Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Paprika and Cinnamon turned sixteen today.  I can hardly believe it.  The past sixteen years have been absolutely wonderful.  I looked through old pictures today which stirred so many fun and happy memories.  I thought I would share some with you.

  Thank you girls, for being you......I have loved every moment!
Happy Sweet Sixteen!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Sunday Kitchen: Almond Joy Cupcakes

My Sunday kitchen was alive with delicious smells and teenage giggles as Cinnamon and Paprika took on cupcakes today.  I could hear them laughing from the other room as they snapped pictures and snuck bites from a cupcake they claimed was too small to frost.  Imagine that!  Of course when I entered the room, the cupcake disappeared into grinning, giggling mouths as if nothing was going on out of the ordinary.

They love to watch the Food Network and Cupcake Wars is a favorite.  So they took on this baking challenge with that show in mind, throwing this and that in and of course decorating like a professional. 

They made chocolate cupcakes using the Chocolate Almond Torte Cake recipe from Anne Byrn's book The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free.  They just made the cake part of the recipe.  They used Tofutti's Better Than Sour Cream in place of regular to make these dairy free.  Then they topped them with a coconut frosting which I will include later.  Yummy!



1/2 Cup butter softened (we used Earth Balance)
1 cup powdered sugar
2 T soy milk
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
1 1/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Cream butter, powdered sugar, milk on low with an electric mixer until well blended.  Increase speed to medium and blend another 30 seconds until smooth.  Blend in melted chocolate.  Stir in coconut.

These are Paprika's two favorite cupcakes!

These were Cinnamon's two favorite!

These were my favorites!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving......What's For Dinner?

Thanksgiving is just around the corner!  For those of us who have been gluten free for quite a while, it might not seem like too much of a challenge, but I remember that feeling of utter panic last year when we were new to all of this.  If you are feeling that same panic, take a deep breath and relax, it isn't that hard actually.

First thing to remember: most meats in their natural form are gluten free.  The turkey is a go!  Sometimes your turkey will include a gravy packet.  I would  avoid that unless you really look at the ingredients, or look it up in a resource like the Gluten-Free Grocery Shopping Guide.  This is a resource I constantly use.  It can be very helpful, especially if you are new to eating gluten free.  To keep your turkey from drying out if you are not making a gf stuffing, you can stuff the bird with onions, garlic, and apples.

Second, fruits and vegetables in their natural state are gluten free.  The mashed potatoes are definitely a go.  I whip mine with a little soy milk and Earth Balance butter.  Yum!  Ready for the gravy!  Cranberries, sweet potatoes, yams, green beans, green salads are all great for a gf Thanksgiving table. 

On to the dessert course.  We are a pumpkin pie family, but this year I am mixing it up a bit.  I am using the Fall Harvest Cake recipe from Gluten-Free Made Simple by Carol Field Dahlstrom, Elizabeth Dahlstrom Burnley and Marcia Schultz Dahlstrom.

I came across this book a month or so ago and I wished that I would have had it when we first went gluten free.  It is a great simple cookbook to start out with.  It is laid out beautifully and is full of information on a gluten free lifestyle.  Many of the recipes have picture instructions, added tips, and nutritional information.  They have a great selection of recipes including chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, veggie pizza, cookies, cakes, even donuts.  It is great for someone new to the gf lifestyle who is feeling deprived.

For those who like to snack before or even after, I make a yummy salsa dip which has been a huge hit in my house.  It is even requested by others when I offer to bring something to their house for a get together.  I have included the recipe in this post.

So Thanksgiving is going to be a delicious meal for all!  What is on all your menu's?


1 red onion chopped
1 can of shoe peg corn
1 can of blackeyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 avocado cut into small chunks
1 bunch of cilantro chopped finely
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 T lime juice
1 tsp cumin
2 cloves of garlic minced (I use the bottled kind)
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix the first 6 ingredients together in a medium size bowl.  In a small mixing bowl mix the rest of the ingredients and pour over the bean mix in the other bowl.  Toss well until it is all mixed together. 

This is one of those things that tastes even better the next day, so it is great to make this ahead of time and serve chilled.  Serve with tortilla chips.

From Gluten-Free Made Simple

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 15oz can pumpkin
4 eggs
1 cup canola oil
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups gluten free all-purpose flour (I used Gluten Free Mama's Coconut Blend flour)
1 large apple, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 10-inch fluted tube pan (I used a bundt pan); set aside.  In a large bowl mix granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and ginger.  Stir in pumpkin, eggs, oil, and vanilla.  Stir in flour, 1/2 cup at a time.  Fold in apple and pecans.  Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean inserted near the center.  Cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.  Serves 12.

And look at the inside of this cake when sliced....DELICIOUS!

May you all have a very blessed Thanksgiving day!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Is Less Really More?

I was on the computer today checking emails and looking up an order I placed with Amazon a few days ago to check on the arrival date.  In my order box, not yet shipped, was my next round of Subscribe and Save items just waiting to make their way to my house.  I thought I had better check out what other items were going to be shipped over the next few months.  Good thing I did!  After changing the order dates for many items, I got to thinking, is it really better to buy in bulk?

One of the items on my list was Glutino Pretzels.  They are a great deal on Amazon's Subscribe and Save.  They are $2.75 a bag compared with $5.00 or more at the grocery store.  I can save $27.00 by buying a pack of 12 online.  Seems like a good deal.  The Betty Crocker cake mix could save me $8.00 if I bought it online (a pack of 6)  for $19.86.  Each box is $3.31 compared with $4.79 at the store.  Good for the budget, right!  Everything I buy on Amazon is cheaper than I can get in the store!

So, what about other online stores.  I have been debating buying flour in bulk online.  I can buy rice flour in regular packaging at  the store for $2.29 a pound or I can buy it in bulk for $1.19 a pound, but if I buy a 25 pound bag online, it costs me 72 cents a pound!  The same with tapioca flour:  $5.98 a pound, $1.49 a pound if purchased in bulk, or 89 cents a pound online for 25 pounds!  Online seems like the way to go.

Of course there are other places besides online to buy in bulk.  Costco provides massive packages of just about anything and Cash and Carry can be a savers dream for many items in bulk.  Check out my latest find!  First, let me say, I love my morning coffee.  I love it with a splash of Silk Vanilla Creamer and a hint, okay maybe a heaping teaspoon, of chocolate.  I use this Torani Chocolate Sauce.

I can get it at the grocery store for around $5.00 or I can buy it online through Amazon's Subscribe and Save for $4.12!  You can imagine my excitement when I found a larger bottle for around $10.00 at Cash and Carry.

Did I mention it is more than twice the size!  A lot more than twice the size!  How about four times the size!  Wow, I just saved half!

All of this sounds great.  Absolutely fantastic!  Right?

Maybe not.

I took a look at the fifteen items on my subscribe and save account.  Fifteen is not that many items really.  They are all items I use, some more regularly than others, but all things I do buy.  All of them are significant deals.  So what is the problem then?  The cost of those 15 items comes to $330.89.  Not exactly budget friendly.  Add that to the online flour I was thinking of purchasing, the cost rises to $387.70.  That is almost my entire budget for a single month, which has been a real challenge to meet!

This budget challenge has really made me stop and think about those things I often take for granted.  I have spent considerably more time evaluating individual grocery items than I ever have before.  One thing I have discovered is that buying in bulk does not necessarily save you in the long run.  Here's why.  Have you ever noticed that when you have a large quantity of something, you use it up without thinking and evaluating how much, or if, you really need to use it?  I have.

I discovered this a while back with olives.  If I purchase a pack of eight cans of olives at Costco I often use them up before the end of the month. I discovered that if I purchased six cans at the grocery store, I was much more discerning and I also found I only needed to  purchase that number of cans every six weeks instead of four.  How does that translate into cash?  Well, buying olives at Costco each month would cost me $85.44 a year compared to $46.28 at the grocery store and that does not take in to account sales or coupons.  Two cans less and a slightly longer use period adds up to savings, just by discerning a bit more.

The same was true for microwave popcorn.  If I buy the huge box at Costco, my kids get into it almost daily, but if I buy a small box, they are much more selective, especially when it comes to the last one in the box. 

What about Amazon?  Take the pretzels, for example. My history shows that when I had them on hand, we went through a box of twelve bags every four months. That adds up to about a hundred dollars a year. Last month I bought a six bags on sale for $2.99 a bag. That was more than the Amazon cost. I still have four bags! At this rate I would only spend $35.88 a year. Even if I did not buy it on sale, I would still save $40.00 a year.

If this is true for these items, where else is it true?  After taking a look at my 15 items on Amazon and other bulk items I tend to buy,  I found that staple items like flour or sugar are a good bulk buy.  They are necessary items.  Other items like my pretzels or granola bars aren't really a need, but more of a want.  A want I can control.  I think it might be better in the long run to buy a more expensive item at the store in a limited quantity and make it a special treat, than to buy it in bulk and make it a staple.  That line in the sand is different for everyone.  Some may find that granola bars for the kids are a necessity, for others it is the convenience of a gluten-free box of mac-n-cheese.  As for me, I think I will spend some more time discerning how much I really need of any one thing.  I will spend more time evaluating the difference between a want and a need when it comes to bulk buying.  It is like the saying goes....sometimes less is more,

Except when it comes to chocolate!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Out Of The Rut

Do you ever feel like you are in a rut when it comes to cooking.  I do.  I often feel like I cook the same things and fall back on those menu items that are most familiar.  It wasn't always that way.  I was adventurous........once.  Now, especially now that we are gluten free, adventure is often out of the comfort zone and definitely not in the get-dinner-on-the-table-quick realm. 

A couple of months ago, I re-instituted "New Menu Night" at our house each Thursday night.  It has been great!  I have tried some new recipes and found some new favorites, but I have really relied more on adapting old favorites than really diving in and being adventurous.  This month I decided to test some new recipe books out at the library to find my new menu options.

Our library has quite a few gluten-free recipe books, so I brought home an armful and dove in.  I even tried several budget friendly non-gluten-free books thinking that maybe I could adapt them. 

Okay....So Cutting For Stone has nothing to do with cooking, but gosh, a girl has to have a little fun!
There were so many good and delicious sounding recipes that I finally decided to dedicate the month to one particular book to find my new recipes.  Next month, I will try a new book.  It seems a little less overwhelming that way.  So this month I made recipes out of  Roben Ryberg's book You Won't Believe It's Gluten Free.

There are several things I like about this book.  First, it has 500 recipes.  That could keep me busy for a while!  Second, she has more than one recipe for many of the items so that it is more versatile if you have other allergies.  Third, she is not gluten intolerant and even claims to be a "food junkie."  She says her palate is not influenced by eating a restricted diet and so she tastes and bakes accordingly.  Her comments for each recipe reflect her taste as she strives to have recipes taste like the real thing.  I also enjoyed her comparisons of recipes for the same item if it could be made more than one way.

The array of recipes is great!  There are so many I want to try!  The first one I did try was her Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry.  It was absolutely delicious!

It was so good, that I actually ordered the book that night.  Since then, I have spent more time perusing and planning.  Tonight, I must admit I was a little excited when I found her recipe for that Thanksgiving favorite: Green Bean Casserole.  She has the recipe for the onion topper and the cream of mushroom soup.  For all you dairy free people out there like me......the cream of mushroom soup is DAIRY FREE!!!!!  I will be making this one soon!

Tonight I found that sense of adventure I have been missing.  I was excited that tonight was new menu night!  I was eager to try something new.  Tonight we had Pork Chops Smothered with Apples and Onions from  Ryberg's book along with whipped potatoes and peas.  Yum!

Even Cinnamon has been looking at my new book and making plans of her own.  I hear Gluten-Free Fortune Cookies are in the works!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Inside My Kitchen

Today, I awoke to a light skiff of snow on the ground.  I am so not ready for snow!  I have things to do and places to go!  That first snow always brings out the crazy drivers.  You know, the ones that think snow is a white version of dry concrete and drive accordingly.  The snow melted quickly, but tonight as I write, it has started again in earnest and we already have an inch and a half of that fluffy stuff.

Since I didn't have any where to go today, I decided to make a delicious pot of soup and a batch of dinner rolls using a recipe from Bette Hagman's bread recipe book.

I used the Basic Featherlight Rice Bread recipe for the dinner rolls.  They turned out beautifully.  I love the flour mix for this recipe.  It is light and fluffy without any grittiness!  It makes great bread and rolls!
Don't they look yummy!

Since we were baking today, Paprika decided she wanted to have another go in the kitchen, but this time she wanted to make muffins.

She made Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins using the Namaste Muffin Mix.  I buy the mix from Amazon's Subscribe and Save.  The current price is $24.71 for 6 bags of mix.

The mix is very versatile and I have used it as a base for lemon poppy seed, apple, cinnamon almond, blueberry, and chocolate chip muffins.  You can make 12 muffins for approximately $4.11 plus any added ingredients.  This is great for the budget, especially since gf muffins in the freezer section can run $7.00 for four muffins!  I make a batch of these and keep them in my freezer to take out when we need them.

Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins:

1 Package of Namaste Muffin Mix
2 eggs
1/4 cup of oil
1 cup of Orange Juice
1/3 cup of mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare muffin tins with paper liners or lightly grease.

Mix the eggs, oil, and orange juice in a medium sized mixing bowl until combined.  Add the muffin mix and stir until it is well blended.  It should not be lumpy.  Add the chocolate chips.

Spoon into muffin tins and bake 12-15 minutes or until the tops turn golden brown.

Thanks for the delicious muffins Paprika!
So, while today was definitely cold outside, inside my kitchen it was warm.  My kitchen was full of laughter and scrumptious smells.  My kitchen was filled with the hum of conversation and the clink of pans and the scrape of spoons.  Today my kitchen was warm and filled with love.  A perfect way to spend a Saturday!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...