You know those mundane everyday things we do without thinking? For instance, for myself that includes the fight with daughter about school picture day clothes and hair, as I make 4 lunches and get my 4 monsters ready for a day of … Continue reading
With summer winding down and Labor Day weekend upon us I am looking back at my families summer and of summers past. Memories of growing up and how every summer at my grandma’s house we would have a huge family reunion. As a tween and teen I guess I was a foodie in training because one of the things I looked forward too were the different treats that people would be bringing. I loved the pastries my great uncle would bring but more than that I loved all the different desserts. One dessert I remember with fondness is Pink Lemonade Pie.
I still have random cravings for that pie. The sad thing is that I don’t have the recipe so i’ve been trying to find the recipe so I can recreate that frozen lemony goodness. I think I finally have found a recipe that has come close. It is very easy to make which was good for me the other weekend. I needed a dessert and had no clue what to make. Our fridge has been on the fritz and we have been waiting for our landlord to get us a new one so I needed to make a trip to the store for dinner ingredients for an impromptu family dinner. This pie came to my mind. It is primarily a no bake pie unless you decide to make your own crust like I did. Since i’m gluten free a store-bought crust wasn’t going to work so I made my own crust and turned this pie into bars. What can I say I was being lazy. It is easier to dump all the crust ingredients into a 9×13 baking dish and press and bake. Plus it is one less dish to wash. What can I say I am all for making things easy.
The filling is just as easy to make and takes a few minutes. I like to mix it up while the crust is cooling. You take softened cream cheese and whip it until it is fluffy. Next you add a can of sweetened condensed milk and mix. Then you mix in pink lemonade concentrate. If you want you can add some red or pink food coloring too make it really pink. Lastly you fold in some whipped topping. Pour into your crust and freeze. Since my fridge was on the fritz I used my trusty deep freezer that has been working double duty.
Being that this is a no bake pie the recipe call for non dairy topping, otherwise none as, Cool Whip. I know there are many of you out there that really do not like Cool Whip and others who cannot eat Cool Whip. There are other options to make these Pie Bars. There is TruWhip which is 100%natural, non-gmo, doesn’t have hydrogenated oils etc. If you don’t want to use that then there is Stabilized Whip Cream. Whipped Cream is easy to make and to make it stabilized whipped cream is just an extra step. There are options for substitutes out there!
So there you have it Pink Lemonade Pie Bars! If you find yourself needing a last minute dessert this is the dessert for you! One crust,a filling that takes minutes to make and pour into the crust and put it in the freezer and you are done. It results in a dreamy and lemony desert that lemon lovers will love. It is the perfect last minute dessert!
Pink Lemonade Pie Bars
adapted from Allrecipes.com
1 (7 ounce) bag Gluten Free Shortbread Cookies
1/4 cup sugar
6T butter or margarine, melted
- 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
- 1 (14 ounce) can Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 1 (6 ounce) can frozen pink lemonade from concentrate, thawed
- Few drops red or pink food coloring (optional)
- 1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
- In a food processor turn cookies into crumbs. Then combine the cookie crumbs, sugar, butter or margarine ; mix until well blended. Press into a 13×9 inch baking dish.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 7 minutes. Cool. (Can be placed in freezer if needed)
- Beat cream cheese in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk, lemonade concentrate and food color, if desired.
- Fold in whipped topping. Pour into prepared pie crust.
- Chill in freezer 4 hours or until set.
Kid’s have headed or are heading back to school , which means summer is sadly winding down and fall is just around the corner. I think we all know what that means all of our favorite fall foods and not just pumpkin everything. I love pumpkin as much as the next person but some foods are being left behind in the pumpkin’s shadow like apples.
I love apples and I am still mad at myself for never taking my kids apple picking when we lived in an area surrounded by apple orchards in New Jersey. I’m thinking this fall we may need to take a road trip to find an apple orchard where we can pick our own apples. We buy apples by the bag around here and i’m lucky if the last more than a couple days. I wonder how long a bushel of apples would last around here? I do know one thing I would have to hide some of the apples so I could make some yummy apple goodies like Apple Cinnamon White Cake.
It is very likely you have seen a picture of Apple Cinnamon White Cake from Allrecipes on the internet. The picture was taken by a fellow Allrecipes Allstar and it went crazy in the social media world. I’ve seen it on Facebook and Pinterest multiple times and have been wanting to make it myself for a while. The kid’s had taken a break from the summertime devouring everything in the house and I saw a couple apples left in the crisper drawer so off to work I went. Since I wanted to eat this Apple Cinnamon Vanilla Cake I adapted the recipe to gluten free and let me tell you it was delicious!
Apple Cinnamon White Cake
adapted from Allrecipes.com
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2/3 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups gluten free all-purpose flour blend
- 1 teaspoon xantham gum
- 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1-2 apple (depending on size), peeled and chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×5-inch loaf pan.
- Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl.
- Beat white sugar and butter together in a bowl using an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until incorporated; add vanilla extract.
- Combine gluten free flour blend, xantham gum and baking powder together in a bowl; stir into creamed butter mixture. Mix milk into batter until smooth. Pour half the batter into the prepared loaf pan; add half the apples and half the brown sugar mixture. Lightly pat apple mixture into batter. Pour the remaining batter over apple layer; top with remaining apples and brown sugar mixture. Lightly pat apples into batter; swirl brown sugar mixture through apples using a finger or spoon.
- Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes.
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.
I don’t roll out my biscuit dough. I never have. I pat it out to my desired thickness. Usually about an inch thick.
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.
I place them on the cookie sheet and then let them rest about 10 minutes are so before baking.
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.
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.
Or maybe just a bit of butter and homemade Strawberry Jam is how you like your biscuits.
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
- 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
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
- 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.
- Add milk and combine until all moistened. Do not over mix.
- Put gluten free flour on counter and take dough and pat out or roll to a about 1in thick.
- 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.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly golden.
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 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.
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.
How have you had mommy guilt while your kid’s have been out for summer break? How did you deal with it?
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.
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?
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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- When cold, freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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
- 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
- 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.
- .Blend watermelon in a blender or food processor until pureed. Stir pureed watermelon into sugar mixture.
- 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.
- 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
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
- 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
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, parsley and red pepper flakes; saute 2 to 3 minutes.
- Cook Plus® Thin Spaghetti according to package directions.
- 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.
- Transfer to a serving platter or bowl.
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.
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
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
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.
$65.00 – Disney Princess Half Marathon
$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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
****disclaimer***** I was NOT compensated for this post. All opinions are my own****