Taco Seasoning

Taco seasoningTaco seasoning is one of those staples in my pantry. I used to grab the premixed packages at the grocery store, but they are not always gluten free! To be safe, I make my own with gluten free spices. I always keep some on hand to add to other recipes as well!  I usually double the recipe and put it in a shaker that is accessible while I’m cooking. I have found that the best way to NOT feel like I’m on a diet is to use spices to crank up the flavor.

  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Instructions: Mix it up. Yeah. You’re done.

Enjoy!

xoxo

Gluten Free Gingerbread Cookies

ImageGingerbread cookies and holidays are pretty synonymous. You can use this recipe to make gingerbread men but I prefer to “cheat” on this one. Making small 1 inch balls and flattening them with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar is way easier, and the extra sugar on top gives a nice sweet layer! Just be prepared to want to dig into them right away- they smell amazing while they are cooking!  In fact, I’m pretty sure that it is impossible not fall into the holiday spirit while these are baking! They are one of my favorite recipes to make and I’m not even a huge gingerbread fan! But they smell so good!

  • 3 cups gluten free flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 2½ tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degreesIn a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves until well blended
  2. In a large bowl beat butter, brown sugar, and egg until well blended
  3. Add molasses and vanilla and mix until well blended
  4. Gradually stir in dry ingredients until blended and smooth. Dough will be pretty heavy and thick. Don’t worry! You did it right!
  5. Divide dough in half and wrap each half in plastic and chill for about 1 hour. This allow the dough to harden slightly to allow you to roll the dough to be cut with your favorite cookie cutterImage
  6. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper
  7. Add a small amount of sugar to a flat bottomed dish
  8. Dampen the bottom of a glass and then dip in sugar before using glass to flatten cookies to ¼ inch thickness
  9. Make sure cookies are spaced at least 2 inches apart to avoid touching when baking
  10. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are golden
  11. Allow cookies to cool slightly before removing from sheet and allow to completely cool on rack.

Enjoy!

xoxo

Gluten Free Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies

ImageThanksgiving is quickly approaching, though I’m not sure how it got here so soon this year! One of my mom’s favorite treats this time of year are my oatmeal cranberry cookies. I missed enjoying them when I first started living gluten free, but I managed to make a few changes to the recipe and found great oats to use and again, my favorite flour to use for holiday baking. Now, if you didn’t already realize that oats can be a problem on a gluten free diet then listen up. Generally speaking- oats are gluten free. The problem comes in their production at the factory- lots of cross contamination! In fact, a story in the Chicago SunTimes a few years ago showed that the gluten levels can be over 900ppm! Gluten free food is generally considered to be under 20ppm so thats pretty insane! There are a few gluten free options on there for oats so feel free to use other brands as well- but just make sure that they are not instant oats since those will not work well in this recipe and you will end up with a crunchy blob instead of a soft yummy oatmeal cookie!

  • 1 ½ cups gluten free flour (Namaste perfect blend)
  • 3 cups gluten free old fashioned rolled oats (my favorite gluten free brand is Bob’s Red Mill
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups dried cranberries
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, baking powder, and baking soda
  3. In a separate large bowl, blend together butter and sugars until light and fluffy then beat in eggs and vanilla
  4. Slowly add dry ingredients until well combined
  5. Stir in cranberries
  6. Drop dough in approximately 1 inch balls 4 inches apart on baking sheets. You can make it really easy by using a cookie dough scoop
  7. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden
  8. Allow cookies to cool slightly in order to set, then transfer to a wire rack to allow them to cool completely

Enjoy!

xoxo

Pumpkin Gingersnap Cookies

20131104-095936.jpgGoodbye Halloween! Hello Thanksgiving! Time to make the transition to the next holiday! Now, I am definitely one of those people that absolutely loves this time of year. However, if I am to be perfectly honest, I may love it a little too much and struggled to NOT pull out the Christmas decorations while looking for my Thanksgiving centerpieces. I nearly justified putting up a Christmas tree as long as I didn’t put the ornaments on. Yeah. I’m one of those. You would think I was six instead of thirty-something! So this recipe is a perfect reflection of my holiday dilema! Christmas gingersnap cookies combined with yummy fall pumpkin? Ah-maze-ing!

  • ½ cup of pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup of maple syrup
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup of butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar, plus more to roll your cookies in
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups gluten free flour (again I used Namaste Perfect Blend)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, spices, and salt.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and 1 cup sugar together until smooth.
  3. Add the pumpkin, maple syrup, egg, and vanilla extract to the large bowl and mix until well combined.
  4. Add dry ingredients to large bowl slowly and mix until combined.
  5. Chill dough for 1 hour. If you skip this step your cookies may not be soft and fluffy!
  6. Peheat oven to 350° F.
  7. Place small amount of sugar in a small bowl.
  8. Roll tablespoon-sized balls of dough in sugar until well coated and place on prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches apart.
  9. Bake for 10–12 minutes, or until cookies look cracked and set at the edges.
  10. Allow the cookies to cool for a 2-3 minutes after removing them from the oven, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. They will be soft when you remove them from the oven, but if you allow them to cool before transferring them to the wire rack will alow them to set and firm up just a bit!

Enjoy!

xoxo

Banana Bread Delight

20131028-135859.jpgWhen I was little, my mom and I would spend our weekends at our family house in Michigan. There was a store down the road the sold the BEST banana bread ever. Seriously- I’d eat the entire loaf by the end of the day.   This is my favorite recipe for banana bread.  The best part is, banana bread is meant to be heavy so gluten free baking is a little easier. I suggest using your favorite gluten free flour and for stuff like this my “go-to” choice is Namaste Foods Perfect Flour Blend. Xanthan gum is already included so it’s one less step to worry about!

  • 2 cups gluten free flour blend
  • 4 overripe bananas
  • 1 ½  teaspoons baking soda
  • ½  teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Combine gluten free flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix well
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk bananas and sugar until you make a banana cream
  4. Add melted butter, eggs, and vanilla. Mix well
  5. Slowly mix in dry ingredients
  6. Gently fold in chopped pecans
  7. Spray loaf pan with oil or prepare with grease (I prefer the spray to save on calories)
  8. Bake for 90 minutes. When finished, the bread should be golden. Depending on your oven, you may need to rotate the loaf as well (I usually rotate it around 45 minutes)
  9. Allow bread to cool for 5-10 minutes before removing from the pan. It should cool completely before slicing.

If you’re looking for an extra treat, you can sprinkle powdered sugar on slices as well!

xoxo

Pumpkin seeds

mailDid you know that pumpkin seeds are incredibly healthy? They are terrific sources of heart healthy magnesium, zinc, which is not only great for your immune system but great for your skin, and fiber.  I loved carving pumpkins as a kid (okay as an adult, too), but all too frequently we would toss the seeds into the garbage with the rest of the guts! I didn’t think that cleaning the seeds and roasting them would be worth all the effort when I could just go to the store and buy a bag.  I was wrong. Yeah, they take a bit of work to clean and then time to roast but OMG. Delicious.  They are now one of my favorite fall treats!

  1. Clean the seeds of any pumpkin guts! No orange on these babies!
  2. Boil for 10 minutes in salt water (1tsp salt). This extra step creates a crispy outer shell.
  3. Drain & dry.  I use a paper towel to pat the seeds. They stick to the towel, but you can pick them up with your fingers
  4. Season ‘em. Spread seeds on baking sheet and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. You can cheat here and use a spray as well. I think it gets the job done easier and you end up using less oil (unless you get trigger happy!).  Sprinkle with sea salt .
  5. Roast ‘em. Place baking sheet in the oven at 300F for 15 minutes, then remove and shake/toss seeds and continue roasting for 10-15 more minutes. Be careful not to burn the seeds! They are done when they have a nice golden color!

Now if you want to try other yummy spices, complete the first two steps (boil, drain & dry). THEN roast at 300 for 15 minutes to dry them.  Toss seeds with olive oil, sea salt and spices, then return to oven and roast for 15-20 additional minutes until crispy/golden.

Spice suggestion:

  • brown sugar, chipotle powder, ground cumin
  • grated parmesan cheese
  • cinnamon & sugar (do not add salt!)

Enjoy!

xoxo

Pumpkin Spice Cupcake Heaven

untitledGiven that it is fall and pumpkins are super yummy, here is my favorite recipe for pumpkin cupcakes. Now I’m a huge fan of not reinventing the wheel. Betty Crocker makes a fabulous gluten free cake mix which I love to “fancy up” depending on the season! Why struggle with mixing different flours when you don’t have to!?!? Thanks Betty!

Pumpkin Spice Cake:

  • 1 box yellow cake mix (gluten free of course!)
  • 1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 15 oz. pumpkin puree
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 ½ tsp vanilla extract

If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice on hand you can mix up a batch of your own! This will make 7 tsp of pumpkin pie spice so you will have a bit left over to use later!

  • 4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Line pans with your favorite cupcake liners
  3. Mix together cake mix, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon and set aside
  4. In a large bowl, mix pumpkin, eggs, oil and vanilla extract until smooth
  5. Add cake mix/spice mixture slowly
  6. Fill cupcake liners to ¾ full and bake for 18-20 minutes. Keep a close eye on them though after 15 minutes to make sure they don’t burn!
  7. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting!

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened  (and no cheating with low fat versions here!)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1½  teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 16 oz heavy whipping cream
  1. Beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth
  2. Slowly add vanilla and continue to beat mixture
  3. Slowly add in heavy cream and continue to beat until stiff peaks begin to form
  4. Pipe onto cupcakes and enjoy!

Looking fabulous

Growing up I was a tomboy. I loved baseball, lived for fishing with my dad, and loved being outdoors. My mom tried her hardest to introduce me to Barbie dolls and all things pink! Granted, I did have a strawberry shortcake bedspread on my canopy bed, but I loved my He-Man figures more than my My Little Pony. However, it wasn’t long before I found my girly side. Eventually I lived for our trips to the drugstore to get new nailpolish or a face mask- all by the ripe old age of 12. Wrinkles beware!

Through the eyes of my teenage self, looking good meant people liking me. I was convinced that the prettier and skinnier you were, the more likeable you were- more friends, more popularity, more happiness.  I’d like to say that in my 20s I knew better. However, I think my 20’s were more of a learning experience in that regard. I learned how to appreciate my freckles. Actually, forget that. I LOVE my freckles. They are no longer the annoying polka dots on my body that my friends played connect the dots with in school. Instead, they represent so much fun that I had outdoors growing up. My grandfather once told me that I had freckles because God ran out of room in the sky for stars so He had to put them somewhere else.  I also learned to appreciate my curves. Yup. I’m not stick thin. Never have been, never will be. What I once thought were “thunder thighs” were actually strong muscular legs from running and playing volleyball. My hourglass figure is what men actually find attractive (thank you Sofia Vergara,  Christina Hendricks, and a multitude of other curvy ladies!). 

Now you might be wondering why this post belongs on a gluten free blog. Well, if you picked up in my last blog or two, I managed to ingest a small amount of gluten. Daily. For about 8 weeks. Doh.  One of the huge things I did notice was a change in my skin. It was dull, I was breaking out, my rashes started getting worse (eczema and psoriasis), and I was generally just well… exhausted.  Of course gluten does not cause acne. It does not change your color of your skin, cause bags under your eyes, or cause you to look like you just rolled out of bed in the middle of the afternoon.  However, it does cause you to sleep poorly (damn cramping), put more stress on your body, and your diet pretty well is shot because you’re not absorbing important things! One of the first things I did once realizing my mishap with gluten was get a mani/pedi.  Next, I started giving myself a few extra minutes at night for a facial. Did it cure my celiac? No. But it did help my skin heal from its glutenous battle. And I can admit it now. I’m vain. Looking good makes me feel good.  It’s so important that we realize that celiac disease has its emotional aspect as well. No one wants to feel sick constantly. It’s exhausting. So when you’re having a “celiac moment” (regardless if it’s for a few weeks like my silly slip or if it is a one time mishap) make sure you pamper yourself! It’s the best way to get back to feeling fabulous!

xoxo

Bottoms up!

So after a pretty rough week at work (okay it’s technically only Wednesday but it’s been a REALLY rough week) it is safe to say that I’m already looking forward to going home tonight an enjoying an adult beverage. Or two. Maybe three.   During my BCD (before celiac disease) days, I never gave much thought to going out with friends and ordering a drink. However, thanks to Mr. Gluten, I had to do a little extra thinking, read a few (okay tons) of labels, and ask the bartenders way too many questions for their liking. When I was first diagnosed, the gluten-free world was a little narrower, less defined, and definitely less user-friendly. My go-to drink had always been a half and half (Guinness/Harp for those not familiar with lager) but suddenly it was no longer an option.  I was never a big mixed drink kind of girl so needless to say I was a bit frustrated.  Thanks to some awesome friends, I was introduced to the world of gluten free beer.  I don’t want to sound too judgmental here, but let’s just say it was a world I wasn’t too crazy about.  New Grist, Bards, and Redbridge were the three that were most readily available and they just weren’t doing it for me. Now I wouldn’t say that they were bad, in fact, I would occasionally pick up a six pack.  They just weren’t for me. (Though Redbridge is a surprisingly good lager, but again, you have to like lagers to appreciate this!)  I know, what you’re thinking. Yeah there are plenty of delicious fruity drinks mixed drinks that I could try, and I did. Most were fabulous just like me, but let’s face it, I’m a Midwestern girl.  Holding a vodka soda during a football game just won’t do!  Oddly enough, Irish pubs though were always a great option for finding a suitable substitute- cider! I’m not talking about the apple cider you drank as a kid. I’m talking about the grown up version- hard apple cider.

Over the past two years, I have noticed an increase in different brands on the market. It has become my go-to-drink when I’m out with friends since most places have at least one cider on their drink list.  Woodchuck is one of my favorites. There are PLENTY of different flavors to choose from, including raspberry and pear. Of course they also make seasonal blends and, since its fall, PUMPKIN! I know it sounds *interesting* but it’s actually pretty tasty.  Another fabulous brand is Angry Orchard.  They also have different flavors including crisp apple, traditional dry, green apple, and apple ginger. Likewise, they have seasonal blends too! So this fall, if Woodchuck’s pumpkin doesn’t do it for ya, try Angry Orchard’s Cinnful Apple!  

In case you’re wondering, this weekend while I’m cheering on my Chicago Bears, I’ll be enjoying my favorite cider- Angry Orchard Crisp Apple. Yum!  Bottoms up!

XOXO

Apple-icious!

ImageAnyone that knows me is well aware that fall is pretty much my favorite season. Not only do the leaves begin to change and makes everything look amazing, but the weather begins to cool and I can finally bring out my cozy sweaters and cute boots! (Oh and please note that I LOVE when the leaves change color but I may love them slightly less when I have to rake them out of my yard!)

This past weekend I was able to finally do one of my favorite end of summer activies- apple picking! Galas? Honeycrips? Oh my!  When I was a kid, my mom would end up with way too many apples in the house by the end of the season and I would be spoiled with some of the best pies and treats ever! While yes, gluten free pies are not only possible but pretty yummy too, there are plenty of other gluten free options out there as well!  This week I’m going to try to provide some recipes for you to try at home. The best part is that they are all very kid friendly- so get your little helpers out and get started!

Apple Chips

2 medium apples (use your favorite variety but gala’s are my favorite and this is seriously your only ingredient)

Directions

Preheat oven to 225 degrees

Slice apples into THIN slices. I use a mandolin to make it faster and the results are way better than if I had to use a knife. You can use a knife to push out the seeds as well. If you’re worried about the seeds you can easily core the apple first but that’s an extra step I’m too lazy to make. Plus I think the star shape center you get from slicing the whole apple looks pretty! (Oh and note the mandolin is totally not kid friendly- adults only please)

Arrange apple slices on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Do not overlap the apple slices or they end up sticking together

Bake for 90 minutes, then flip them and bake for an additional 60 minutes.

Remove chips and allow to cool completely. You can store them in an airtight container for 5-7 days.

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Chip

Prepare the same way as the above recipe but sprinkle slices with cinnamon sugar (1tsp cinnamon with 1 tsp sugar). It doesn’t add too many calories but definitely ups the wow factor of these chips!

Enjoy!

xoxo