GF Raspberry White Chocolate Cookies

Ok, y’all, I have to level with you on this recipe. I’ve been dreaming about making something – anything! – with fresh raspberries since about two weeks ago. My dad watched C for me so I could get my hair cut (anyone else ever try to get a hair cut with a one-year old? Not. Gonna. Happen.) When I went to pick C up she and my dad were sitting on a swing together and he was thrilled to tell me that he’d introduced her to fresh picked raspberries. We took a stroll around his row of raspberries and C shoved them in her mouth as fast as she could. She giggles when she finds food to be particularly yummy and she giggled up a storm.

Since then I’ve been taking her to the raspberry bushes almost every day, picking a Solo cup full of them, and craving the berries as C devoured them. Today was the first day that she’s let me have any – I know I could take some, but she loves them so much! – and I jumped at the chance of making them into something delicious.

You guys. These cookies are insane. The flour mix is really straightforward and, I think, a good way to dip your toe into gluten free baking. Let’s take it slow, folks. This is going to be a long-term relationship and I see no reason to rush it.

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GF Raspberry White Chocolate Cookies

bake at 350 for 10-13 minutes, you’ll get around 2 dozen cookies
I’m a new fan of reusable parchment paper. It’s a bit pricy but the results are amazing. And apparently mine can be used 1000 times. That’s a lot of cookies. Doctor your cookie sheet as you see fit for these babies.

1 1/4 c flour blend
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/4 t zantham gum
1 stick butter, softened (but not melted!)
1/3 c brown sugar
1/3 c sugar
1 egg
1 t vanilla extract
1 c white chocolate chips
1-1 1/2 c fresh raspberries

Using a mixer, beat together the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla and beat to combine. In a separate bowl whisk together the dry ingredients. Add to the butter/sugar mixture and stir to combine. Stir in the chocolate chips and then gently fold in the raspberries. They’re fresh, so they will break up, but some should remain whole. Spoon onto your prepped cookie sheet and bake. These cookies will spread a bit, so space them accordingly. Let them cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to your cooling rack so they don’t fall apart in transit. Then – and I know this is almost impossible! – let them cool before you eat them. This is a delicate cookie. It crisps beautifully around the edge but stays softer in the middle. Go check your mail, make some coffee, or let the dogs out. Just let them cool a bit and then go for it. Trust me.

A note about the dough: it’s hot here, and I’m betting it’s hot where you are, too. So don’t be afraid to pop the dough into the fridge in between batches. It’ll keep it from oozing everywhere before you’re ready for it to.

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My flour blend is really simple. At this point in learning about GF baking there’s no need to get crazy, but don’t let that stop you or concern you. It’s delicious and makes awesome baked goods.

Whisk together:
3 cups rice flour (I use white and buy mine at the local Asian Market. It’s from Thailand and is super fine and wonderful.)
1 cup cornstarch
1 cup tapioca starch
This stores wonderfully in an airtight container in your cupboard, although I imagine that it won’t sit there for very long.

I can’t stress enough to you how good these cookies are. Please buy some raspberries (or if you’re really lucky like me go pick some!) and make them.

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People will probably want you to share, but I won’t tell if you don’t.

Who needs gluten anyway?

Not me, I guess. I’ve been gone – again – but I finally feel like I have my feet back underneath me enough to make rational posts. My confession: I have psoriasis and although I’ve known about it for about 15 years I’ve been able to hide it from everyone and pretend that it’s not so bad when really? It is. It hurts and it’s embarrassing and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

I said I could hide it and I did for a long time until this past year when I had our daughter. She’s wonderful and perfect and made my hormones go crazy! I’m not sure what exactly happened in my body but I do know that my psoriasis went nuts and spread all over my body. There was no more hiding it and dealing with it in quiet, but the drugs that seem to be the most common fix weren’t something that I wanted to put in my body. So I did my research and found out some information about John O. Pagano. He wrote a book called Healing Psoriasis: The Natural Alternative. I picked a copy up at the library and read it front to back about three times before I thought that I could muster up the gumption to follow what it suggested. No liquor, coffee, soda, red meat, nightshade vegetables, refined sugar, fried foods, and – if it works – gluten. The day after Thanksgiving I went cold turkey off of these delicious foods. Aside from dropping 20 pounds I noticed a change in my skin after a few weeks. The psoriasis patches grew smaller, less red, and less painful. After a few months it completely disappeared from my body except for on my scalp, which is where it started so many years ago.

So I pushed my luck. I’ve tried twice since Thanksgiving to put gluten back in my diet and both times have had psoriasis lesions appear on my arms, legs, chest, and stomach within 36 hours. I ate a lot of salads and fresh fruit. My skin was clear, my hair was shiny, and I’ve never felt healthier. Granted, all the flours, starches, gums, and weird sounding gluten-free baking additives scared me so I didn’t attempt to make anything from scratch for a long time. I missed the kitchen! I love to cook and bake and both my husband and I were very sad that I wasn’t. And let me tell you – gluten free bread from the store is a joke. It’s dry and tasteless and rather depressing.

So, after so long, I’m back in the kitchen. I made some rather delicious gluten free chocolate chip banana bread this week and today made some pie crusts for a dessert for Father’s Day tomorrow. I do indulge in the occasional cup of coffee and Cuba Libre, but for the most part I’m good. I can tell immediately when I’ve been cheating because my scalp itches like crazy and drives me nuts.

I hope that you’ll like my new recipes. This has been a hard switch for me but it has brought us the most amazing pizza crust we’ve ever had. We’ve also become expert veggie grillers and I’ve embraced drinking more water than I every thought possible. There have been some yummy things going on here and you’ve been in the dark, but don’t worry. I’ll share, I promise.

Whoopie Pies aka Devil Dogs

Today is my husband’s birthday! He’s been stressing about it for a while since it’s his last year in his 20s and he’s not ready to be 30. At least he has 365 more days until he has to deal with that reality.

I’ve always believed that birthdays should be celebrated all day (if not all week – hello, college memories) but unfortunately, B had to work all day. And by “all day” I mean “wake up at the unfortunate hour of 4:30 am, shower, shave, kiss sleepy wife goodbye, work all day and come home at 6 pm”. I wish he’d had the whole day off but to make the evening as nice as possible I plan to meet him at the door with a white russian, throw some steaks on the grill, bake some sweet potatoes, saute some cabbage in brown sugar then devour a few whoopie pies.

Birthdays are delicious, or they should be, anyway, and I think that the person celebrating the birthday should be able to do whatever they want and, more importantly, eat whatever they want. I asked B a few days ago what he wanted for dessert tonight and he hemmed and hawed about pie for a few minutes until he stared me straight in the eyes and said “devil dogs”. I love my husband, but I’m from NC and he’s from upstate NY and we don’t always speak the same language. After some discussion I came to understand that he wanted whoopie pies. Of course I would make them, now that I knew what he was talking about.

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Whoopie Pies
adapted from Bakerella
taken from the book Whoopie Pies

preheat oven to 375
prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper

1 2/3 cups AP flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
4 T unsalted butter at room temperature
4 T vegetable shortening
1/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 t molasses
1 egg
1 t vanilla
1 cup milk

Sift together your dry ingredients and set aside. In a separate bowl cream together the butter, shortening, sugars, and molasses until well combined. Add the egg and vanilla and beat for about 2 minutes more. Add half of the milk and flour mixture and beat on low until combined, repeat with remaining milk and flour mixture. Drop by 1-2 T onto prepared sheet pan, leaving 2 inches between each one. I used a scoop that I have. It can hold 1 1/2 T and made very nice sized whoopie pies. Bake for 10 minutes or until the top will spring back when gently pushed. Allow to cool for two minutes on the sheet pan, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

The Best Fluffy Frosting
I’ve seen variations of this frosting in a number of places online. Here’s my contribution.

1 cup milk
5 T flour
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2-3 t vanilla

Whisk the flour into the milk in a small saucepan. Make sure to do this carefully so it’s not lumpy. Ever had lumpy gravy? It’s the same idea here. Heat this mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens to a brownie batter consistency. Remove from heat and let cool completely. When you’re ready to make your frosting cream the butter and sugar until completely fluffy and smooth. This will take a few minutes, and if you have access to a stand mixer I recommend you using it. Make sure that the gritty feel of the sugar is gone and then add the milk mixture and vanilla. Turn the mixer back on, and watch as the frosting comes together. This can happen fairly quickly. You want the frosting to be light and fluffy like whipped cream. If it’s still separating keep beating it until it fluffs up.

For assembly take two pieces of cake that are similar in size and pipe (or spread) some frosting on one piece and top with the other. Delicious.

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I never knew it would be this easy to make someone’s birthday perfect. Happy birthday, B.

Spice Cupcakes with Banana Buttercream Frosting

I bought bananas a few days ago with the best of intentions to eat every last one. Life got in the way, however, as did some chocolate chip cookies, crunchy cheese balls, and lots of garlic bread. This morning I noticed that the bananas were starting to turn brown and getting a sweet smell. Normally I’d peel them, throw them in the freezer, and use them to make chocolate chocolate chip sour cream banana bread later. (I will share that recipe, I promise. Or you can jump the gun and go visit Alice at Savory Sweet Life. I won’t blame you if you can’t help yourself. It truly is amazing stuff.) This morning, though, after a night of very interrupted sleep due to C, and a lack of chocolate chips, I was lucky enough to stumble upon a recipe for spice cupcakes with banana buttercream frosting from Baking with Basil. It sounded like a wonderful way to make our home smell like fall and to use up a browning banana.

I managed to get these whipped up during C’s 2-hour nap (2 hours! Do you know how amazing that was?) and took some over to our friends who had just had a baby. They inhaled them, as did my husband and I. Even C got to taste some of the frosting. My husband didn’t think I was looking, but I was. Moms have eyes in the back of their heads, you know.

This spice cake is heavenly. I altered the spices a bit to accommodate what I had (I know that I’m not the only one who bakes in her pjs and refuses to go to the store!). I’ll admit that I hesitated at the banana in the buttercream at first (the main reason I picked this recipe – to use up a banana!) but the flavor isn’t overwhelmingly banana. It’s just plain good.

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Spice Cupcakes with Banana Buttercream Frosting
adapted from Baking With Basil

preheat oven to 350
I used silicone baking cups. Spray them before baking and the cupcakes will remove easily.

Spice Cupcakes
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 t cinnamon
3/4 t ground cloves
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups applesauce
2 eggs

Stir together all dry ingredients. Add butter, buttermilk, vanilla, and applesauce and beat for 2 minutes until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition.

To achieve a nicely domed cupcake: Fill the liners 3/4 full and put in preheated oven. Immediately lower heat to 325 and bake for 30 minutes. I know it sounds crazy, but this method produces a nicely rounded cupcake that is incredibly moist. After baking allow them to cool in pan for five minutes on a cooling rack and then remove. Before baking more cupcakes make sure to return your oven temperature to 350. It sounds like a lot of extra work and a very long baking time, but this produces the best cupcakes I’ve ever had.

Banana Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 large mashed banana
1/2 t lemon juice
dash of salt
3 cups powdered sugar

Beat the butter until fluffy then add the salt and beat a minute more. Mash the banana in a small bowl and mix in the lemon juice to prevent browning. Alternate beating the banana and powdered sugar into the butter. Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes, keeping in mind that the frosting is mostly butter and will droop in a warm kitchen. Sprinkle cinnamon on top.

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These are delicious. I know you have a languishing banana in your kitchen, so put it to good use.

The Best Garlic Spread

When our daughter was born in May I was overwhelmed by the support and food that people showered upon us. Between all the casseroles, salads, brownies, and snacks that showed up at our front door I don’t think I had to cook the first two weeks of C’s life. All of the food was amazing but there was one tin-foil wrapped package that I’ll always remember. Liz, a co-worker, brought over lasagna and focaccia that she had cut in half horizontally, smeared with garlic spread, and then sandwiched back together. I threw the whole package of bread in the oven to warm up and then my husband and I devoured it.

This is it, folks. This, out of all of the other food that was in my house at the time is what I dug out of the fridge at midnight (or 1 am, or 3 am), after getting up with C. I’m not ashamed to say that I ate the majority of the garlic bread myself, but I am ashamed to admit that it took me this long to beg Liz for the recipe. 5 months! Don’t deprive yourself like I did. This stuff is really incredible.

I baked some no-knead bread this afternoon and as the loaf was cooling this spread is the only thing I could think about. It comes together really quickly, and I’d bet that any well-stocked kitchen has all of the ingredients. Lemon pepper is the only ingredient that I was worried I wouldn’t have, but there was a lonely jar tucked in the back corner of my cupboard. Finally I have a consistent use for the stuff, and I guarantee I’ll be going through it quickly.

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The Best Garlic Spread
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 large cloves garlic, minced
2 T mayo
3 T grated parmesan
1 t parsley
1 t basil
1/4 t oregano
1/2 t lemon pepper

Beat together all ingredients in a small bowl until combined. Suggested use: cut a loaf of Italian bread into one inch slices, spread with the garlic-butter mixture, and bake in a 375 degree oven until the edges are browned–about 10 or 12 minutes.

The recipe warns: “Don’t leave out the lemon pepper seasoning. It’s exactly what the recipe needs,” and it’s right. Please don’t leave it out. If you don’t have any hiding in your spice cabinet go buy some. You really do need it for this. This recipe came from Liz’s mom and it looks like it was cut out of a magazine or newspaper. I’m sorry that I don’t know the original source, but I do have two handwritten notes from her mom. She calls it “wonderful”–which it is, and also notes that it keeps in the refrigerator. I’ll be sure to use that information to my benefit!

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Liz confessed to me in a hushed whisper that her family keeps this in the fridge at all times and uses it on practically everything–including hamburgers! Yum. I have to confess that I licked the beaters.

Amish Corn Muffins

Recently I feel like the majority of my time in the kitchen has been spent making food for the wee one. She got the green light from the pediatrician a month ago to start solid foods and she loves them! We’ve made cooked apples, peaches, pears, and carrots. It’s been crazy to see her go from being completely satisfied with a bottle to lunging -lunging!- for a spoonful of carrots. Where is my sweet baby going? She’s turning into a person!

This recipe came from my Omie’s cookbook that I’ve been hoarding from sharing with the rest of my family. I knew these would be good, but I had no idea that my husband and I would love them plain, or with butter, or lemon curd, or syrup, etc. These are already a little sweet, thanks to the brown sugar, but a little extra sugar in the form of jam or curd doesn’t take it too over the top. These would be especially delicious as a side with chili or bean soup.

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Amish Corn Muffins
1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 t cream of tarter
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt

Mix these dry ingredients together and set aside. In a separate bowl mix together:

1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter

Combine the wet and dry ingredients and fill muffin tins 2/3 full and bake at 400 for 20 minutes.

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If you can get your hands on fresh-ground cornmeal then consider yourself lucky. If you can’t, you’re still lucky just because you have this recipe to enjoy.

Mom’s Lemon Butter – English Lemon Curd

It was raining out this morning–the kind of rain that implores you to crawl back into bed, pull up the covers, and forget that you ever ventured out. I was the only one awake; even our two dogs were passed out on the floor. I knew I needed something cheery this morning, and so I mixed up some fresh biscuits and opened the lemon curd I made yesterday afternoon.

When I was younger I was wary of any food that was labeled as a “curd”. It’s a shame, really, that it took me so long to grow up and realize how amazing curds really are. With how delicious they are can come a hefty price tag, so a few months ago I found a recipe for lemon curd online that you make in the microwave. I was craving something light and lemony in the morning and knew that a curd would fit the bill but didn’t feel like shelling out a few bucks for some when lemons were on sale the next aisle over. I was thrilled to make this recipe and although it tasted delicious it left me a little sad. The consistency wasn’t there, no matter how long I microwaved it. It wasn’t the thick and creamy lemon curd that I was really craving, so I shelved my ideas of a homemade curd. But then my mom let me see my Omie’s cookbook. And while I was flipping through I found my great-grandmother’s recipe for lemon curd.

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This is it, you guys. This is exactly what I was craving a few months ago. I was amazed (shocked!) how easily it cooked up over a double boiler. I jarred it and left it in the refrigerator overnight, and this morning it was smooth, creamy, lemony, and a gorgeous yellow–exactly what lemon curd should be.

Mom’s Lemon Butter
1 1/2 T butter
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice–freshly squeezed
grated rind of one lemon
3 eggs, well beaten
*use yellow food coloring if necessary to achieve the desired color

Cut butter into sugar and add rind, juice and beaten eggs. Mix well and cook in double boiler until thick and then chill. This will keep in covered jars in the refrigerator indefinitely if processed with sealed lids (can have paraffin wax seal). Otherwise you need to eat it within two weeks. It’ll be no problem.

I was getting skeptical about the curd thickening up when I’d had it on the stove for about eight minutes when all of a sudden it became thick. I was shocked at how quickly it happened, and next time I’ll definitely be watching for it. Crank your stove up to high heat, let the water boil, and you’ll be pleased at how quickly this process happens. Once it started to thicken I kept it on the heat and stirred it for about a minute and a half more, just to make sure it was getting really thick. It should coat the back of a spoon and give you enough to try. Just don’t burn your mouth. A warning: if you don’t beat your eggs enough before you make the curd you may end up with little chunks of cooked egg in it. If this happens just strain the curd through a cheesecloth before it cools. You can also do this if you don’t like the texture of the zest.

I definitely won’t judge you if you opt to eat this straight from the jar without putting it on anything. But if you get serious biscuit cravings like I do–they come out of nowhere!–then it helps to have homemade biscuit mix in the pantry at all time. This recipe came from the column “Hints from Heloise” from the Fayette County Record, and I always have some on hand.

Dry Biscuit Mix
8 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup baking powder
2 t salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup shortening

Mix all dry ingredients together and cup in the shortening with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Store in a well-sealed container in the pantry or refrigerator.

To make biscuits use 1/3 cup milk and 1 cup mix. Stir together, cut into desired biscuit shape, and bake at 450 for 13-16 minutes. I’ve found that making this amount will make two nice sized biscuits. Feel free to double or triple this as needed.

I don’t knead the biscuits when I make them. Instead, once it’s all mixed together, I flatten the dough into a rectangle and fold it over on itself. I’ll do this a number of times, this way ensuring that my biscuit will be fluffy, with lots of layers.

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With a jar of lemon sunshine in your fridge and quick biscuits in the pantry you can defeat a dreary rainy day at a moment’s notice.