Cookie-A-Day – Day 10: Gingerbread People

Well, after the last 3 cookie recipes being flops, I finally had a success!  It is about stinkin’ time!  Since I was feeling a little insecure about my baking, I decided to use a recipe from Carol Fenster’s 1,000 Gluten-free Recipes to make these cookies.  Carol’s recipes have always worked very well for me, so I went back to the tried & true.  I was not disappointed!  I wish I could share the recipe with you, but it is copyrighted.  You can probably get the cookbook from your library & try some of the recipes out if you are unsure of the purchase, but let me tell you that this is one amazing cookbook (no, I am not getting paid to say that).  The pizza crust that I raved about here is also one of Carol’s recipes.  :) 

Look…..they worked!

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The army:

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Once the cookies cooled, I whipped up a quick frosting/icing & we got busy. 

Frosting

1-2 cups powdered sugar (depends on how much frosting you want to make)

1/2 – 1 tsp vanilla (again, depends on how much sugar you use; start with less & taste – you can always add more)

1-3 TBSP milk (start with 1 TBSP, stir and add more milk until you get the desired consistency)

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My little helper – concentrating so hard:

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Jon’s handiwork:

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Up tomorrow: Lemon Cornmeal Cookies – YUM!  I can’t wait.  I am well stocked with parchment paper, so I hope to avoid future disasters!

In case you missed any of the earlier days of “Cookie-A-Day”

Day 1 – Russian Teacakes

Day 2 – Sweet Potato Oatmeal Raisin

Day 3 – Dark Chocolate Snowstorms

Day 4 – Pecan Shortbread

Day 5 – Spritz Cookies

Day 6 – Gingersnaps

Day 7 – Almond Cranberry Bites

Day 8 – Peanut Butter Cookies

Day 9 – Festive Candy Cookies

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Looking for fudge recipes?  Check out my Remarkable Fudge & Peanut Butter Fudge recipes. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Menu Plan – December 13, 2009

This week has been full of baking disasters – 3 to be exact.  I posted about 1 of them here, the other 2 happened on Saturday.  Saturday I set out to make Sugar Cut-outs and Shortbread.  The cut outs all stuck to my non-stick cookie sheet.  I suspect that my running out of parchment paper & opting to carry on was a mistake.  Live & learn.  I did try the last 5 cookies on foil sprayed with Pam and they worked much better.  So, it wasn’t the recipe as much as it was the method that I chose to bake them – cutting corners because I ran out of the parchment.  Note to self: stick dough back in fridge & go to the store next time.  ;)  Now, the shortbread.  Not sure what happened there.  I took a recipe from Real Simple (ha ha….that makes me laugh seeing as this was far from simple for me…LOL) and converted it to gluten-free.  Normally I have no trouble converting recipes, but this just did not work.  It looked very pretty in the pan, but upon removing it, it crumbled.  LOL!  I have more cookie crumbs in my freezer than I know what to do with!  The shortbread & the sugar cut-outs both taste amazing, they just aren’t pretty.  I have renewed faith this morning, though, and am planning on making Gingerbread Cookies with Hannah.  Wish me luck!  I am going with this saying- “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” 

Onto the menu plan for the week.  No more talk of failures.  Heather of Celiac Family is hosting the gluten-free menu swap this week & the ingredient of the week is cinnamon!  I love cinnamon!  I used cinnamon daily.  I put cinnamon in my coffee with a touch of unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze; I sprinkle cinnamon on my apples & pears; I sprinkle cinnamon on my almond & pumpkin butter creations.  One of my favorite recipes that has cinnamon in it is Snickerdoodles

I just got back from the grocery store with some fun produce finds.  I was shocked to find blackberries on sale for $1 again!  Here it is, December, and the blackberries are plentiful!  I also picked up 5 lbs of clementines.  I have a sneaking suspicion that I am going to be eating all 5 lbs alone.  I gave Hannah one for lunch & she didn’t like the “white skin” part.  Jon refused it and I don’t think Aaron likes them either.  Oh well, more for me, right?  I wanted to grab grapes, but not at $2.99/lb.  I was also disappointed at the price of broccoli – $2/head!   While I am enjoying the blackberries & root veggies, I really miss peaches, plums and watermelon. 

 

Sunday – Rotisserie chicken, basmati rice, fresh green beans & salad

Monday -Sweet Thai Salmon, baked sweet potato, asparagus & salad

Tuesday – Mexican Pizza, refried beans, white corn & salad

Wednesday- BBQ Chicken Breast, parmesan potatoes, sugar snap peas & salad

Thursday -Shrimp Scampi Alfredo, brown rice pasta & salad

Friday -Calzones (hoping Shriley at Gluten-free Easily posts her stuffed pizza by then ;) ), veggies & salad

Saturday -Roasted root veggies with chickpeas, marinutta sauce & goat cheese, salad

 

Baked Goods

Bread

Bagels

Brownies

Lots of cookies (hopefully no flops this week)

Candy/fudge

 

As always, don’t forget to check out Orgjunkie for lots of great menu ideas. 

 

I hope you all have a great week!  Here are a couple of the fudge recipes I plan on making this week – Remarkable Fudge & Peanut Butter Fudge.

 

 

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Cookie-A-Day: Day 9 – Festive Candy Cookies

I started out my day yesterday with hopes of changing up my Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe to make it a little more festive.  I thought that adding Mini M & Ms to the cookies would make them more festive.  I got that butter out when I was making breakfast in the morning to let it soften.  The recipe calls for melted butter, but I have never had success when melting the butter (gluten-free or not gluten-free).  I didn’t get around to mixing the dough until 4:00.  Here is how the first tray turned out:

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After this, I promptly stuck the dough in the fridge to chill, hoping that would help.  Not my luck.  A little better, but still spread way too much.  The next tray came out like that as well.  I quickly abandoned any thoughts of making another tray & pressed the remaining dough into a round Pyrex dish & made a round bar cookie.  It came out wonderfully!

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Here are the cookies – I cut them into thin bars.  They taste amazing, but look horrible!  LOL!

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I was tweeting last night about my flop and Shirley from Gluten-free Easily had a great idea.  She told me to freeze the cookies & use them later for a pie crust!  Brilliant!  I would just need to crush & add butter or oil & press into a pan.  Never throw away your flops – they can be used for something.   These may not make it to the cookie crumb crust – the kids love them!

Tips/Notes

  • The recipe can be found on the link above.  Omit the oats and don’t use melted butter.  Do soften the butter, but only for a hour or 2.
  • This recipe is normally a huge success.  I love the flavor.

I wanted to show that even though “Life gave me lemons, I made lemonade”.  I turned a potentially frustrating & upsetting situation into a joke & laughed about it.  That is all you can do.  Baking is about trial & error, just like a lot of things in life.  It isn’t just gluten-free baking that is like that, either, though it does seem to require a little more patience at times.  There have been times over the past 4 years that I have thrown in the towel and said I wouldn’t bake again, but I did.  I am glad I did.  It may just be the flour mix or the temperature in the oven.  Or, you may never figure out what the problem was.  Just don’t stop trying.  :)

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Buddy the Elf showed up again today.  He was hanging from our pot rack in the kitchen!

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Hannah got a big kick out of that! :)

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Did you catch Dr. Oz’s show on Celiac Disease yesterday?  I thought the first 15 – 20 minutes were very informative.  The animation & details about symptoms were just what needed to be shown & said to get the word out to those who may be suffering.  I was a little disappointed when the conversation turned to the gluten-free diet being great for weight loss even if you don’t have Celiac or gluten intolerance.  This seems to lessen the importance of the gluten-free diet for those who really need it.  While it is great to have so much awareness, this shouldn’t be promoted as the newest “fad diet”.  For those who have Celiac, this is the only “cure”.   Cross contamination can make Celiacs sick and cause damage.  I was also curious as to how many people actually lose weight on the gluten-free diet.  I tweeted the question and I received mixed responses.  Some people did lose weight, but others gained.  I gained weight (needed to).  The weight gain most likely comes from the body finally being able to absorb the nutrients that it couldn’t when the villi were damaged. Another very important point that I initially missed – Dr. Oz mentioned trying the GF diet first for a few weeks and then getting tested – don’t do this!  If you remove gluten-from your diet & then go get tested, the results can be skewed.  Get tested first, then remove the gluten.  Dr Oz does have an informative page on his site – lots of good info there.

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Make sure to stop by Diane’s today – The Whole Gang.  She is hosting the Friday Foodie Fix and the secret ingredient is chocolate!  You all know how near & dear to my heart chocolate is.  :)

Cookie-A-Day: Day 8 – Peanut Butter Cookies

An old favorite in our house – Peanut Butter Cookies.  I knew that this had to be one of the cookies that I included in my series.  These cookies are super easy to mix up and toss in the oven.  They can even be mixed the night before and then baked first thing in the morning. 

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Gluten-free Peanut Butter Cookies

*Original recipe from Betty Crocker Cook Book – modified to be gluten-free by me

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup peanut butter (I used Skippy Natural)

1/4 cup shortening

1/4 cup butter, softened (1/2 a stick)

1 large egg

1 1/4 cups GF flour mix (I used Carol’s sorghum mix)

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. xanthan gum

1/4 tsp. salt

Granulated sugar (for topping)

 

Method

1.  Mix sugars, peanut butter, shortening, butter & egg together in a large mixing bowl.  Stir in dry ingredients and mix until well incorporated.  Chill for at least 2 hours. 

2.  Heat oven to 375.

3.  Shape dough into small balls and roll in granulated sugar.  Flatten cookies with a fork (you may want to spray with Pam) in a criss-cross pattern.

4.  Bake for 9-10 minutes or until light brown – do not over-bake.  They took just 9 minutes in my oven.  Cool 5 minutes & remove to wire rack for the remainder of the cooling time. 

 

Tips

  • This recipe is another that works best using a GF flour mix without added baking soda or baking powder.  That way you can control the amounts.  I usually reserve Pamela’s Baking Mix for muffins, cakes, scones and not cookies.  The one cookie I made with Pamela’s last week came out cake-like. 
  • Use parchment paper on your cookie sheets to help your cookies from sticking & to keep them from spreading too much.
  • I thought about subbing the shortening out to make these a little healthier.  The cook book suggests using 1/4 pkg. (8 oz pkg) light cream cheese in place of the shortening.  I didn’t have any, but would love to try that next time. 

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My helper:

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Using his “tool”:

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Ready to go into the oven:

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The finished product:

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Once again, a hit.  The kids scarfed down the cookies that I would allow them to have & begged for more.  I asked what the best cookies were so far – Jon said the Almond Cranberry Bites from yesterday; Hannah said the Peanut Butter Cookies & the Spritz Cookies are her favorite. 

 

 

Cookie-A-Day: Day 7- Almond Cranberry Bites

I happened upon this recipe in an Eatingwell.com email.  The original recipe calls for dried cherries, but I didn’t have any so I subbed dried cranberries instead.  This recipe screamed “Christmas cookie” to me, so I knew that I had to include it in my “Cookie-A-Day” series.  This recipe is full of healthy ingredients – almonds, canola oil, dried fruit.  So, you can feel good about treating yourself to one of these cookies and these cookies ROCK!  I was so pleasantly surprised when I tasted these.  Jon was adamant about not trying them because he doesn’t like dried fruit.  Well, they smelled so good he asked to try one.  He ended up eating three & saying he loved them!  They are really good warm.  I couldn’t convert Hannah, but that is okay, this only made 20 cookies, so more for us!  ;)

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Almond Cranberry Bites

  • 1/3 cup whole almonds (I used Trader Joe’s raw almonds
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup coarsely chopped dried cherries
  • 2/3 cup gluten-free flour mix (I used Carol’s sorghum mix)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate chips or finely chopped dark and/or white chocolate, for decoration (optional- I opted not to add this)

Method

1.  Heat oven to 350.

2.  Grind raw almonds & sugar in a food processor until you have the desired texture; the finer the texture, the more intense the almond flavor & less crunch from the almond.  Be careful not to turn the almonds into paste.  Transfer mix to large bowl & mix in flour & cranberries.

3.  Add egg white, oil, vanilla & almond extracts.  Mix until well incorporated.

4.  Shape dough into small balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the bottom is slightly brown; the tops will not brown.

5.  Transfer to a wire rack & cool completely.

6.  Optional- melt chocolate & drizzle over cookies with a fork.  Let stand until chocolate sets.

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Tips

1.  This is another mix where a GF flour mix without baking soda, baking powder & xanthan gum are not needed.  I am not sure how the cookies would turn out if you were to use a mix with those added in.

2.  The chocolate melted on top is not necessary, in my opinion and you all know how much I love my chocolate.

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These are now going to become a holiday staple in our house.  You can freeze these for up to 3 months.  They have about 75 calories per cookie (recipe made 20 cookies).

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In case you missed this: College Inn has recalled some chicken broth for undeclared wheat.  You can read more about it here.

Cookie-A-Day – Day 6: Gingersnaps

I have been making Gingersnaps since I was a teenager.  I loved to bake since I was old enough to understand how to work the oven & measure ingredients.  I love to experiment with new cookies and this is one that once I made it, it became an instant family favorite.  I love the crisp outside & chewy inside.  I was worried that the conversion of this recipe to gluten-free would alter the textures that I loved so dearly in this cookie.  Upon my first bite, I slowly bit into the cookie, hoping & praying that I wouldn’t be disappointed.  I wasn’t – the crisp was still there.  Now for the chewy.  I continued to bite into the cookie & the chewy ginger center was there too!  There was little to no difference between the gluten-free & gluten-filled version of this cookie.  Success!!

You can find the Gingersnap recipe here.  I did feature this recipe last year on my blog, too.

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Don’t forget to watch or DVR Dr. Oz on Thursday, December 10th.  Dr. Oz will be doing a show on Celiac Disease.  I am so excited that Celiac Disease awareness is just exploding!

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Make sure to check this article out on a recall for undeclared wheat in chicken broth.

Cookie-A-Day: Day 5- Spritz Cookies

I have such fond memories of making Spritz cookies as a child.  My mom used to make it so much fun for my sister, Kelly, and I.  She would press out all the cookies with the ancient metal cookie press and we would then get to decorate them.  We used cut up maraschino cherries for the Scottie dog’s collar, silver ball candies for the balls on the Christmas trees, sprinkles for the wreaths.  Then we made sure to sample them as they came out of the oven.  Oh, the memories.  I wanted to start to pass along some of these traditions to my kids, so I made sure they were both present for the Spritz cookie baking & decorating. 

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This recipe is straight from the old Betty Crocker Cookbook, modified to be gluten-free.

1 cup butter, softened (no margarine here…butter is a must!)

1/2 cup sugar

2 1/4 cups GF flour mix (I used Carol’s Sorghum Mix)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp xanthan gum

1 egg

1 tsp almond extract (another must have….this makes these cookies!)

 

1.  Cream butter & sugar.

2.  Blend in remaining ingredients.

3.  Chill for 30 minutes or so. 

4.  Heat oven to 400.

5.  Fill cookie press with 1/4 of the dough at a time. 

6.  Form desired shapes on ungreased baking sheet

7.  Bake 6 to 9 minutes or until set, but not brown

8.  Cool slightly & then remove to cooling racks.

 

My notes:

  • Don’t use Pamela’s Baking Mix or any other mix with baking soda or baking powder for this recipe
  • My cookie press is very cantankerous.  I don’t know what the issue is, but the dough likes to stick to the plastic disks . This happened pre-GF, too, so it isn’t the GF dough.  Maybe try parchment paper on the cookie sheet to convince the dough to want to stick to the cookie sheet. 
  • My oven took exactly 6 minutes.  If I had left them in for 9, they would have been brown.  I use an oven thermometer to monitor the temp in my oven at all times.  Best $10 I ever spent. 

 

Towards the end, we gave up on the cookie press & started rolling them by hand:

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Jon threatening me to eat the dough – I had already freaked out on him once b/c of the raw eggs.  Funny guy. ;)

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Like the messy hands? 

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My own personal decorator.  :)

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These cookies rocked!  They are my favorite so far! 

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Even my non-cookie-eating husband was raving about these! 

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Okay, one more picture, only because I am starving now!  LOL!

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Do you have any cookie traditions

 

 

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