This and That Recipe 1-Gluten Free Mac and Cheese

Don’t you just love those friends and family recipes…you know the ones where there isn’t really an exact recipe and they say “oh a little of this” and “a little of that”.  Then they give you a handwritten recipe with half the steps missing, haha!  You know on any trip you always bring back more than you take and on my recent trip to visit back home, amongst other things, I acquired two of those “this and that recipes”.  Now, join me as I attempt to decipher these handwritten recipes and hopefully create the same good dishes that I enjoyed while visiting friends and family.

Let’s start with this one:

Printable Recipe Here

There was a time in my life when I didn’t have to think about things such as gluten free, non-gmo, organic, blah, blah, blah…then entered the kids.  So, you start to thinking about these things because, of course, your offspring is more important than you are…am I right?  And then we find out the oldest one…is allergic to WHEAT!  So, when I am able to come across a good gluten free recipe I cling to it like it’s a gold nugget or something!  On our trip down to Louisiana we made a stop over in Mississippi to visit my aunt and uncle and to see their new house.  GORGEOUS…y’all…I felt like I’d been plopped down into the middle of a small southern plantation, but the best part of the visit was the newly acquired gluten free mac and cheese recipe!

Let start with the most important part which, of course, is the ingredients.  The most important ingredient in this recipe is the Tinkyada Elbow Pasta.  We have tried several different kinds of gluten free pasta’s over the last few years and I had never tried this one.  It is great!  Taste good and it keeps the right consistency-which is hard to find with GF pasta.  The second most important was the Cracker Barrel extra sharp cheese.  The rest of the ingredients can vary in brand so I didn’t bother to take pictures of those.

Ingredients:

1 Package Tinkyada rice pasta

1 lb. Cracker Barrel extra sharp cheese-cubed, but save a little to shred on top at the end.

2-4 Tablespoons butter-cubed (This is a matter of taste-if you like lots of butter add more, if you like less add less)

Sauce:

2 Tablespoons Butter

2 Tablespoons Tapioca Starch

1 Cup milk

Directions:

-First cook your pasta according to package directions.  Cool with ice water  when done (I didn’t do this part but I did let it cool down some).  Start preheating the oven on 350.

-Next, make your sauce by putting 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan and letting melt.  Then add in 2 tablespoons tapioca starch and stir until thickens.

Now, add in the milk and whisk until that starts to thicken up some.

Then it should look about like this

-Put the macaroni in a casserole dish and add the sauce, cubed cheese and butter and mix together.

-Bake for 30 minutes on 350.  Then take out and sprinkle the rest of that reserved cheese (grated first) on top.  Stick back in oven let that melt and brown a little on the top.

The results should be one awesome dish of gluten free mac and cheese!

 

And we can all thank Aunt Mona!  Thanks Aunt Mona!!!

I haven’t made the other one since I’ve been home, but I hope to soon so stay tuned for some more “This and That Recipes” in the near future!

 

 

Tips on traveling with the kids

We recently had our spring break and with that came the obligatory 8 hour road trip back to our hometown to visit friends and family.  Last year I got a free pass because I was about 6 months pregnant.  So, instead we did a “staycation” and went to a nearby hotel with a waterpark inside.  The kids loved it and the best part was no long trip!  I would highly recommend this, if this is an option for you.  However, I couldn’t get away with that this year since I had an 8 1/2 month old baby boy who most of his family hadn’t had a chance to meet!

Now, I don’t claim to be an expert on traveling with kids by any means, nor do I know a secret magic trick to making your road trip with your kids 100% enjoyable, but I might can get you to about 75%, haha!

Tips:

  1. Think Light.  When it comes to packing, I use to bring everything I could possibly think of that we “might” need.  Turns out we usually didn’t need it and, unless you’re going camping or such, then there is more than likely a Wally World nearby to pick up any necessary items you didn’t pack but ended up needing.  I also try to leave as many toys/blankies/stuffed animals at home as possible.  For one, you don’t have to worry about losing them and two, it keeps things less cluttered in the vehicle.  Sometimes this can be a fight so I usually allow one or two to keep the peace.  If you are going to be somewhere with a washer and dryer at your disposal then take advantage of the situation and pack light on clothes also.  When packing just consider “is this a need or want?” and try to keep the ratio 80% need, 20% want.  Also, try to condense things down into smaller containers/packages to save room.  Remember also, not everyone needs their own bag/suitcase.  I packed my stuff and the baby’s stuff together in one suitcase and my other two boys stuff together in another one.  I had one other bag for lagniappe so anything I thought of last minute or couldn’t fit in the suitcases went into this bag.  It seems crazy, but I just personally feel like, the less stuff you have with you in the vehicle, the calmer it feels!
  2. Don’t underestimate the power of electronics.  Ok, ok…I know some of you are going to croak when I say this but…Let them have extra screen time!  It really won’t do them permanent damage (I don’t think, but I haven’t actually read up on any studies) for you to compromise for one trip.  I know in this day and age we are given “the look” if we let our kids have too much screen time but DVD players, Kindle’s, IPad’s, Nintendo DS, etc., can be your best friend if you just let them!  Only allow educational videos, games, etc.  if that makes you feel better about it.  You can make them take breaks from it, but I bet about 45 minutes into “Are we there yet?” you are going to be glad to have something to keep them entertained!  I also suggest for less clutter take DVD’s and such out of the cases and put them in a cd book of some type.  I have one already in my car but forgot to do this before leaving.  I deeply regretted it!
  3. Go old school.  Ok, so compromising on your beliefs about screen time isn’t going to work for you…then go old school.  Play games, read books, color/draw, make them take a nap, haha!  I wouldn’t suggest bringing games because of the fact that it’s going to make it more crowded in the vehicle and pieces are likely to go missing (which will probably bring on a melt down).  I would try games like I spy, 20 questions, punch buggy, etc.  Now that last game isn’t going to work like it use to, so I changed ours to “punch buggy Dollar General” (those suckers are popping up everywhere!)  This substitute will probably only work in the south though, so pick something that you are likely to see recurrently along your trip but not constantly.  And lastly, there is no substitute for good old fashion conversation.  This one is a little harder for me since I have all boys, haha, but if you can get your kids to talk with you then do it.  No better time then when “stuck” in a vehicle together for hours at a time!
  4. Be Prepared.  I try to have as much stuff packed up and prepared the night before as I possible can.  Some things I like to do are have my kids sleep in comfy clothes (not pajama’s) so they are dressed for the day.  I just wake them up to go to the bathroom and load them up in the car.  I also, leave their shoes in the car the night before so that we don’t forget them and don’t have to fool with getting them on because let’s face it…you know they are going to kick them off as soon as they get in anyway.  Now, two out of three of my kids are still  in diapers/pull ups.  This is where I’m going to add in another one of my “crazy ideas”.  If you have one potty training then make exceptions while traveling.  I have no expectations that my 3 year old is going to ask me to stop so he can go potty.  Heck, I don’t have any expectations that he’s going to tell me he needs to go potty on any day!  So to make it easier on both of us, you can bet I’m going to forget the potty training for a day!  If your child will, then by all means pack them a potty in the back!!!  What I decided to do was make a diaper changing station in the back of my SUV.  Thankfully, I have room to do that, but If you don’t at least keep enough diapers/wipes/extra clothes in some form of handy tote so that you can easily carry them into a rest stop.  Not having to dig around for all this stuff made it super nice while traveling.  Also, if you are traveling with a baby have extra bottles, water, formula, etc. all together in one spot for easy access.  My tote was big enough for all of that to be kept in one spot.

    Make Shift Diaper Station

  5. Be Martha Stewart.  Last but not least…come up with something creative and fun!  I did gift bags for my two oldest boys (don’t worry the baby didn’t get jealous).  I tried to keep the contents similar but they couldn’t be exact because of the age difference (3 and 8).  I filled them with stuff from our local dollar store like snacks, candy, a small toy or two, a book/coloring book and also a small bag of cereal for their breakfast.  My oldest thinks as soon as we get in a vehicle for a trip he needs a snack of some sorts.  None of the stuff was too exciting, but when I stuck it all in a Minions gift bag…You would’ve thought I’d really done something!  I brought the adults snacks too.  This kept us all from getting the “hangrys”, haha!  Having the stuff in a gift bag also helped my 3 year old communicate to us when he was wanting something else.  He would just ask for his “present”.  We gave him his bag of stuff and he got to pick out what he was wanting at that moment.  This saved a lot of headache seeing as how he is prone to going into a full blown meltdown mode when we don’t understand what he is wanting at that particular moment! And, if you can, bring some form of cooler to keep drinks handy.  Those gas station prices are RIDICULOUS…can I get an amen!  Oh, and bringing snacks also helped with the aforementioned gas station prices.  On an 8 hour trip, I didn’t buy anything from a gas station other than gas!

    Goody Bags!

I hope some of these tips can be helpful to you on your next trip with the kids!  There is nothing like experience to know what’s best for your family so try out your own awesome ideas.  They say that they are only little once (one can only hope, haha) so most importantly…HAVE FUN!

Organizing your CD/DVD collections

 

So, we recently moved into “town”…yes, country came to town…and I discovered that we have amassed a lot of junk over the years!  Now, I mentioned in a previous post that we moved a few years back from our hometown to our current location.  Well, that was about five years ago in 2012, and literally…just a few months before deciding to put our house on the market in September of 2016, I finally had my husband sit down with me and open the box of our cd collections and go through them.  I ended up just putting them all back in the box so would could get them moved again to our current home.  CD’s and DVD’s in my opinion are some of the biggest space takers and quite frankly…they’re ugly.  If you put your book collection out for everyone to see it’s considered art but movies and music…not so much.  Our new house has these beautiful built-in shelves on both sides of the fireplace and I was determined that those ugly things were NOT going on my shelves.  However, I didn’t want them sitting around in a box for another five years.

See…not so pretty…

I did a little research, on Pinterest of course, to get some ideas.  I came across some good ideas.  One thing I embraced immediately was the idea of getting rid of the cases!  Who would’ve thought…makes perfect sense for me.  Not sure why I’ve never thought of this before but, honestly do we really need all those cases?  The resell value on CD’s and DVD’s, for the most part, is not enough to even worry about keeping the cases. I would like to point out here that I haven’t done my kids DVD’s yet because I know I’ll get rid of them one day and hate to not have the cases for the next child that gets to enjoy them.  So I am preaching to myself also!  Oh, and the best part is, I took out all the covers and put them in the recycle bin and then donated the cases to our church for the kids VBS crafts!  Now there’s no guilt in getting rid of them!!!

The next thing after freeing yourself from the cases is figuring out the best way to store them.  There are some post that talk about buying individual sleeves for each one and storage boxes where you can alphabetize or categorize.  This might be a great option for you, it would definitely save space however, that still wasn’t working for me visually (remember my beautiful built-ins).  I eventually came across a post that talked about using binders.  I was a little hesitant at first because binders usually aren’t all that appealing either, but after clicking on the link to some on Amazon I realized this was my answer!  They actually have several nice options on Amazon…DVD/CD Binders so be sure to shop around! They are a little pricey but you can get about 48 in one binder and the end result is wonderful.  They are camouflaged on my bookshelves.  You would even know they were there if your weren’t looking for them!  I bought two sets and have 1 and 1/2 binders worth of storage left to use (possibly for some of those kids dvd’s).

Look how much space that saves…

Now isn’t this better…

   

I would also like to add that I am not in any way associated with Amazon nor do I receive any money from them (although I should as much as I have spent with them).  This is solely just me trying to help others out and directing them to the right product(s) for whatever subject we are talking about!  I am definitely addicted to Amazon though and if they were to ever offer me any money for my opinions I wouldn’t think twice about taking it, haha!

 

Why southern girl writes…

There are a lot of southern girls, and I most definitely don’t claim to be the utmost southern girl of all southern girls.  I have personally encountered girls with so much southern flare that I might get a tad bit jealous!  None the less, I am most definitely a southern girl.  I was born and raised in a small town in central Louisiana.  That’s not completely true…I was born in a small town across the river in Mississippi because our town wasn’t (and still isn’t) big enough to have it’s own hospital.  A few years back my husband and I moved to a small town in North Arkansas (this one is big enough to have its own hospital).  Now, don’t get me wrong, I know technically I’m still in the south but to be honest…I feel almost …well…umm…like a Yankee.  Okay, there, I said it!  All joking aside I love it here even if some of the locals accuse me of having an accent (oh lawd, I do declare, I don know what they are talkin’ ’bout)!  When I was graduating from high school, we had to get up in front of the church and tell where we were planning to go and what we were planning to do after school.  I was SO embarrassed to say what I really wanted to do and that was being a housewife and stay at home mom.  This was at a time when girls were being encouraged to be independent and make careers for themselves.  But for some reason I just blurted it out! I shocked myself and then my youth pastor got up and said that was an honorable thing to aspire to be!  I was thankful for that.  Sometimes when I’m in the midst of the chaos that is my life, I remind myself that I was allowed the privilege of becoming what I wanted.  Now technology has made it possible for other women (ok, I admit it, I’m not a girl, I just like to call myself that because it makes me feel younger) who are homemakers to make a living helping others solve problems that come with this “career path”.  Or, maybe even just showing people how to organize something or make a room beautiful on a stay at home moms budget.  So, I’m starting this blog as an outlet for all the ideas in my head.  Most of my ideas do come from my southern upbringing and I like to write so the name “southern girl writes” just came out one night as I was jotting down some notes.  To be honest I was shocked that this name wasn’t already taken…maybe I am the utmost southern girl of all southern girls! Oh, did I mention I may be a little sarcastic…haha!

Much to say about nothin’…

Do you ever have a lot to say until you have a chance to say it, and then you can’t think of thing to say?  Guess, that’s what’s going on with my first post!  I guess I will start with a little glimpse into my life…

I am currently a stay at home mom.  My husband and I have been married for 15…no 16…no 15 years and nine months.  We have three beautiful (of course) boys, ages 8, 3 and 8 months.  If you were a fly on the wall in my home this is what you would see…8 year old laid out on couch with the video game blaring, 3 year old hollering about nothing (partly because he is dramatic and partly because he has an ear infection), 8 month old bouncing in an extremely loud and squeaky hand me down bouncy contraption, and my husband, who is out of town for work, on my speaker phone talking to me and really thinking I can hear what he’s saying over all this madness…And you would be wondering what makes me think I can possibly have enough time or concentration to write on a blog!  You are probably right too!  However, I can’t help but think that this blog thing might be good for me!  A place to be “me” and write about things that I like and love.  I would consider myself a “hot mess” sometimes and I am not real sure how I manage to keep everyone alive some days!  By the end of the day, one would think that I would pass out as soon as my head hit the pillow.  But, I go to bed with a million thoughts running through my head and wake up with a million more.  Hopefully, this blog will be an outlet to get those thoughts out of my head and in the meantime maybe help someone else out with something in their “hot mess” life, haha!