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I can’t believe how fast time flies. I finally finished my 18 credit semester and now that it is summer, I can finally blog again. I have cooked so many good foods recently like banana bread, meat loaf, Coke chicken and so many more that I am excited to blog about. I hope that from now on I can at least post weekly but I am personally shooting for twice a week. For Mother’s Day, I decided to make my mom a gluten-free ice cream cake. It took forever but in the end it was totally worth it!

For starters I make a cake from a gluten-free Betty Crocker Cake Mix. For those of you who don’t know this already, Betty Crocker recently came out with a gluten-free line of cake, cookie and brownie mixes. I am so grateful that they did because I was getting sick of making cake from scratch! I followed the directions on the box, making two round cakes the night before Mother’s Day. I let the cakes cool overnight on a rack to ensure that they would be cool when I put the ice cream in the middle of them.

The next morning, I placed one of the cake circles face-down on a plate. I then layered lime sherbet ice cream (my mom’s favorite) on top of the cake. When the ice cream started to melt, I put it and the cake into the freezer for 10 minutes before continuing. It is easiest to buy ice cream that is in a cardboard box because you can disassemble the box to cut even strips of ice cream. After I had layered the ice cream on the cake, I put the other cake on top and then put the entire cake into my freezer for two hours.

About fifteen minutes before the two hours was up I started making buttercream frosting from scratch. Here is my recipe:

Ingredients:

1/2 cups solid vegetable shortening
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons milk

Directions:

In a large bowl, cream shortening and butter together with electric mixer. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Make sure to scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear slightly dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. For best results keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.

After making the frosting, I divided it into two bowls to add food coloring. I then pulled the cake out to frost. I think that frosting a frozen cake is easier than a normal one. I started by frosting the sides, after they were done I put the cake back into the freezer for 10 minutes. I then frosted the top, putting it back into the freezer for another 10 minutes before doing the yellow piping. After the entire cake was frosted I put it back into the freezer until it was time to eat it.

I had never made an ice cream cake before and I think that it was pretty easy, the only problem was the melted ice cream on my counter. This cake was a family favorite and I am sure it will be for you too!

Where have the weeks gone?  I feel like all I do is eat, sleep and do homework.  If this is what the rest of my life is going to be like I think I am going to become a bum so that I can devote more time to this blog! This weekend my husband and I went shopping for new couches. Next to one of the furniture stores that we looked at was a Good Earth Grocery Store.  We decided to wander into it and found some amazing bread.  I usually make my gluten free bread using Pamela’s Bread Mix but I haven’t had time to make any bread recently and I was super grateful to discover Ener-G Light Tapioca Bread.  At first I was hesitant to buy it because it is in a vacuum pack bag and I didn’t know how long it had been there but with reassurance from my husband that it wouldn’t make me sick and the fact that it was less that $4 I decided to give it a try.  The package had 12 slices of bread in it and to my embarrassment I ate 7 of those slices earlier this afternoon.  They tasted delicious toasted, with a bit of butter on top and I couldn’t resist.  If you are looking for a cheaper bread option I recommend this bread! It tastes delicious and only has 45 calories to each slice (that’s the kind of thing I like to hear).

Unfortunately I have been sick recently and haven’t had much of an appetite for food in the morning when I leave for class.  Around noon I usually find myself a little hungry and I go to the vending machine looking for a ‘healthy’ snack.  Last week when I was scanning my options I saw a new product in the vending machine called, “Mareblu  Natural Cashew Crunch” on the front of the package they claim to be certified gluten free, certified vegan, have no peanuts and zero grams of trans fat.  I wondered to myself how a food can be ‘missing’ so much and still taste good, so I decided to try it.  When I opened the package there were six little cashew cluster squares inside of it.   I bit into the first one and it tasted delicious.  There is a sweet coating on the peanuts that makes them look glossy and stick together which is really good.

I fell in love with these little clusters and have been getting the little package every time I feel hungry on campus.  Last week I decided to google them to figure out where I can buy them off campus and of course I should have known this but Costco sells them.  I went to my local Costco on Saturday and unfortunately you cannot buy them in the store but you can order them online.  If you ever get a chance to try them or are on campus at Brigham Young University and see them in the vending machine I recommend that you try them.  I love them and I hope that you will too!

I spent last week in Sunny California and I have had the hardest time adjusting back to normal life.  My husband and I went shopping, visited family, and went to Disneyland and the Rose Bowl.  It was a perfect vacation.  The kind where your time is always filled with something but at the same time you aren’t rushing to get anything in particular done.  I fell into bed each night happily exhausted and totally forgot to write a new blog post until I was waiting for my class to start today.  While we were in California, my husband’s grandma (Grammy) educated me on Trader Joe’s and I fell in love with it.  I can only pray that someday soon we will have one of our own here in Utah.

When we walked into the store, Grammy went up to the customer service desk and asked them for a list of all of their gluten free food and they handed her a huge packet that told us exactly what brands and types of food to buy for each category of food.  It was an amazing (and eye opening) experience for me! We bought more food than we ever should have, and Grammy was kind enough to package it up and send it home with me.  I spent my time eating cookies, bread, crackers, tortillas and a myriad of other things that I haven’t been able to find in Utah for a reasonable price. I loved every minute of it!  If you ever get the opportunity to shop outside of Utah at a Trader Joe’s, don’t pass it up!

Popcorn Balls

Last night for the first time I made popcorn balls.  I was suprised at how easy they were to make, and how quickly I was able to wrap them after we had finished molding them.  Popcorn balls are a great way to make a lot of treats in a little time.  They require no cool down period after they have been formed, and pretty much everyone loves popcorn.  I am excited to share my new favorite recipe with you.  I hope you enjoy it as much as i did!

Ingredients:

2 cups unpopped popcorn, 1 cup light corn syrup, 1 lb (2 cups) brown sugar, 1 can sweetened condensed milk, 1 cup buter or margarine and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Instructions:

1. Pop the popcorn in an air popper and put it in a large bowl (we had to use 4 bowls because I didn’t have any one that was large enough)

2. Mix sugar, syrup, margaine and bring to boil.

3. Add milk and bring to soft ball (that means that you should drop a small ammount of the mix into a glass of clear water, if it balls then you have reached the right temperature)

4. Add vanilla and stir it in as it will stick.

5. Pour the mix slowly over the popcorn and mix well (be careful not to touch the mixture as it is hot).

6.  Form into balls (I like to dip my hands in water and then form the balls, it helps to keep the popcorn from sticking to you) and let sit on wax paper for 10 minutes before putting into bags or wrapping.

I LOVE this recipe because it is quick and easy.  The hardest part is doing the dishes after you are all done.🙂 I would love to hear your stories and recipes, please feel free to comment.  Merry Christmas!

Christmas Relish Tray

When I think of Christmas parties, I always think of funny white elephant gifts and all of the junk food that I am going to eat.  Sometimes, I enjoy stuffing my face, but I can only do that for so long before I want a healthier alternative.   Giving your Christmas party guests a healthier snack such as a relish tray not only helps them feel better about eating the rest of your deserts but it also is easy for you to throw together. A basic relish tray has carrots, tomatoes, celery, cucumber, broccoli and cauliflower.  Sometimes I like to spice mine up by adding bell peppers, olives and radishes.   But, what really makes a relish tray amazing is the dip.   My personal favorite dip to use is a ranch dip.  If you are pressed for time, you can always go and buy your favorite gluten free dip from the store. In my opinion, though, no store bought dressing can compare to the homemade stuff.  The recipe that I prefer to base my ranch dip off of comes from my favorite cookbook: 1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes by Carol Fenster. Here it is:

Ingredients:

1/2 teaspoon celery salt, 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper, 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/4 teaspoon dried chives, 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley, 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram, 1/4 teaspoon dried savory, 1/4 teaspoon pure cane sugar, 1/4 teaspoon onion powder, 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 cup 1% milk, 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar.

Instructions:

1. In a blender, mix all of the ingredients together until smooth.

2. Let the mixture stand for 1 hour for the mix to blend before serving

3. If you have left over dip you can store it in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

I love a good relish tray and I hope that you and your guests do as well.  Merry Christmas🙂

Every year, for as long as I can remember, my mother has made stained glass window cookies and taken them to all of our neighbors for Christmas.  As a child I would watch her intently as she made the dough, shaped the cookies and filled the middle with lifesavers.  It was always amazing to me that they turned out perfectly and that the ‘stained glass’ actually looked real! When she was done giving them to our neighbors she would let my siblings and I eat the rest of them. I would always start by eating the cookie part first, nibbling my way around the ‘stained glass,’ saving it for last.  I would savor it, eating it slowly, marveling at the way it held together and looked just like real stained glass to me.  This is my first Christmas being married, and I can’t wait to continue this tradition with my family.  My mothers recipe isn’t gluten free, so I’ve recently had to come up with a recipe of my own and I can’t wait to share it with all of you!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter or margarine (1 stick), 1 cup sugar, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2-3/4 cups Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix, 1 package of lifesavers (my favorite to use are the 5 flavor variety packs).

Instructions:

1. Cream butter and sugar together, add egg and vanilla beat together.  Add Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix.

2. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

3. While the dough is in the refrigerator open the lifesavers and put them into a ziplock bag.  Using a large spoon or a rolling-pin, smash the lifesavers into small/medium-sized pieces (don’t crush them into powder).  Set aside.

4. Roll out dough until it is 3/8 to 1/4-inch thick. Cut out cookie shapes (for Christmas I like to use tree and star cookie cutters) and then cut out another smaller shape in the middle (I usually use a small star or a circle for this)

4. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet and then sprinkle pieces of lifesaver into the center of the cookie (make sure to put enough so that when it melts it will fill the whole cookie center).

5 Bake at 350° for approximately 12-15 minutes, the cookie edges should be light brown. Let cookies cool slightly and use a spatula to remove them cookie sheet.

6. Let the cookies cool down before eating or sharing with others.

This is one of my favorite recipes, I hope you enjoy it as well! Merry Christmas🙂