Sunday, December 28, 2014

Adventures in Gluten Free Baking... Holiday Goodies!!

For the past 3 years, I have watched in agony as others have devoured the delicious holiday treats during the Christmas season.  With Celiac disease, I am so limited as to what I can consume, and it puts a lot of pressure on me to make everything I eat myself...  But this year, I was determined to have a Gluten Free Christmas meal and desserts.  Mission accomplished!  Here is a picture of all of the delicious treats I was able to accomplish this year, my gluten free friends will all drool!  You see, gluten free baked goods don't often look as good as they taste... just par for the course I suppose...   

Here are the recipes that I used.  However, please be advised that with gluten free baking - if you don't use the same flour configuration, then the consistency and taste of your baked goods will vary greatly.  As with all gluten free recipes, you will want to verify that all ingredients that you use are free of gluten, even if not mentioned in the ingredients in the recipe.  

Chewy Gooey Flourless Chocolate Cookies {courtesy of Recipe Girl}
3 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 to 4 egg whites at room temperature {I start with 2 and go from there, 4 isn't usually necessary}
1 TBS pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips {bittersweet are recommended, but I use semi}
A Silpat for your baking sheet or parchment paper  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line your baking sheets with Silpat or parchment.  If you use parchment, give it a spray with non stick baking spray.  {I only use Silpat's with this recipe as anything else doesn't give up the cookie and it just crumbles on me}.

In a large bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, cocoa, and salt.  Whisk in egg whites starting with just two, vanilla extract, and beat until batter is just moistened.  Add egg whites as needed but batter should be a thick and brownie-like consistency.  Gently stir in chocolate chips.

Spoon batter onto prepared baking sheets, small spoonfuls, evenly spaced.  Bake about 14 minutes, until tops are glossy and lightly cracked.  Cool completely, then peel away the Silpat or parchment to release the cookies.  Store in an air tight container.  

Cookies and Cream Fudge:
16 chocolate sandwich cookies broken in pieces { I use Glutino so this recipe is gluten free} 
1 can sweetened condensed milk, varies by brand but is usually 12 to 14 ounces.
2 TBS Butter
2 2/3 cups white chocolate chips {will be more than one bag}
1 tsp vanilla

Line 8x8 baking dish with tin foil.  Place half of the broken cookies on the bottom.  In a large saucepan, combine condensed milk, butter, white chips, and melt over low heat until completely melted and smooth.  Remove from heat, stir in vanilla.  Pour over cookies, and sprinkle remaining cookies on top.   Cool in the fridge 3 to 4 hours.  Pull mixture out of the pan via the tin foil, place upside down on a cutting board, and remove tin foil.  Cut in pieces...  

Peppermint Bark:
1 package white chocolate bark, cut into shavings and small pieces
2 cups white chocolate morsels
1/2 package Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips

Prepare a cookie sheet, line it with wax paper.  Combine first two ingredients in a large saucepan, and melt over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Do not over cook or turn up the heat.  As soon as it is melted, it is done.  Even small pieces of unmelted chips won't show or matter.  Immediately pour the melted chocolate onto the cookie sheet, spreading with your spatula to make a rectangle shape.  Pour the Andes Peppermint baking chips over the top.  When they have started to melt, take your knife or spatula and smear the red coloring around for decoration.  Cool in the fridge completely, about 2 hours.  When it is done, break the chocolate into random pieces...  Store at room temp or in the fridge.  So good! 

Flourless Peanut Butter Blossoms:  {Recipe found on Pinterest and postings in our Celiac Facebook group}
1 Cup Peanut butter {I use smooth and creamy}.
1 cup sugar {plus a little in a bowl for rolling dough in}
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, prepare cookie sheet with parchment or Silpat.  Combine all ingredients until smooth.  Roll small balls in sugar and place evenly on prepared baking sheet.  Cook 12 minutes, remove from oven and immediately place unwrapped Hershey's kiss chocolate piece in top ad lightly press until desired blossom shape has been formed for each cookie.  Store in air tight container.

Mexican Wedding Cookies {Recipe modified for GF from Martha Stewart's original recipe}

1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup flour {I used Cup for Cup brand}
1/4 cup cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1 egg
1 1/2 stick salted butter {3/4 cup}
1 tsp vanilla
Powdered sugar for rolling, about 2 cups

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Prepare baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper.  Cream sugar and egg in a mixer.  Add in flour, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla.  Stir in pecans until just combined.  Bake at 325 for approximately 20 minutes.  Baking times will vary based on your altitude, climate, and the type of flour that you use, so keep an eye on them towards the end.  When the cookies are done, remove from the oven and toss each one in powdered sugar, returning to the baking sheet.  Then coat them a second time for good measure ;-)  Store in an airtight container.  Most gluten recipes don't call for an egg, but I find it is necessary in a GF version for better binding.  

Hope all my fellow Celiac's are able to enjoy some delicious treats!!  Now, on to the next challenge :-)  Gotta stay positive and push forward peeps!!!


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Adventures in Gluten Free: Crab Cakes

I dabbled today in making an old favorite.  I saw a recipe on the internet, an knew I had to try it. Overall, the gluten free flour is best dusted and not caked on, but they tasted great.  I had to modify the recipe that I used from here, because I could not get the cakes to stick together...  {oh, only the main and common problem with gluten free in general}...  Half way through I decided that small rolled balls would make an excellent appetizer, so there's an idea too.  I tried it myself, and they held together much better than the larger patties.  If you are careful, and only flip them once - using two spatulas - they will come out pretty and all in one piece.  But as most of us gluten free cooks know, sometimes pretty isn't in the cards and all we care about is that "get in my belly" moment...

Here are the ingredients that I used:
{recipe adapted from here}
  • 1 pound crab meat, preferably lump
  • 1 finely diced small red or green Bell pepper
  • 1 finely diced small sweet yellow onion
  • 3 minced large cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 15 coarsely crushed gluten-free crackers (I used Glutino Gluten Free crackers}
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon prepared (not dry) mustard
  • 1 teaspoon gluten-free Worcestershire sauce (I used French's)
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/2 cup all purpose gluten-free flour for dusting crab cakes before frying (I used Namaste all purpose)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika (optional)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil for pan frying crab cakes
Saute minced pepper, onion and garlic in olive oil for about 4 minutes on medium heat. Do not brown. Place crackers in a plastic bag and coarsely crush with a rolling pin or round drinking glass.
Combine crab meat, sauteed vegetables, crushed crackers, egg, mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and Old Bay seasoning and thoroughly combine with a large spatula.
Shape crab cakes. This recipe makes 9 medium gluten-free crab cakes or about 18 appetizer, bite-sized crab cake balls.
Place gluten-free all purpose flour in a shallow dish. Add salt, pepper and paprika (optional) to taste. Dust each cake lightly with flour and pan fry in olive oil over medium high heat until golden brown on each side.  Be careful not to pile on the gluten free flour, it doesn't quite fry up all the way when it is lumped on there...  

Hope you enjoy your crab cakes!  For me, It was nice to be able to have an old favorite again!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Easy and Quick Milk Cap home decor....

I was able to knock out this fast project using vintage milk caps and a frame from Goodwill.  I was fortunate enough to finish my collection from a fancy vintage goody grab bag style order from Lisa Pace.  The last few large milk caps were just what I needed.  I had a white frame from Goodwill that had a damaged spot on it...  I got to work distressing the rest of the frame with some sand paper to match the spot, turned out nice.  Then I framed some dollar store gingham and kraft wrapping paper since the frame was too big for scrapbook paper.  I arranged the milk caps on the glass to see how I would like them to look overall, and then got to work hot glue-ing them on the glass.  The whole project took maybe 15 minutes... Easy peasy!  You can find assortments of milk caps on Etsy, that's where I purchased my original stash from...

Turned out lovely, right??!!

I just love to turn old things into something new and I love to display antique items...  What was once an item that worked hard in it's former life, now becomes something on display in my home...  My favorite kind of home decor!  Made with heart and completely home spun :-)  Thanks for stopping better and happy crafting y'all!  :-)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

PageMaps Challenge Gingerbread pretties...

Got motivated to do a sketch challenge from PageMaps this week...  I made the cutest little gingerbread {graham cracker} house before we moved, and I got the best pics of it...  So, I included them in the challenge...  It isn't quite to the scale that I wanted it to be, but it turned out nice anyway.  I really like the colors, not your traditional Christmas colors :-)  The prize is a wonderful JBS package, would love to win it! {you can find it here }

Here is the sketch:

And here is my finished page:

I used a hodge-podge of products on this page.  Some old thickers for the title, some trim from my stash, some doilies from a party supply store, some enamel dots, some tattered angels...  Not really anything that necessarily goes together, but I wanted it to look willy nilly.... Is that a thing?  Well it is now ;-)

Thanks for stopping by, and hope you all get a little crafty time very soon!!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Conquering Gluten Free, one recipe at a time...

Recently celebrating my one year gluten free anniversary, I look back on what I miss the most.  Without missing a beat, my answer would be sandwiches {on white squishy bread} and flaky pastry.  Not gonna lie, I crave sweets.  All day.... every day...  it's my thing.  I only get them once every couple of days, but when I do - you can be sure I make them count ;-)  When I came across these brownies from Six Sisters Stuff, they reminded me of my favorite cookie as a kid.  The chocolate marshmallow frosted cookies at the mall.  I would ride the bus there with friends, and spend my allowance on the chocolatey goodness.  I can still taste the frosting... melted in your mouth!  I knew they would be fairly easy to convert to gluten free, since my favorite gluten free flour mix makes one tasty brownie already...  here is the recipe I followed, and let me just tell you... This might possibly be the best thing I ever ate... gluten free, or otherwise...  for realzzzz y'all!!

Fudge Brownies: {adapted from Namaste Foods}
1/2 cup butter or margarine
3 TBS unsweetened cocoa
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup Namaste Perfect Flour Blend
1/4 tsp baking soda

Melt butter in the microwave, pour into mixing bowl.  Add cocoa, mix on medium for 1 minute.  Mix in sugar.  Blend in eggs, one at a time.  Add vanilla.  Add flour in small amounts, mixing as you go.  Add baking soda.  Mix until combined.  Spread in greased 8x8 pan.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Cool.  Cover with gluten free marshmallow cream to taste.  Top with chocolate frosting, recipe as follows:

Chocolate frosting: {adapted from Six Sisters Stuff}
1 stick butter {1/2 cup}, softened
1/4 cup milk
1-2 tsp vanilla, depending on your taste
3 TBS cocoa
2-3 cups powdered sugar

Mix all ingredients in your mixer until smooth.  Adjust the powdered sugar, or milk ratio based on your desired consistency.  Spread on top of brownies.    

To serve, shall we just add: slice or just eat the whole pan with a spoon!!??!!  You won't be able to tell the difference between gluten or gluten free on this one, and you won't be baking from a box either...  Now go!!!  And experience the yum..................................

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Winter neutrals....

The time has come.... time to tear down all the beauty that we have built over the Christmas season in our homes...  Such an arduous task...  and a depressing one at that.  But I know I will see all those pretties again in another year...  As soon as I took down all the decorations, my hubby says to me, "it looks really plain in here now..."...  Oh...  no... you... didn't.... Did you just say plain??!!  Oh, well... I'm right on that then ;-)  I have been wanting to neutralize around here and clear out the decorative clutter for a while now.  So his words were all I needed to get my "winter neutral decorating" on...

I started with making a couple of wreaths that I have wanted to make for years now.  All free stuff from around my house and crafty stash.  They aren't hard per say, and I won't bore you with yet another 'bookpage wreath' or 'coffee filter wreath' tutorial... since there is a million of them on Pinterest.  But I will show mine off with pride and joy... Because these things are the most tedious boring projects you will ever make, I swear.... but well worth the effort I think.  I adore them!

I paired up some neutral items from around the house and now it looks decorated around here, but not too cluttered.  I think by keeping the colors neutral, it all blends really well and fits the 'baby it's cold outside' thing we have going on here in Texas right now...

I love how uncluttered and pretty it looks in here... I may have to stick with this all year..... Mwahaahaahaa.... who am I kidding??!!  Valentine's Day is just a month away for Pete's sake.. and you know Imma be alllllll over that ;-)  So don't despair when you clean up your Christmas clutter.  Just go around the house and pair up some stuff that all kind of blends in neutrals, and make a lovely vignette or two...  Happy decorating y'all!!!

Christmas Crafting....

I was able to squeeze in a few projects this month...  not as many as my usual Crazy Christmas Crafting... I had some major surgery in November, and have just been focusing on recovering slowly.... I was blessed with a sweet and loving hubby and kiddos to take care of me, and treat me like a princess while I was recovering...  <3 nbsp="" p="">

I altered some flour sack towels with an iron on image from my Silhouette library and sewed on some cute accents...  

I covered some plain clothespins with some washi tape in holiday styles to hold my Christmas cards...

I recreated a cookie sheet advent calendar using what I had on hand that Katie Watson had made for Maya Road a few years back...  I have always wanted to make one, so checked it off the list... 

I took time to make snuggle time special with stove-top hot cocoa like my mom used to make me...  brings back sweet childhood memories for me...  

And that's it in the crafty department.  I didn't even send out cards this year, which makes me sad.  But one thing the last year of poor health has taught me is patience.  Patience to let go of the things that I cannot accomplish any longer or just simply cannot find the energy to do.  Hope you all had many crafty therapy sessions over the holidays....  because crafty therapy is important ;-)

3rd year is the charm ;-)

This is our 3rd Christmas in our rental home.  I did not think we would rent this long, this is the longest I have rented since I was a teenager.  Our reasons for renting are many, and I won't bore you with all the details.  But it boils down to this...  I have never found "the one" whenever our lease was up for renewal.  You have such a small window of opportunity to put in an offer on a home, versus renewing your lease.  It is a viscous circle and a game that I hate playing.  But I hate to spend 200K on something that I feel rushed into buying even more.  So, here we are.  Renting this builder basic rental home for another year.  Our living room is quite precarious and not user friendly at all.  When I say not user friendly, I mean designed by someone who obviously did not own furniture more than like a futon.  It is an impossible great room with 3 exits from the room and an open/ half wall on one side.  I know what you are thinking right now... better you than me, right?!  So yes, it is a humdinger to figure out where on earth the Christmas tree will go every year.

This year, I actually moved furniture to squeeze in our {pathetic tiny fake} Christmas tree.  Hold up now!  These assaulting words are valid on my part you see... if I am at eye level with my Angel topper, and it takes me several hours just to "fluff" the branches, well there you go...  I miss real trees....  but we just won't go there with wasting money like that since we moved to Texas.  The trees here are not like the ones we would tromp miles in the snow to cut down when we lived in the PacNW.  They are just different.  So we don't.  Hence the artificial tree.  I lived 38 years of my life with real trees, so having a fake tree is taking some getting used to.  I have had it in 3 different locations here in this house:

And this has got to be my favorite spot.  I loved having the stockings nearby, especially since our Texan home does not have a fireplace {which is pure blasphemy if you ask me!}.  Yes, the poor tree gets squished into corner.  But on the upside, you really don't have to over decorate the backside much... {haha!!!!! backside!} ....

Easy burlap stockings paired up with random letters I had on hand.

The ornaments that I added to my stash this year were just letters and some vintage metal stars.  I like having everyone's initials on the tree.

Changed up how I displayed my Grandmother's passed down vintage ornaments this year.  I think they look great this way.  And I found these tiny vintage light bulbs at a local antique store for $10!  They went right into my old gumball machine.  I added an EAT sign that I made {just painted letters glued to the glass front of a detailed frame.  The back side of the frame is covered with chevron fabric.}  {There's that 'back side' again... at least I used a space this time.... lol}...

Went to town on the banister this year...  Got this sweet red meshy stuff at Costco for a steal... $9 for two huge rolls.... I only used one roll for both sides of the banister... that stuff goes really far!  I was able to grab these vintage knit stockings at a local antique mall for $3 each.... I couldn't believe the price on them, it was like she was giving them away!

Found some old ice skates at The Goodwill over the last year, loved decorating with them.  

Some other vintage touches I added to the place..........

An old tray from Goodwill with some holiday picks and an ornament... easy peasy...  

This wreath may not survive another year... I have had to paint the Styrofoam berries like 5 times because they keep falling apart and breaking off.  But it works, so I keep doing it...  

Overall, I didn't spend much to 'upgrade' my Christmas goodies this year.  Just decided to use them in different ways to more suit my style.  I think my house looked the best it has ever looked this year, so 3rd year is the charm ;-)  Hugs and  hope your Christmas was filled with blessings and beauty :-)