Regency Ginger Crisps

When the Hallmark Channel introduced me to the Murder She Baked movies, I really wanted to read the books. Thankfully, my mom had almost the entire Hannah Swensen series written by Joanne Fluke and what she didn’t have, I work at a used book store so I can easily get the missing books.

I’m not a huge fan of ginger, but I do like gingersnaps when I get a craving for them. Reading the recipes in the books, just made me want to convert them to gluten-free. You can find the original recipes in the books. With these cookies, you don’t get a big burst of ginger flavor, but you do get more of the molasses flavor, which I like. I love molasses. What can I say?

This recipe is from the first book in the series, Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, and is the second recipe written in the book.

Do not preheat the oven. Dough must chill before baking.

  • 3/4 cups melted butter (1-1/2 sticks)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 4 Tbsp molasses (1/4 cup)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2-1/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour (not sifted)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar in a small bowl (for dusting)

Melt butter and mix in brown sugar. Let mixture cool and add egg. Add soda, molasses, salt, and ginger. Stir thoroughly. Mix in flour. Chill dough for at least one hour, overnight is best.

Preheat oven to 375°F and have the rack in the middle position.

Roll the dough in walnut-sized balls with your hands. Roll the dough in white sugar. Place on a greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet, 12 to a standard sheet. Flatten the dough balls with a spatula.

Bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until nicely browned. Cool on cookie sheets for no more than one minute and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Note: To measure molasses, first spray the inside of the measuring cup with oil so the molasses will not stick.

The first time I made these, I made the dough balls too big and could only fit six to a sheet, but they were still amazing. These would be a great cookie to get kids involved (careful with the melting butter part) or if you are a beginner baker.

These cookies would be amazing served with pumpkin or vanilla ice cream.

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Spiced Apple Cider Muffins

I recently won first place at my hometown’s County Fair with these muffins. The spice you get with them is from just a powdered drink mix. I’ve been experimenting with various drink mixes lately. It’s fun.

This recipe starts with a basic muffin recipe from Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook: Celebrating the Promise (ISBN 978-0-696-235115) with a few changes that I’ve made.

Makes 12 muffinsapple muffin

  • 1-1/3 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup gluten-free rolled oats
  • 3 packets of instant apple cider drink mix
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil (usually I use extra virgin olive oil, but coconut oil is really good)
  • 1 large firm apple, peeled and diced (I use Red Delicious or Granny Smith)
  • Streusel Topping, optional (see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 400° F. Grease 12 2-1/2 inch muffin cups or line muffin tin with paper liners; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, oats and apple cider packets. Make a well in the center and set aside.

In another bowl, combine egg, milk, and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to the flour mix. Stir until just moistened; batter should be lumpy. Fold in apple.

Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling each two-third full. Using a small ice cream scoop makes it easier to keep the muffins uniform. If desired, sprinkle tops with Streusel Topping. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and a wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool muffin cups on wire rack for at least 5 minutes.

Note: To help keep apples from falling to the bottom during baking, toss them in a little bit of flour and use a wire mesh strainer to help get excess flour off apples.

Streusel Topping

  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 3 tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp oats
  • 2 tbsp chopped pecans or walnuts, if desired

In a small bowl, combine flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Cut in oats and nuts, if using.

This has become one of my favorite recipes. These muffins are great cold for breakfast or warm with vanilla ice cream if you want to enjoy them for dessert.

Hello Again

I’ve tried another blog site for this blog the last few years and decided to stick with my roots. WordPress allows me more freedom to customize my blog to fit what I want it to look like. With that being said…

Last month marked 14 years for me being gluten-free. Wow. I’ve reached the point where I’ve been gluten-free for almost half my life. That is just shocking for me. Being gluten-free is just part of my life and I still get people asking me what the gluten-free food tasted like after I first started on this way of life because that’s exactly what it is. Fourteen years ago, gluten-free food was bland, boring, and quite frankly disgusting. I still use the nickname of cardboard for my waffles even though the flavor has improved immensely. The texture still isn’t what I really want but I’m now used to it.

peach pie

Peach Pie for the pie contest. (This is actually my trial run but the picture is better)

This past weekend was the Fair in my hometown and while I only entered two baked goods this year instead of the many I usually do, I still had fun. Not being able to enter more simply came down to cost. Money is tight right now and I needed to focus on saving. Next year I will be debt free (YEAH!!!!!) and I am planning a trip to Iceland.

In the fair this year I entered the pie contest (this year was peach) for the fifth time and sadly did not win…again.

Here are some tips when entering baking contests:

  1. Don’t be frustrated if you don’t win. It’s sad and I always want to get upset but really contests come down to the personal likes of the judges. You never know what they like and they might not like what you do.
  2. Listen to the judges critiques. Try to talk to the judges afterwards. Most Fairs hire judges that are professionals and will remember the majority of what they taste. I did this last year to see what advise they could offer. Last year my pie crust was flaky but not up to the judges standards. They suggested using lard rather than shortening. It worked. My crust this year was very flaky and tasted like a normal pie crust.
  3. If baking a pie, use a clear pie plate. That way the judges can see if the bottom crust is evenly browned all the way around. If it is a double-crust pie, make sure the top and bottom crusts are the same light, golden brown.
  4. Make sure a pie crust is perfectly even all the way around. This is why I didn’t go further this year.
  5. The top edge of a pie crust has to be the perfect thickness. If it’s too thick, it won’t baking properly all the way through. If it’s too thin, it will over cook.
  6. apple muffin

    Spiced Apple Cider Muffins

    For cookies, muffins or cupcakes, make sure you enter ones that all look the same. Eat the ones that are smaller or oddly-shaped. (Use the excuse of quality control if you must.)

  7. And the most important tip I can gave is – have fun. I may get frustrated and want to throw half of my stuff against the wall, but I do have fun. I learn a lot year-to-year and a lot of that comes from talking to the judges.

The other item I entered in the Fair this year were my Spice Apple Cider Muffins. I am happy to report that I got First Place!! I’m also going to give this recipe to my aunt that bakes at Black Sheep Coffee Roasters in Bishop, CA where they are trying to get more gluten-free options on their menu.

I’m hoping that I will be able to enter more.

I’m Back… And I Got a New Cookbook

I cannot believe it’s been almost eight months since I blogged on here. I will do my best to post on here more often especially because I’m going on my first international trip by myself. I will be spending one week in Vancouver, BC Canada and one week in Portland, Oregon. Ok so it’s not that big of an international trip since I live in the U.S. but it’s still a big deal to me.

While I am on my trip, I plan on visiting some gluten-free bakeries that I have found on Yelp and will do my best to post reviews. Lately I’ve been able to eat food with dairy in them so I’m wondring if I have out-grown my lactose intollerance. I read somewhere that you possible can. Knowing that, it will be easier for me to enjoy treats while I’m away.

This will not be a long post, but I did want to share with you that I have found a new cookbook – or new to me since it was first published in 2002. It’s called The Dairy-Free & Gluten-Free Kitchen by Denis Jardine. I bought the book without even looking in it. That night I tried one of the side dish recipes. The roasted brussell sprouts in a balsamic reduction was so good. I even added zuccinni to it and it was amazing. I cannot wait to try even more recipes from this book.

A Healthier Year… Hopefully

So I decided that I really want to get back on my diet. I have gained back almost all of the weight that I lost three years ago. I cannot keep going down this path. Hopefully I will get my depression in line again and I know that will help a lot. It’s incredible what stress and depression can do to the human body. So I am willing to write about my journey on here and even share some very humiliating photos, but I want to do this because I know I’m not the only person in this situation. And please don’t think this is because I am one of those people who make a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight. I’m doing this to get healthy since I don’t believe in making resolutions because they cause you to fail.

Tonight I decided to try something new. My boss brought in leftovers of some stuffed bell peppers that she made and it looked and smelled incredible. Knowing that I had to go to the grocery store, I decided to make my own thing using most of the ingredients my boss said that she used. This was so easy to make and used all fresh ingredients. Here’s what I did:

1/2 green bell pepper, diced

1/2 orange bell pepper, diced

1/2 medium sweet onion, diced

3 stalks of celery, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 package Extra Lean Jennie-O Ground Turkey

2 ripe tomatoes, diced

about 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

about 1-1/2 tbsp Herbs de Province

1 cup brown rice, cooked

1 cup baby spinach leaves

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Once heated sauté garlic, bell peppers, onion and celery. Add salt and pepper. Let them sweat for a few minutes until the onions are transparent. Add ground turkey and cook through. Add Herbs and rice. Cook for a few minutes to let all of the flavors absorb. Add the tomatoes just before removing from the heat. Add more salt, pepper or Herbs if needed. Serve hot over spinach. I added a little ketchup to mine just for a little sweetness and my grandma put some in a couple of tacos.

I can’t tell you what the nutritional values are. I don’t measure when I cook so sometimes it’s hard to get an exact recipe out of me. My great-grandmother and grandpa taught me how to cook and I swear it’s the Italian in me. I ate a smaller portion than what I would normally eat and it filled me up.

This year I want to eat healthier and buy more fresh produce than I used to. It might cost a little more but it will be healthier.

Walmart Supercenter

Yesterday I drove to Lancaster, CA for the day to do some shopping. I decided to go to a Walmart Supercenter and see what their prices were on food. If you have never been to a big Walmart like this, go. Their prices are amazing and the variety of food was almost overwhelming especially when you come from a small town and the Vons doesn’t have as big of a selection of fresh produce. In size, they were about even, but the prices were half or lower than what we spend here. I’ve been trying to eat more fresh fruits and veggies to help me lose weight, but when one bell pepper costs almost $3 you don’t want to because you can’t afford it.

As I was wandering up and down the isles looking for stuff for everyone in my family, I noticed a few items that were gluten-free. Then I looked up. They had a whole gluten-free section down one isle. I wasn’t hidden either. There it was in the front, closest to one of the main isles. I expect to pay a lot more for gluten-free foods. You have to. Gluten-free is considered “specialty” items and there-for cost more. I got Gluten-Free Bisquick for $4.29 a box, here at home it’s on sale for $6.29 a box. I got pasta and bread mix by a Schar (out of Italy) that I have a hard time finding.

I called my dad and grandma and all I could tell them was that I was amazed at how cheap everything was and that they had a gluten-free section. More and more stores are providing us Celiacs with gluten-free options but to have a whole section of an isle is amazing to me. I live so far away from a Whole Foods Market and even they can be little pricey, but now I know that I have an option that is closer.

Tinkyada Spinach Spaghetti

So I realized that I’ve been neglecting this blog. It truly is hard to manage four (yes you read that correct) blogs especially when you’re working full-time and one blog has a post-a-day challenge right now. So I decided that I will kick off this year for this blog by doing a product review.

People are constantly asking me how to feel like you get the proper nutrients in a gluten-free diet and still feel like you are eating normal foods. You just have to look around your grocery store or health food store. The internet is even good with finding companies that will ship products to your house.

I am part italian decent and one of the things I absolutely love is spaghetti or just pasta in general. When I was diagnosed I felt like I had lost the options of enjoying that part of my heritage. Then I found gluten-free pasta by Tinkyada in my health food store. One day I went in to get some pasta and saw that they had spinach flavored spaghetti noodles that I could eat. I didn’t hesitate and rushed home to make spaghetti. I don’t even really buy spaghetti sauce at the grocery store because it is very easy to make and I like sauce that has chunks of tomatoes in it.

This pasta is easy to cook up and it only takes about 15 minutes. Here is my easy spaghetti sauce that doesn’t really take much and most of the time people have all of the ingredients in their pantry (or at least I do).

1 lb buffalo, venison, ground beef, ground chicken or ground turkey

1 can diced tomatoes (you can used plain, fire roasted, garlic, italian seasoned or any that you find), do not drain

1 can corn (you can leave it out but I love corn), drained

1 small package sliced fresh mushrooms

salt and pepper to taste

dried oregano, basil, thyme, marjoram and garlic, use the amount that tastes good to you.

Sautee meat in a skillet until brown over medium heat and drain off fat. Add tomatoes with the juice and the rest of the ingredients and bring to a slight boil. Reduce heat and simmer until heated through. Pour over pasta of choice add cheese if desired and serve.

Easy right? It doesn’t cost very much and makes quite a bit. This would be a good way of sneaking some veggies in for kids. You can add whatever you like or have on hand. Use the spices that you like. This is a recipe that can easily be changes to fit your tastes.

Recipe Fail

First and foremost: Happy New Year everyone!

For this Christmas season, I fell on the rotation of being the one who was sick for the holiday. A few days before I started getting a scratchy throat and felt like someone was slightly choking me. My chest tightened and I found myself using my inhaler a lot more than what I usually do. Stupid asthma. I did everything I could think of to keep myself from getting sick. Nothing worked. I’ve been sick for almost three weeks now but it’s just been reduced to a cough that isn’t as bad as it was.

My candy thermometer

Anyway to get to my point, I don’t buy very many gifts for people for Christmas. One, I can’t afford it and two, I never know what to get people. So instead I bake. Everyone always says that they like my cookies and what-not and it’s fairly cheep. Being sick though, people got a rain check on baked goods this year.

A few days after Christmas I decided to try penuche. It was a recipe I found while trying to find a dairy-free fudge recipe. Penuche is a brown sugar fudge that doesn’t have any chocolate into. I had all the ingredients in my kitchen so I figured what the heck, why not?

I forgot two of the basic things about candy-making because that is what fudge is. Once the sugar, corn syrup and water mixture completely dissolves into simple syrup you cannot stir it too much and you must LEAVE THE TEMPERATURE ALONE. I kept stirring it and adjusting the temperature on my stove. What? My head was in a cold medicine induced coma of sorts.

Simple Syrup

Needless to say, it crystallized and did not turn out very good. I didn’t like the texture of it or the taste. There were a few other things that could have added to the failure. I will try this recipe again once my cold is completely gone with fresh ingredients. I think my brown sugar wasn’t too good.

All I can say is recipe fail… until next time.

A Food Network Gift

I remember searching (without much luck) for gluten-free recipes on the Food Network’s website so that I could create something special for the holidays back in 2003. One link caught my eye – 12 Days of Cookies. Never heard of it? It’s one of their newsletters and my absolute favorite. The 12 Days of Cookies has become one of the main things I look forward to this time of year since it started in 2003. Seven years later and I have every recipe, in order, in my recipe box.

My Gluten-Free Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies

The one downfall to getting this newsletter is that the cookies are not gluten-free. However, some of the recipes have been really easy to convert. Take the first one for this year as example – Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies by Paula Deen. This cookie is very simple to make and a good recipe to get kids into the kitchen. Here is my gluten-free, dairy-free take on Paula’s recipe.

1 (8-ounce) package of Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese, room temperature

1 stick Nucoa butter, at room temperature

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 box Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake mix

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in the egg. Then beat in the vanilla extract. Beat in the cake mix. I had to mix this part by hand because the dough ended up being too think for my grandma’s mixer.

Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to firm up so that you can roll the batter into balls. Roll the chilled batter into tablespoon sized balls and then roll them in confectioner’s sugar.

I didn’t refridgerate mine before rolling. I used two spoons to form into (somewhat) balls, dropped them into the confectioner’s sugar which gives them enough dusting to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands as you roll them into balls.

Place on an ungreased cookie sheet (I covered mine with parchment paper), 2 inches apart. Bake 12 minutes. The cookies will remain soft and “gooey.” Cool completely and sprinkle with more confectioners’ sugar, if desired.

Christmas Alternative: I made these during a Christmas party my cousins were throwing at our grandma’s house. To make them a little more festive, I crushed up some candy canes and added to the dough just before rolling into the balls. The melted candy canes kind of stuck to the parchment paper but just let them sit for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

The Results Are (Finally) In…

I’m sitting here typing this up with a brace on my wrist after realizing that I haven’t blogged in a while. Sorry about that. I’ve been fairly busy over the last month and a half with decorating cakes, a knee injury, and two plays. What is with the brace you might ask? Well it’s one of the pains of being a cake decorator. With my love of baking came the love to decorate cakes. Kind of follows the whole wanting to open a bakery doesn’t it?

Anyway…

Ma's kitchen during my take-over.

So the Tri-County Fair is now over. The last you heard from me I was contemplating what to enter and shared my recipe for the Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing. While I entered twelve items total (that includes my picture, which did not place, and the Favorite Cookie Contest), I only got six done and still managed to make somewhat of a profit with my winnings. I placed on four of my six items. As the deadline approached fast, I invaded my grandma house and took over her kitchen because quite frankly, she has a much larger kitchen than my apartment. So I spread my flours, sugar, eggs, butter and what-not on her counter and got to work. As the hours ticked away, I realized that there was no way I would be able to get all of this done. Why do I procrastinate? So while a batch of oatmeal cookies baked away in the oven, I picked through my recipes and chose the ones I felt the most confident with. My favorites if you will.

Pumpkin Cupcakes

I dropped my entries off and left for work leaving what I can only describe as my best effort at the last minute for the judges to critique. I waited anxiously for Thursday to come and hurried to the Fairgrounds after. While I was greeted with the flashing lights and various sounds that marks the beginning of the Fair, I was focused on getting my entry for the Favorite Cookie Contest over to the Party Barn and off to the Home Economic Building after the cookies were waiting for the judges. My eyes searched every inch of the many glass cases looking with confidence for my name. Around one case… nothing. Around a second… nothing. What? Around a third… nothing… wait my Pumpkin Cupcakes! It was the only one I wasn’t entirely sure on. It was only the third time making them. The recipe is still in a test stage. My eyes didn’t stay long on the cupcakes themselves but traveled down to the name tag. I know I need to see the eye doctor but I couldn’t be seeing a blue ribbon right? It has to be another color but no I was seeing correctly. First place. Down a little further and there was my Herb Cornbread and Oatmeal Cookies, both with the familiar red that I know to be second place. But wait… where’s my Chocolate Cake? I search the cases… nothing. What? Sure enough it was in a different case than what I am used to. I knew it had to be there. I mean come on for one thing my mom and I got creating and made a stencil so we could put the image of a palm tree (the theme was Gilligan’s Island) with powdered sugar. There it was. The judges were careful to cut around the tree to preserve the image for the people to see. Everyone loves my chocolate cake, so they say, but the judges found it to be a little dry and gave it a third place. Maybe I slightly over-baked it in my hastiness to finish.

Oatmeal Cookies

The best compliment I heard about my Pumpkin Cupcakes was that when the judges took their first bites, they asked Susie (my cousin) if they were in the right category. Apparently they didn’t believe Susie that they were in fact gluten-free. There were a few people who entered the gluten-free division, much to my surprise, and Susie said they had a few that were unfortunately absolutely disgusting. I really hope they keep this division.

Herb Cornbread

So I walked away from the 2010 Tri-County Fair with a first, two seconds and a third place. I’m happy. Like I said before, I don’t do this for the ribbons or money. Those are the perks after getting your stuff out there and letting the people you live with everyday see what you can do and that you love it. I enter things in the Fair because I love doing it despite the stress and frustration that goes along with it.

I do this for me and no one else. And will always do it for me.

Chocolate Cake