I have been running around like a chicken with my head cut off. This time of the year is so stinkin’ busy. I have come to reason that I am not going to stress anymore. I am going to get done what I can get done and focus on my family. If I don’t get around to making a 5th kind of cookie, then so be it.

I did have to make gingersnaps, though, as they are one of my favorites. I love the crunch on the outside and the subtle softness on the inside. Just the right touch of spices. Yum!! This is a recipe that I have been making since I was in high school. I just modified it to be GF 2 years ago. It has never failed me. ****knocking on wood****

**Originally from The Betty Crocker Cookbook, modified to be GF by me

3/4 cup shortening
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 1/4 cups GF flour mix (I used a rice, tapioca & potato starch blend)
2 tsps. xanthan gum
2 tsps. soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. salt
Granulated Sugar (for rolling cookies in before baking)

1. Mix thoroughly shortening, brown sugar, egg and molasses. Blend in remaining ingredients except granulated sugar. Cover; chill at least 1 hour (I chilled over night b/c I ran out of time and patience πŸ˜‰ )

2. Heat oven to 375. Shape dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into balls. Dip tops in granulated sugar. Place balls, sugar side up on ightly greased lbaking sheet (I covered mine with parchment paper, but you don’t have to). Bake 10 – 12 minutes (I baked 10) or just until set. Immediately remove from baking sheet. Makes approx. 4 dozen. Mine made less, but I think they were a little bigger.

Enjoy! I had one of these for dessert with a piece of peanut butter fudge. YUM!! The Holidays have officially arrived!!!

I do have to share a quick story of a baking failure that I had last night. I was making gluten-filled chocolate chip cookies for my husband’s boss and they flopped, big-time. I don’t know what went wrong. The only thing I can think of is maybe the butter was too soft b/c it took me longer to get to making the cookies than I had anticipated. I probably should have chilled the dough before baking, but I was in a hurry, go figure. I ended up throwing all but a dozen away. The dozen that were salvaged tasted great, or so I was told, I obviously didn’t taste them. (BTW, if I am ever going to intentionally eat gluten, I am going BIG! I am talking Big Mac, Philly Cheesesteak, pizza….that kind of BIG!) Of course, that is not going to happen, it is just nice to think about every once in a while. πŸ˜‰ So, I have to make attempt #2 at some point in the next week, though it will most likely not happen until after Christmas. Maybe I should have had that glass of wine last night….it couldn’t have hurt the outcome, huh?

Peanut Butter Fudge

Is there anything better in the world besides peanut butter fudge? Maybe fudge fudge or dark chocolate fudge. Still, PB rocks and this recipe from my Grandmother is the BEST! I remember her making fudge for the Holidays when I was little. She would make all kinds….PB, plain fudge, fudge with nuts, white chocolate fudge. Really, there was way too much fudge, if there can be such a thing. I think that I am going to try to make Dark Chocolate Fudge this year. This is an afterthought, though, as I just bought the supplies for all of my baking yesterday and it didn’t dawn on me to try dark chocolate.

Peanut Butter Fudge

12 oz Peanut Butter
Β½ pound oleo (butter)
3 TBSP milk
4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Melt the first 3 ingredients over low heat and add vanilla. Work in powdered sugar. Press into pan. Grandma’s recipe didn’t say what size pan, I think an 8 x 11 would work great. Cool in the fridge for several hours before cutting.

In the pan before cutting.

Cut into small squares and wrap for gifts or enjoy! The moans & groans coming from Jon and I after eating this were enough to make Aaron look at us like we were crazy! LOL!

Inside Out Burgers ~ Take #2

I posted a week or so ago that I had tried to make Inside Out Burgers and it hadn’t worked out so well. I had hypothesized that I needed to cook the burgers in a pan or on a grill, not on the George Foreman Grill because I figured out that that had squeezed all of my toppings out. So, tonight we went for “Take #2” and had success!! YAY!! I used the same recipe for the meat. The only change I made was using hot pepperjack cheese in the middle of my burger. What I ended up with was excellent! I placed my burger on a bed of iceburg lettuce & roma tomatoes, flanked with portabella mushrooms sauteed in Ken’s Lite Olive Oil Vinaigrette. YUM!! I served steamed broccoli and sweet potato french fries on the side. A very tasty dinner. The hot pepperjack cheese added just the right kick to my burger. Normally I put Frank’s Red Hot on my burger, but there was no need to tonight.

Here are a couple of shots:

Cheesy, yummy goodness…

So, here is the meat mixture again:

1 – 1.5 pounds ground beef (or half ground turkey)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I used hot pepperjack tonight)
1 1/2 tsps paprika
1 TBSP worchestershire (I use Lea & Perrins)
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt

I mixed all ingredients, except the cheese, together in a bowl. I then formed thin patties and placed a bit of cheese on each patty, then another small patty on top. I sealed those patties around the cheese.

**you could add any number of things to the inside mix….bacon, olives, spinach….anything you like.

When life gives you lemons….

You make lemonade. When life gives you very ripe bananas, you make banana bread. πŸ™‚ Or, at least I do. I admit that I buy bananas and let them get over-ripe on purpose so I can make banana bread. πŸ™‚ I have many banana bread recipes, some that I have shared here, some that I haven’t had a chance to share here yet. There is my traditional Banana Nut Bread, which I remember eating as a child. Then, there is the new, updated, Chocolate Chip Banana Bread. You can play around with that recipe and add pumpkin, that is yummy too. Then, there is the Cadillac of banana breads and this would be that one. This bread is everything you always wanted in a banana bread and more. All the bells & whistles. It R.O.C.K.S. I got this recipe from my sister long before I had to go gluten-free and have since transformed it to suit my GF needs. It wasn’t hard, I just subbed Pamela’s Pancake & Baking Mix for the all-purpose flour. If you use any other flour mix without guar or xanthan gum, remember to add it in ~ 1 tsp. per cup of flour mix. The original recipes comes from Southern Living. That right there, folks, speaks and says this is one serious banana bread. So, without further ado, I give you:

Orange-Pecan-Topped Cream Cheese-Banana-Nut Bread
***(You can also try as muffins – yummer!)

Prep: 15 min., Bake: 1 hr., Cool: 40 min. Warm bread is yummy, but to get perfect slices, let bread cool 30 minutes, and cut with a serrated or electric knife.

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour (I used Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (1 1/4 pounds unpeeled bananas, about 4 medium)
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted (I didn’t toast, too lazy today)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely chopped, toasted pecans (again, no toasty b/c I was lazy)

1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.
Combine flour and next 3 ingredients; gradually add to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until blended. Stir in bananas, pecans, and vanilla. Spoon batter into 2 greased and floured 8- x 4-inch loafpans. Sprinkle pecans evenly over batter in pans.

Bake at 350Β° for 1 hour or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean and sides pull away from pan, shielding with aluminum foil last 15 minutes to prevent browning, if necessary. Cool bread in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Stir together powdered sugar and orange juice until blended. Drizzle evenly over warm bread, and cool 30 minutes on wire racks.

Yield: Makes 2 loaves

Southern Living, JANUARY 2005

Now, the nuts add extra weight on top, so when you are making this GF, you may not want to sprinkle on as many as I did b/c it makes the bread sink more in the middle. GF quick breads will tend to sink anyway and adding that weight just makes it do so even more.

A before baking shot:

Weekly Meal Plan ~ December 14, 2008 ~ The Week Before Christmas

Wow…10 days until Christmas. I had better get my rear end in gear this week. Normally I have all kinds of Christmas cookies made and frozen by now. I am slacking with a capital “S”. Now I haven’t exactly been lounging around eating Bon Bons (are those even GF?), I have been busy with life. Funny how that happens, huh? This week is no different, busy as ever. Hannah is done with figure skating for the year, though, so that takes one activity away for Wednesday, though we still have Jon’s hockey practice that night.

Here we go!

Sunday ~ Inside Out Burgers ~ Take #2 (Take #1 didn’t go so well…all the toppings inside seeped out), sweet potato fries, steamed broccoli sauteed portabella mushrooms for me and the banana bread I made for dessert.

Monday ~ Tacos or Mexican Pizzas (with turkey meat), refried beans & Mexican Rice

Tuesday ~ Salmon with Thai Sweet Chile Sauce, steamed brown rice, sauteed zucchini & okra and salad

Wednesday ~ Breakfast for dinner (egg scrambles with sausage & cheese), sweet potato hash browns and GF english muffins

Thursday ~ Roast Chicken, mashed Yukon gold potatoes, steamed broccoli & salad.

Friday ~ Pizza of some sort, steamed veggies & salad.

Saturday ~ probably take-out or going out. I have an ornament exchange at 6:00 PM.

Baked Goods for the week

Remarkable Fudge (recipe to be posted later in the week)
Peanut Butter Fudge (recipe to be posted later in the week)
Orange Pecan Topped Cream Cheese Banana Nut Bread (recipe to be posted later in the week)
Gingersnap Cookies (recipe to be posted later in the week)
Russian Teacakes (recipe to be posted later in the week)
Chocolate Chip Cookies (these may get pushed into next week)

Okay, I have to run. Lots to do and not enough hours in the day! Have a great week! Oh, one last thing, make sure to check out In My Box for more great gluten-free menu ideas. There are a bunch of great menu plans at Org Junkie too.

In Mourning

As I was catching up on my blog reading the other day, I happened across this alert regarding my of my most near & dear gluten-free mainstream products. Prego Three Cheese Spaghetti Sauce. Oh boy. This is the sauce we have always eaten, even in pre-GF days. One of the most important aspects of this sauce is there are no big chunks of any vegetable in it, meaning that my 3 kids (yes, I am including Aaron in that) will eat it with no complaints. We all know how my kids feel about tomatoes. πŸ˜‰ Does this mean that I will have to make my own sauce from scratch now? This wouldn’t be a big deal once in a while, but for as much as we eat spaghetti, lasagna, pizza… is nice to be able to open a jar of sauce, know it is GF and get on with life. This could explain why Jon and I have felt less than stellar in the recent past few weeks. We are eating some kind of meal using this sauce at least once per week. Or, maybe it has nothing to do with it. Anyway, I have done my research and all Classico pasta sauces are GF. We use their alfredo and it is divine. I need to find one that the fam will tolerate and cross my fingers that there are no big chunks or maybe I will have to run it through the food processor before heating it up….hmmm…never thought about that before. See what blogging at 5:00 AM will do for you? I am thinking the Four Cheese will probably do the trick, though the Florentine Spinach with Cheese looks good, as does the Spicy Tomato & Pesto and Vodka Sauce! I doubt the fam would go for the last 3 that I listed. That is okay, I like Four Cheese. In fact, I am not sure that I would turn down anything with cheese.

Another idea….I did read, as I was investigating this news, that Wal-Mart makes a pasta sauce that is very close to the Prego that is GF. It is apparently only around $1, so I may give that a try. At the very least I could throw it on some pizza dough and dress it up if it is not that great.

Shrimp Scampi Alfredo

First, I am going to apologize for the lack of pictures in this post. I would love to show you a beautiful shot of this amazing dish, but my laptop is being persnickety and shuts down anytime I “ask” it to do too much. Under the umbrella of “do too much” are things like uploading pictures, burn a CD or DVD, download music, watch a video clip or open too many windows. Basically, it (my laptop) is putting the kibosh on my multi-tasking. Not a good thing for a Type A personality like myself. πŸ˜‰ Well, I fixed that, or I should say Aaron did….I am getting a new laptop (early Christmas gift) that should be here any day! So, take that, old laptop!

When I have uncooked shrimp I normaly make Shrimp Scampi with it. Aaron came up with a new idea and added some alfredo sauce to the mix. What we now have is a delightful mix of flavors. The kids love this dish. They can’t get enough of it and there are never any leftovers. They (the kids and Aaron) will fight each other for the last piece of shrimp. What I find interesting about the whole thing, especially with the kids, is that they normally don’t like their food mixed or to touch, but adore this creation. I am not going to mess with it. They eat it, that is the ultimate goal. Usually we put the shrimp sauce over fettucine, but didn’t have any, so I used spiral shaped brown rice pasta instead for them and I had spaghetti squash, my new favorite that I can’t get enough of! Here is a rough estimate of the proportions for this dish:

Shrimp Scampi Alfredo

1 pound uncooked, peeled & de-veined shrimp (we used 26-30 count)
1/4 cup butter (give or take a TBSP or 2)
basil (a few shakes)
oregano (a few shakes)
garlic powder or fresh garlic (the equivalent to 2-3 cloves)
salt & pepper (a few shakes)
lemon juice (a few squirts)
alfredo sauce (We use Classico)
Fresh shredded parmesan
pasta, rice or spaghetti squash

**You could also cook with some white wine. Aaron doesn’t like the flavor when I cook with wine (silly man!), so I don’t use it when he is eating.

1. Melt butter in pan; add shrimp and season with ingredients up to lemon juice (wait until shrimp is cooked to add the lemon juice). Cook until pink throughout, but be careful not to overcook or they will be tough.

2. While you are cooking your shrmip, place alfredo in a separate pan and heat your alfredo sauce…about 3/4 jar or so, depending on how creamy you want it.

3. Add alfredo to the shrimp pan and mix well. Add in fresh shredded parm. Pour on top of pasta and add more parm and some fresh basil if you have some.

4. Enjoy!

Well, hopefully my new laptop is here sooner than later. It was shipped Monday from Shanghai, China, so we shall see. I am tired of my computer deciding when I have spent too much time surfing the net! How dare it shut off and not let me get my fill of Perez Hilton!

Product Review: Glutino Pizza ~ Spinach & Feta Cheese

A few weeks back I was at Whole Foods trying to score some frozen GF pie crusts and happened upon a sale on Glutino Frozen Pizzas. They were 2 for $6.00, which was a great deal! They are normally $4+ each. I like to keep quick meals on hand for busy nights, so these were perfect for that. These pizzas are easy to prepare. Both times I made these pizzas, I set the pizza directly on the oven rack. The result was a nice, crisp crust! I added a little Frank’s Red Hot to my pizza, b/c I love it and put it on everything. What a nice treat! These have a wonderful flavor and almost remind me of a spinach dip on a pizza crust! I paired the pizza with a nice salad for a meal. I would definitely buy this product again and highly recommend it to anyone out there looking for a quick frozen meal.

Weekly Meal Plan ~ December 7, 2008

Phew….what a whirlwind the last week has been! The surprise party is over and I can relax! I talk to my Mom on the phone daily and it was SO hard to make sure that I didn’t spill the beans to her!

This week is busy, but not as busy as the last week. A couple of hockey practices and the last figure skating class of the year. Cookie baking and such. I have been wanting to make Mexican Pizzas for a couple of weeks, but can’t find any Tostada shells other than the massive package of 100 or so. Ortega & Old El Paso both used to make them, but I can’t find them anywhere! I have looked at 3 stores minimum. I don’t know what the deal is. I guess I will have to look online. We prefer these over tacos. I guess I could make my own…..

On the menu:

Sunday ~ Baked Salmon with Sweet Thai Chile Sauce, brown rice, sauteed zuchinni/mushroom/grape tomatoe medley and spinach salad

Monday ~ Spaghetti w/meat sauce, steamed broccoli, garlic english muffin halves & salad

Tuesday ~ Baked Chicken Fingers, Sweet Potato Fries and spinach salad

Wednesday ~ Dinner out after hockey & figure skating

Thursday ~ Roast Chicken, mashed Yukon Gold potatoes, roasted brussel sprouts & salad

Friday ~ Homemade pizza, steamed carrots and salad

Saturday ~ Breakfast for dinner (pancakes or French Toast) and bacon or eggs.

I have seen others include breakfast & lunch in their plans, but I do the same thing daily for myself…I am extremely OCD like that. πŸ˜‰ That would bore you to see it written out, so I will do it once…I eat brown rice cakes with Skippy Natural PB & fruit spread or Peanut Butter & Co.’s Dark Chocolate Dreams & Black Cherry Fruit Spread; egg whites, basil & grape tomatoes. Jon has cinnamon toast on Pamela’s bread or Instant Breaky. Hannah….who knows. It changes by the minute.

Lunches for me vary based on leftovers.

Baked Goods for the Week

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Remarkable Fudge

Okay, I am off. Have a great week!

Breakfast ~ Mimi's Cafe Style

Hehe….now I can finally blog about this here! We have been planning a surprise party for my Mom for the past 6-9 weeks and it has been killing me not to talk/blog about it! A little background…my Mom & I share a birthday. Our birthday is Januray 9th. She will be 60, I will be 36. We knew that if we planned a surprise party for her that it would have to be either way before or way after b/c we have BTDT with her for her b-day in the past AND the weather in Ohio is notoriously un-cooperative in January (or really anytime between mid-December to the end of February or even early March for that matter). My Step Dad, Joe, and my sister, Kelly, were really the planners in this whole shebang. I did some minor things, but really, all of the props go to those two. They did an excellent job. Also, my Step SIL, Rebekah, did a wonderful job on the decorations and my Step Brother, Dan, provided us with the media devices to play the photo slideshow that Kelly made. Oh, and quite possibly the best thing (at least for Jon, myself and my Aunt Chris, who also follows a GF diet), the gluten-free cake…my MIL made an awesome carrot cake with cream cheese icing for us to have for dessert! YUM! Well, the bottom line…..SUCCESS!! She had no idea! YAY!! We did it again! My Mom, God love her, is so gullable. Mom, I mean that in the sweetest way possible. πŸ™‚ I can’t tell you how many times we have surprised her now! We have done at least 1 other birthday and a Mother’s Day too, I believe. We love surprises!! The party was catered by someone my Step Dad hired. I felt more comfortable getting Jon & I frozen meals and heating them up in the microwave they had at the hall that we rented. Jon had an Amy’s Rice Mac & Cheese, I had a great Pasta Primavera made by Gluten-Free Cafe, which appears to be associated with The Hain-Celestial Group. I was pleasantly surprised by the wonderful taste of this frozen meal. I chose it mainly b/c it was one of the only meals that had veggies in it and didn’t have onions in it at my local health food store. It was a little low in calories for a meal (I believe it was under 300, and that is great for those watcthing their weight, but not enough for me for a dinner), so I had some veggies, GF pretzels & crackers to snack on too. It was a wonderful night. Oh, and remember what I said above about the weather in January? Well, we had a freak snowstorm yesterday that created a driving nightmare all afternoon and night. We really didn’t get more than a couple of inches, it just seemed like it snowed all day and the road crews couldn’t keep up. I think weekend, Holiday shopping traffic added to the complications there. We all laughed how we planned this party early to avoid a weather nightmare and had one anyway!

Now, onto my breakfast Mimi’s Cafe chat. A few of us (okay, 14 of us) met this AM for brunch at Mimi’s Cafe. There are a few places around that do a sit-down breakfast gluten-free. First Watch is one, but they always seem so cramped and I didn’t see a party of 14 at 10:00 AM going over well (or quickly for that matter). So, we chose Mimi’s Cafe. They don’t have much GF info online, but they do have a notebook with foods safe for Celiac/gluten-free individuals available to view at the cafe. The staff at Mimi’s Cafe were amazing. They were extremely accommodating, the server checking with the kitchen and manager on anything she wasn’t 100% sure about. They were well versed on cross-contamination. I really don’t know why I have only eaten here one other time before today! They are 5 minutes from my house and serve breakfast, lunch & dinner and have lots of options! Jon had the bacon, cheese, & sausage omelette, jasmine rice and fruit bowl (okay, he didn’t eat the fruit, he gave it to me). I had the fitness omelette (egg whites, mushrooms, tomatoes & broccoli and I had them add cheddar cheese) with tomato slices on the side. Instead of wheat toast, they brought me corn tortillas. It only dawned on me just now that I should have spread jelly/jam on those…DUH!!! I also had a glass of tomato juice. Neither Jon or I got sick….a BONUS! The lunch/dinner options were extensive for GF. I will be going back. The prices were very reasonable and the portions were huge! Oh, they brought out free dessert to my Mom (and sang) and to my sister (who really did have a birthday on Friday). Everyone had a wonderful meal, even though our birthday guest insisted on paying!!! MOM! She said that she was so grateful for all the sacrifices we all made to celebrate for her and with her, that she wanted to get the bill. Thanks again, Mom, you ROCK!

So, add another place that is safe for those on a gluten-free diet. I am excited to go back again! I may have to do this instead of Cheeseburger in Paradise every now in then to change things up.

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