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.


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.

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.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing

I just realized that in one week, two things will happen: one – this blog will be celebrating it’s first birthday (I must think of something special to post) and two – I will begin my mad dash like I do every year to get my stuff done to enter in my hometown’s Fair. I have been entering various things in the Tri-County Fair for at least half my life. I’ve won countless (I say countless because seriously I’ve lost count) ribbons and awards for my items.

It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with my Celiac Disease that I began entering my baked goods. I was too scared to do so before. Why? I couldn’t tell you. Entering food items, like anything else, is nerve-racking, especially the first time when you don’t know what the judges look for. I try to enter different things every year, but usually enter the same old things because they are fast and easy. It’s hard to enter as many things as you want when you work 40 hours a week.

After last year’s Fair, I was asked by my (distant) cousin Susie to give the Fair an idea of what classes they could do for a Gluten-Free Division. At the time that I submitted my suggestions to Susie, nobody knew if the Fair would even go for it. I’ve had to enter my desserts with non-gluten-free items. One year I did win first place on my peanut butter cookies. Who knew the judges would like the gluten-free ones better than the normal, regular ones. This year, my mom opened the book and scanned the various divisions of the baked goods category and told me that it wasn’t there. A little while later, she was looking through it again knowing she had to have missed it and there it was, in between “For Men Only!” and “Baking with Honey”. For the first time in four years, I get to compete with either myself or with others who have possibly “mastered” gluten-free baking. For the first time I don’t feel quite so alone in this small town of mine.

So now comes the big question, as the entry forms are due no later than Saturday. What do I enter? I’ve done chocolate chip cookies, double chocolate biscotti, chocolate sprinkled cookies, peanut butter cookies, corn bread, banana bread, pumpkin cookies, peanut butter & jelly thumbprint cookies, and my 21 & Over cookies (my own original recipe; I’ll post it, no worries) between the regular divisions and the Cookie Contest. Last night I experimented and made Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing. My coworkers and I agree that these are a must enter. I’ll figure it out. I always do. In the mean time, look a recipe…

Pumpkin Cupcakes

Makes about 2 dozen cupcakes

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

2 cups white rice flour

2/3 cup potato starch

1/3 cup tapioca starch

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp allspice

3/4 cup milk

3/4 cup canned pumpkin

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp guar gum

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place cupcake liners in pan(s).

Sift together white rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice and set aside. In a small bowl, mix milk and pumpkin together until smooth and set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream butter until fluffy, about 30 seconds. Slowly add sugar and continue to cream well for 6 to 8 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture and milk/pumpkin mixture alternately to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with flour in three parts. Add vanilla and guar gum and continue to beat until just mixed.

Fill cupcake tins about 3/4 full. Level batter by holding pan 3 or 4 inches above counter, then dropping it flat onto counter. Do this several times to release air bubbles and assure you of more level cupcakes. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until done. Cool in pans 5 to 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto cooling racks. Cool completely and cover tops with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing or the icing of your choice.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, at room temperature

1 8-oz package cream cheese (I use Toffuti® Better than Cream Cheese for a non-dairy substitute)

4 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

about 2 tbsp cinnamon

In a mixer, cream butter for about 30 seconds. Add cream cheese and cream until well blended. Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and cinnamon. Increase or decrease the amount of cinnamon depending on taste. Icing should be a little on the thicker side. If it is too thin, add more powdered sugar until desired consistency.

Lemon Deliciousness….

A great basic cake recipe is a lot like a good sugar cookie recipe. These are the recipes that always find themselves at the front of your recipe box and you can barely read them because you’ve used them one too many times – if there is such a thing – and everyone seems to love them. You take these simple, basic recipes, the ones that some people over look because they might not appear to be good or complicated, and you know that all you have to do is add a few extra ingredients, cocoa powder, coconut, or in this case, a little lemon zest, juice of a lemon and lemon extract if that isn’t already enough lemon for you.

I found this recipe in The Lady & Sons: Just Desserts by Paula Deen. I know I’ve mentioned I’m a HUGE fan of hers. Her laugh is infectious and I love her (it doesn’t hurt that I have a huge crush on her son Bobby too). The very first recipe in this book is her 1-2-3-4 Cake. It’s called this because it has 1 cup butter, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups flour and 4 eggs. Basic right? It does have a few other ingredients but these are the main ones. Here’s my Lemon Cake following her instructions but making it my own. You don’t even need frosting, although whipped topping and fresh berries make is a very refreshing dessert on those hot summer days.

Lemon Cake with Whipped Topping and Berries

1 cup (2 sticks) margarine or butter

2 cups sugar

Zest of one medium lemon

4 eggs

3 cups sifted Gluten-Free Flour Mix

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp guar gum

3/4 cup milk (I use soy)

1/4 cup lemon juice (use more milk if you are a little short to equal 1 cup liquid)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 tsp lemon extract

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray your pan(s) with non-stick cooking spray.

 Using an electric mixer, cream butter until fluffy. Add sugar and continue to cream well for 6 to 8 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Add vanilla and continue to beat until just mixed. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Level batter in each pan by holding pan 3 or 4 inches above counter, then dropping it flat onto counter. Do this several times to release air bubbles and assure you of a more level cake. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until done. A 13x9x2 pan usually takes about 35 – 40 minutes. Cool in pan(s) 5 to 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto cooling racks. From this point you can frost the cake(s) if you want with the icing of your choice or serve with whipped topping and fresh berries.