Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cookies

My chocolate chip cookie recipe is a big hit here at home. I wanted something different, though, and was inspired by a recipe I saw online.

By simply adding about 1/2 tsp. Peppermint Extract and several drops of Green Coloring to my original recipe, I came up with these! They're perfect for the holidays.

Faux-sagna. Seriously. {gluten, dairy, and soy free}

I love lasagna.
Sometimes, however, I do not love to MAKE lasagna.
I'm not always prepared that far in advance, and I don't want to fiddle with the layering, but I want the taste.

Enter faux-sagna.

It tastes like lasagna, but it takes far less time to put together, and doesn't require use of the oven.

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 lb. Ground Turkey {or beef}
1 Onion, diced
Mushrooms, finely chopped {optional}
2 Cloves Garlic {crushed}
Italian Seasoning {to taste}
Salt & Pepper {to taste}
1 {large, 24 oz.} can Tomato Sauce
8-10 Lasagna Noodles {Tinkyada brand are great}, broken into pieces and boiled until slightly undercooked, then rinsed
Daiya Mozzarella-style Shreds

Heat the olive oil in a large pot {again, my enameled dutch oven comes into play!}, and cook the turkey and onion until done.
Add the garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Season the meat to taste using the Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
Reduce the heat to simmer, and add the tomato sauce. Allow the mixture to cook for several minutes, then taste again. You may wish to add a bit more seasoning at this point.
Turn off the heat.
Add the broken lasagna noodles, stir to combine, top with Daiya shreds, and cover the pot, allowing it to sit for at least ten minutes.
Lift the lid, admire your handy-work, and serve!

Gluten, Dairy, and Soy Free Turkey Taco Soup

I made taco soup all.the.time. before giving up gluten, dairy and soy. I panicked a bit when winter rolled around and I didn't think I was going to be able to make taco soup any longer. But I was wrong! My recipe required a few changes where the seasonings are concerned, but the taste is identical.

You can easily make this recipe in your crock pot by cooking the meat and onion ahead of time, adding the seasoning, then placing the ingredients in your crock pot for the day. Your house will smell so yummy when you come home!

You'll Need:
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 lb. Ground Turkey {or beef, chicken}
1 {large, diced} Onion
Taco Seasoning {I use homemade--recipe here}
3 Cans of Beans {kidney, pinto, black, or a combination}
1 {large} Can of Petite Diced Tomatoes
1 Can of Whole-Kernel Corn {not cream-style!}
1 Can of Diced Green Chilis

Your choice of garnish: Fritos, Green Onions, {dairy-free} Sour Cream, and/or Dairy Free Cheese alternative {I love Daiya}.

To Make:
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pan. I use my enameled cast iron dutch oven.
Saute the onion and ground meat until cooked through.
Add taco seasoning to taste, as you would for tacos, adding a bit of water to help blend the mixture.
Add the beans, tomatoes, corn, and green chili's, and stir to combine.
Add a bit of water {about one can full}, cover, and simmer for at least an hour.

Serve with desired toppings.

This post shared at: Gluten Free Wednesdays


Ok--so I did it. I put my tree up. Before Thanksgiving.

Hubby wasn't a fan of the idea, and we've been, ehem, conversing... about the topic for several days now. But on Sunday, as the snow fell outside and I worked inside on my Christmas crafts, I couldn't stand it anymore. The final straw was when that same hubby put up the lights outside.

So I asked once more. And I won.

What about you? Is your tree up already? Do you refuse to even *think* about Christmas until you've slept off your Turkey Dinner? Or do you fall somewhere in between?

I'd love to know :)

Gluten Free Play Dough

We don't really *need* gluten free play dough in our home, but I know that rule doesn't apply to everyone. Children who have been diagnosed with Celiac or a gluten intolerance shouldn't play with "normal" play dough. I was looking for a fun challenge, and we were in need of some new dough... so, here it is! Play dough that's safe for your littlest Celiac!

Update: see this post for Autumn-inspired, Pumpkin Spice play dough!

You'll Need:
1 Cup Rice Flour {brown or white}
1/2 Cup Corn Starch
1/2 Cup Salt
1 Tbsp. Cream of Tartar
1 1/2 Tbsp. Olive or Grapeseed Oil
1 Cup {hot} Water
Food Coloring {optional, add enough to make your desired color/shade}

To Make:
Combine dry ingredients in a sauce pan.
Add oil, stirring to mix, then add water and food coloring.
Place the pan over medium-low heat for several minutes, stirring frequently until the dough begins to form one large "ball" in the pan.
When the dough is mostly solid and stuck together (3-4 minutes, give or take), turn it out onto the counter to cool for several minutes.
Knead the warm dough, adding a bit more cornstarch if the dough feels too sticky. I added one extra teaspoon to my dough.
When the dough is smooth and soft, it's ready for play!

Keep the dough sealed in an air-tight container for best results.

Spicy Sesame Noodles {gluten free, soy free, and vegan}

The other day, when we had spaghetti and meatballs, I made way too much pasta. Truly, I have no idea what I was thinking, but it was a lot of pasta. No leftover sauce meant a bowl of sad, limp noodles in my fridge. What's a girl to do?

Make Spicy Sesame Noodles, of course!

I originally made something similar to this by following a non-gluten/dairy/soy free recipe. I followed it too closely, didn't really think through the changes my ingredients would make, and the result was only so-so.

This second attempt is much tastier. That means I get to share it with you!

You'll Need:
1 Box Spaghetti or Linguine Noodles {boiled and rinsed under cool water}
1/2 Cup Sesame Oil
1 Tbsp. Red Pepper Flakes {or less, as this will result in a decently spicy taste!}
4 Tbsp. Coconut Aminos {soy sauce replacer}
2 Tbsp. Honey {agave should do nicely here, and if you're using true soy sauce, add extra honey/agave}

Chopped Green Onions
Chopped {fresh} Cilantro
Sesame Seeds

To Make:
In a small pan, heat sesame oil and red pepper flakes over medium heat for several minutes, being careful not to boil or burn the oil.
Pour the oil through a small strainer into a bowl, discarding the red pepper flakes.
Add coconut aminos and honey to the warm oil. Stir to melt honey and combine ingredients.
Pour oil mixture over the cool pasta, add desired amount of green onions, cilantro and sesame seeds, then stir to combine the mixture.

You can enjoy your snack right away, or stash it in the fridge for a bit to allow the flavors more time to combine.

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes with Apple Compote {Gluten, Dairy, and Soy Free}

This is a favorite weekend breakfast in our home. The idea to add pumpkin puree was born from a batch of too-dry gluten-free pancakes, and it stuck! We very rarely make any other variety of pancake.

I start out by making the compote, as it will need a bit of time on the stovetop. While the compote simmers, you can whip up your pancakes.

Compote Ingredients:
2 Apples, Peeled and Diced
1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Tbsp. Cinnamon
1 Tbsp. Cornstarch
Pinch of Salt
1-2 Cups Water

Compote Directions:
Place apples, sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch and salt in a small sauce pan over medium heat.
Allow the apples to cook for several minutes while the mixture becomes thick.
Slowly add water, a few tablespoons at a time, allowing the mixture to thicken again in between. I never measure the water, and prefer to just continue adding water until the texture looks right. You want the sauce to be thick, but able to flow over the edges of your pancakes, like syrup.
Reduce the heat to low, and let the mixture simmer while you make your pancakes.

Pancake Ingredients:
1 1/2 Cups Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Pancake Mix {Pamela's, etc. will do nicely}

1 Tbsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. {freshly ground} Nutmeg

1 Egg {apple sauce would work well if you're vegan}
3/4 Cup Almond Milk
1 Tbsp. Canola Oil
1 Can {15 oz.} Pumpkin Puree

Pancake Directions:
Whisk flour mixture and spices in a medium bowl.
Add egg, almond milk and oil, mixing thoroughly until there are no lumps in the batter.
Stir in the pumpkin.

Cook pancakes as you normally would {I prefer to use my electric skillet at about 350 degrees}, taking care to spray the pan to avoid sticking. Because ALL aerosol oil products contain soy, I use a Pampered Chef Kitchen Spritzer. It allows me to put in my own oil, then pump, pump, pump, and spray a mist of oil.

To serve, top pancakes with apple compote.

Cinnamon Cookie-Cutter Ornaments

I remember, as a small child, pulling cinnamon-scented ornaments from storage every year. They were homemade, like these, and so familiar to me. Honestly though, I had forgotten about those ornaments until I ran across a recipe for the "dough" used to make these little stars.

They're quite simple, and you likely have the necessary ingredients already hidden in your pantry. You might also have a very eager assistant in your home. I did! Camden enjoyed helping me place and press the cookie cutters.

You'll Need:
1 Cup Cinnamon
1/4 Cup Applesauce
1/2 Cup Glue {craft, Elmer's, etc.}
Glitter {optional!}
Cookie Cutters
A {throw-away} Straw
Paper Towels, Parchment or Newspaper--this is where you'll place your ornaments to dry
Ribbon, for hanging your finished ornaments

Combine the cinnamon and apple sauce.
Stir in glue.
Let the mixture sit for about 30 minutes.
Working with about 1/3 of the dough at a time, knead the mixture to soften it a bit and keep it from crumbling.
Spread the dough to about 1/4" thick using a rolling pin. Use extra cinnamon to "flour" your rolling pin if you need, and sprinkle on some glitter, too, if you'd like.
Cut out shapes as you would cookies.
Transfer to your drying surface.
Using the straw, poke a hole in each ornament where you'll want the hanging ribbon to be placed.
Allow the shapes to dry, turning every few hours to keep the ornaments uniform in shape {the edges may curl a bit} and to allow both sides to dry evenly. My ornaments sat for about 24 hours.
{Alternately, you may choose to bake your ornaments at 200 degrees for a couple of hours, turning once or twice.}
When the ornaments are dry, thread a ribbon or cord through each one to hang.

{this moment}

Placing an order with Christina Weedon Photography? Your packing will now look something like this. Tying the bright, cheery bow makes me grin each and every time. 

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

A Place for Christmas Cards

When my toddler broke this embroidery hoop last summer, I chose to keep it stashed in with several others I own. Though it wouldn't work for holding fabric, I knew it would still serve a purpose. Yesterday, I discovered that purpose.

When the Christmas cards start rolling in this year, this is where they'll go!

Making my card "wreath" was very simple:

Did you follow? If not, try this:

Choose a large embroidery hoop.
Place several ordinary clothespins around the hoop, spacing them evenly. I used 12 clothespins.
One by one, glue the clothespins to the hoop, clip pointing out, with a glue gun.
{Note: I glued the top-center pin facing in, to showcase a favorite card or clip an ornament in the center of the hoop.}
Select a ribbon slightly more narrow than the outer edge of your hoop.
Working in sections, apply a thin layer of hot glue to attach ribbon all the way around your hoop. Begin and end on either side of the tightening screw.
Attach a loop of coordinating {or contrasting} ribbon at the top to hang your wreath.

I can't wait to receive our first card this year, just so I can clip it up!

Homemade Meatballs {gluten free!}

I love homemade meatballs. Honestly, and this might be strange, I love them most when they're without sauce. I often make meatballs and serve them with a big scoop of mashed potatoes. But--the two men in my life really love their meatballs with sauce and 'oodles. How can I tell them no when they're both so darned cute?

My meatball measurements aren't precise, and I prefer to just dash around the kitchen adding a bit of this and that. You should do the same, adding extra seasoning and things as you see fit.

Meatball Ingredients:
Ground Turkey {about 1 lb.}
1 {small} White Onion, finely diced
1 Egg
1/2 Cup {or so} Gluten Free Oats
Salt & Pepper {a generous sprinkle of each}

To Make Meatballs:
In a medium bowl, combine the listed ingredients. Add other seasonings if you'd like, such as garlic or Italian herbs. Stir well with a wide, wooden spoon, or dive right in and mix with your hands.
Heat a bit of canola oil in a large skillet {I use my electric skillet--set to about 275 degrees--for even heat}, and begin forming the mixture into balls. I like mine to be a bit larger than a golf ball, and almost always wind up with 12 meatballs.
Place the meatballs in the skillet as you form them, taking care to turn them from time to time so that they brown on all sides.

While the meatballs cook, you can make your sauce:

Sauce Ingredients:
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 {large} White Onion, diced
1 Orange or Yellow Bell Pepper, diced
2-3 Cloves of Garlic, crushed
1 {large, 29 oz.} Can of Tomato Sauce
Italian Seasoning {to taste, at least 2-3 Tbsp.}
Salt & Pepper

To Make the Sauce:
In a large, heavy pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
Add the onion and bell pepper, stirring frequently.
Stir in the garlic and cook an additional 2-3 minutes.
Add the tomato sauce, stirring to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
Add a generous sprinkle of Italian seasoning, plus some salt and pepper, stirring to combine. Cover and allow the mixture to simmer for several minutes before tasting the sauce for seasoning. If you'd like to add a bit more, now is a great opportunity.

Finally, with the sauce simmering on low, gently place the meatballs into the pot. Cover and cook for 20 minutes or so {or longer!}, lifting the lid once or twice to turn the meatballs.

Serve with pasta or mashed potatoes.

Gluten, Dairy, and Soy Free Pumpkin Apple Gingerbread

The inspiration for this recipe comes from an old cookbook that I recently rediscovered. The book focuses heavily on brand-name placement, and the use of a whole host of ingredients that are on my no-no list. But! That doesn't mean I can't change things up a bit and still be successful.

You'll Need:
2 Cups Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Blend
1 1/2 Cups Brown Rice Flour
1 1/2 tsp. Xanthan Gum
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 Cup Earth Balance
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
4 Eggs
3 tsp. Freshly Ground Ginger
1 3/4 Cup Pumpkin Puree {one 15-16 oz. can}
1/2 Cup Blackstrap Molasses
1 Large Apple {diced}

To Make:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease a 9x13 baking dish {I use Spectrum Shortening}.
Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.
Cream butter, sugars, and ginger on high using a stand mixer {a hand mixer will do nicely as well}.
With the mixer running, add eggs one at a time, allowing plenty of time to combine.
Add pumpkin and molasses, mixing thoroughly.
With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture until well combined.
Add apples and stir to distribute.
Spread batter {it will be thick!} evenly in the pan, and place in the preheated oven.
Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Because of the pumpkin and apple, this is a very moist cake, and prone to molding quite rapidly. Storing it in the fridge {and eating it quickly!} will keep it fresh a bit longer.

Mess-Free Glitter Ornaments

These ornaments are fun and simple, with SO many possibilities for customization. I love that they're so glittery and  bright, but even more, I love that the glitter is forever trapped inside the ornament. No mess on my hands! 

When I had the opportunity to visit Hobby Lobby today, I snapped up the necessary goods to make some of my own. In case you'd like to make some yourself, you only need a few easy-to-find supplies:

The effort is so minimal for big results!! In case you're a visual person, take a peek below. If you're more interested in a list of steps, well, take a peek below the below.

1. Pop the hanger/top off your ornament.
2. Fill the ornament with a bit of floor wax.
3. Swirl and slosh the wax around to coat the inside, covering the opening with your finger to prevent a spill.
4. Tip the excess wax back into the bottle, allowing a minute or two to drain.
5. Using a small funnel, dump a hearty amount of glitter into the ornament.
6. Swirl the glitter around a bit, then cover the opening with your finger and give it a SHAKE!
7. When you're sure the inside is evenly coated, use your funnel again to pour excess glitter from the ornament back into the glitter container.
8. Replace the ornament hanger, and you're ready to go.

See? Big results. 

Minimal effort, too, and there's something to be said for a simple project.

UPDATE: A few of your questions, answered...
Do these hold up over time? We're going on year number two with our ornaments. I just unpacked them today! They look just as nice as the day I made them. The glitter is still very well adhered.

What happens if an ornament breaks? We experienced this last year. Sure, there was a mess of glass, but no loose glitter! Hooray!

Where do I find that floor wax?? I've only seen it at Wal*Mart, so far. I look when I think about it. But never seem to spot it in other stores. Maybe a hardware store with a large cleaning section?

Do I have to use fine glitter? No, but I think the results are nicer with fine glitter.

Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup {Gluten, Dairy, and Soy Free}

There's no denying it--I'm a soup junkie. I'd probably make different soups every night of the week if there weren't others around to protest.

Anyway. This is a soup that I love to throw together quickly for lunch. I do not measure the ingredients {so these are estimates}, and the specifics vary a bit depending on what I've got on hand, but here are the basics.

One large can/carton of Chicken Broth
2 tsp. Freshly Ground Ginger
2-3 Star Anise Pods
One chicken breast, cut into thin strips
2 Cups chopped Bok Choy
1 Cup Bean Sprouts
1/2 Cup thinly sliced Mushrooms
{A big handful of} Rice Noodles

Other ingredients I've used... leeks, green onions, sliced white onion, bamboo shoots, and a dash of Coconut Aminos--or soy sauce, if you're able to eat soy.

To Make:
Simmer the chicken broth, ginger and star anise while you slice the chicken.
Add chicken, and cook for several minutes.
Add vegetables, reserving the bean sprouts for the end, and allow to cook for a few minutes.
Add the rice noodles, reduce the heat a bit, cover and allow to simmer until the noodles are cooked through.
Add bean sprouts and serve, removing the star anise pods.

Ginger Snap Cookies

This recipe is very, very similar to my recipe for Blackstrap Molasses Cookies. The taste is quite different though, and *so* yummy! I love the strong ginger flavor.

2 Cups Gluten Free Flour Blend
2 tsp. {Freshly} Ground Ginger
2 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Xanthan Gum
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 Cup Grapeseed Oil
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup {real} Maple Syrup
1/2 Cup Blackstrap Molasses
1 Tbsp. Hot Water

Small bowl of Granulated Sugar
Candied Ginger, chopped into tiny pieces

To Make:
Combine dry ingredients in medium sized mixing bowl, stirring thoroughly.
Combine wet ingredients in a small bowl, then add to the flour/dry mixture.
Stir thoroughly to incorporate.
Place dough in the fridge while the oven preheats to 350 degrees.

To Bake:
Take dough from the bowl in uniform, small amounts, rolling each into a ball. I like to use a small scoop so they're all the same.
Roll the dough balls in the granulated sugar, then place evenly on parchment paper.
Top each cookie with two or three small pieces of candied ginger.
Bake for approximately 11 minutes at 350 degrees.
Cool on the pan for several minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Mousse Pie

This recipe came on a whim the other day. I was craving something sweet and dense, and, well, not a cookie. I think next time I might try adding a bit more "sweet" to the crust... probably by simply adding about 1/2 cup of granulated sugar. If it goes well, I'll update here.

The pie comes together very quickly, but you'll want to plan ahead a bit so that it can set up in the fridge.

You'll Need:
1 1/2 Cups Almond Meal
1/3 Cup Cocoa Powder
1/4 Cup {light} Corn Syrup
3 Tbsp. Canola or Grapeseed Oil

1 Cup Peanut Butter {read the label if you're cooking for allergies! Almond or Sun Butter would also work}
1 1/3 Cup Almond Milk {or rice, coconut}
2 Tbsp. Cocoa Powder
2 Tbsp. Tapioca Starch {may be called "Tapioca Flour"}
1 Tbsp. Agave Nectar

To Make:
Combine the almond meal, cocoa powder, corn syrup and oil until they form a uniformly mixed "ball"
Press the mixture into the bottom of a pie plate, springform pan, or square baking dish
In a small sauce pan, combine peanut butter, milk, cocoa powder, tapioca starch and agave
Whisk over medium-low heat until the mixture begins to thicken; about five minutes
Pour the mixture into your pie plate
After cooling briefly on the counter, place the pie in the fridge to set up for at least a couple of hours

Chai Tea Concentrate

In the midst of all of the changes to my diet last fall, I discovered that coffee was making me feel pretty darned yucky every morning. I don't know if it was the acidity, or what, but it wasn't a happy situation. I really, really missed a nice warm cup of... something... though, and made a switch to chai tea. So for nearly a year, I have been buying Oregon Chai concentrate. Fabulous product, but not exactly a bargain purchase.

When I cam across a make-your-own-chai link on Pinterest, I knew I had to give it a try.

And it was yummy!!

Some tweaks and substitutions have made the recipe mine, and have changed the flavor of the concentrate to be a bit more mild and slightly less... punchy. I don't need too much punch in the morning. Just a little.

You'll Need:
9 Cups of Water
2 Cinnamon Sticks
14 Cardamom Pods
4 Star Anise Pods
20 Cloves
1 tsp. {fresh} Ground Nutmeg
1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
2 tsp. {fresh} Lemon Zest or Orange Zest
20 Black Tea Bags

1 Cup Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp. Honey {I think agave nectar would work nicely here, if you're Vegan}
2 Tbsp. Vanilla

To Make:
Boil water in a large pot
Add spices and lemon zest as the water begins to heat
When the water reaches a full boil, turn it off and drop in the tea bags
Let the mixture steep for 15 minutes or so

To a pitcher, large jar or other container, add brown sugar, honey and vanilla
Strain the tea mixture into the pitcher
Stir to melt and mix in the brown sugar, honey and vanilla
Store concentrate in the fridge

To Serve:
Mix equal parts concentrate and the milk of your choice
I usually drink my chai warm, but it's also delish served over ice!