Holidays!

{gluten-free} Meyer Lemon Coconut Cake for Two

Years ago, I was an avid blogger.

I had a network of talented bakers that I interacted with regularly, was part of baking circles and recipe swaps, and eagerly combed through various websites on a constant basis every morning. I loved blogging, and I’m thankful for what it brought into my life. Like the chance to make some new virtual friends and occasionally write a recipe for their wildly successful blogs.

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Gluten-and-Dairy Free Hush Puppies with Chef Amanda Cohen

I’ve never had a “real” hush puppy. 

When you’ve been off gluten and cow-dairy pretty much for twenty years, there are things you miss. I don’t know the luxurious treat that is thick vanilla pastry cream oozing from a fluffy pastry casing that they call an eclair. I couldn’t tell you the proper viscosity of a real creme brûlée (though my versions make me happy). And I have no childhood memories of tasting a fresh-outta-the-fryer hush puppy.

Thankfully I’m an adult now, dammit, and I can make whatever I want!

Enter Chef Amanda Cohen and her Dirt Candy cookbook.

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{gluten-free} Peanut Butter Krinkles!

I’ve made these classic crinkly peanut butter cookies every holiday season for as long as I can remember. As a child, I’d help unwrap Hershey Kisses and plop them onto still-warm cookies that were made by the hundreds in my family home. For years they were (by far) my favorite out of the many on my mother’s holiday plate and, as an adult, friends request these more than any other from my own kitchen.

In order to “save my spoons” (see here and here for what that means), I’ve cut back on baking a lot in the past year or so. But this Christmas I was gifted with such kindness that I popped into the kitchen to make them as a “thank you” to someone who particularly enjoys them. Someone who has shown me not a passing bit of kindness, but one that is sustained and repeatedly generous. One that, especially during this beautiful but stressful time of the year, I’ve greatly appreciated. One that was folded into another kindness, and two very special people to thank with something sweet.

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{gluten-free} Toasted Walnut Butter Ball Cookies

Growing up, there were several cookies my mom would always make around the holidays: crispy chocolate-chip laden biscotti, delicately caramelized lace cookies filled with melted chocolate, little cups of gooey nut pastries, and these tiny bombs of buttery walnut cookies I only knew as Butter Balls.

When the gluten thing hit in my early teens, those were all off limits for years. Later, as my mom started experimenting with gluten-free flours by my side, she easily adapted some of her favorites so that I could enjoy them along with my family. To this day, her biscotti come out better than mine, even though she uses my flour blend to make them. Some things just need that extra bit of mom love, I guess.

But the walnut butter balls eluded me. Until now.

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Easiest Chicken Liver Mousse with Chef Jamie Biss

Welcome to my second installment of Pro Pastry. Today over at WordsFoodArt.com, I have a review of the cookbook this recipe came from – out today! – and a bit more on the chef behind it. Take a look at the why’s behind this series, and here for my first piece in this series, Dairy-Free Creme Brulee from Chef Joe Murphy.

Okay, so this title is kinda misleading.

There’s no gluten to be found in the original of this recipe, and I did not eat that beautiful slice of toasted bread in the image above. The recipe’s not completely dairy free, as it contains copious amounts of butter. But it did take a touch of adaptation to work with it and I’m so glad I did, because I devoured it on some rice crackers, feasted it to a friend on that bread as part of his birthday dinner and, a few days later, the ladies in my writers group helped me polish off yet another ramekin, with one of the ladies going to town on it. After I explained that she was eating chicken livers, she proclaimed its excellence and said she was glad not to have originally known what was in it, as she wouldn’t have tried nor fell in love with it if she had.

Game, set, match! for Jacqueline (still have the U.S. Open on the brain, and still boggled by their scoring system). Continue reading

Battle Inflammation: Carrot Ginger Soup

There are many little bits of good out there in the world.

Let’s make sure we keep celebrating them!

Today I’m very lucky to be featured on my friend Kelly’s blog, Little Bits of Good. There she’s counting her blessings with fellow “Celebrationists”, looking for the good things in life to focus on and “lifting up the amazing humans who are making the world a brighter place to play”. I’m honored she considers me to be one of those people, and I spent two lovely hours working on her interview, which focuses on my living with Lyme and the things I do to make life rewarding and so beautiful despite the many hiccups a chronic illness puts in one’s way.

It was both really emotional and really empowering to write, and the best start to a long writing day a gal could ask for. Head on over there for my favorite super-foods, the habits I’ve built that keep me focused on good things, and stories from some really special people who have turned their struggles into superpowers, and whose stories have lifted me up and inspired me weekly!! Continue reading

{gluten-free} Peppermint Patty Brownie Bars

In general I’m a lady of simple pleasures. But now and then I need a little ooh-la-la!

These bars pack a ton of ooh-la-la and a bit of fa-la-la-la-la and a heaping scoop of ho-ho-ho to boot!

I’d had a package of candy  canes on my baking shelf since October. Yes, October. Because that’s when my roommate (kinda sorta) lets me at least bring up the subject of Christmas without throwing something at me. But with all the molasses-ing and ginger-ing and cookie-ing of various sorts, I didn’t play with peppermint until last weekend. Continue reading

{gluten-free} 3-Gingers Snaps!

“If you want really spicy cookies, go try those ginger snaps…”

This was said to me last Monday at the Serious Eats 5th Annual Cookie Swap, a fun little shindig with an impressive variety of sweets and some serious cocktails that I was told (but had a hard time believing) were somehow even stronger last year. Of course I didn’t actually get to try anyone else’s cookies (or the gorgeous canelles that Dessertbuzz brought and we were all oohing and aahing over!) because mine were the only gluten-free option of the bunch. I wasn’t going to even label them as such, but did just in case there was another “me” in attendance. When Niko (Dessertbuzz) told me to check out the “really spicy cookies” and I responded, “They’re mine!”, I was rewarded with a happy face standing next to them, noshing away. He’d been trying to stick to a gluten-free diet, and was psyched to find my little plate amongst the gorgeous spread.

So, yes, these are really spicy gluten-free ginger snaps! Continue reading

{gluten and dairy-free} Chewy Molasses Cookies

Chewy molasses cookies - lots of flavor, no gluten!

Chewy molasses cookies – lots of flavor, no gluten!

I love spicy molasses cookies. They’re like gingersnaps’ saucier big sister.

I made these for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap benefiting Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, and an online auction Bake Sale for the Philippines, since they travel well and lack the gluten and dairy my swap matches can’t digest.

They’re rather easy to make and have that crackly, sugary top that makes me think of the holidays, for some reason!

They’re also 100% kid tested and approved. I can say that because the tiny little baby friend I had in my apartment the night I was making them gobbled one up. So 1 outta 1! Woohoo! She then got naked and started playing with the silver shakers at my living room bar, so I don’t know if we can trust a 1-year old with a drinking problem, but whatever.

Anyway, they’re delicious on their own, and even better when crumbled into another cookie, sandwiched around frosting or dunked in ice cream. A classic, chewy in the center and crispy at the edges. Yum. Continue reading

{gluten-free} Italian Wedding Cookies (Lemon Cake Cookies)

There are a few gluten-full recipes I miss from long ago and haven’t yet tackled, and Christmas is the perfect time for playing with them!

Growing up, my Auntie Jo always brought lemony Italian Wedding Cookies to our summer family functions. Bursting with lemon oil and encased in a thin layer of powdered sugar icing, they were a simple cookie, and one of my favorites. I now have Auntie Jo, my cousin Diane and my mother’s versions of the recipe, and the other day tried my own hand at them for a little shindig I was throwing.

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