Spicy Spinach Mac and Cheese Gluten Free

Spicy Spinach Mac and Cheese Gluten Free –oh yes you can!


Easter Sunday I’m making this version of Spicy Spinach Mac and Cheese gluten free because I’m the only GF person at dinner. It’s so good though I’m getting mine before it is all gone. Unless I decide to double the recipe…I think that might be a wise thing to do. 

I have been able to find gluten free Panko at my local grocery store, but I’m sure Ian’s bread crumbs would work just as well. 

**Warning this stuff is addictive. Seriously, if you make this and don’t have a lot of people get your serving and FREEZE the rest. If you eat it all you’ll be working out for months.


spicy mac and cheese gluten free

Spicy Spinach Mac and Cheese Gluten Free

Yield: 4-6 servings

Spicy Spinach Mac and Cheese Gluten Free


  • 1/2 pound dried elbow noodles ( I used Barilla)
  • 1/2 fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated asiago cheese
  • 1 cup grated pepper jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup thawed, drained frozen spinach
  • 1/2 can drained artichoke hearts
  • 2 teaspoons minced shallots
  • 2 cups white sauce
  • 1/2 cup gluten free Panko or Ian's bread crumbs


  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions.
  2. Make white sauce:
  3. 2 cups whole milk
  4. 1/2 cup butter
  5. 1/2 cup gluten free flour (I use Better Batter)
  6. 1 teaspoon salt
  7. Heat the milk until it bubbles about 4 min.
  8. Melt the butter in a pan, ad the flour and whisk until mixture turns light brown. Remove from heat.
  9. Add milk one cup at a time, then set it back on medium high heat KEEP WHISKING for 2-3 minutes.Dip a metal spoon into the sauce if it sticks it's done. Add the salt.
  10. Set it aside
  11. *If you don't know how to make white sauce here's a link
  12. http://allrecipes.com/video/3321/white-sauce/detail.aspx
  13. Pre heat the oven to 400 degrees. Add cheeses, spinach, shallots, artichokes and sauce to a large pan on medium heat. Stir until it melts.
  14. Add the drained pasta and stir. Pour into a 12 inch baking pan and top with the gluten free Panko or bread crumbs. Bake until bubbly about 15 minutes.


*If you don't know how to make white sauce here's a link http://allrecipes.com/video/3321/white-sauce/detail.aspx


mac and cheeseDoesn’t it look delightful?

If you don’t eat gluten free you can still make Spicy Spinach Mac and Cheese.

The inspiration for this dish came from The Mac + Cheese Cookbook by Allison Arevalo and Erin Wade. I’d recommend picking this book up for the clear directions–best ever for making white sauce and the variety of mac and cheese recipes.


 *affliate link

The Mac + Cheese Cookbook: 50 Simple Recipes from Homeroom, America’s Favorite Mac and Cheese Restaurant

Better Batter Flour Gluten Free — 5 lbs

Grow Where You’re Planted

Word Nerd=word is PLANT

Are you like me–reluctant to change?

Does God plant you somewhere and expect you to grow?


I live in a military community and admire those families. They wake up planning their days and weeks only to find out by evening they are moving. Packers, moving trucks, saying good-bye to friends can’t be easy for them. And yet, they do it with grace. But what I find the most amazing thing is that the military families in our church plant themselves.

They walk in the door arms out ready to serve in the church. VBS, (vacation Bible school), Sunday School, take the youth to a concert? No problem.

They take “the grow where you are planted” seriously. Get right in there and get their roots anchored, then one day they are gone.

That’s hard on us who have made good friends. We miss them, but the seeds they plant when they are here continue to grow. Our church has an amazing children’s ministry, our youth group is strong and when we step outside we can see the playground that one young “almost a man” did for his Eagle Scout project before his family moved.

I’d like to be more like them. I’m not moving so have time to act.

OR do I?

Complacency sets in for those of us who have lived in one place for a long time. There’s always tomorrow or next year for us.

It’s dangerous to look at life that way. It’s time for a change. A quick trip in an airplane that disappears, a semi-truck hits an electric pole and takes out several cars, a helicopter crashes next to the Space Needle and someone’s life changes in an instant.


Image credit: alexey1985 / 123RF Stock Photo

The transplanting begins. So why wait until a life change pushes you over your comfort line? It’s time for God’s people to grow where they are planted.

I’m guilty of not even sprouting a bud. Time for me to step out and embrace the outside world, VBS will be coming up in June. I hear the craft time calling me to come help.

How can you plant roots or spread seeds at your church home or in your community? 


Word Nerd blog hop at Patterings.

How to Frame a Shot

Word Nerd: FRAME


Now that I have my new iPhone I’m attempting to frame my shots. You’d think by now that would come natural with as many photos I’ve taken. It doesn’t.

Do you remember your first camera? I do, a Kodak Instamatic. I would save my allowance to buy film, then send it off to be developed, positive I had the best photos ever. When the photos came back most of them weren’t want I expected. The subject I wanted weren’t in the frame. 

photo (32)

It would have been nice to have my aunt –on the left in the photo too!

After taking a photography class I discovered that the camera doesn’t focus on what we think is important. It just takes an image of where the camera lens is pointed. 

With the use of photoshop elements I’ve been able to correct many of my images that weren’t framed the way I wanted. That takes a lot of time because I would take multiple photos hoping to get the right one.

It seems it would be easier to start with the idea of a frame around the image I wanted to capture.

I’ve seen people making frames with their hands so I thought I’d try it. 


This one made my husband laugh because my frame was rather unusual. Seems this isn’t the way it’s done.

frame2 This time I didn’t have my fingers close enough for a tight frame.


Got it this time, but I didn’t like what I saw in my frame. I turned around and took the other end of the suspension bridge.


What do you think? Did I frame this image right? 

Next time you have your camera ready take time to frame the shot. You’ll find things you don’t want in between your hands, there may be a person, a trashcan or a power line. If you do it right you won’t have to spend time in a photo editing program removing unwanted items or cropping to get the image you want.

frame pinterest

The camera doesn’t focus on what we think is important. Tweet This!
Save time frame your photos before you take them. Tweet This!

Word Nerd blog hop at Patterings.

Twitter Fiction Festival starts today!


Twitter Fiction Festival is a five-day, 24/7 virtual storytelling celebration that was first created in winter 2012. It was created by Twitter as a way to embrace the story-telling capabilities of the platform.

Twitter tells the stories of our everyday lives, so why confine the platform to just that? Twitter Fiction Festival allows users to experiment with Twitter and celebrate fiction at the same time. The festival will run from March 12, 2014 through March 16, 2014.

There is also a giveaway. Tweeters who posts with the #TwitterFiction and #chrisfic hashtags OR retweets an author that has used these hashtags during the week of the festival,  will all be eligible to win books!

I will be participating so follow me on twitter and retweet for your chance to win!


You know you’re a Christian Fiction reader if you can’t pass up a Mary Connealy book! #Chrific (click to tweet! )

You know you’re a Christian Fiction reader if you can’t read Ted Dekker at night. #Twitterfiction (click to tweet!)


A Sign is Needed!

Word Nerd Day and the word is SIGN

I don’t know about you but I need a sign that spring is on the way. 

I’ve had enough snow, ice, sleet and COLD! According to the Belleville News Democrat this is the 4th coldest year for the state of Illinois. Enough! Bring on the signs of spring please!

snow garland

I wouldn’t even mind seeing this sign of spring!


Word Nerd blog hop at Patterings.

A Writer’s Chest of Tools

Word Nerd Day! TOOL is the word!


Have you ever wondered what kind of tools a writer might use? 

                                           Tweet this


It seems obvious that we would use the standard writing tools and dictionary but wait there’s more!

Here are some of my favorite tools.

cup with a cross

There’s no writing to be done if this isn’t filled with Chi Spice Black tea, my favorite brand is STASH.

from the inside out

Using from the Inside…Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you! by Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck helps me grow my characters from a name to almost real.

Tweet this

timelife women timelife

Research takes time. When I’m writing about the 1800s, I like to go through my collection The Old West series by Time Life. I love the embossed leather covers.

pink notebook

My favorite notebook–yes, it’s pink, but that isn’t the only reason I love it. It has six pockets to hold all the extra things I find.

postit board

My homemade POST IT board helps me keep me on track.

Read my POST IT post to see how I made it and make your own.


I use a program named Scrivener to write. It’s a grand program that allows me to move scenes around or look at photos I’m using to describe my character and settings. Sometimes I need the Scrivener for Dummies book to figure out what I’m doing.


If you’ve read many of my posts you might have noticed I have a comma problem. I write the way I talk so sometimes I go really fast and forget to put in a comma or I drop off

….in thought…

and come back. That’s why this book is good for me.

I’ve shared some of my favorite tools with you. Now it’s your turn. Tell me what you do along with a few of your favorite tools.


Word Nerd blog hop at Patterings.

An Exotic Experience at Home

Exotic at Home?

Hold on to your britches my exotic experience at home isn’t what you might think. I’m a Midwest girl through and through and if getting exotic means heading to an airplane with a passport in hand let me educate you.

When the Word Nerd Word of the week popped up I wasn’t sure what I could do with that, not much happens in my life to claim the exotic title. Ordering pizza in the middle of the week instead of Friday night tends to be as exciting as it gets.

I set out to change that this week. What could I show my blog readers about living the exotic life at home? It was quite a puzzle. I grabbed my camera and chauffeur and hit the road.


It’s St. Louis Missouri’s 250th birthday this year and there are birthday cakes all over the city. We found this one at the St. Louis Art Museum at the top of Art Hill–known as the place to be on a snowy day because sledding is perfect. And yes I have on a lot of clothes–that exotic temperature is not beach friendly.

Cake at St. Louis


Not far from the Art Museum is Turtle Park where there are sand sculptures of—Turtles! There’s also a snake but there was too much ice on the ground to risk getting the photo.



And last but not least how many can say they have one of these nearby their home?

Collinsville Catsup bottle


Yes, that is Santa climbing the bottle and it’s after Valentine’s Day. It’s been cold and icy here. I’m sure it’s too dangerous to climb on the roof to get him down.


How’s that for exotic? Not what you expected? When you do the “out of the ordinary” life at home can be exotic. 


Help me out by sharing this post? Click on of the share buttons below or click the bird!

Tweet: An Exotic Experience at home?  http://ctt.ec/Zs0ez+ ‎

Word Nerd blog hop at Patterings.

Discovering Chihuly Glass

Word Nerd Word Is: GLASS


Glass! It can be used for so many things, drinking glasses, eye glasses, windows and art.

At the St. Louis Botanical Gardens I discovered the artist Dale Chihuly. He works with glass.

Blue and white Dale Chihuly

This grand Chihuly glass piece hangs in the entry of the Botanical Gardens.

glass blue and white

Here’s a close-up. So intricate!

I love the colors he used in the glass. It must have taken him a long time to get all of those pieces connected the way he wanted them. Working with words is much easier I think than standing over a hot fire waiting for the glass to melt.

Word Nerd blog hop at Patterings.

Deconstruction, Construction or Getting Older

Ever feel like you’re being deconstructed? Others tell me it’s just that I’m getting older and that’s why I have pain. Humph. I don’t care for that answer. I prefer deconstruction or remodeling even.

Now don’t get your panties in a knot–I’m not heading out to the nearest plastic surgeon for a redo. Besides the entire name PLASTIC SURGEON should give anyone pause before going that route. I don’t care to end up looking like one of those plastic scary Hollywood movie people.

Back on topic–I’m breaking down. I’ve noticed the weather changes and I get a migraine.

Foot doesn’t work? Surgery.

So what’s my problem now? I picked up my grandson and pulled a muscle in my back!

What is happening! Can this be cured?

I don’t know but I intend to pick up my workout routine again–as soon as I can bend!

The plan is to slow down the deconstruction so I won’t need as much remodeling.


Image credit: bds / 123RF Stock Photo

Meanwhile–ice or heating pad? I’m going with both.

Word Nerd blog hop at Patterings.

Don’t Let Your Giants Win

How do you slay your giants?


Are you familiar with the story of David in Goliath in 1 Samuel in the bible? If you are skip ahead, if not let me tell you about him. 

David was a shepherd boy sent by his father Jesse, to check on his older brothers who served in the Israelite army. When David arrived he watched as soldiers ran from a giant of a man who served the Philistine army. His name was Goliath. He was huge–a giant to the Israelite army and he made fun of God’s army.

 David who had slain large animals to protect his family’s sheep took the challenge to defend God’s army. With a rock and and a slingshot he took down that giant and the Philistines became slaves to Israel. 

You can read the full story in 1 Samuel chapter 17. 

We all have giants in our lives—not usually people and please if you do—don’t get a slingshot and rock to take care of the problem! 

Today giants take different forms and we have to learn to take them down. But how do we do that? 

Prayer is the best place to start. When I ask for guidance about my giants it seems that God opens my eyes and I discover that not all of my problems are as big as I make them out to be. That God has equipped me to handle the overwhelming to-do list, the big project I’ve begun or just figuring out what I’m making for dinner. *yes sometimes that is the biggest giant of all for me! 

Other days my eyes are opened to the heartbreaking problems others have and I realize at this moment my giant is a very small thing. 

I have a friend who is waiting for heart transplant for his daughter.

I have a friend with ALS.

I have a friend  trained as a Chaplin who heart is breaking because she wants to help those in need but can’t find a position. 

When I look at those true giants I know that I’ve faced some of my own– Seeing my first husband die from cancer, losing 3 brothers all before I reached age of 30 and having a father that left us and didn’t come back when I was 15. 

Those were hard and yet I survived, I changed and my faith grew. 

Are all my giants gone? 

I don’t think so as long as I’m leaving on earth as one of God’s people there will always be someone that wants me to go away. There will always be a tragic incident around the corner. It’s what I do with those that will make the difference.

If I choose to be like David and step out with the faith of God the biggest giant of all, the evil one will not win. 

How do you handle your giants?

giants in your life



Please check out the other giant posts!

Word Nerd blog hop at Patterings.