Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Fall is my favorite time of year. I love everything that fall brings...the massive amounts of leaves that fill yards and streets...the colors of nature...the crispness of the air...and especially all of the foods that are fall-specific. What could be more "fall" than Chicken and Dressing? And the good news is that people who are gluten free don't have to miss out!

My daughter was diagnosed with Celiac Disease just a few months before Thanksgiving. I had no idea how to have a gluten free Thanksgiving. In all honesty, I probably didn't bother with it that first year...I really don't remember. One thing is for the years went by I was forced to turn the old family favorites into dishes that were delicious and safe for her. Enter the number one supporting cast member of the Kavanaugh Thanksgiving - the dressing!

My dressing is very simple. It is not stuffing. I've never even tasted stuffing so I can't tell you the difference. You can add shredded chicken or keep it plain and simple. The choice is yours. You really cannot mess this up. I promise.

Here is the one picture you need to see before you get started. The consistency of your mixture should be soupy. Slightly thicker than pancake batter. Now that you've been informed...happy cooking!

Consistency of dressing mixture before it bakes.

Consistency of dressing when it is finished baking

The yummy goodness that will be begging for your fork!



{Adapted from}

2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder 
1 1/2 cups milk
4 tBsp. vegetable oil
1 large egg

Mix all of the ingredients well. Pour into a glass 9x9 and bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

1 & 1/4 cup milk (2% or whole)
1 & 1/2 Tablespoons of cornstarch dissolved in 1/2 cup water
1 Tablespoon of Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base

In a small sauce pan, add milk and bouillon. Heat almost to a boil. Add the water/cornstarch mixture. Whisk constantly until the consistency of traditional cream of chicken soup. (This will take a few minutes. Be patient) Once the soup is thickened, remove from heat and set aside.

1 small onion, chopped
bacon grease or olive oil
2 cans chicken broth OR 2 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon Chicken base    dissolved in 2 cups of hot water.
1 prepared pan of cornbread (recipe above)
Cream of Chicken Soup (recipe above)
Shredded Chicken (optional)
pepper to taste

  1. In a skillet, cook onions in bacon grease or olive oil until tender and translucent. (Trust me on the bacon grease. It adds a layer of flavor.)
  2. In a large bowl, crumble the cornbread as fine as you can with your hands. It's okay if there are a few larger pieces.
  3. Add the onions, cream of chicken soup and chicken broth.
  4. Add pepper to taste. (Really taste it. If you need salt, add it here. There should be enough from the bouillon.)
  5. If the mixture needs to be thinner, add milk.
  6. Pour into a large casserole dish.
  7. Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until set.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Thought About Our Fast for GB Family

Hands down, the hardest thing for me to give up during a fast is Coca-Cola. And, let’s face it, if it’s the hardest for me to give up it really needs to be the first to go. Day 1 of the Awakening fast was fairly easy for me…until around 7:00pm when the headache began. This morning the headache was gone but in its aftermath was a wicked craving for a Coke! Unfortunately, the people who caught the brunt of my frustration of Coke withdrawal were Scott and the girls who were home for the MLK holiday. I knew in my mind and spirit that the only way I could fight the craving was to get alone with God…but three people in a tiny house is not conducive to productive & intimate prayer time…or so I justified. Somewhere around mid-afternoon came this statement from my hubby, “Mandy, you need to go in your prayer closet, in the word or talk to God….something!” And he was absolutely right!

I want to encourage you, if you are having a hard time, please remember that fasting is about seeking God…not about how long you can go without eating. The physical hunger or denying ourselves of something we crave heightens our intimacy with God…but only if we go to Him in our prayer closets during those times. We will not make it otherwise and if we do…we have only been religious. 

I am blessed to seek God with an amazing group of people! I love my church. I love my God.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Yummy Sour Cream Pancakes

I have tried several recipes for gluten free pancakes. Each time the results were much less than favorable since using gluten free flour changes everything in a recipe. I had pretty much given up on them until I opened one of my Christmas presents on Christmas Eve...The Pioneer Woman Cookbook! As I flipped through the pages, my eyes caught the title of Sour Cream Pancakes. As I skimmed the ingredients, my heart was hopeful when I read "7 tablespoons flour." Since the recipe called for only a small amount of flour, I mustered up the gumption to try one more time (substituting Jules GF Flour)...and it was a yummy success. These pancakes are moist, buttery, light...and most importantly, delicious!

You will need:

1 cup sour cream
7 tablespoons all purpose flour     {I use Jule's Gluten Free Flour}
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a bowl, mix together the flour, salt, sugar & baking soda. In a separate bowl mix together eggs & vanilla. Combine flour mixture & egg mixture. Mix's ok if the batter is lumpy. Pour batter onto a heated, buttered skillet/griddle 1/4 cup at a time. Flip them when they begin to look like this:

Cook the other side until done....and this is the yummy result:

No one person at my table needed any extra butter. We just poured syrup on top and began eating this yummy food that we haven't had in quite a while. I added everyone's favorite side dish of bacon and sausage and called it a day! Thanks, Pioneer Woman!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Macaroni & Cheese

One of the recipes that I have spent the most time searching for is Macaroni & Cheese. It has taken a while to find the right recipe, flour and pasta but the work has paid off. I use the recipe from the Pioneer Woman with gluten free adjustments. You can read the original recipe here on her blog. She posts step-by-step pictures which are helpful...especially when making the roux. And don't let the roux scare you. If I can do can you! 

Everyone, even those who are not GF, will love this dish. My brother-in-law and I are very picky eaters and we love it! Enjoy!

Image from

GF Pioneer Woman Macaroni & Cheese


  • 4 cups Dried Macaroni (Quinoa Ancient Harvest GF Elbow Macaroni)
  • 1 whole Egg Beaten
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 Stick Or 4 Tablespoons) Butter
  • 1/4 cup All-purpose Flour (Better Batter, Jules Gluten Free, OR GF Bisquick)
  • 2-1/2 cups Whole Milk
  • 2 teaspoons (heaping) Dry Mustard, More If Desired
  • 1 pound Cheese, Grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt, More To Taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Seasoned Salt, More To Taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • Optional Spices: Cayenne Pepper, Paprika, Thyme (I skip these :))

Preparation Instructions

Cook macaroni until very firm. Macaroni should be too firm to eat right out of the pot. Drain.
In a small bowl, beat egg.
In a large pot, melt butter and sprinkle in flour. Whisk together over medium-low heat. Cook mixture for five minutes, whisking constantly. Don’t let it burn.
Pour in milk, add mustard, and whisk until smooth. Cook for five minutes until very thick. Reduce heat to low.
Take 1/4 cup of the sauce and slowly pour it into beaten egg, whisking constantly to avoid cooking eggs. Whisk together till smooth.
Pour egg mixture into sauce, whisking constantly. Stir until smooth.
Add in cheese and stir to melt.
Add salt and pepper. Taste sauce and add more salt and seasoned salt as needed! DO NOT UNDERSALT.
Pour in drained, cooked macaroni and stir to combine.
Serve immediately (very creamy) or pour into a buttered baking dish, top with extra cheese, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Emily's story & how it can help YOU!

I have come across more people lately who are gluten-free. The most amazing thing about that is these are people who have been in my life for years. Some of them were there to encourage my family at the very beginning of our own GF journey. I love the fact that God takes our trials and hardships and uses them to help other people. I never want our family's experience with Celiac Disease to be wasted. So, I have decided to add a tab to my blog that will contain gluten free recipes. I have spent the past eight years of my life learning how to prepare old family favorite dishes in a manner that is gluten free...but also tastes good! (That is the challenge with GF.) Before I begin posting those recipes, I wanted to include a Facebook note that I wrote in 2009. It shares more details of Emil's story. I hope it encourages you! Check back soon for gluten free recipes!


We had spaghetti for dinner tonight. That's not a big deal to most people. But for my daughter, Emily, it means a lot. She was diagnosed with Celiac Disease when she was almost 2 years old. CD is an autoimmune disease which causes her body to "attack" her intestines if she ever ingests even a crumb of wheat gluten. You'll hear me refer to it as an allergy to simplify it for people...but it's far more than an allergy. A "reaction" for her isn't temporary and if she were to stray from her gluten free diet for a long period of time, she would have a very high risk of developing intestinal cancer not to mention the fact that she would be so malnourished her body could not function.  
Many people ask us how she was diagnosed. We were blessed because the diagnosis came only a month or two after her symptoms appeared. Our healthy little toddler had lost weight quickly, except for her distended tummy. Her eyes appeared sunken in and her face was bony and pale. There were other symptoms that I will spare you. She went from being an active little girl to spending all of her free time sleeping on the running, skipping or giggling. After a simple blood test and an intestinal biopsy we had our diagnosis and life gluten free. 
At first, I thought it wouldn't be hard. After 2.5 hours at the grocery store and many tears shed, I left with Fritos, bananas and chicken. The realization hit me hard that this situation was going to be insurmountable. At that time there were no support groups...and let's face one in Albany, GA even knew what wheat gluten was! I spent the first three months of her diagnosis totally consumed with notebooks to journal safe food and unsafe food, food labels and a phone to my ear calling all of the food manufacturers to ask what was in their food. Also during this time we had to be focused on getting Emily "caught up" because the time she spent ingesting gluten had depleted her body of everything that God put there to make her healthy. We had to be very purposeful about what we were putting into our child.  
God had blessed me with one friend, Jackie, who lived in Albany at the time. Before Emily's dianosis, God had sent Jackie on a journey of learning to feed her family better...with whole foods. She did research for me...baked gluten free goodies (which is NOT easy)...and listened to my problems. She was a bigger help than she could possibly know. With her help and lots of time researching I began to feel less overwhelmed. After MUCH PRAYER from our family and church and having implemented all we had learned, we began to see amazing results! Within three months her stomach wasn't distended anymore and her physical appearance was almost back to normal. There were many battles to face after she began to get well. People have a hard time believing that one crumb of a cookie or cracker can make someone sick. People have tried to go to battle with me on that and in situations such as daycare, school and other public settings it can be difficult to say the least. But God's grace brought us through it.  
That was such a long time ago. Emily is seven now. It's neat to see how God knits together a child's temperament in their DNA knowing how they must be equipped to handle what He has for them to experience in life. From the second Emily was born she has exhibited compassion, love, contentment and a good attitude. She has never once complained or asked "why" she has to deal with this. There are no "real" birthday cakes that she can pizza parties to partake freshly baked cookies like we know them. And it's not just in's in seasonings, chocolate, name and it can have wheat gluten in it. My daughter is amazing because I would have thrown my hands up by now.  
If you've made it this far into the rambling you're probably wondering why I'm writing about this now. Well, it all began with spaghetti. I purchased a different kind of gluten free noodles to save a buck (Gluten free is a very expensive diet). I knew immediately after I cooked them that they were going to be bad but I crossed my fingers hoping that Em's taste buds wouldn't notice. My sweet girl sat there through the meal without complaining. After we were all done she looked at me with her big, brown eyes and politely asked if she could have a PB&J (gluten free of course). While I cleaned up the dishes she sat happily with her sandwich and she was one always.

Monday, October 10, 2011


I just thought I would take a minute to encourage all of you who have had a bad day. My disclaimer is that 1) I know there are many others whose day was so much worse than mine and 2) after a whole day has passed I can finally laugh.

7:28am | After a trying morning, the girls and I finally head toward the door for school and the office. Scott had the day off. It was pouring down rain, so I walked each girl to the car under an umbrella. Scott delivered my cup of coffee to the car since my hands were full. {he's good that way}

7:29am | My youngest, who has already had a meltdown just a few minutes prior, continues the meltdown due to the back seat that was apparently folded up and wouldn't budge an inch back into the upright position. {note: said child is fighting a cold...we all know that magnifies emotions. :)} As my daughter continues to meltdown, I admit...I fussed about the seat being folded up in the first place by the culpit who wanted to skip the middle set of seats and sit in the very back. {can I at least get an AMEN from a mom out there?}

7:30am | With my coffee in hand, I put the car in reverse and hit the gas pedal. We were all jolted by the crash into my husband's car. I put the car in drive to remove my trailer hitch from my husband's bumper. Coffee spills all over my lap. My only response was to get out of the the pouring rain.

7:31am | I hear primal screams coming from inside of my car and realized that I never put the car in park. In a moment of horror I watched my SUV roll toward my house. {I promise you that cars at any speed, rolling toward a house, seems like a million miles per hour.} I jumped into my car and hit the break just in time to be approximately 2-3 feet from the brick exterior wall of my daughters' bathroom.

7:32am | I exit the car again and walk behind my car...the long the go inside. Why walk behind my car? There was no room between the front of my car and the bushes! Scott took over the task of taking the girls to school. I'm glad he did. I was shaking and just a smidge were the girls in the car who stared down the brick wall of doom. {Don't tell Scott, but I really DO feel for him most of the know, living in the land of estrogen.}

7:34am | What is a girl to do but change her coffee saturated jeans...and brew another cup? ;)

So, that was the start of my was yours?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Meet Blake & Charlye. God designed our paths to cross almost two years ago...then, He wove our hearts together in ministry seven months after that. Scott and I get to see this couple in two different settings: their ministry lives and their personal lives. I can tell you they are no different in one mode than in the other. Today, on their third wedding anniversary, I have been thinking of a way to describe them and two words come to mind: LOVE & CONSISTENCY. Let me tell you about them.

I have decided the best way to describe Blake as one of my partners in ministry is that he is my right arm and my left brain. You see, I am a worship leader who can't read a lick of music. A typical week includes me trying to explain something I hear happening musically in my head and how I want it to come to life in our corporate worship setting. Blake takes my thoughts and makes it happen with the band. He never shows frustration. Only support. I value that in him. He is a leader, both on and off the stage. He leads our young men's small group and I know they are blessed to have him.

Charlye is the quiet type...but dont' mistake being quiet as being weak. I think of her as a mighty princess-warrior in God's army through both her prayer and her worship. She is a spirit and truth can see the presence of the Holy Spirit resting on her when she praises God. It's a blessing to me. Charlye also leads our young women's small group. I hear first hand from those girls what a difference Charlye has made in their lives. That's a blessing to me too.

As a couple, they shout the Gospel of Jesus Christ with their actions. They are faithful to one another and faithful to their Savior. In our modern world where marriage is not valued, they are one of the couples that are defying the odds. I believe they will tell you that the reason they are doing so is because of their love and surrender to Christ and their love and mutual honor toward one another.

Blake & Charlye...I love you both. You inspire me and many others. I pray God's riches blessing on your lives and His continual blessing and expansion of your ministries. I know the following scripture has become so commonplace but it truly does fit you both. Let it wash over your hearts!

1 Corinthians 13:1-7 {The Message} 
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love. 
   Love never gives up.    Love cares more for others than for self.    Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.    Love doesn't strut,    Doesn't have a swelled head,    Doesn't force itself on others,    Isn't always "me first,"    Doesn't fly off the handle,    Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,    Doesn't revel when others grovel,    Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,    Puts up with anything,    Trusts God always,    Always looks for the best,    Never looks back,    But keeps going to the end.