Saturday, March 24, 2012

An old favorite

My mom and I did a lot of baking last week when I was in Colorado -- so much that we had to kick ourselves out of the kitchen after we realized we made more cookies than we could ever possibly eat.

But before we put the kibosh on baking, we whipped up a batch of an old favorite -- molasses crinkles.

I think this was the first time we made them gluten free, and they turned out perfectly chewy.

Here's the recipe:


Mix thoroughly in a bowl:
3/4 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses

In another bowl, mix:
2 1/4 cups flour (we used a mixture of sorghum, rice and tapioca)
2 teaspoons soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix the dry ingredients into the shortening mixture.

Chill dough in refrigerator at least two hours or overnight.

I used spring colored sugar

Roll dough into balls and dip tops into sugar.

Bake on greased cookie sheet at 375 for 10 minutes.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Macaroons were on our list of Christmas cookies to make this year, but we didn't get to them. So my mom and I decided to try them while I was home.

After a day of baking, we took a plate of goodies over to a family friend.

"Macaroons!" she exclaimed with delight we she saw what we brought. "I love macaroons but I never make them because they're so hard to make."

I've never made macaroons before, so maybe they usually are hard, but this recipe from Epicurious was pretty darn easy. Here it is:


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature (we used dairy-free margarine)
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel
3 large eggs
28 ounces sweetened flaked coconut (about 6 cups firmly packed)
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted (with about 4 tablespoons of margarine added while melting)

Preheat to 325°F. Line 3 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or baking mats.

Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar and salt; beat until blended. Beat in orange peel, then eggs, one at a time. Mix in coconut.

Drop batter onto sheets by tablespoonfuls, spacing 1 1/2 inches apart.

Bake macaroons, 1 sheet at a time, until golden on bottom and browned in spots, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely on sheets.
Using fork, drizzle chocolate over macaroons. Chill on sheets until chocolate is firm, about 30 minutes.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Lemony goodness

My mom and I have been baking up a storm since I got to Colorado.

While looking through her recipe box for molasses crinkle cookies (I'll post that recipe soon), we found a recipe for lemon curd squares, given to my mom by an old friend. My mom had never made the dessert, so we decided to give it a try. It's definitely a new favorite.


1 cup flour (we used a gluten-free mixture of sorghum, potato starch and white rice flour)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350.

Sift together flour and powdered sugar. Add melted butter.

Press the mixture into a greased 8-by-8-inch pan.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine sugar, baking powder, eggs, lemon juice and lemon zest.

Pour over crust. (No need to let the crust cool).

Bake for 25 minutes.

A yummy twist on shepherd's pie

Shepherd's pie was a staple at our house growing up (although we always called it hamburger pie).

Wednesday (back in Colorado for vacation), my mom and I were trying to brainstorm something to make for dinner, when she spotted a recipe in the Denver Post for Sweet potato and sausage shepherd's pie.

I didn't do anything to help make this. (I was busy baking cookies - recipes to come), but it was a good dish (all the credit goes to my mom). Here's the recipe:


2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks (we used yams)
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1/2 pound loose Italian sausage
1/2 pound lean ground beef (we use bison burger because that's what was in the freezer)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 ounces (half a bottle) stout or other dark beer (we used a gluten-free beer that wasn't particularly stout)
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons cool water
15-ounce can creamed corn
15-ounce can green beans (the recipe called for a can of corn, but Mom's traditional shepherd's pie recipe has green beans, so we decided to use those instead)
1/2 cup milk (we used almond milk to make it dairy free)
2 tablespoons butter (or dairy-free margarine)
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray.

Place sweet potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine olive oil, garlic and onion in a large skillet over high heat. Saute for 5 minutes or until tender.

Add the sausage, beef and pepper. Saute until the meat is cooked through. Drain grease. Add the beer and simmer until reduced by half, about 4 minutes.

In a small glass, mix the cornstarch with the cool water. Add the cornstarch mixture to the meat and stir until thickened. Remove from heat.

Spread the meat in the casserole dish. In a small bowl, mix the corn and beans, then spread over the meat.

Once the sweet potatoes have cooked, drain the water. Add the milk, butter and brown sugar. Then mash the potatoes until smooth. Season with salt.

Spoon the potatoes into the casserole dish and spread evenly. Bake for 35 minutes or until the potatoes are lightly brown around the edges.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Christmas cookie recap

Back in Colorado this week for a visit with my family, I thought this was an appropriate, if out-of-season, time to review the Christmas baking I did this year with my mom.

Every year at Christmas, my mom (from whom I inherited my love of baking) and I spend days in the kitchen making Christmas cookies.

We have a few favorites that we make year after year, but a big part of the baking fun is trying new recipes.

Here are a few of cookies baked this year:

Vanilla-cherry chocolate chip cookies

These are definitely a new favorite, although I only got to sample a couple before the rest disappeared. I made these cookies again to take to work and one of my co-workers said they were the best cookies he's every tasted. Talk about high praise!

I don't know if I'd go as far as to say best ever, but I definitely loved them. Here's the original recipe from Epicurious, and our version:


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (We used mixture of sorghum, rice and tapioca flour and corn starch)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon xantham gum
1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (6 ounces) dried cherries
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (the recipe calls for 1/2 cup each of chocolate chips and white chocolate chips. To accommodate my mom's lactose intolerance, we just went with a full cup of semisweet).
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts

Preheat to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, xantham gum and salt.

In a small sauce pan, bring 1 cup water to a boil. Remove from heat and add the dried cherries and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Let stand 5 minutes then drain.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugar, and brown sugar and beat on medium speed, scraping the bowl occasionally, until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and beat on medium until combined, about 1 minute.

With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in 3 batches, stirring until just combined. Add the cherries, chocolate chips and hazelnuts and stir until just incorporated.

Drop the dough by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between cookies. Bake until light golden brown and just set, about 10 to 12 minutes. Cool the cookies on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.


Shortbread thumbprint cookies
 I love thumbprint cookies -- the combination of a crunchy cookie and gooey jam filling, plus I think they look nice on a plate of Christmas cookies.

This cookie ended up with crumbly texture, similar to shortbread, hence the name I gave them. They're different than other thumbprint cookies I've had, but I thought they were pretty good.

Here's the original recipe from Epicurious. We pretty much stuck to it, with the exception of using a gluten-free flour mixture. For jam filling, we used huckleberry jam, and a cherry sauce that my mom found in her pantry. Both were delicious.


Gluten-free sugar cookies

Ever since I went gluten-free, cut-out cookies have seemed pretty daunting (along with layer cakes, yeast breads and anything rolled, folded or stacked).

I love baking, decorating and eating frosted cookies, but the past few years, I've kept them off the Christmas menu.

This year, one of my goals was to try gluten-free cut-out cookies. My mom did some research and found a great recipe on

I'll admit I had a near breakdown while trying to roll these out, but once a switched to a better mat and got more flour on my rolling pin, it was smooth sailing. The best part was decorating them with my mom and sister, sipping eggnog and watching "The Help."


1 1/2 cups amaranth flour
1/2 cup arrowroot starch (the recipe says cornstarch will also work)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon guar gum
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
pinch of sale
1 cup cold butter, cut in small pieces
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk (you may need a little more)

Preheat oven to 350.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper or baking mats.

Place all dry ingredients in a food processor and pulse until thoroughly blended.

Add butter and pulse about 10 times.

Add egg and 1 tablespoon milk. Pulse until the mixture forms a sticky, stiff dough. Add more milk if it's too dry. (Ours was actually a little too sticky, but the flour added while rolling it out brought it to the right consistency).

Wrap dough in waxed paper and refrigerate at least one hour.

I used a large, plastic rolling mat (I think it's Tupperware brand) to roll out the dough. Flour the mat and rolling pin with rice flour, or another type of gluten-free flour. Roll the dough to about the thickness of a pie crust.

I found that it helped to dip the cookie cutters in flour as well. Cut out cookies and place on prepared baking sheet.

Bake about 12 minutes or until the edges of the cookies turn golden-brown.

Cool completely before frosting.


Several cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
4 tablespoons butter, softened
Milk (we used almond milk)

Place powdered sugar in a mixing bowl. Add extract, butter and about 3 tablespoons of milk. Mix. Add more milk in very small quantities (a little milk will go a long way) until the frosting reaches the right consistency. The frosting should be smooth but not runny.

Add food coloring as desired.

Frost cookies and decorate with sprinkles.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Mom's chocolate chip cookies (kind of)

My mom makes the world's best chocolate chip cookies. I might be somewhat biased on that, but the mom love baked into each bite is unbeatable.

This is her signature recipe, and it's perfect:


Cream together:
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup margarine
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar

2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup chocolate chips

Grease a jelly roll pan. Spread batter into pan.
Bake in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.
Let cool for 10-15 minutes (or however long you're patient). Cut into cookie bars.

These can also be made as drop cookies. Cook them 8-10 minutes.

Despite the perfection of this recipe, I can't resist but monkey with it each time I make it.

I hadn't made these cookies in probably a couple years, but decided they would be a good treat to take to a weekend ski get away.

The following recipe was my attempt to make the cookies healthier, and of course, gluten free. This wasn't, by a long shot, the best version I've ever made. The cookies came out with a cake-like texture and density -- none of the ooey-gooeyness of a chocolate chip cookie. I was pretty disappointed with them at first. I wasn't going to share this recipe, but once I got over them being nothing like my mom's cookies, I decided they were OK(ish).

My recommendation is to go with the original recipe, but just in case you're curious, here's the version I used.


1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar

2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 riped mashed banana
1/4 cup (roughly) peanut butter

Mix and add:
1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour (I used a combination of sorghum, brown rice and tapioca)
1/2 cup corn starch
1/2 teaspoon xantham gum
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips (a generous cup)
1 cup coconut (this is my substitute for oatmeal, since oatmeal contains gluten)

Grease a jelly roll pan. Spread batter into pan.
Bake in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.
Let cool for 10-15 minutes (or however long you're patient). Cut into cookie bars.