Happy Holidays and a Giveaway!!!

Up until about a year ago, my pots and pans were a jumbled variety of hand-me downs and fixer uppers. I was so excited last fall when I purchased my first full set of matching pots and pans. I'm so happy with them and at least one piece gets used every day to feed my family delicious gluten free meals. In fact most of the recipes and dishes you see here on my blog have been prepared with this set. It's Rachael Ray's 10 piece stainless steel cookware set and I love it.

Which is why I'm so excited to tell you, I have a wonderful opportunity provided by cookware.com and Rachael Ray Cookware to spread the holiday spirit to my readers!! One lucky reader will receive a Bubble and Brown 2.75 quart covered casserole dish from Rachael Ray's bakeware collection. I'll be reviewing this product for you in a later post, but in the meantime I can't wait to give one away! You'll be able to pick from Orange, Yellow, Chocolate or Blue!

To enter this drawing please leave me a comment with your e-mail (if you don't leave contact information I'll be unable to let you know you've won, automatic forfeit. Sorry) and tell me what product on cookware.com makes you go gaga!! This giveaway will close at 12 am Pacific on New Year's Eve, I'll announce the winner January 1st.

It's Christmas, and New Years is just around the corner. I hope you're all having a happy and safe holiday season, enjoying family, friends and really good food. I know I've been cooking often and am sure you are too, wouldn't this little beauty just make it more fun!!

Creative Consumables!

This last week I've been busy busy in the kitchen, making yummy treats. I've made some caramel corn, some candied nuts and miscellaneous other goodies I will share in another post. I don't care to bake so much and while I do enjoy cookies and make them occasionally, the holiday season isn't when I spend my time doing it. I tend to turn to candy for my consumable well wishes to family and friends.

This year, I combined candies!! That's right I took some of the things I like to make separately and put them all together for something supremely scrumptious. Caramel corn, candied nuts and some drizzled white and dark chocolate make for the delicious item you'll see below. It was so easy too.

Just make each of these recipes first:

Caramel Corn
Candied Nuts

Then lay out the caramel corn on a parchment lined baking sheet, sprinkle some nuts into it and drizzle chocolate over the top! Allow to set, break up the chunks a bit and package in a bag or tin for delivery to your loved ones! I promise they'll beg you for more.

Simple Candied Nuts

I recently cleaned out my pantry, literally taking every item off every shelf and moving it into the kitchen to rest on various surfaces so I could really deep clean it. Shelves wiped off, many many items thrown away, reorganized and the whole nine. Well wouldn't you know, after all that work it seems I have even less room than before, haha. Love it when that happens.

Well one of the many items I found hiding in my black hole of a pantry were some raw cashews... (I'd been wondering where they'd disappeared to). What was I going to do with raw nuts... A HA, I'll candy them. I like candied nuts on salads and as an occasional snack so I grabbed them up and went right to work.

I pulled out my handy dandy Better Homes and Garden cookbook, my favorite cookbook! Some of the pages are stuck together they get used so much. This cookbook is full of pictures and handy information about many many things, not just recipes and I was able to find the simplest recipe ever for good ol' candied nuts.

Candied Nuts courtesy of my Better Homes and Garden cookbook.

1 1/2 cups raw or roasted nuts (I used raw because it's what I had on hand)
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Step 1:
Line a baking sheet with foil, butter or spray the foil and set aside. (I did not grease my foil and had no problems.)

Step 2: In a 10 inch heavy skillet combine nuts, sugar, butter and vanilla. Cook over medium high heat shaking skillet occasionally until sugar begins to melt. Do not stir at this stage.

Step 3: Reduce heat to low. continue cooking until sugar is golden brown, stirring occasionally. Remove skillet from heat.

Step 4: Pour nut mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Cool completely. Break into clusters. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

I love how the Better Homes and Garden recipe was so simple that even though this was my very first time making candied nuts I was able to pull out a great tasting result with no hassle. I'll show you later where these little beauties ended up. I think you'll be very pleased.

Nice hot chili for a cold cold day.

Come join us over at the Gluten Free Homemaker for the What can I eat that's Gluten Free, hosted every Wednesday by Linda. You'll always find some really fun ideas and meet new people. Thank you Linda for keeping this wonderful even going every week.

One of my favorite hot meals to eat when it gets to freezing temperatures, which it has been doing a lot around here is chili. I don't mean chili out of a can, nor do I mean chili that I had to slave over all day long. I like a good tasting chili that is fairly quick and easy to put together. Simple ingredients and just a little bit of my time make for the best meals most nights.

My family has decided of all the chili's I make, aside from Chicken Smoosh (which I don't really consider a chili, although it is close) is the recipe I'll share below. I've been making it for years, sometimes in the crockpot and sometimes on the stovetop it all depends on what time of day I decide to take the meat out of the freezer. Feel free to change up the beans, sometimes I use black beans instead of pinto or kidney, all depends on what I have in the pantry.

Really Good Chili
Really Good Chili

1 lb ground meat (your choice)
1 cup diced onion
1/3 cup diced celery
1 small can diced green chilis
3 fresh roma tomatoes diced (if they are good and in season) OR 1 - 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 - 15 oz can pinto beans (with liquid)
1 - 15 oz can kidney beans (with liquid)
1 - 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 Tablespoons chili powder
2/3 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water

Crockpot - Brown meat in a skillet and drain, add to crockpot with all the other ingredients, give it a good stir and cook 6 hours on low.

Stovetop - Brown meat and drain, add onions and celery and cook until translucent, add chilis, tomatoes, beans with liquid, tomato sauce and spices. Let simmer 45 min to an hour.

Serve with sour cream, cheddar cheese and tortilla chips if you like and enjoy!!

Betty Crocker Giveaway Winner!!!

Congratulations to Doreen!!

You are the winner of the Betty Crocker fun pack thanks to MyBlogSpark and Betty Crocker! I've already contacted you and everything is underway.

Sorry to all my readers, life has been a little bit hectic lately and food is getting inhaled rather than painstakingly photographed and eaten with enjoyment around here it seems. A lot of chicken noodle soup is going around and both of my boys (husband being one of them) have been fighting a bug with everything they've got.

I hope to be posting more regularly again soon. Please keep an eye out.

Caramel Corn - A holiday treat!

The last few years (since going gluten free) I would get a little sad at the holidays. I greatly miss the whole baking and decorating, not to mention eating of holiday cookies! I'd make a bunch and give them out to family and friends, it was one of my favorite things to do. I'm not saying that I couldn't do it, gluten free style, but it's not quite the same and not all of my non gluten free friends are quite as accepting of the cuisine as others.

So I'd search and search every year for something to replace the treats I used to make, finally last holiday season I found a recipe for caramel corn that had rave reviews, I decided to try it. This is very good caramel corn, and so much easier to make than I ever though caramel corn could be. I'd never made caramel corn before this recipe (while I had eaten plenty in my lifetime) and I think I made 15 batches or so last year, I gave it out to everybody and it was a huge hit. It's not my recipe and I didn't make any changes but I want to share it with you because I enjoyed it that much.

Please try it, and enjoy it as much as I have. I'm already excited about all the batches I'll be making this year!!

My Amish Friends Caramel Corn (from allrecipes.com)

My Amish Friends Caramel Corn (from allrecipes.com)

  • 7 quarts plain popped popcorn
  • 2 cups dry roasted peanuts (optional)
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup margarine (I use butter)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Place the popped popcorn into two shallow greased baking pans. You may use roasting pans, jelly roll pans, or disposable roasting pans. Add the peanuts to the popped corn if using. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C). Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, margarine and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring enough to blend. Once the mixture begins to boil, boil for 5 minutes while stirring constantly.
  3. Remove from the heat, and stir in the baking soda and vanilla. The mixture will be light and foamy. Immediately pour over the popcorn in the pans, and stir to coat. Don't worry too much at this point about getting all of the corn coated.
  4. Bake for 1 hour, removing the pans, and giving them each a good stir every 15 minutes. Line the counter top with waxed paper. Dump the corn out onto the waxed paper and separate the pieces. Allow to cool completely, then store in airtight containers or resealable bags.