Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

Found this picture on the web ( - I just couldn't resist.

It's been a rough year for me and my health . I am grateful that 2006 is nearly over and that it's all (hopefully) behind me.

Please be safe. Remember, it's Amateur Night.

Have a happy New Year - May your 2007 be bigger and brighter than all that has gone before.

Today's other craving

Calzones! The Man mentioned it yesterday, so I debated how I was going to accomplish a GF one with minimal effort. I think I succeeded.

Gluten-Free Calzone

1 recipe GF no-knead bread
Pizza sauce (either from scratch or a GF commercial version)
Fresh ball of mozzarella
Pizza toppings of choice
Parmesan cheese
Dried basil
White rice flour

Make the no-knead bread recipe about an hour before you want to make your calzone. Let it rise on the counter.

When you're ready to start, pull out the white rice flour. Take HALF of the dough and put it into a separate bowl. Cover it and use to make bread later. Mix enough rice flour into the calzone dough to get it stiff enough to pat onto a pan. Now split it into 2 again.

Rub a thin coating of olive oil over your hands. Take half of the calzone dough and pat it onto an oiled pizza pan (make it pretty thin but not so thin that it tears or your filling will fall out the bottom of the calzone). Let it rest while you prepare your toppings. I used fresh mushrooms, green pepper, onion, and tomato, all diced.

Once you have everything chopped up, spoon a layer of pizza sauce onto the dough, leaving about a half-inch clear of sauce around the outside edge. Add your toppings; don't go nuts or you will have a hard time covering it with the other half of the dough. Ask me how I know that. Don't forget to top with slices of fresh mozzarella.

Take the remaining piece of dough and add even more rice flour (I think I used a total of 1/8 cup for everything) so that it will pat out and allow you to fold it over, pick it up, and drape it over the top of the filling. Do exactly that, then press the edges together to seal. If you have enough "overhang," you can turn the edges under and pinch to make it look pretty.

Brush a light coat of olive oil on the top crust; grate some Parmesan cheese on top, then sprinkle a little basil.

Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes or until browned.

Not bad. Next time, I will add some dried herbs like basil and oregano, and maybe even some garlic, into the bread to give it some more flavor.

A good least for me

Somehow this afternoon, I found this link. I find it quite funny on how many of these apply to me...

You know you're a cat person when...

  1. You do not consider an outfit complete without some cat hair. I gave up trying to remove cat hair years ago.
  2. You spend more money on toys for your cats than on the kids or grandkids. Well, not quite. But sometimes it's close. Refer to the post with all the cat trees.
  3. You consider cat hair in your food as extra fiber. And the name of this blog is?
  4. You sleep on one edge of the bed because the cat is sleeping in the middle looking soooo cute! They need their beauty sleep too, you know.
  5. You refer to your cat as your furry child. No human children will be born here, so they ARE my children.
  6. Your parents wind up with a four-footed, furry "grandchild." The Man's mom always referred to my boys as her "grandcats." My parents sometimes do as well.
  7. You call home and leave a message on the answering machine for your cat. (Well, close - I talk to the cats via The Man's Nextel when I am not home and he is)
  8. You meow so well, you confuse the cats. I sound just like them. Have even confused The Man.
  9. Kiss your cat more than 10 times per greeting. Kitty kisses....mmmmm....
  10. No matter how large your bed is, it is not large enough for you and your cat(s). We have a king-size bed, not that you would know it from the space we are allowed to sleep in.
  11. Poop has become a source of conversation for you and your significant other. Mostly - when are you going to clean the litterbox, Sheri?
  12. The thought of changing a baby's diaper makes you swoon, but you can pick up cat poop barehanded, if necessary, without batting an eye. Baby diapers are gross and stinky. Cat poop has been deodorized by litter.
  13. You are unbelievably pleased to receive a cat item (any cat item) as a gift --especially from a "non-cat" friend. (They really cared even if it'snot your breed.) Lots of people get me cat stuff. I am just as happy with anything "cat" as I am with anything for the kitchen.
  14. You don't mind it when you find cat hair in the sink, tub, embedded in the carpet or your clothes, or mixed in your food. (Take an extra point if you don't bother trying to remove the hair from your food). It's impossible to keep up with it, so why worry?
  15. You don't think twice about trading licks of an ice cream cone with your cat. Been there, done that.
  16. You have 32 different names for your cat. Most make no sense, but the cat understands them all. Yup. True.
  17. You keep eating even after finding a cat hair in your pasta. Just pick it out. Geez.
  18. You give your cat your last name. Yup.
  19. You never think about how much money you spend on the cats (or how much debt you could reduce by not having them around). Worth every penny to me.
  20. You often claim that it was love at first sight with you and your cat. It was...really!
  21. You refer to yourselves as Mommy and Daddy. I am actually Momma.
  22. You sign and send birthday/anniversary/Christmas cards from your cat. Well, just to The Man and him to me.
  23. You snuggle closer to the cat than the person with whom you are sleeping. Pisses off The Man.
  24. Your desk proudly displays your cat family. I have human pictures too.
  25. Your cat sleeps with you. Until they get fed up and get in the perches in our bedroom.
  26. Your parents give up on grandchildren and start to refer to your cats as "your kids" or your children." (Bonus: they start to call them "our grandcats.") See #6
  27. You sleep in the same position all night because it annoys your cats when you move. Is it any wonder I have back problems?
  28. Your cat sleep on your head. Just Sylvester.
  29. You give your cat presents and a stocking at Christmas. This year, it was just a stocking.
  30. You put off making the bed until the cat gets up. They look so cute, I just hate to disturb them.

These are just the ones that apply to me/The Man. Sad, isn't it?


I have a craving. It's driving me nuts. And it's all because of yesterday's line-up on Food Network. They showed.....the making of Twinkies.

I was a Twinkie eater from way back. There was nothing like biting the end off of that spongy cake, sticking my finger in the middle to get out all that god-knows-what's-in-it-but-damn-it's-good-filling, sucking said finger clean, and then eating the rest of the cake.

But now I can't eat those Hostess goodies.

So what's a gluten-free person to do? FIND A WAY. I searched the internet. I flipped through GF cookbooks. And now I have a way.

Twinkie Cupcakes

For the cake (slightly adapted from "The Gluten-Free Kitchen" by Roben Ryberg):

5 eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup potato starch
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Beat the egg yolks and sugar until the yolks are light in color and thickened. Add the vanilla and water. Mix well. Add the cornstarch, potato starch, xanthan gum, salt, and baking powder; combine well to make sure there are no lumps.

Whip the egg whites and cream of tartar until they hold stiff peaks. Pour half of the egg whites into the yolk mixture; fold gently until incorporated. The pour that mixture back into the rest of the egg whites. Fold gently until completely combined.

Put cupcake liners in your muffin pan. Fill each liner 3/4 full. Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool completely before filling.

(Makes 24 cupcakes or "twinkies")

For the filling (from Top Secret Recipes):

2 tsp very hot water
1/4 tsp salt
1 - 7 oz jar marshmallow creme
1/2 cup shortening
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Combine the salt with the water in a small bowl and stir until the salt is dissolved. Let cool.

Combine the marshmallow creme, shortening, sugar and vanilla in a bowl and mix well, until the stuff is fluffy.

Add the salt solution to the creme mixture and combine.

Once the cupcakes are cool, remove the liners and place on their tops. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a long tube tip with the filling. Insert the tip halfway into the cupcakes through the bottom; squeeze the filling into the cupcakes. (This stuff is thick and it broke my cheap-ass pastry bag tip connector thingy - just warning you - so I didn't get to fill mine as full as I wanted).

Make a pig of yourself (I have already eaten 4 and they've been done for a whole 5 minutes!).

While the cake doesn't taste like the real Twinkie does, I don't care. It gives me the feeling of eating a Twinkie and I am happy. And I am probably going to be sick because I bet I eat all 24 before this day is done.

This isn't the only craving happening in the cat house. Stay tuned...

Friday, December 29, 2006

Taste test - GF bread V2

I prefer the taste and texture of the latest version over the 1st one. Now if I can just keep it from sticking to the pot!

GF no-knead bread - revisited

Recently a little birdie put a bug in my ear about the no-knead bread recipe. So I took some of the bird's ideas, changed a couple of things on my end, and tried a loaf this way.

Here's what I did this time.

GF No-Knead Bread - Version 2

1 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup potato starch
1/4 cup teff flour
1/2 cup tapoica starch
1/4 tsp yeast
4 tsp sugar
1 tsp sea salt
1 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup water
2 tbsp olive oil.

Mix together the flours, yeast, sugar, salt, baking powder and xanthan gum. Add the water and oil; beat until well combined (I actually let my stand mixer run on low speed for about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once).

Pour into an ungreased bowl; cover and let rise for 2 hours (I used my bread proofing cycle for the 1st 30 minutes and then shut it off, leaving the bowl in the oven for the remaining time).

To bake the bread, heat the oven to 500 degrees. Once it comes to temperature, put your pot in it and let it heat for a half hour. Take the pot out, dump the dough in, cover, and bake for 30 minutes.

Note the fact that the bread in the picture is still in the pot. That's because IT STUCK. Damn it. I know better than to use a new pot! So until I get back from giving a flute lesson, that is where it will stay. So no taste test quite yet.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Nuit d'Italien a la maison le Chat

Boy, that title took some thinking. It's been 10 years since I took any French classes!

I couldn't decide what to make for dinner tonight. As usual, I began thinking about it before I had my cup of tea in me (I prefer to get the food shopping out of the way early in the day). I thought about polenta, a food I have never cooked before. I used the Food Network search engine to come up with something that sounded appealing that I could easily tweak. And this is what I came up with.

And I got to use my newest toy: making bread crumbs, chopping up the pine nuts, and grating the Parmesan. Have I said that I love The Man?

Polenta and Meatballs
a la Tyler Florence (or sort of)

For the meatballs:

1 cup GF bread crumbs
1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
4 eggs
1/2 bunch fresh parsley
1/2 bunch fresh basil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup olive oil + more for drizzling
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan
1/2 cup ground pine nuts
Sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper
1/2 pound baby bella mushrooms
2 pints small tomatoes
1 ball fresh mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the beef and pork together. Roughly chop half of the basil and parsley; add to the meat. Add the garlic, bread crumbs, eggs, pine nuts, and Parmesan. Mix everything together thoroughly with your hands. Shape into meatballs.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil until it begins to smoke. Add the meatballs and fry until browned on both sides. Remove and place in a baking dish.

Add oil (if necessary) to the pan and then add the mushrooms; saute until browned. Cut the tomatoes in half; squeeze each half into a separate bowl and then throw the hulls in too. Drizzle with olive oil, add salt and a few cranks of black pepper, and mix. Add to the mushrooms. Let everything simmer together for about 10 minutes. Pour the tomatoes and mushrooms over the meatballs; shred the remaining basil and parley over the top. Chop up the mozzarella and place on top of everything; sprinkle with more Parmesan.

Bake for 30 minutes.

For the polenta:

6 cups chicken stock
2 cups polenta
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
3 tbsp butter
Sea salt

In a large saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Whisk in the polenta and lower the heat. Continue to stir occasionally until thickened. When it gets thick, stir in the cream, Parmesan, and salt. Turn off the heat and keep warm until the meatballs are ready.

Yum, yum.

And thanks to Sutter Home, I was even able to have a glass of merlot with dinner. They make a wine called "Fre," which basically has no alcohol. A blessing for someone like me, whose stomach BURNS LIKE HELL whenever I drink any sort of alcohol. I found this at our local grocery store the other day and got very excited. I haven't had a drink in 7 years because of that nasty-ass burning.

I heart my honey

For Christmas, The Man bought me a new Kitchenaid blender.

For shits and giggles, today he bought me a Kitchenaid 9-cup food processor.

He got smoochies and a hug that almost broke his neck.

I will be making bread crumbs shortly.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, honey.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

More soup to be eaten

I was very disappointed Monday morning when I ran to the store to get what I needed and didn't have for potato soup. The only grocery store in our areas were closed. Sheesh - even the old IGA was open at least 4 hours Christmas Day before Jewel drove them out of business.

Yesterday morning before work, I picked up what I needed. We would have potato soup after all. Not the healthiest recipe in the world, but oh so good.

Potato Soup

1 pound diced bacon
4 stalks celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
8 potatoes, peeled, and cubed
4 to 5 cups chicken broth
3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup GF flour (I used GF Pantry's French Bread mix)
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp dried tarragon
3 tsp dried parsley
Salt & pepper to taste

Cook the bacon in a stock pot. Remove the bacon from the pot and set aside on paper towels to drain. Drain off all but 1/4 cup of the grease.

In the grease, saute the celery and onion until the onion begins to turn clear. Add the garlic and continue to cook for a couple of minutes. Add the potatoes and toss to coat. Saute for 3-4 minutes. Return the bacon to the pan and add enough chicken broth to just cover the potatoes. Cover and simmer until potatoes are tender.

In a separate pan, melt the butter; stir in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the heavy cream, tarragon and parsley. Bring the cream to a boil, stirring constantly until thickened. Add the cream mixture to the potato mixture, heating through. Puree about half of the soup in your blender and then pour it back into the stock pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

While seasoning at the end, I had a little fun. At the store, I found a cute little salt pig. I unboxed it, set it by the sink, and went to work. The Man wanted to know when I got home, "What the hell is a salt pig?"

So I took a little pinch of the sea salt I had put in it and dropped it into the soup. So much easier than getting out the container of salt! I just need to figure out how to keep the damn cat hair out of it.

Monday, December 25, 2006

And so this is Christmas

Here I thought we were doing well. Other than almost forgeting to take out the organic, free-range chicken breasts for my niece, who doesn't eat ham, and dumping dirty dish water down my front a half hour before our guests arrived on Christmas Eve, we had no calamities.

Until I took my shower this afternoon.

And the sewer backed up into the basement.

It's 8:05 PM Christmas Day and we're waiting for the plumber.

This bill ain't gonna be pretty.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy Holidays!

May you enjoy the holidays as much as I plan to. Eat well, be merry, and share joy with your families and friends.

Oh, and play Christmas Trivia with the fam. We had a blast.
I am going to go collapse now. 10 people. A big-ass ham. Much chocolate. Many dirty dishes. No dishwasher.

Sheri, The Man, and The Stepson

Friday, December 22, 2006


I ate the heel and a slice to taste test.

I ate 2 slices in my blueberry jam and peanut butter sandwich. OMG was that good.

I had 2 slices with butter with my salad for dinner.

All that's left is the other heel and if I cut carefully, another slice.

I ate the whole damn loaf of bread today.

Ugh. I am so full.

No-knead GF bread

With all the buzz happening on the internet about that no-knead bread recipe, I hunted for a GF version. And found it and the Delphi forums back in November. However, I had to get my hands on sorghum flour, which my local store doesn't carry.

Last weekend, a co-worker was kind enough to go to Whole Foods for me and get some, among other things like Dagoba Chocolate and Lara Bars.

Yesterday afternoon, I put together the dough and let it sit until about 6:30 this morning. I don't have a cast iron dutch oven (yet!) so after judging the size of the risen dough, I put it into a small casserole dish.

No-Knead Bread from the Delphi Forums
From a member named Susan

2 cups Bread Flour Mix (I used:1/2 cup Sorghum, 1/2 cup Cornstarch, 1/2 cup Potato starch, 1/2 cup Tapioca flour)
1 1⁄4 tsp. xanthan gum
3⁄4 - 1 tsp. salt
4 tsp. sugar
1/4 teas yeast
2 tsp. olive oil
1 cup water

Mix all dry ingredients in large bowl of electric mixer. Quickly add olive oil and water to the bowl; beat at high speed for 3 minutes. Spoon dough into a bowl; cover with a light cloth and let rise overnight. In the morning stir the dough to get rid of huge bubbles, and preheat the oven to 450°F with a cast iron dutch oven (with lid) in the oven. After 30 minutes, take out the cast iron pan, add the dough and smooth out the top with a wet spatula. Put the lid on the pan, and put the entire thing in the oven. After 20 minutes, remove the lid and then bake 20 minutes more.

When I took the lid off, I put a pan of water into the oven. I must not have stirred it enough because I got a big-ass bubble. But it looks like regular bread, smells wonderful, and tastes like.....BREAD! Next time I do this, and I definitely will, namely for GF rolls for Christmas Eve, I will leave it in the oven a little longer. But oh my god, it's good.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

But what if.....

After cutting a slice of the cake that fell below my Buche de Noel standards, I was staring into the refrigerator hoping that something would wave a hand and say, "Make me! Make me!" when it came to me.

This cake is actually pretty tasty. It just doesn't roll for crap.

So what if I cut the baked cake into three equal pieces, put chilled ganache between the layers, and pour warm ganache over the top? THAT WOULD WORK!

Christmas (dessert) is saved!

And what waved at me was the ball of fresh mozzarella. Pizza it is!

Test run for Christmas Eve's dessert

Since I am making a GF recipe for Christmas Eve's dessert, I figured I better give it a test run, just in case. I originally planned to make 2 desserts, one being not gluten free, but I decided that since I am the one cooking for the family, I am not putting more on my plate than necessary.

I was not going to do the same filling as is planned for Christmas Eve (a ganache); I turned this into a jelly roll so we don't get bored with it before Christmas. I used my own jam.

Chocolate Cake Roll
tweaked ever so slightly from a recipe at Glutenfreeda

6 eggs at room temperature, separated
2 tbsp butter
6 oz good-quality bittersweet chocolate (I used Scharffen Berger)
2/3 cup sugar + 2 tbsp
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 15x10x1" baking dish; line the bottom with parchment paper, allowing excess to hang over the ends for "handles."

Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Put the egg yolks, 2/3 cup sugar, and salt in a bowl and beat until pale yellow and thick. Fold in the chocolate just until blended.

In a separate bowl and using clean beaters, beat the egg whites and the remaining 2 tbsp sugar until the whites hold stiff peaks.

Fold half of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Then pour the lightened chocolate mixture into the rest of the egg whites, folding gently until well combined.

Spread the cake batter into the prepared pan. Bake in the center of the oven for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the cake is puffed and dry to the touch.

Transfer the cake pan to a cooling rack; cover the cake with a couple of layers of damp paper towels. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Remove the paper towels and cool completely. When cool, sift 1 tbsp cocoa powder over the top of the cake. Lay a large sheet of wax paper on top of the cake, making sure it covers the whole thing. Put a cookie sheet over the top of the wax paper and then carefully invert the cake onto it. Slowly peel off the parchment paper.

Spread your desired filling over the cake. Using the wax paper, roll up the cake lengthwise. Dust the cake with powdered sugar and cocoa powder.

Look out when mopping up the little bit of butter you dropped on the stovetop. It might hurt when you slap your ring finger against the steaming-hot burner grate.

Now, about the cake. I haven't tasted it yet, but I am already a little disappointed. I have been making Buche de Noel cakes for years, ever since my high school French teacher introduced the traditional Christmas cake to us in class.

This cake needs flour. The recipe above doesn't use any. When I went to roll the cake, it didn't just crack like the recipe warned, IT BROKE. I am so upset, I didn't even take a picture yet.

It looks like I am making another recipe. Just need to find one.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Warmth in the tummy

Friday, I planned to make this soup. Alas, I was too tired after work and shelved it until Saturday.

Saturday, I planned to make this soup. I had spent too much time on my feet with the Christmas goodies and said to hell with it, I'll make it Sunday.

Sunday, I planned to make this soup. Scratched off my schedule again after finishing the de-glutening of the house.

Monday, I planned to make this soup. After a full day of work and some Christmas shopping (no, I am not done, damn it), I made it.

I found this recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup on the internet a few years ago; I wrote it down instead of printing it, so I have no idea who it belongs to or what website it came from. I tweaked it anyway.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

In a stock pot, combine the following. Saute until onions are clear:

1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
Enough olive oil to coat

Add to the stock pot and then simmer for 20 minutes:

2 4-oz cans chopped green chilies
2 15-oz cans Italian-style tomato sauce (or make your own with tomato sauce, oregano, basil)
8 cups chicken broth
2 tsp lemon pepper
4 tsp worcestershire
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp hot sauce

Combine 4 tbsp cornstarch with 3/4 cup water. Mix well. Whisk into the soup; boil for 5 minutes to thicken.

Add 1 pound cooked, cubed chicken and 2 11-oz cans of Mexicorn; simmer another 5 minutes.

Stir in 2/3 cup sour cream, salt, and pepper to taste.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Making headway in a rock-hard head

Tonight, as The Man was on his way out the door to get himself something to eat (I did way too much this weekend so tonight's dinner plans are shelved until tomorrow, so stay tuned...), he kissed me on the cheek. I was so proud!

He has been very stubborn about trying to understand gluten intolerance and Celiac. Since I went GF several months ago, I heard a lot of "a little bit won't hurt you" and "now that's going a little far" when I bought separate, duplicate items like butter, marking it as mine and GF.

He would get upset when he would lean in for a kiss; I would turn my mouth away, knowing what he had eaten/drunk that day. The Man didn't like that as he felt like I was turning him away.

One day this last week, I want to say Tuesday, he listened. Really listened. And asked questions. I explained to him how I felt when I accidently (and in the past: accidently on purpose) ingested gluten: very lethargic, sick to my stomach, headaches from hell, wanting to curl up into a fetal ball under the comforter with a wish that the day would just end so tomorrow I could feel better. I read things on the internet from various Celiac organizations.

He's never known me "healthy." Two months before I met him - 10 years ago - I got a very nasty case of food poisoning. From that day forward until a few months ago, I would eat and be nauseous. I would grab a couch cushion and exist for a few hours until I was forced to get off my butt.

Yesterday, he took a bite of one of the peanut blossoms with the GF cookie base. His eyebrows raised. He promptly stuffed the rest of the cookie in his mouth. What did he say? "It has more flavor than the old way." Huh - imagine that.

The Man is a big beer fan.

He kissed me on the cheek before he left.

He finally gets it.

Possible names for this photo?

So I am continuing on an assignment briefly derailed this week due to Christmas baking. The assignment? De-glutening the kitchen.

(While I made a few not-GF goodies this weekend, they were done with borrowed wheat flour, pre-packaged sugar cookies, and a hard-core scrubdown afterward)

So I am down to 2 cabinets and a drawer - ripping out contact paper, replacing it with shelf liner, washing everything.

I get up off the floor in front of my baking equipment cabinet in order to refill my glass of water. I come back to this.

Now, what shall we title this picture?

(1) Let's play hide and seek

(2) Who wants muffins? Just made some fresh... (ew)

(3) Aw, nuts. Busted!

(4) It's just not dinner without cat hair

Cats will be cats. Boys will be boys. Combine the two and there you go.

Update on the Rosemary's Christmas Cookies mess

Since the first pan of the cookies spread horribly, I threw the bowl in the fridge and let it sit overnight. This morning, I rolled it into small balls and baked as in the recipe.

Much better than the saucer-sized cookies from the 1st pan.

Missing Santa's Whiskers

My favorite Christmas cookie of all time (other than Spritz with a little Red-Hot on top) is Santa's Whiskers, a butter cookie with chopped maraschino cherries inside, rolled in coconut and baked.

Since I promised myself that I wouldn't go overboard with the not-GF cookies this year (so far, we have N-GF sugar cookies dipped in chocolate and the cookie dough truffles), I pouted a bit. But then it occurred to me that my favorite parts of that cookie are the coconut and the cherries. So why not make a coconut cookie with a cherry on top?


1-14 oz bag sweetened flaked coconut
3/4 cup sugar
4 egg whites
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 jar of maraschino cherries

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Put the egg whites in a bowl; add the vanilla and almond extracts. Whisk together until the egg whites are foamy. Add the sugar; whisk again. Pour in the coconut and stir until the coconut is completely covered with egg white mixture.

Drain the jar of maraschino cherries; dump them out onto paper towels and pat them dry.

Drop the coconut mixture by teaspoonfuls onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Cut the cherries in half; place a half-cherry on the top of each cookie.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cookies are firm and light brown. Cool on the cookie sheet for a couple of minutes before moving them to a cooling rack.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A GF Christmas Cookie Recipe from Shauna

When I checked Shauna's blog this afternoon, I saw a new cookie recipe. I finished reading the post, called the Man, and told him to stop at the grocery store on his way home to get hazelnuts, pecans, and almonds.

After finishing up the goodies I already had planned, I started chopping nuts.

Rosemary's Christmas Cookies, Gluten Free by Shauna

Shauna is a lucky woman to have a soul mate that is a chef. The Man is extremely dangerous in the kitchen; he's not allowed near my Henckel knives for good reason.

Anyway, mine spread...bad. But they still taste good, so I don't care. I must have definitely overbeat the butter.

Thoughts on this year's Christmas baking

(1) If I am going to do another marathon day of Christmas goodies, I need to remember to put my Crocs on my feet first.

(2) I really, really wish I had a dishwasher.

(3) Hershey needs to sell its Kisses naked for bakers so we don't get frustrated while trying to feel the wrappers off without breaking the little tip off the damn piece of candy (or 48 pieces of candy).

(4) See #2.

(5) Ande's Candies needs to read #3.

(6) Cats who are waiting for you to take your usual Saturday afternoon nap will do their utmost best to lay in your way so when you trip over/kick/swear at them, they get hugs and kisses.

(7) Invest in a back brace due to the lack of attention to #1 (not putting on the Crocs).

(8) Clean the kitchen after you make the mess, not before.

(9) Stop adding to your original list of cookies and candy!

(10) I really, really, really, REALLY want a dishwasher.

I have the cookie mix from Shauna mixed up and ready to go. I am probably (slap my hand!) going to make macaroons tomorrow (out of eggs and I am not going to run to the store any more today).

Then that's it. I swear.

Quick caramel corn

Mom used the make this every Christmas. The Man loves caramel corn so I hope he eats this - he requested it.

Caramel Corn

8 cups popped corn
3/4 cup brown sugar
6 tbsp butter
3 tbsp white syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda

Cook sugar, syrup, butter and salt for 3-5 minutrs. Take off the heat and add baking soda. Mix quickly and pour over popcorn; mix well. Spread popcorn on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees for 15 minutes.

Cookie Dough Truffles

I have been making these for 3 years. The Man, The Stepson, and friends all snarf them down.

Cookie Dough Truffles

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour (I am not attempting to make these GF this year)
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1 1/2 pounds semisweet chocolate chips
Shortening for consistency

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the flour, milk and vanilla; mix weel. Stir in the mini chocolate chips. Shape into 1" balls; place on wax paper-lined baking sheets. Loosely cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until firm.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips, stirring often until smooth. Add enough shortening to make the chocolate "drippy." Dip the balls in the chocolate; place on wax paper-lined baking sheets. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. Store in the fridge.

Fudge and Peppermint Bark

Fudge has been a staple at Christmas for pretty much everybody, I think. It's the first thing I remember making with my Greatgrandma, Celia. She would come and spend a week at our house, which I both loved and hated. I loved it because we only got to see her once every blue moon and she spoiled me rotten with hugs, kisses, and teaching me to bake; I hated it because I had to share a bed with...OH MY GOD, MY SISTER.

Celia's fudge is only for hardcore chocoholics, which I am not. I haven't made it since the last time she was at my parents' house. Nowadays, I take the easy way out and use the recipe on the Marshmallow Fluff container.

The peppermint bark is new. Garrett and a number of other people make it with only white chocolate. The recipe I used, and god only knows where it is right now, involved both white and semisweet. When I find it, I will add it to this post.

Peanut blossoms

Using Shauna's peanut butter cookie recipe here.

At 8 minutes, take the cookies out and stick a kiss in the top. Return to the oven for 2 minutes.

Are Hershey's Kisses GF? I used to love these cookies. In hopes that they are, I did a GF peanut butter cookie LOL I can't find anything on their website. According to Glutenfreeda, they are.
**UPDATE: The Man likes these BETTER than the old way with the flour!

Pecan clusters

Another new one this year.

Pecan Clusters

1 cup butter
1 cup light corn syrup
2 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 pounds pecans
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
4 tbsp shortening

Line baking sheets with wax paper; lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Cube the butter and place in a saucepan. Add the syrup, brown sugar, and salt. Cook and stir until sugar is melted.

Gradually stir in the milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil; a candy thermometer needs to read 248 degrees (hard ball stage). Remove from the heat; stir in the vanilla. Gently stir in the pecans. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets. Refridgerate until firm, about 12 minutes.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips and shortening. Stir until smooth. Drizzle over the clusters. Chill until firm. Store in the fridge.

True Love Truffles

I made these for the first time this year. After trying one, The Man told me to hide them or they won't make it until Christmas.

True Love Truffles

1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter (no substitutes)
1 5 oz can evaporated milk
2 packages mint Andes Candies (56 pieces total)
1 jar marshmallow creme
1 tsp vanilla
18 ounces white baking chocolate
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, butter and milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat; cook and stir until a candy thermometer reaches 236 degrees (soft ball stage). Remove from the heat. Stir in the candies utnil melted and the mixture is well blended. Stir in marshmallow creme and vanilla until smooth (this takes some juice, just to warn you). Spread into a butered 15"10"1" pan; cover and chill for 1 hour. Cut into 96 pieces; roll each into a ball (mixture will be soft-unless you forget about it for 2 days like I did). Place on a wax paper-lined baking sheet.

In a heavy saucepan or microwaveable bowl, melt the white chocolate and chocolate chips. Dip the balls in the melted chocolate; place on wax paper to harden. Store in an airtight container.

Peanut Butter Cups

An addiction of mine...

Peanut Butter Cups

1 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 pound dipping chocolate (well, I used a bag of chips this time)

Blend 2/3 cup peanut butter, powdered sugar and vanilla. Roll into 1/2" balls, then chill. Melt the chocolate and 1/ cup peanut butter together. Put a little of the chocolate mixture into the bottom of mini muffin cups (set up enough that there's one for each PB ball). Drop the balls into the cups and fill the cups to cover the balls. Chill.

Angelfood candy

Finally getting down to the end of the Christmas candy and cooking making.

Here's the first one - Angelfood Candy.

1 cup sugar
1 cup light syrup
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp baking soda
3 boxes of Baker's semi-sweet chocolate squares

Butter a 9x12 cake pan. Combine the sugar, syrup and vinegar and cook without stirring to 310 degrees on a candy thermometer (just over hard crack stage). Remove from heat; stir in the baking soda. When the soda gets added, work fast. VERY IMPORTANT: Stir quickly to get the baking soda dissolved and mixture has started to bubble up before putting in the pan. If the soda doesn't dissolve, you will get chunks of it in the candy and it's nasty to bite into!

Pour into the prepared pan - do NOT attempt to spread. Let it cool at least 4 hours.

Take the chunk of candy out of the pan and break it into small pieces (I use a knife to break it into smaller chunks, put it into a recloseable plastic bag, and tap it with a rubber mallet),

Melt the chocolate; dip the candy pieces in the chocolate and set on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet. Let sit until set (I stuff it in the fridge for a few hours).

Friday, December 15, 2006

Friday night treat

After work tonight, I was doing my normal check-in on all of my favorite blogs when I realized that I was in the mood for something creamy and sweet, but not cold, like ice cream. I let the thought brew in the back of my brain for a while while I simultaneously rotted it out with bad game-show TV. By 7:30, I had had enough and wanted something warm to nurture my insides while I started a new book ("Lisey's Story" by Stephen King).

To hell with lactose intolerance - I'll gladly suffer for a steaming bowl of rice pudding.

My Rice Pudding

3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup rice (I used brown rice tonight & won't do it again)**
1/2 a vanilla bean
2 cinnamon sticks
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar
Dried currants

Pour the milk into a pot and turn on the heat, very gentle. Drop in the cinnamon sticks; split and scrape the vanilla bean and put the seeds in the pot (add the bean too). Add 1/4 cup sugar and the rice; stir and cover the pot.

It's going to take about 1-1/2 to 2 hours for the rice to absorb the milk. Have patience! Stir periodically to make sure the milk doesn't burn. Remember, good things come to those who wait.

Before the pudding gets too thick, fish out the vanilla bean and cinnamon sticks.

When the pudding is thick and the consistency that appeals to you, drop in a tablespoon of butter (use the real thing please) and stir until melted throughout. Add a handful of dried currants (or raisins, if you prefer).

If it's not sweet enough for you, add additional sugar.

Serve warm. It even reheats well in the microwave.

**Note: it's better if you use short-grain rice. I haven't made this in years and kinda forgot about that little fact. I had crunchy rice pudding, even after 2 hours of simmering.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Annie's GF Mac and Cheese

If you don't have time or the inclination to make your own (had the inclination but not the time as I had to give a lesson tonight), Annie's Rice Pasta and Cheddar isn't bad. I even used Lactaid instead of regular milk and it turned out pretty okay.

I am trying to stay away from dairy; it isn't agreeing with me lately. This is a difficult endeavor for a woman born and raised in Wisconsin! I tried soy milk with my chai tea but (1) the taste is way too different for me; and (2) my tummy didn't really like it.

So I am doing Lactaid with success - I can finally have my 1 jolt of caffeine every day without a "full" tummy 10 sips into the cup.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


I told The Man I wasn't cooking tonight because I had to dip the insides of the soon-to-be-truffles that were sitting in the fridge from Sunday. So he went off in search of dinner. I got done with the truffles and realized that I was hungry, so I pulled a piece of salmon out of the fridge (he even hates the smell) and figured I would make some quinoa to go with it.

20 minutes later, while staring at the low-defrosting salmon, I debated the length of time it would take to make dinner and how hungry I was. I decided I was starving and that there was no way in hell I was going to be able to wait to eat salmon and quinoa. I would put my hands on nasty gluten-y stuff first. I know myself well.

Out of the freezer came 2 slices of Food for Life Rice Almond bread. Into the toaster oven it went.

Into the microwave went a scrambled egg.

Out of the fridge came a brick of cheddar cheese.

Voila - one of my ultimate comfort foods. An egg sandwich.

And I was done eating before the quinoa would have been half done.

Oh, and by the way... If you happen to make turtles for Christmas candy, please remember to GREASE THE WAX PAPER. I have to throw away 2 batches because my head was up my butt when making them. I can't get them off the paper. Grrrr.....

Monday, December 11, 2006

Gluten Free Pantry Muffin and Scone Mix

I tried this for the first time this morning - I needed breakfast for work this week. I have to say that they aren't bad, but I added 1/2 a cup of sugar because the recipe on the package didn't call for any. It might be okay without sugar with bananas, but I am a cranberry fiend and they need a little help.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Candy for Christmas

Over the last 2 days, I knocked out some more Christmas goodies. No pictures yet, though. What did I get done? Sugar cookies dipped in chocolate (not GF), turtles, and angelfood candy (aka fairy food). Still have a number of different kinds of truffles to get done.

Told The Man that I am not making a ton of cookies this year as I am the only one that eats them. I made the regular sugar cookies today and will still make peanut blossoms, but using the flourless pb cookie recipe.

I didn't want to test cookie recipes on friends and family at Christmas. I will do my own testing once the season is over.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Everybody sing! It's a Gluten-Free Christmas....



I got my results from Enterolab yesterday.




It's not in my head.

While my positive test was not high numbers, it's still there. My antigliadin IgA was 16 units; normal is under 10. "Intestinal antigliadin IgA antibody was elevated, indicating that you have active dietary gluten sensitivity. For optimal health, resolution of symptoms (if you have them) and prevention of small intestinal damage and malnutrition, osteoporosis (too late for that!), and damage to other tissues (like nerves, brain, joints, muscles, thyroid, pancreas, other glands, skin, liver, spleen, among others), it is recommended that you follow a strict and permanent gluten-free diet. As gluten sensitivity is a genetic syndrome, you may want to have your relatives screened as well."

Well. Hmm.

The antitissue transglutaminase IgA came back normal, but a "high" normal at 8, with normal being under 10. That means there is no evidence of gluten-induced autoimmune reaction. *whew*

The fecal fat score was below normal also, so there is sno malabsorbed dietary fat in stool indicating that digestion and absorption of nutrients is currently normal. *sigh*

I had been GF for a month or so before taking the test, so I wonder how much that had to do with the 2 normal scores. Not that I am complaining!

It's a good feeling to know I am not crazy.

Friday, December 08, 2006

My Vester

I am debating calling the doc to get something to stop this diarrhea. I've had it since Sunday - on Friday, I weighed 123 pounds. Yesterday, I weighed 117.6. As of this morning, I weigh 116.2. While it's always nice to drop a few pounds, this is definitely not the way to do it. Usually, yogurt will stop it for me, but it's not working this time.

Back when Baby first got sick, I blogged about how I got him. Now it's Sylvester/Vester/Sweet Pea's turn.

Shortly after starting work at my current company, my boss at that time had a black and white kitten that she offered to The Man and me. We went down to her home and met the little boy - The Stepson dubbed him Sylvester and off we went with our new pet.

Right from the start, Vester was a momma's boy. To this day, one of his favorite places to sleep is in the nest of my hair. This cat momma thinks it's cute but at the same time, it can hurt like hell when he starts preparing my hair for his nap. He has to shove it around into a particular design (which I have never seen as it's me and I never have a mirror handy when it's happening) so that he can bury his nose right behind my ear.

He also enjoys resting right up against the left side of my laptop, where the fan blows out warm air. A side benefit of this is that more often than not, he manages to hit a few keys while getting comfortable and closes whatever his momma was reading/working on. Now he gets attention.

Both boys are spoiled rotten. How so? Hmmm....

Here's Baby, who thinks that the ambient temperature in the house (a balmy 72) just isn't warm enough.

7 cat trees!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The tasting of the crisp

Oh. My. God.

Sweet and tart all at the same time.

Definitely a keeper. Make it. Now.

Eating a

Since going GF, I have made pizza several times. The last time, I glutened myself somehow, so I am giving myself a homemade pizza break.

About 4 PM today, The Man called to let me know he'd had a big lunch and to not make dinner. OK, then....what am I going to eat? I didn't want leftovers from last night - the parmesan risotto was TOO parm-y for me, so it met my friend, the garbage disposal.

On the way home, I debating taking a detour to the grocery store to find something that appealed. But you know what they say about going to the grocery store when you're hungry, so I nixed that idea and just drove home...

...and when I got there, two boxes were on the front porch waiting for me. My Natural Farms order. I had ordered several weeks ago (they are only in the area once a month) so I had forgotten what should be in the box.

Rice-almond bread...blueberry and buckwheat waffles...tomato sauce...GF salad dressings...Madwoman veggie pizzas.... PIZZAS! Little pizzas perfectly sized for one. Dinner is served!

I usually prefer a homemade pizza, but if you're in a time crunch, need a lunch for work (they're microwaveable), or are cooking for one tonight, these are definitely not a bad way to go. I preheated my GF toaster oven to 400, popped it in for about 12 minutes, and had dinner before my cats had cleaned their plates.

Sorry no cooked picture - I was starving. LOL

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Apple, Cranberry & Almond Crisp

The Man's boss came to dinner tonight. I was still feeling punky enough to not eat very much at all, The Man ate a huge lunch, even though he knew I was cooking, and the boss lady was ready to go back to the hotel by 7:15. So no one ate dessert. That's okay - that means there's more for me when I am feeling better!

I will give my recipe here, but know that since there hasn't been a taste test yet, I can't guarantee anything. I will come back and modify if something isn't quite right when I eat it.
Apple, Cranberry & Almond Crisp
From my head and Gluten Free Girl
For the filling:
6 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced fairly think
1 to 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp cornstarch
For the "crisp:"
See Shauna's post here
To make:
Combine the apples, cranberries, sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch. Stir gently so the apples don't break apart. Pour into a greased 9x9 pan. Sprinkle the almonds on top.
Follow Shauna's instructions to make the topping. Spread out over the top of the fruit and almonds.
Bake at 375 for 40 minute or until the top is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling through.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Two sickies in the house

Now I have a bug. It has been going around the office and I am the last to get it. Nausea, diarrhea, exhaustion... Needless to say, I stayed home from work today and will probably do the same tomorrow.

While I am miserable, I also need to make dinner for 3 tomorrow - The Man's boss is up from New Orleans and she wanted me to join them for dinner tonight and tomorrow. However, due to my gluten-free-ness, I am not comfortable going out for dinner. I feel too crappy to go anywhere tonight, anyway.

So the game plan for tomorrow's dinner, which I will be cooking (here's hoping I don't poison the boss):

Roast chicken
Parmesan risotto
Steamed green beans
Apple, cranberry and almond crumble

Baby appears to be doing much better today. At about 5:45 AM, he had 2-3 tablespoons of baby food, then at 8 AM he had a quarter of a can of wet food that I pureed in my food processor before giving it to him. At about midnight last night, I realized that he gets sick after pigging out on crunchies, so I removed all the crunchies from the house temporarily until Baby is normal again.

So he got hungry again about 1:00 and snarfed up a little more wet food. Too much, evidently. My SpotBot is getting quite the workout.

The Man has forgotten both trips home today to stop at the Feed Loft to get kitty malt. Damn it.

Blogger gets its crap together

And now I will be able to post pictures!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

My poor Baby and other stuff

Well, today I managed to get peppermint bark and fudge made before Baby's stomach decided to fire off again. The Man went to the closest store to see if they had kitty malt. No such luck, but he did come back with 2 jars of chicken and gravy baby food.

A couple of websites I checked out yesterday suggested baby food when a cat is sick because it's easier for them to digest that than regular wet food.

As a woman who doesn't have children, I just want to say that baby food REEKS - it smells much worse than canned cat food.

Baby has licked at the baby food twice and kept it down without a problem, but then he got cocky (as his mother is wont to do) and snarfed up some crunchies. Game over. Now he won't touch the baby food. At least not this last time. If I have to stay up all night, and I just might seeing as my tummy is also not amused for some reason, I will get him to eat more.

I spent some time with my flute today. The first lesson on Wednesday was a success and since I haven't spent much time playing over the last year, I assigned myself the same exercises as my student. Granted, my sight-reading skills are still there, though not as excellent as before, but I can't teach what I can't do myself, right?

I am now booked every Friday night for an hour or so through the end of December.


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Good intentions

I had, and still have, good intentions of doing some baking/cooking/whatever. This morning, I made some cream of rice cereal with dried cherries and almonds - a delicious breakfast that was perfect for the 20-degree morning. I ran to the store and got lots of chocolate and the makings of fudge.

And then my Baby got sick.

So I have been nursing my "first-born" all day, making sure he knows he's loved and not alone and also to make sure nothing nasty happens on my bed.

He ate some dinner tonight, had some water, and has kept it down now for almost an hour, which is 55 minutes longer than anything else stayed in place today. He's making progress, but I still think I need to go and get some kitty malt tomorrow morning to make sure this nasty thing doesn't happen again.

I take it badly every time something bad happens to my boys. My first Sweetest Day in Illinois, The Man gave me a choice of gifts - a lobster dinner or a cat. I chose a cat. We chased around 3 counties, checking shelters for a female short-haired cat. No one had any, so since we had already purchased all the paraphenalia (sp?) that goes with a kitten, The Man called a few pet stores to see what they had. We jumped back in the car and drove to Joliet to the one pet store that had kittens.

The clerk pulled out the closest kitten to the door and handed it to me, telling me to hold it until she could get at the one I wanted to see. The little black and white kitten crawled up onto my shoulder and nuzzled into my neck, purring. I looked at The Man and told the clerk not to take any more out, I was going to take this one. And then asked if it was female. She looked at it and said yes.

So we paid for Gracie and piled our little family into the car to head home. I called the vet to make an appointment for the first round of shots, which was included in the purchase price of my kitten.

Later that evening, Gracie was all over the two of us as we sat on the couch. Her butt was toward me and I noticed something that should not have been there. I mentioned the little pouch to The Man, who said that the kitten had nipples and therefore was female. I reminded him of his own nipples.

At the vet the next day, we were informed that Gracie was a "he." The Man, who knew I wanted a female, asked if I wanted to return him and get a female, got a very nasty look from me. I was hooked from the first moment I held that little boy.

When we got home, I realized that I needed a new name for my kitten. He loved to be carried around over the shoulder like a baby, so that moniker stuck. Baby he was. And my baby he is. He turned 8 on September 1st.

Sylvester's story later.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Oh, the weather outside is frightful...

Pretty Christmas lights on our house after the first snow of the season.

The view from our back porch at about 10:00 this morning.

I'd keep singing, but there are no fires here. There's snow, though. Plenty of it. Well, not as much as places north of here got, but more than enough for the 1st snowfall of the season.

I had mentioned to a certain someone that he might want to get the snowblower out of the shed. He didn't. He was outside shoveling the 4 or so inches off the driveway when he got damn lucky - our neighbor brought home a plow truck and was cleaning off everyone's driveways.

Pretty stuff, as long as I don't have to go out in it. It took me 20 minutes to drive the 2 miles to my office this morning, and then 10 minutes after I got there, the power went out. So I waited a half hour to see if it would come back on (it didn't) and then schlepped back home. Which is nice, because I always seem to get twice as much done when no one can get a hold of me.

Leftover chili and cornbread tonight. My mission tomorrow - Christmas cookies.