember, if they say no or seem hesitant, don’t push them to do something they don’t want to. Remember they are volunteering like you and like you the best volunteers are typically more prone to burnout.  Good volunteers are hard to find so like it is important to take care of yourself it’s important to make sure they take care of themselves also.

5. Don’t Worry, Be Happy. This for the control freaks out there. Stop worrying about things you cannot control. This is a HARD one but mastering this skill will help you. Yes, asking for help can lead to interesting situations sometimes but what will be, will be and it will be ok. If there is one thing I have learned in my years as a military spouse it has been to adapt and overcome. Things may not turn out exactly the way you hoped but in most cases things will be ok and if not it is a valuable learning experience.

 

These tips aren’t fool proof , just good suggestions from someone who has been to burned out. What do you do to avoid Volunteer Burnout?

 

 

10 Uses for Reynolds Foil

This month with Allrecipes we are working with Reynolds Foil a product that I use just about every day in my kitchen. It is also a product that goes way beyond just covering dishes and wrapping up leftovers. Reynolds Foil is perfect for using when you are having a BBQ. You can use it for every part of your meal from preparation,cooking and clean up! Today I want to share 10 of my favorite tips for using Reynolds Foil to make your next BBQ a knock out! As a added bonus I am throwing in a salmon recipe that my husband and second son really love.

10 Uses for Reynolds Foil | Country Girl Gourmet

 

1. Keep food from sticking

Are you making BBQ Chicken or Fish? Hate how it sticks to the grates on your grill? When grilling line your grill with Reynolds foil to help prevent sticking. Just poke a few holes in the foil to drain juices.

2. Keep food from falling into grill grates

Want to grill some shrimp or veggies but you don’t have any kabob skewers or a grill basket? Just use foil! It will keep your food from falling through your grill grates. I’ve even known people that use this method to make bacon on their grill for bacon cheeseburgers!

3. Individual Foil Packets

There are so many things you can make in foil packets. The possibilities are endless and delicious! Foil packets are simple and easy to make too. All you need to do is, place food on the center of two layers of foil Next top with your desired seasonings and oil. Finally bring the two long sides together, fold foil over the food. Fold over three or more times. Fold and crimp remaining sides and then grill as directed. Then clean up is easy peasy. Check out the recipe I have below for Salmon. I have issues making fish but with foil packets I can make it easily for my husband and son.

4. Keep Food Warm

If you need to keep food warm until serving time cover with some Reynolds Foil until serving time. The foil is also perfect for wrapping meats that need to rest before serving like brisket.

5. Easy Clean Up

Line baking pans and cookie sheets with aluminum foil to cut your cleanup later. This tip is perfect for times where you are making a bunch of burgers to grill. Just cover a tray with foil and discard once the burgers are on the grill. Your serving tray will still be clean for your cooked burgers.

6. Grill Scrubbers

Want to use your grill but it is a dirty mess? Use Aluminum Foil to clean your grill without chemicals. Just ball up a piece of foil and use tongs to clean the grill grates.

7. Make-shift Funnel

Want to transfer your favorite condiments into a different container for your BBQ but you don’t have a funnel? Make one with Reynolds foil! All you need to do is take a piece of foil and make it a cone shape with an opening at the pointy end. Secure it with a piece of tape and then you are ready to pour and transfer your favorite condiments.

8. Sharpen Scissors

Need to cut something and your kitchen scissors are dull? Fold a sheet of foil several times and cut through it with a pair of dull scissors to sharpen the blades

9. Pie Crust Protector

Making a classic apple pie for dessert for your BBQ? Another favorite  Reynolds Foil use of mine is the pie crust protector.  To prevent burnt pie crust edges, crimp foil around the edges prior to placing the pie in the oven.

10. Clean Baked on Food off Baking dishes

BBQ time is over and it’s time to clean up, Reynold

]s can help you there also! Use Reynolds Foil to scrub off baked on food instead of using steel wool. If you have food stuck to your baking dish or frying pan, wad a clean piece of foil into a ball, then use it with few drops of dishwashing liquid to scrub glass cookware clean.

Now here is the Salmon recipe I was talking about above. When I was a kid I had food poisoning from fish and since I have not been able to eat or really cook seafood but with foil packets I was able to easily make this for my husband and son. They loved the salmon this way!

Grilled Salmon Greek Pitas | Country Girl Gourmet

Grilled Salmon Greek Pitas

recipe from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 1 (1 pound) fresh or frozen skinless salmon fillet
  •  1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  •  1 tablespoon olive oil
  •  1/4 teaspoon salt
  •  1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  •  1 lemon, thinly sliced6 Greek pita flatbreads
  • 2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup fresh cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 (5.3 ounce) container plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh dill weed

Directions

  1. Thaw fish if frozen. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Preheat grill to medium-high.
  2. Tear off an 18×18-inch sheet of Reynolds Wrap® Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil. Place onion in the center of the sheet. Top with salmon. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and black pepper. Top with lemon slices. Bring up foil sides. Double-fold top and ends to seal packet, leaving room for heat circulation inside.
  3. Stack flatbreads; wrap tightly in heavy duty aluminum foil.
  4. Grill salmon packet over medium-high heat in covered grill 12 to 14 minutes or until fish begins to flake when tested with a fork and vegetables are tender.
  5. Add the flatbread packet to the grill for the last 5 minutes of cooking to warm through, turning once. Remove all from grill.
  6. Open packets carefully by cutting along top folds with a sharp knife, allowing steam to escape. Then open top of foil. Discard lemon slices. Use two forks to pull the salmon apart into chunks.
  7. Assemble pita sandwiches by topping with the salmon, onions, lettuce, and tomatoes. Fold in half to serve. In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, basil, and dill. Serve over pita sandwiches.

Grilled Salmon Greek Pitas | Country Girl Gourmet

 

 

Looking for more great Reynolds recipes? Check out their webpage.

10 Uses for Reynolds Foil | Country Girl Gourmet