Does Your Chocolate Crinkle? Favorite Christmas Cookies Series

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm… chocolate!

As a child, I was always jealous that my grandma would bake Christmas cookies with only one of my cousins. There were actually three of us cousins that lived close enough to participate, but it was only Diane with whom she shared that special day. My sister and I were left out. We did have two other cousins who were the right age, but they did not celebrate Christmas and so were generally left out of holiday celebrations. We would never see them at gatherings unless it was for New Year’s Day or something else “non-religious” as their father thought we were all pagans. I don’t think I have time to unpack that right now, so moving on…

One of our favorite Christmas cookies was the Betty Crocker Chocolate Crinkle recipe. When I found out that I had celiac disease, it became a challenge to me to convert my favorite Christmas cookies to gluten-free ones. So, here is my take on this chocolate treat!

Chocolate Crinkles (Adapted from the Betty Crocker Cookie Cookbook)

1/2 cup canola oil

4 squares unsweetened chocolate (4 oz.,) melted and cooled*

2 cups granulated sugar

4 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 cups brown rice flour

1 1/2 cups white rice flour

1/2 cup corn starch

1/2 cup tapioca starch

1 Tbsp. xanthan gum

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup confectioner’s sugar (for rolling)


Preheat oven to 350° F. Mix oil, chocolate, and granulated sugar. Blend in one egg at a time until well mixed. Add vanilla. Add flours, starches, xanthan gum, baking powder, and salt into oil mixture.

Drop teaspoonfuls of dough into confectioner’s sugar. Roll in sugar and shape into balls. Place about 2″ apart on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 10 – 12 minutes. Do not overbake! Makes about 6 dozen cookies. Enjoy!

* If you do not have unsweetened chocolate squares, you can substitute with 12 Tbsp. cocoa powder + 4 tsp. hard butter or margarine. Melt in a microwave-safe bowl for about two minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until melted, or in a double-boiler, stirring frequently until melted.

Can’t you just smell the chocolatey goodness?

To Have or Have Not – Pie Crust

Who will win? Bob’s Red Mill vs. Cup 4 Cup.

This last few weeks I have been giving a lot of thought to pie. Well, more accurately, pie crust. Do you ever find your mind straying to pie crust? Well, mine did!

The problem with pie crust is finding a good gluten free recipe for one. Yes, I am aware that the stores sell pre-made crusts. No, I would rather not consume one of those over-priced, bland, dry creations. Maybe I’m a pie crust snob. Very possibly. However, being a long-time baker, I have made many a pie crust. I have, though, not found a good way to make a homemade crust that’s gluten free.

So, taking matters into my gluten-free-floured hands, I purchased two pie crust mixes. The first was Bob’s Red Mill and the second was Cup 4 Cup.

This is the Cup 4 Cup Gluten-Free pie crust mix I purchased and made.
This is the pie it made; well, one of them!

I thought I still had the package from the Bob’s Red Mill pie crust mix that I made, but I can’t seem to find it, so you will have to settle for the following picture.

One of the pies I made from the Bob’s Red Mill pie crust mix. Yummy!

Any winners? I had some reservations regarding pie crust mixes to start with, but I persevered. I am used to mixing my own pie crust with flours, butter-flavored Crisco, etc. so a mix seems like something of a cop-out to me, but I bit the bullet and dove in!

The first one I made was the Cup 4 Cup. I was disappointed in how sticky the dough was. It took two scrubbings and quite a bit of soap to get my hands clean. I put the discs of pie crust in the fridge, as was recommended, but when I rolled them out a few days later, they stuck and broke and were basically a nightmare.

When the pie was done, and I admittedly only made the bottom crust and put a crumble on the top, it seemed soggy. It was, in fact, soggy and salty. Very unpleasant.

The second pie crust I made was the Bob’s Red Mill pie crust. It was different from the start. It didn’t stick to me and I was able to wash my hands normally afterward. The taste was better too. It was a little soft the first night that the pie was made, but the second day it was much better.

The clear winner here was Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pie Crust Mix. If you don’t have time to make it from scratch, this pie crust will do nicely. Happy pie-making!

For What I Am Thankful

What in the world do I do now?

There are times in our lives that we sit back and take stock. June 6, 2015 and the months that followed were a time of deep stock-taking for me and my family.

The day started out like many others, a beautiful, sunny Saturday. We we’re headed to a quincinera party; the first any of us had ever attended. It was for my now ex-husband’s second cousin. We never made it.

While traveling to the party, we had an accident. A lady turned left in front of us and a collision was not avoided. Our minivan hit the rear part of her car and crumpled. Unfortunately, it crumpled in on me, as I was in the passenger seat.

My right knee hit the dashboard and cracked in half, sending a shock up my leg to break my right hip. I had no idea of any of this at the time, and just wanted to straighten my leg, which was now cramped in the crumpled vehicle. Big mistake. It popped and agony shot through me.

The ambulance ride and my burned face from the airbag exploding it’s tiny particles all over me are just a bad memory now. I had to wait a week for the doctors at a well-known hospital to fix the hip, as they weren’t sure my heart would survive. Finally, they had no choice. The pain was unimaginable; worse than childbirth, if you can imagine, but the part I hated most was not being able to care for myself.

Not only could I no longer walk, I couldn’t even clean myself up after pottying! It was humiliating! First, bed pans are NOT glamorous. Second, cute, young male nurses just added to the embarrassment. They were very sweet and told me that they handled that all the time, but it was difficult for me to have to hand over my pride and independence like that. It was also good for me.

My knee, thank God, lined up perfectly when the hospital put it in an immobilizer, and thus didn’t need any other help. The hip was the worst of it.

Slowly, I regained my strength and was transferred to a nursing home much closer to home. The hospital where I was taken was about an hour and a half to two hours away from home, so the nursing home was a relief. I could see my kids!

Walking – how we take it for granted.
Photo by Tom Swinnen on

It was a terribly slow process, and I’ll admit to being completely jealous of people who had the ability to walk, but eventually I made it home. On August 10, over two months since I left my house, I was able to return. I wasn’t steady or walking unencumbered, but I was home.

Photo by SHVETS production on

The events of that time had many repercussions, including my oldest’s suicide plan and the crumbling of my marriage when I truly woke up to what I had married. But, above all, God is good. He led me and guided me in ways I had no idea I would ever need.

So, for what am I thankful this Thanksgiving? The ability to walk! And of course my family and friends, of whom you are a part. Happy Thanksgiving, friends. For what are you truly thankful?

For what are you thankful?
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on

What’s Cookin’ for Thanksgiving?

Photo by Engin Akyurt on

Generally, here in the USA, we celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November. Some of us use this holiday to give thanks for all the blessings that we have. Others use the holiday as a pathway to Christmas. This saddens me, as I think it is important to give thanks and praise to God, from whom all blessings flow!

Be that as it is, what I wanted to talk about today was the food that we are planning to make on Thursday. First and foremost, there’s the turkey. We have started brining the turkey in 1 cup of freshly squeezed (and then frozen) lemon juice, 1 Tbsp. pink sea salt and enough water to fill your container. We have ours in a cooler that we can move to the deck to keep cool (chilly weather here in the Midwest!) After the turkey is done brining, we will butter it with lemon-flavored butter and roast it in a paper grocery bag (closed on the end with staples!) for around three hours, depending on how big your bird is! Ours is on the smaller side, as there are only five of us this year, a relatively small gathering.

I am also working with two different piecrust mixes and will be doing a comparison soon for you. I have made some berry – peach filling for the piecrusts. Too yummy!

So, aside from the turkey we will also be having stuffing, mashed potatoes, veggies, and store bought rolls. Sounds good, doesn’t it? I can’t wait! Stay tuned for more…

Also, let me know in the comments below how you will be spending Thanksgiving, or if you don’t celebrate it, what will you be doing? For what are you thankful?

Tough Times

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First, I want to apologize for forgetting to post last night. I was actually clearing off some things from my bed when I tripped and fell. I ended up smacking my ribs, knees, and right wrist pretty badly. I’m in quite a bit of pain now, hence writing to you slipped my mind. I will probably be visiting the urgent care later this morning, as my ribs and wrist are still agonizing. For right now, I will post with my phone so that I only have to use my thumbs!

Going to court is scary!
Photo by Colin Lloyd on

What I wanted to address today (actually yesterday) was some tough times. As some of you may be aware, we are going through some difficult times. Recently I had to go to court regarding my house and foreclosure. It wasn’t pleasant, but I have hope that we can work things out. Then another blow; my child support for children #’s 3 and 4 suddenly stopped. Apparently, my lovely ex lost his job (or quit. I don’t really know) and will not be reached by the proper authorities to pay up. 😔.

Child #2 suggested that I add eyebrows in orange reflective tape along with candy cane stripes on the sides of my dark colored car so that maybe other drivers will start seeing me!!!
Photo by on

Add to that the fact that every time I drive somewhere I nearly get hit and life feels a bit overwhelming. Where, a couple of my children will ask, is God in all of this? Well, here’s the thing. We all have free will, right? So, even though I may be following God, others who do not yet know His great love, do not. This causes strife and sin. That is why we can have so many problems here on Earth!

Just keep plugging away and praying hard. Try your hardest to not to respond with anything but love. After all, those who do not know God’s amazing love are to be pitied and shown the way, not hated.

Where Have All the Eggnog Shakes Gone?

“A large eggnog shake, please!!!”
Photo by RODNAE Productions on

As a child, one of my favorite treats was eggnog. Back in those so long ago days (Just kidding! I’m sooooo very young!) eggnog was only available for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We didn’t have a lot of money to spare, so it was mostly at my aunt’s house that I could indulge my fondness for this special drink.

As I grew older, I discovered that a world-wide fast food place sold eggnog shakes. I was thrilled! The pinnacle of my obsession came the year my now ex-husband worked for said company. It was this company’s policy to close down on Thanksgiving morning and have the workers, managers, and their families come in for a treat. Well, it was a treat for the workers and the families! The managers had to wait on them and provide them with whatever they desired for breakfast! I had the biggest eggnog shake I have ever had in my entire life that day. It was bliss!

So, a couple years ago I noticed that it was harder to get eggnog shakes. I was fortunate enough to catch one location of the world-wide fast food place close to home that had the shakes for about three weeks. It was my last eggnog shake.

My other favorite fast-food place that actually has a lot of gluten-free options used to make the shakes too with eggnog custard. They were better than the first place, if a bit more pricey. They stopped selling them a few years back. Now, I may be forced to either forgo my favorite holiday treat or (horrors!) make my own. Sigh. Why does life have to be so very difficult?

What is your favorite shake flavor? Chocolate? Strawberry, perhaps? Or are you a plain vanilla? What about the Jamoca shake; a wonder of coffee and chocolate? Have you tried the new Vanilla Cinnamon shake? How about Pumpkin Salted Caramel? Leave me your favorites in the comments below and have a shakey day!!! 🙂

Thankful…Not Thankful

My adorable friend!

Just a few days ago I purchased this adorable bird. I find this kind of decoration adorable. Imagine my surprise when it rang up at 75 percent off! Um…pardon me? We are less than a week past Halloween, and nowhere near to Thanksgiving, but this clearly Thanksgiving-ish decoration is 75 percent off? What gives?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good deal! But this got me thinking…what happened to Thanksgiving? Christmas decorations have been out in some stores since July, a fact I find more than a bit unsettling. However, where are we as a nation, if we are not grateful for all the blessings bestowed on us? Even leaving God out of the equation, which I find almost impossible due to my own beliefs, but even then are we not blessed?

Are we perfect? Seriously? No. Of course we are not! But are we blessed? Absolutely! Am I biased thinking that America is a great place to live? Maybe, but I am very grateful to God that He allowed me to be born and live here. When did we lose that?

Are the only holidays that count the ones that make big corporations lots of money? Is it like this in all countries of the world? When did everything become about the almighty dollar? Was it always like this here? Am I just naive to think that God and His creations matter more than making a buck? What if we could go back to simpler times? Times when God came first, family next, and then country? Where money didn’t make the world go ’round, but rather God?

I realize that there are many people out there who do not share my beliefs. That is your choice. God made us all with free will, even if some of us use that to not even believe in His existence. I know. I have a child who struggles mightily with His existence and how He let horrible things happen to them and to all of us. I get it. That is trauma.

That doesn’t mean that He was not crying right along with us at what sin can do. It doesn’t mean that He didn’t want to stop it and put an end to the person who was perpetrating it. Free will. I think of it as a blessing; child #3 thinks of it as a curse. Maybe it can be both, but God can and does turn all things to His and His servants’ good.

Please, this Thanksgiving, think about for what and whom you are grateful. Don’t let big business take away your joy in loving your neighbor! I would rather pay full price for my little birdie and have everyone truly see the meaning and love behind giving thanks than to have Thanksgiving run over because it doesn’t make enough money for your local corporate store!