Monday, May 30, 2011

Back to life, back to reality..

Is it just me or does anyone else have the urge to sing that song every time you say "back to reality"?? Just me? Ok. Anyways, I am seriously back to a harsh reality after an AMAZING long, long weekend. We have been up in the lakes region of New Hampshire kicking off the summer with my bff's wedding and annual Memorial Day goodness since Thursday. Once I unpack (which could be days) and figure out where my camera is, I will be kicking off a Wedding Week extravaganza with pics and details of the beautiful nuptials. Until then, you can enjoy the view we had most of the weekend.

On another note, I came home to find ants... in my bathtub. Seriously, seven ants crawled out of the spout in my bathtub tonight while I showered. SEVEN. ANTS. IN. MY. BATHTUB. while I was IN IT. Picture that debacle.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday

I'm linking up with Jamie @ This Kind of Love for my first ever

I'm loving that my best friend is getting married in less than two days. The wedding is on Lake Winnipesaukee on Friday and I cannot think of a better way to kick off the summer! Pictures and full wedding recap to follow next week!

I'm loving that Olivia is the Biggest Loser, even though I wanted Hannah to win it, too. Olivia and Hannah were my favorites right from the very beginning and they looked fabulous!

I'm loving that we are beginning to check things off the list for the wedding! I sent some friends out to pick up flip flops for the reception at Old Navy's annual $1 sale, thinking that I would end up with about 30 pairs because of the limit of 5 per customer. Well, those girls know how to shop! We have 105 pairs of flip flops! 1-0-5! I am so grateful for my mom, friends, and cousin! AND we almost have all of our appointments booked with wedding photographers for next week.

I'm loving my sweet fiance and the flowers that he brought home because I wasn't feeling well. He always knows just what to do.

Happy Wednesday!!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Perfect Party Cookies, hold the gluten.

Something that you should know about me is that I am a carb-lover. I love all things pasta, pizza, cookies, bread, pancakes, you name it. If it's made with flour, I'm all over it. Something else that you should know is that my fiance was recently diagnosed with a gluten-allergy. These two things don't mix. When I finished crying on the floor clearing out my kitchen of all gluten, I was sure that life as I knew it, was over. I have always loved to cook and consider myself to be pretty good at it and I was having a great time trying out all kinds of new recipes when we moved into our new house. What I didn't know how to do, was cook without gluten.

To have a gluten intolerance means that you cannot have any wheat products. I only had to read one article to know that we were not just looking for "wheat" on the label. Barley, rye, oats, spelt, and modified food starch are only a few examples of ingredients to avoid. It was a bit daunting. The first week that we went gluten-free, we had grilled chicken, baked potatoes, and vegetables every single night for dinner. I was left feeling defeated and craving pasta. So I did my research, restocked my kitchen, and began cooking again.

Trial and error proved to be expensive but worth it. We figured out some brands that were so good that you couldn't tell the difference from the original and some that were so bad that you couldn't tell the difference from cardboard. I made lasagna, chicken parm, buttermilk pancakes, chocolate chip cookies, corn bread, and life was good again.

I became obsessed with turning "regular" recipes into gluten-free recipes. I was out to prove to the world that we could eat whatever we wanted and it was going to be better than the original recipe. I spend a lot of time reading food blogs and one of my favorites is Stephanie Cooks. It was Stephanie's Original Perfect Party cookies that I tried four times before I perfected them as gluten-free. I have never even tried them in their original form but I am confident that the cookies are just as good without gluten. How can you go wrong with cake batter, chocolate chips, and sprinkles?

The first time I made them, they looked like this:

Or at least that's what they looked like when Jeff scraped off a couple of "cookies". I think they were a flop for a couple of reasons.. I did not add any xanthan gum, which is a key ingredient in gluten-free baking. Gluten gives most baked goods their elasticity, and xanthan gum mocks that. I also did not let the dough chill for very long. I believe those two things are what caused them to spread out all over the tray and then burn because they came out so thin. We can't let a cookie go to waste in this house, so Jeff scraped everything off, packed it in a tupperware, and ate the whole batch within two days. That's what motivated me to keep trying. I figured if they were good with some major baking mistakes and without gluten, we have ourselves a winner.

After some tweaks in the process and products, I ended up with this:

Everything about this cookie is good. Whether you try this one or Stephanie's Original, you have to bake these. I have not tried one of her recipes that I haven't liked and I guarantee you these will be gone before they cool, which is obviously the best time to eat any type of chocolate chip cookie.

Perfect (Gluten-free) Party Cookies

Adapted from: Stephanie Cooks


1/2 cup of brown rice flour
1/2 cup of sorghum flour
1 cup yellow gluten-free cake mix (I use Betty Crocker)
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. xanthan gum
3/4 cup butter, melted, and slightly cooled
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tsp. gluten-free vanilla (McCormick's is gluten-free)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup chocolate chips
4 tbsp. colored sprinkles

1. Sift together the flours, cake mix, baking soda, and xanthan gum, in a large bowl and set aside.

2. Mix together the melted butter, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla, in a stand-mixer or by hand.

3. Add the dry combo to the wet ingredients and mix until well combined.

4. Add the chocolate chips and sprinkles.

5. Put the dough in the fridge to chill for up to a day, or at least 30 minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 350.

7. Once the dough has chilled, scoop dough onto a well-greased cookie sheet. (I've had to really grease the sheet for the gluten-free version.) Keep the dough cool until it goes into the oven.

8. Bake for 10-12 minutes until they are golden brown.

9. Let cookies cool on sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. (Or eat immediately off of the cookie sheet as we do.)

Friday, May 13, 2011

All's well that ends well.

I never really got that saying but I feel that the title is appropriate. This has been a LONG week. It started with this:

and ended with this:

That kind of long. I have been ready for Friday since Monday. We have been up to our eyeballs in state testing and the teachers kids are so D-O-N-E. They worked super hard but were impossible when they finished. I can't say that I blame them but we aren't done with the test and still have 6 more weeks of school. I should have had a bigger margarita.

Overall though, my week was pretty lovely. I was able to go to my best friend's final dress fitting and she was stunning! I really cannot wait for her wedding in two weeks & know I will be a mess! The woman who did the alterations was very serious about showing me how to do the bustle. There were a couple of us there and she pointed at me and said, "You! Watch carefully." It actually made me a bit nervous. She was also very serious about how many cups went into the dress and was making jokes about how it wouldn't be good for a boob to fall out in the church. She had a broken italian accent though & we didn't really get what she was saying until we left. Here's hoping that everyone's boobs stay put.

I was also able to spend some time playing with my sweet niece, who has a bigger and bigger vocabulary every time I see her. She is also obsessed with having "pretty toes". I painted her toes once when she slept over and created a monster! She has since had everyone paint her toes, including my father.

How sweet are those chubby little feet??

Happy weekend!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Looking for a way to avoid the morning rush hour traffic?

Get a flat tire. Then, watch all of the traffic go by from the side of the road. I would only recommend this strategy if you don't know how to change a flat tire or plan to be at work early to make photocopies. Oh, and make sure that you haven't had your coffee yet!

As I jammed out a bit/checked the traffic obsessively on my ride to to work on Monday, I noticed that the tire pressure light suddenly came on. I turned my radio down to discover the terrible noise of what could only be the sound that comes when you are driving on your rims. (hubcaps? I don't have "rims" but you catch my drift, yes?)

Since Jeff is taking a class, he was not able to come rescue me, so he asked his business partner, who so graciously dropped what he was doing to come help me out. Bless him. My job was to stand on the side of the road and pray that we didn't get killed. Those cars were FLYING. If only the traffic would move that fast when I'm actually driving in it. It was also LOUD and windy as I tried to shout my makeshift sub plans to one of my co-workers. We Co-worker extraordinaire, fixed it all up and soon enough I was on my way.

Now I'm rolling with this gem.

The good thing was that this lead me to discover that I need new tires. Lotsa $$$$ later, I'm not looking like this anymore.

I totally needed new tires so this was a blessing in disguise. I just hope that I don't have to see the side of 93 ever again. If I do though, I know I am so incredibly blessed to have the kind of guy who would make sure anything and everything is done to get me where I need to be safely. Love that man!

In other news, Jeff and I ate $55 worth of steak tips.. in 3 nights. How much meat is $55 worth? That would be 5 lbs. We were told it would feed 10 but apparently it only feeds 2... 3 times. I ordered from one of my favorite shops, expecting to have some family over for a cookout. When the plans fell through, we had a feast on repeat. It literally melted in my mouth, every.single.time. If we had more, I would make it again tonight.

If we didn't just buy new tires, I would say I am off to buy steaktips in bulk but instead I'm off to get the rest of my reality TV fix before bed. LOVING The Voice!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Remember me?

So I totally dropped the ball after I wrote my first post. I've spent a fair amount of time stalking reading other blogs this week, but then I remembered that I made my own! I hope I haven't let down any of my faithful followers. Forgive me.

So, ironically, after I came up with my totally clever blog title. I found myself in a total cooking slump, which somehow led to a grocery shopping slump, which resulted in some pretty wacky dinner choices. The best one? Italian chicken sausages & sugar snap peas. Creative. I know. The original plan was supposed to be an easy dinner anyways, but since pasta is date night status now for us now that Jeff eats gluten free, I was pretty excited about the simple italian goodness that would be waiting for us after our walk. However, Jeff decided that he would have a $4 bag of pasta for just himself when I worked late one night last week. The poor guy might have been left without choices but he sure ate like a king. And yes, gluten free pasta really is $4. So anyways, an italian date night turned into a pretty sweet flashback of the four times my mother let us buy school lunches. Now if only I could figure out how to make the square pizza that came in the white box with holes in it. What were the holes for anyways??

Tonight's dinner was much classier.. gluten free macaroni & cheese, Boston baked beans, and turkey hot dogs. I promise that I am a better cook than this! I'll make it up to you, I swear! It's just that it was raining, and I was tired, and I can only eat those types of food when it is raining or snowing. Is that weird?

We went grocery shopping last night so there should be some pretty tasty items coming up on the menu. I also have a DELISH cookie recipe to post this week. I have a field trip tomorrow (pray for me) so I can't promise anything, but I won't make you wait another week for the next post.