Bourbon Pumpkin Bars {Gluten Free Option}

It's hard for me to believe that Thanksgiving is tomorrow, this year has gone by crazy fast (although I feel like I say that every year)! For the past several years we have spent Thanksgiving with our amazing friends celebrating Friendsgiving; however, with the recent cross country move, obviously that won't be possible. So, this Thanksgiving will be very low key, making this dessert a perfect fit! I wanted something that would satisfy my Thanksgiving pumpkin craving, that I could make gluten free, and that wouldn't have me in the kitchen all day.. this dessert fits the bill! Did I mention it's yummy? And don't worry about the bourbon, the alcohol bakes out while it's in the oven, but if you are still weary about it sub it out with equal amounts of water with a little vanilla extract. Serve with some fresh whipped cream and you're done! Now that was easy! Happy Thanksgiving!

Bourbon Pumpkin Bars  (Print Me)
1 1/2 cups pretzels, ground (option: gluten free)
1/2 cup graham crackers, ground (option: gluten free)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)
Pinch salt

6 large eggs (3 separated, yolks only)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup bourbon
2 Tablespoons molasses
1 ½ cup canned pumpkin puree
1 ¼ teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9inch x 13inch sheet tray with nonstick cooking spray. Line with parchment paper overlapping the sides by a couple inches, to create handles.

In a large bowl, add the pretzels, graham crackers, sugar, melted butter and salt, mixing to combine. Press into the bottom of prepared baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes. Set aside to cool and increase oven temperature to 425ºF.

For the Filling:
In a large bowl, add the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, brown sugar, bourbon, molasses, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, heavy cream, whole milk, vanilla extract and butter and whisk until smooth.

Pour into the crust and bake at 425ºF for 10 minutes then decrease the oven to 350ºF. Continue to bake for another 30-40 minutes, until the filling is set but slightly jiggly in the center. Remove from the oven to a baking rack to cool completely before refrigerating.

When ready to serve, cut in to bars and serve with a dollop of whipped cream, enjoy!

Source: The Chew


Pomegranate Mint Moscow Mule

Designer drinks are all the rage these days, and I won't lie I love to indulge in one every now and again when we are out, but man are they expensive! We were having dinner a few weeks ago at a local brewery and they had several specialty moscow mules including one that inspired this, but at ten bucks a pop I knew I could recreate it at home. Not only is this drink delicious, it is so pretty! I think it would be great for an upcoming holiday party, the flavors and colors are so festive. Or, you can just be like me and whip a couple up on a regular ol' Sunday night! Either way, you won't regret it!

Pomegranate Mint Moscow Mule   (Print Me)

Ingredients (per drink):
*note 1 regular shot glass holds 1.5 oz

4-6 Mints Leaves
3 oz (2 shots) vodka
3 oz (2 shots) pomegranate juice
4.5 oz (3 shots) ginger beer (or ginger ale)
Juice of 1/2 Lime
Club Soda (optional)

Muddle mint leaves in bottom of cup, add ice until 3/4 full. Add vodka, pomegranate juice, ginger beer and lime juice, then top with club soda if desired. Enjoy!

**If you are looking for a vodka recommendation, I would suggest Chopin or Kettle One.. just don't drink cheap vodka.. it's bad.


{Gluten Free} Cinnamon Rolls

It's See Brooke Cook's 5 year anniversary, and for that I made cinnamon rolls! One of the hardest things for me about going gluten free was giving up my "cheat foods". For the most part I have always been a fairly healthy eater as an adult so much of what I was eating already fit into my new meal plans or required only minor substitutions. But when it comes down to having an indulgent treat, once you take out gluten you have REALLY minimized the options.

There is a kind of grieving you go through when you have to give up gluten, a little jealousy anytime you see someone eat one of your favorite foods and you can't partake, that has been the most difficult part of this journey for me. Now, prior to kicking gluten to the curb I already loved King Arthur Flour, so when I went looking for gf baking tips you can bet that is where I turned. I love their gf baking mixes, they really couldn't be any simpler, but the baker in me still wants the homemade option. Enter these:

Now, long overdue on my "to make" list were Ree Drummond's cinnamon rolls, but alas I never made it around to them. So when I decided to tackle a gluten free version I knew I wanted to make some kind of hybrid to incorporate my original inspiration. So I stuck with the dough and filling from King Arthur but used Ree's maple frosting instead of the traditional cream cheese version. They were amazing!

A few tips on these:
1. They are time consuming, they don't require a lot of labor but you kind of have to be around to tend to them since they rise twice (like most yeast breads), so while you are at it, just go ahead and double the recipe! Thats what I did, when it came to rolling it out I just divided the dough roughly in half and proceeded from there. I am experimenting with different freezing methods so as we see what works best I will report back!
2. Gluten free dough and gluten full dough are two different beasts, this will be more puffy and less elastic then it's gluten filled counter part, just know that is normal.
3. The filling seems to a bit more than needed and maybe a touch too sweet so I will probably scale things back a bit next time, but until then I will leave the ingredients as they are until I can experiment, just know that if you don't like things overly sweet you may skimp on the sugar some. 
4. I had some leftover frosting, but the batch is already quite small so just know I didn't use it all, use as much as you like.

Cinnamon Rolls {Gluten Free} (Print Me)

2 1/2 cups King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoons instant yeast
4 Tablespoons soft butter
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup warm milk, plus extra for brushing on the dough
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon Buttery Sweet Dough Flavor*

1 cup brown sugar
4 teaspoons cinnamon
6 Tablespoons soft butter

2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring
1/8 cup milk
1 Tablespoon melted butter
1 Tablespoon brewed coffee
Dash salt

In a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer combine all the dry ingredients; add the soft butter, blending on low until you have coarse crumbs. Add the oil, milk, egg, and flavorings, beating until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl then eat on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes; scrape the bowl again. Cover the dough and let it rise for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until visibly puffy.

While the dough is rising, make the cinnamon filling by combining the brown sugar, cinnamon, and soft butter until it's spreadable.

When the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly greased piece of parchment paper and press it gently into an 8" x 16" rectangle (I marked the under side of the parchment paper to get a better idea of the size I needed). The dough will be sticky, but as it is exposed to air it will become easier to work with. 
Brush milk over the surface of the dough to help the rolls and filling from separating as they bake. Spread the filling over the dough, leaving a 1/2" to 1" border of filling-free dough around the edges.

With the long edge of the parchment closest to you, roll the dough forward, allowing the paper to do the work for you (the dough should release from the paper as you roll it). Cut the dough into 8 roughly 2" slices using a sharp knife. 

Grease a muffin pan and place rolls into wells of the pan (using a muffin pan with help them rise higher and cook thoroughly). Allow the rolls to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until puffy. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake the cinnamon rolls for 20 to 25 minutes, until they're golden brown.

While baking, make the maple icing by whisking all ingredients together until smooth. Taste and adjust ingredients as needed until the icing reaches the desired consistency, it should be somewhat thick but still very pourable.

Remove rolls from oven, ice immediately and enjoy!

*I found this on amazon and added it to an order that I already needed so I got free shipping, apparently it is available in some store but I could not find it. I referenced their website and it is gluten free.

Source: King Arthur Flour and Pioneer Woman


Hawaiian Teriyaki Burgers {Gluten Free Version}

Well hello there! Guess what? I didn't disappear off the face of the earth, however it has been quite some time. The short list of things I have been up to includes graduating college (finally!), selling our home, moving across the country (again), and landing my first big girl job which I start in a couple of weeks. Needless to say it has been an eventful time in my life full of HUGE changes, but things are slowing down a little and I am glad to be back! 

One thing that hasn't changed is my new gluten free lifestyle, it has been an adventure and a little stressful and frustrating at times but it's working. However, I am not going to change the whole vibe of the blog to gluten free, I will make the substitutions I need and provide them here so options are available to everyone. "Gluten free" tends to scare some people off, but for the most part the foods I eat now are the same ones I enjoyed before (the bread is just a little drier and the noodles are more chewy :-P) at the end of the day I'm not eating it if it's not delicious. So lets get down to the good stuff!

I figured I couldn't come back to you without something really fantastic, and I am glad to report this is it! Now I'm not usually a huge fan of ground turkey but it was perfect in this recipe since there are so many flavors, but feel free to use beef or any other kind of ground meat that tickles your fancy. These are so easy to make, especially if you are like me and just go buy your teriyaki sauce, trust me it doesn't feel like cheating.

Hawaiian Teriyaki Burgers (Print Me)

2 lbs ground meat (I used turkey)
1/2 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce/gluten free tamari 
~1 tsp sriracha (the more the spicier)
8 Tablespoons teriyaki sauce (store bought, gluten free or homemade)
8 slices fresh pineapple
Cheese slices

Gently combine the ground meat with grated carrots, scallions, ginger, soy sauce/tamari and sriracha, making sure not to overwork or the meat will get tough. Form into equal sized patties, 1/4 pounders will make 8 burgers.

If you are making your teriyaki sauce you will want to start it now, otherwise continue.

Heat the grill and cook patties on high heat for about 5 to 7 minutes on each side, or until done to your preference. While the burgers are cooking, grill the sliced pineapple for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. If adding cheese, place slices on top of burgers until just starting to melt.

To serve, place lettuce on the bottom of each bun. Top with the cooked burger and 1 tbsp of teriyaki sauce, then with grilled pineapple. Enjoy!

Source: Skinny Taste


Luscious Chocolate Cake {Can't Believe It's Gluten Free}

Four yeas ago today, I sat in this very living room and started on a journey, I took out a little piece of the internet and starting pouring my love in to it. I started this blog because I had some spare time and a passion for food and photography. Today, I have that same passion but very little of that time, however I come here as often as I can and I am overwhelmed by the love and support I receive with every recipe posted. It seems impossible that four years have passed, in the blink of an eye, here we are. It's been a crazy four years and I wouldn't change a minute of it! Recently, I have started a new journey, and unknowingly you are all going through it with me! I've committed to a gluten-free lifestyle, what started a few weeks ago as an experiment is coming to reality as a life change. I'm not going to preach about why I've chosen to eliminate gluten or try and convince you to join me in my effort, I'm just going to say I used to feel icky a lot and now, I feel a lot less icky. This is a big change for me, and it may not be forever, maybe gluten won't always hate me but right now it does so I am shunning it. 

However, I am not shunning delicious food, or chocolate, or this amazing cake. I knew if I was going to make it on this adventure, I would need cake. And cake I found. This was the first gluten free dessert I have made (intentionally anyway), and I was pretty nervous about the flavor and the texture and the everything.. but seriously, you wouldn't even know it doesn't have gluten in it. My husband didn't, and that boy knows cake. You would most definitely never know this cake has quinoa in it (say whaaaa?!). It is so dense, moist, and perfectly chocolate, the only thing you're going to be thinking is "can I have another piece?".  So celebrate four years with me, because after all this is your space too, thanks for sharing it with me!

Luscious Chocolate Cake {Can't Believe It's Gluten Free}

2 cups cooked and cooled quinoa (**see note below)
1/3 cup milk
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt


1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup cocoa powder
~3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


For the cake, preheat the oven to 350º F. Lightly grease two 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.
Place the milk, eggs and vanilla in a blender or food processor and mix until combined. Add the cooked quinoa and the butter. Blend well until smooth.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the contents from the blender and whisk until combined. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake on a rack in the middle position for 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before inverting the cakes onto cooling racks and removing the parchment paper stuck to the bottoms. 

While cooling, make the frosting. Melt the butter and stir in cocoa. Alternately, add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla.

When the cake is completely cooled, place one layer upside down on a serving platter or plate. Top with a generous portion of frosting, spreading evenly. Gently put the other cake layer upside down on top of the frosted layer and spread with remaining frosting. Slice and enjoy!

**Note: You'll need a little over 1/2 cup of dry quinoa for 2 cups cooked. Make sure to measure the quinoa for the cake recipe AFTER it is cooked and cooled. Also, make sure to cook the quinoa in water not broth.

**Update: This cake also freezes great! I sliced it and froze the individual pieces, when you want one simply sit it out at room temperature for around an hour and voila! 

Source: Cake from Mel's Kitchen Cafe, icing from Hershey's


Golden Saffron Rice

I've never been a huge rice eater, but since giving this gluten free living a shot, I am incorporating it a little into my side dishes. I've had some saffron sitting around for a while so when I saw this recipe I immediately pinned it; I finally got the chance to make it when I made this Thai Bail Beef for the umpteenth time, and it was a great accompaniment. It's easy to make and it's a nice light flavor change to keep things interesting. So shake things up and enjoy!

Golden Saffron Rice  (Print Me)

2 cups unseasoned hot cooked long-grain white rice simmered in water
1 tablespoon hot water
1/8 teaspoon saffron threads
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup minced onion
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


Start with hot cooked rice simmered in water. Combine 1 tablespoon hot water and saffron threads, and let stand 5 minutes; stir into rice. Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Combine rice mixture, onion mixture, and kosher salt.

Source: My Recipes


Thai Basil Beef {GF, Paleo}

So lets talk about this for a second, this is a paleo recipe, however I do not claim to be "paleo" by any far stretch. I mean, if you know anything about nutrition you know not eating processed foods is a good idea, so I am on board with that, however I am not giving up all my carbs. I am more interested in avoiding gluten right now, just as a trial for myself to see how or if I feel differently eliminating it from my diet, and paleo helps with that since all the gluten is already gone. However, I am still eating some "forbidden" paleo foods like dairy, leguemes and rice. 

At any rate, my friend Hannah introduced me to this cookbook and we LOVE it; everything we have tried out of it over the last few months has been awesome, you wouldn't even know it was "paleo". This is one of my favorite recipes from the cookbook, it was one of the first that we tried and it made me a believer that paleo food could be flavorful and exciting. The whole point of this being, don't disregard this or another recipe because it is labeled "paleo", if you want to eat it with a potato, boom, not paleo! Now that we have that out of the way, go try this super awesome recipe for the pure fact it's yummy and healthy! Enjoy!

Thai Basil Beef {Paleo}
  (Print Me)

Meat & Marinade:
1 pound flank steak
2 teaspoons soy sauce 
(or coconut aminos to keep it paleo)
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)

1/2 cup water
1/2 pound green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 1/2 Tablespoons fish sauce
1 Tablespoon soy sauce / coconut aminos
1 Tablespoon lime juice

1/2 Tablespoon coconut oil (or oil of your choice)
1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 cubanelle pepper, thinly sliced
1 small serrano chile, seeds removed, thinly sliced
4 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)

1 cup fresh basil leaves

Place flank steak in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to make it easier to slice. Slice very thinly, against the grain to make 1/4-inch strips. Place the steak in a medium mixing bowl and add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, and garlic. Toss to combine, then cover and refrigerate for about 10 minutes or up to 1 hour. 

In a small bowl, mix the fish sauce, soy sauce, and lime juice. Set aside. 

Place water in a large, non-stick skillet, and bring to a boil. Add the green beans and steam until just tender, about 4-5 minutes. Drain the beans, discarding any remaining water, and rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Set aside. 

Reheat the pan over medium-high heat and add oil, allow it to melt, about 1 minute. Brown the meat without crowding the pan; work in batches, if necessary. As the meat cooks, remove it to a bowl to catch its juices. In the same pan, stir-fry the bell pepper, scallions, serrano, and garlic until the peppers are just tender, about 2 minutes. Add the reserved beef, green beans, and sauce, tossing until heated through. Remove from heat, add basil leaves, and toss until the leaves are wilted. Serve immediately.

Source:  Well Fed 2