Monday, October 26, 2015

Creamy Gluten Free Butternut Squash Pasta

Growing up, I was a summer girl. I loved the sunshine and the heat. Even in college, I longed for summer to never end. It helps that I went to university at the beach!

But over the past 10 years, I have fallen head over heels for autumn. 

I get practically giddy when I feel that first chill in the air. And this year, with Baby Mason, autumn feels even more special.

It's been so much fun to experience the change in seasons with him. Slowing down and enjoying small moments with Mason means that I'm really savoring each holiday as they come. 

So October isn't just about Halloween night, but it's also pumpkin patches and playing in the leaves. We've gone for long walks and taken a trip to the mountains. We've done every seasonal thing you can think of!

Which includes seasonal food of course. 

As we all know, I am definitely crazy for pumpkins.

Big pumpkins and Little Pumpkins. :)

But I've just recently found a new love in butternut squash.

I'm not sure why it took me so long. I guess I was intimidated by the preparation, but it's actually super easy.  Pinterest is chock full of recipes for roasting. For this recipe, I sliced the squash in half and roasted it instead of chopping it in to cubes. It's just easier to me. But you can roast your squash however you prefer - it's the end result, the roasted puree, that's important.

Creamy Gluten Free Butternut Squash Pasta
adapted from The Nature Box Blog via Damn Delicious

You'll need:
  • 2 pounds butternut squash, roasted and blended in to smooth puree
  • One box gluten free pasta (I used Schar Fusilli) 
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh sage, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons gluten free all purpose flour (I used King Arthur)
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or other milk of choice)
  • Cabot Alpine Cheddar for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste
1. Roast your butternut squash and puree in a blender until smooth.
2. Prepare your gluten free pasta according to directions on box.
3. For the sauce: In a large sauté pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic, shallot and sage and cook until shallots begin to soften, about 3-4 minutes. Whisk in the gluten free flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk, adding 1/4 cup at a time and then add the butternut squash puree. Cook, whisking constantly, and continue to add milk until the consistency is similar to alfredo sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the cooked pasta and toss to combine.
4. Serve immediately, garnish with shreds of Cabot Alpine Cheddar.

I wanted to add crumbled bacon to this dish, and I swear I had bacon on my grocery list...I even remember putting it in my cart....but when I went to fetch it from the fridge it wasn't there. Case of the Missing Bacon. The salt from bacon would be great, but the Alpine Cheddar actually adds that extra kick without dirtying a fry pan. (Or if you lost your bacon too)

Rich and creamy, one bowl of this pasta was completely satisfying without making me feel overstuffed. Plus the leftovers were AWESOME! Schar gluten free pasta is THE BEST - Ever. It reheats so well!

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did and Happy Autumn Y'all!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Dear Mason, A Reflection on 8 Months

Dear Baby Mason,

On September 31st, you turned 8 months old - I can hardly believe it! It's been half a month since that milestone, and I'm just now sitting down to reflect and record. I say it every time but buddy, life with you is busy!

We last left off with you getting a virus two days after your 7 month birthday. It was so hard to see you not feeling well and unfortunately your virus lasted for a whole week....and you shared that virus with me! We both ended up feeling crummy and sporting a rash - luckily Daddy took good care of us.

This past month was definitely your MOBILITY month. You went from sitting to sliding to scooting to sort of crawling. I say sort of because you aren't up on your knees yet. Your style of crawling is more like dragging your legs behind you and pushing off with your feet occasionally.

It's adorable to watch and most folks are pretty surprised by how speedy you are with your method.

When you're not crawling, you want to be standing.

You love to get help standing and most afternoons play sessions revolve around you chatting about your day and asking for help to stand. (and then you sit down, and then you want to stand again, and then sit down, now stand again, over and over and over) I'm not in a rush for you to start walking, but I know it will make you happy to be able to move your body the way you want to.

Eating is still pretty much your most favorite thing to do. Whether it's nursing or solid food, you love to eat!

This past month, you really started experimenting with finger foods. You still love pears and mangos, but you really love meat, particularly ham!

Since you're such a good eater, you continue to be a good night-time sleeper for the most part. You still wake up around 4am for milk and some nights you wake up a few extra times for snuggles, but for the most part you do well. You're sleeping in your crib, in a zip-a-dee-zip which works extremely well for us. And I know that you're only this small for a short amount of time, so for now I'm enjoying the extra time snuggling you.

You're a predictable napper, predictably horrible! You never nap for very long but you always wake up in a great mood so we're just going with it. We try to help you sleep longer but it rarely works.

We took our first mini vacation as a family to Asheville, NC this past month and we had so much fun!

We visited breweries, visited with friends, and ate lots of yummy food. You love meeting new people, so exploring a new town is super fun for you. We also spent some time just relaxing as a family, and it was on this trip that you really started to crawl. Must have been the wood floors - carpet had been holding you back!

Your sweet and funny personality continues to develop. You are definitely happiest around other people (particularly kids) and love to play with anything. One of your current favorite games is when I put a selection of toys in your laundry basket. You love to tilt the basket down and look around, make a selection, then tilt it down again and continue grabbing a toy one by one.

You are still very chatty, and if you're not jabbering away then you're blowing raspberries with your lips. Basically, you are always making a sound of some sort or smiling. Everyone who meets you can't believe how smiley you are - you're just a happy baby!

You are really starting to love books more and more. Your current favorite: Mollywitch Does Magic Tricks

You like to be read to half a dozen times and then you're usually ready to get moving. Sometimes books make you frustrated when you can't turn the pages, but you're getting better at learning how to handle frustration.

You still love to be outside.

You used to be content to just lay on a blanket and listen to birds and watch the sunshine in the leaves, but now you want to touch the grass and taste the blades. It keeps you occupied for LONG time!

I love to watch you exploring new things. 

It's hard to believe that it's even possible, but my love for you continues to grow each and every day. I can't wait to see what fun month 9 will bring!

Past Letters to Mason:

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Gluten Free Seasonal Favorites - Autumn

If you've been reading this blog for long, then you know that I LOVE seasonal foods. 

I become obsessed with every novelty item released - if it has a pumpkin on it or a candy cane stripe on the packaging then I must have it! I have even been known to recruit others in my searches, sending out group text messages promising to "LOVE YOU FOREVER" if you can find me this Gingerbread Spice Kettlecorn. 

I think part of it must be my general love for holidays. I like having a reason to celebrate and tiny festive touches to make it even more special are my jam. I can't wait to create new traditions with Baby Mason this year, and you know that seasonal food will most likely be a part of that - baby loves to eat! (I have no idea where he gets that from)

So I'm sure you can imagine that I've been a little more than bummed that I can't partake in the Pumpkin Spice Latte mania this year. I had to give up dairy for breastfeeding a few months ago and there is no possibility of a dairy free version at Starbucks now that skim milk is in the syrup. I keep meaning to stop by Whole Foods and try their version, but they don't have a drive thru (#momlife). 

However, I have enjoyed three other seasonal treats this year that I couldn't wait to tell you about. Starting with:

Traders Joe's Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread & Muffin Baking Mix (baked with a side of Scandal)

I had high hopes for this bread - do you remember my obsession with their Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancake Mix?! - and luckily it lived up to my expectations. Super flavorful, dense, rich, and crazy moist, I've been living off of this loaf for over a week. MOH bought me two boxes, and I can't wait to make it in muffin form. 

I'm even thinking about making a simple vanilla glaze to drizzle on top!

My other seasonal success:

Lenny Boy Sweet Potato Pie Kombucha. If you follow me on Instagram then you already got a sneak peek of this treasure! Brewed here in NC, I really hope you can find this where you live! I love it SO MUCH. It's like a Pumpkin Beer that's good for my body. I'm going to have to stockpile these before the season is over.

But by far the best seasonal treat:

Baby Mason in his new fall/winter hat! Handmade by MOH, I am dying over this cuteness! (Also those wrist rolls!!!)

What about you? Any seasonal favorites I need to try?

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

I Ate a Bowl of Cheerios Today

So....are we going to talk about the fact that General Mills essentially glutened....everybody?

I'll admit it, after years of eating every single flavor of gluten free Chex, I jumped on to the Cheerios bandwagon without a second thought.

Seriously. I didn't even pause for a second when I saw them on the shelf at my local grocery store. I couldn't wait for that first bowl. My first bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios in like 8 years. It felt felt normal!

Head first y'all. I jumped in to that first box head first and I didn't look back. I can't even tell you how many boxes I bought, how quickly I went through an entire FAMILY SIZE box. It's a tiny bit embarrassing.

Did I eat a box that was contaminated?


At the rate I went through boxes, it's possible that I did. It's also possible that I didn't. I haven't had most of my typical "glutening" side effects. My digestive tract hasn't been tip top since giving birth to Mason, so I can't use diarrhea as an indicator. (Is that TMI? Sorry!) But I haven't been bloated and we all know that gluten gives me bloat like no other.

So I don't know. I'm guessing not but at the same time, does it really matter?

I mean, how long did it take for a mistake to be made? And how long until another is made?

Will I eat them again?


I will. I know I will. I feel like I shouldn't....and then I ate a bowl this morning!!

So what about you? Will you continue to eat Cheerios?

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Gluten Free Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Gravy

It's no secret that I love living in Durham, NC.

The city itself is not too big or too small. There are tons of green spaces and parks. Not a weekend passes without a fun event, and yes - the restaurants are amazing. Durham was named Tastiest Town in the South by Southern Living magazine after all!

There are lots of gluten free options, and while I never feel deprived by any means, I wouldn't call Durham Gluten Free Heaven.

Nope. Because that title belongs to Asheville, NC!!

This past weekend the Ravelli family headed to the mountains for a quick getaway. Parrish and I were celebrating our 5 year wedding anniversary on the 18th and his birthday on Monday, so a long weekend away was the perfect gift to us both!

And of course we brought Mason since he's the best gift - ever.

The only real plans for the weekend were hanging out with our friends that live in Asheville. We were so excited to just spend some real time with them and eat ALL THE FOOD in the land!

As soon as we arrived in town, we dropped our bags at our house for the weekend and headed out to our first meal. But first, we made a pit stop for cider. 

I will ALWAYS make a pit stop for cider - if you're headed to Asheville, definitely put Urban Orchard Cider Co. on your must visit list!

I had a hard time choosing, so I ended up ordering a flight of 4 ciders.

And while they were all yummy, the Pineapple Lavender - yes, Pineapple Lavender !!! - was by far my favorite. I could NOT stop thinking about that cider! I am fully regretting not buying a growler full to bring home.

After the cider stop, we headed to King Daddy's Chicken & Waffle for an early supper,

and it did not disappoint!

We started the meal with sweet potato hushpuppies - yep, gluten free.

Hush puppies y'all. HUSH PUPPIES. Every Southern girls dream!

Well, hush puppies AND fried chicken that is!

I can't even fully express how amazing this meal was. The gluten free fried chicken was moist on the inside, with a crazy crispy batter on the outside. And that waffle. OH that waffle. I almost asked our server if he was sure that it was gluten free; it was that good!

The next morning we woke up and enjoyed a slower morning with no plans until brunch. Baby Mason enjoyed crawling around on the wood floors - yep - CRAWLING around, while Parrish and I enjoyed that relaxing feeling you can only get when you're not in your own home with a to-do list a mile long.

To say that I was excited about brunch would be a huge understatement. I have been dreaming about going to Posana for....YEARS. A completely gluten free restaurant? Yes please!

We started our meal with an order of Doughnut Holes. I could have eaten a hundred of these. Parrish had a few and then he could sense my growing urge to no longer share them - he's a smart guy. So he and Mason shared some Avocado Toast with Salmon and left me to relish in my doughnuts alone.

For my meal I ordered the Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Gravy and a side of Cheddar Grits. I also ordered two biscuits for Mason and I to share because....

BISCUITS y'all - they need no explanation.

I ate every single bite. I stuffed myself to the gills and I still wanted more! The food was simply incredible. My only regret is that we were only able to eat there once.

If you're heading to Asheville or within a 3 hour driving distance of Asheville, you have to make eating at Posana a priority. And honestly, it's not necessarily that the food is gluten free, it's just good food! I'm already planning my next trip!

After brunch we headed out to explore the town with friends. We walked around the Farmer's Market, bought some apples, and hit up a few (of the many) breweries.

I wasn't sure it was possible, but all the walking around (with 20 pounds of squishy baby love attached to my chest) actually helped me work up an appetite after ALL THE FOOD at Posana, so we had an early dinner out at Asheville Brewing Company.

We rarely get to eat dinner out since having Mason - that baby LOVES an early bedtime. But we were on mountain time that weekend and he didn't seem to mind staying up a bit...especially if there was food involved!

Baby Mason LOVES to eat! He enjoyed a meal of puffs, sweet potatoes, and corn, while Parrish and I shared an AMAZING gluten free pizza.

I'm telling you, not one bad meal the entire trip! Even Parrish remarked on how good this gluten free pizza was. If it hadn't been smaller in size, I would have wondered if it were actually gluten free!

After having fried chicken TWICE in one weekend, pizza was the perfect way to end our trip.

Monday morning came all too quickly, and I'll admit that I had a hard time leaving Asheville. It was such a relaxing weekend, a welcome break from all the stresses and pressure of our home life currently. I can't wait to visit again!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Dear Mason, A Reflection on Months 6 & 7

*Edited to Add: Two days before your 7 month birthday you caught your first virus! Today is September 2nd, and you've had a fever for 5 days. It spiked yesterday and you were the saddest you have been. ever. It's hard to see the happiest baby in the world cry, but me and Daddy have been taking good care of you. Extra snuggles at night and lots of napping. Hopefully you will feel better soon.

Dear Mason,

It really is no surprise to me that time got away from us these past few months and I ended up not being able to post your 6 Month Reflection. Life with you continues to be very busy!

6 months was the beginning of the real fun, and month 7 was a total blast!

You started sitting up by yourself for periods of time, which makes playing so much easier. At 6 months we would use a boppy to help you steady yourself, but at 7 months we just sit nearby or place a boppy behind you where your head would hit if you fell backwards. You are so much more sturdy at 7 months than you were at 6, but you haven't mastered sitting quite yet.

You are really ready to crawl, but you're not quite sure how to do it. When you're on your belly you push way up in to an upward facing dog yoga position, but you're not sure what to do with your legs yet. You can wiggle your way around in a circle, but you get frustrated when you realize you haven't moved anywhere. You've even started kicking your legs back and forth from a seated position and looking down expectantly like, "Hey legs?! Why aren't we going anywhere?!"

But you have mastered rolling. In fact, during month 7, you officially became a belly sleeper!

In month 6 we moved you from the Rock and Play in to your crib. Mommy and Daddy were nervous about it, but you did fine and it seems like you're enjoying the extra room. Some days you wiggle yourself diagonally in the crib, or you end up all the way at the bottom. But no matter where you are, you're on your belly.

Speaking of your belly, you are a growing baby!

At your 6 month check-up you weighed in at 20 pounds 5 ounces, which puts you in the 88th percentile for weight - which is no surprise to anyone that meets you because you have an appetite!

After your 6 month check-up, we got the go ahead to start feeding you 3 meals a day. And the Dr. told us to let you tell when you're full, instead of us stopping you from eating. At 6 months your favorite foods were butternut squash and sweet potatoes. At 7 months you are currently loving pears mixed with mangoes. You open your mouth REALLY WIDE for those.

You also hate avocados, which sort of breaks Mommy's heart because I love them so much. We've tried 3 times but each time you take a bite, shiver your whole body, and then won't take another bite! You're also not the biggest fan of kale, but if we mix in prunes you gobble it up.

You continue to be a happy-funny baby, and have showed no signs of being weary of strangers. You still let anyone hold you, and you love to give away smiles to new friends. Whether you're riding in the grocery cart or your stroller, you love "being on parade" and smile at everyone you pass by.

Crazily enough, you still have NO TEETH. You seem to be "teething" off and on but nothing comes out of it.

Big events of Month 6 included your first BIG road trip to Ohio for your Uncle Bud's wedding.

We were nervous about you sleeping in the hotel, but it was no problem at all! You were still sleeping in your Rock and Play then, which made travel super easy.

You did a great job in the car for a tiny baby, but 6 1/2 hours on the road at one time seemed to be your limit. When we were driving back we stopped at a hotel for the night in West Virginia, and you were SO HAPPY to be out of your car seat. I plopped you down on the king size bed and you rolled around and giggled and babbled for nearly 30 minutes.

You also attended your first music festival during month 6 which - no surprise - you loved! You are still at your happiest outside, so combining that with live music and new friends meant you were in heaven. You lasted ALL DAY and never showed signs of being done. It was so much fun!

Big events for Month 7 included sitting up on your own in a highchair in restaurants. You absolutely LOVE it and Mommy and Daddy love being able to eat without having their hands full.

You also started playing games this past month, including Peek-a-boo. You love to play after you've woken up from a nap but you're still in your crib, so we play peek-a-boo through your crib bumpers. You've also really started mastering toys and understanding how to turn things or stack things, so Mommy and Daddy bought you new toys that use those skills.

Another favorite: your fur brother and sister. You love to watch them walk around and try to "pet" Max regularly now. Hazel doesn't get close enough for you to pet but she has given you a few kisses.

You continue to LOVE your exersaucers, especially the Step n' Play piano. You have never seen a happier baby banging on the piano keys and jumping up and down.

And last but definitely not least, you love other babies!

You have started interacting with other children and it is the cutest thing ever. We meet up with friends at the library for Baby Lapsit and you stand and squawk and smile the entire time. We visited your friend Amelia and her new baby brother, and you kept lunging at Amelia to grab and hug her. You just love being around friends!

In fact, there is not much you don't love Mason Modesto...aside from avocados of course! You continue to be a happy funny baby, and Mommy and Daddy love you more and more everyday. You are our best buddy, and we can't wait to see what month 8 brings!

24 weeks

28 weeks

Past Letters to Mason: