The color of winter.

Something deep inside me has changed.

Usually, it gets to be this time of year, & I’m miserable. The first snow hits, & I look outside in despair & disgust. Terror fills me at the thought of driving, even when the roads are clear – what if snows while we’re out? What if we hit a patch of black ice? WHY WON’T THE SUN JUST SHINE?!?

This past summer, I realized I tired I was of being less-than-happy. I’d made some progress on depression & anxiety, but I’d decided that wasn’t enough. I WOULD BE HAPPY! I did some research, read The Chemistry of Joy, & started to work. A lot of reflection, a lot “a-ha!” moments, & a lot of tears & laughter. Some vitamin & supplement additions. Forgiveness,

As weather cooled this fall, there was no panic about snow. When the first snow of the year fell, I wasn’t panicked. When the first winter storm hit, I was actually… elated. Delighted. Thrilled to see the snow. Bouncing it through on my way to work. Such fun! Such beauty!

It’s… surprising, to say the least. I’m enjoying winter! But it’s not just that. For the first time in a very long time, I’m seeing the wonder in the world. I’m in such a great place mentally, emotionally, in all my relationships. I have a great job, that I love. Life seems headed in such great places – I can’t wait to see what 2013 has in store!

Recipe: Gluten-free oatmeal cookies

I didn’t really realize how much I really like oatmeal cookies until recently. I think the recipe I grew up with didn’t have cinnamon, or didn’t have enough, because all I remember thinking when I used to eat them was “Why am I not eating the much-superior chocolate chip?”

Well, okay, I wasn’t that eloquent about it, but the sentiment was the same.

Now, though, I get it. Oatmeal cookies are just fun little balls of comfort, & so I set out to find a recipe worthy to share counter space with my famous chocolate chip cookies. After looking at many recipes, I decided to convert the Smitten Kitchen recipe to gluten-free. It was a definite success!

If you’re new to gluten-free, I should warn you: be sure to use gluten-free oats. Depending on your sensitivity level, it’s possible you could be fine with one or two cookies that don’t use gf oats, but the truth is, you really don’t want to take the chance. Spend the few extra dollars, & enjoy your food pain- &/or symptom-free. It would suck to spend your day curled up in pain when all you wanted was the comfort of an oatmeal cookie!

Gluten-free Oatmeal Cookies, adapted from the Smitten Kitchen recipe
Makes about four dozen cookies.

1 cup butter, softened
1 & 1/3 cups brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon xantham gum
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 & 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free flour
3 cups gluten-free rolled oats
1 & 1/2 cups raisins

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Mix together the butter, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, & cinnamon until smooth.
3. Add xantham gum & baking soda, & mix until just blended.
4. Add flour, mix together, & then toss in the oats & raisins.
5. Chill the dough in the fridge while you make chocolate chip cookies! You can also throw them in the freezer & make them as you want.
6. Using a cookie scoop, drop cookies onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for ten to twelve minutes in the middle of your oven. I usually flip top & bottom halfway through! Leave on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before pulling them off to cool.

Recipe: Gluten-free chocolate chip cookies

I don’t brag about a lot of things, & I’m actually pretty uncomfortable whenever anyone offers me praise, but this much I know is true: I make just the BEST chocolate chip cookies.

I don’t make them often, because when I make cookies, I EAT COOKIES OM NOM NOM. Cookies are one of my favorite parts of the holiday season! When I went gluten-free almost three (!) years ago, I was terrified I’d had my last one. But as it turns out, the Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour is really pretty awesome for cookies. I don’t like it for all baking, but cookies? Big thumbs up. The dough is… not tasty, but the finished cookies have the same taste, texture, & smell of a “normal” chocolate chop cookie. Because the first ingredient is garbanzo beans & oh-so-fibrous, I like to pretend they’re healthy. & good for breakfast. (They’re not. But I eat them anyway!)

Gluten-free chocolate chip cookies
Makes about four dozen cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon xantham gum
2 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill gluten-flour
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup nuts, optional (pecans are the BEST!)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°
2. Mix together butter, sugars, eggs, & vanilla. Add baking soda, salt, & xantham gum.
3. Add flour, one cup at a time.
4. Stir in chocolate chips & nuts, if using.
5. Using a cookie scoop, drop cookies onto parchment covered cookie sheets. Twelve is usually the magic number on a standard sheet.
6. Bake for 10-12 minutes on middle racks, flipping top & bottom halfway through. The cookies will probably look a bit undercooked, but once they’re cool, they’ll be perfect!

This recipe is mostly a repost from my previous blog, but I felt it deserved some Christmas love, so here it is again! I have, however, streamlined the directions & taken a different photograph.

Fantastic Stuff: Tab for a Cause

The internet is full of some pretty awful stuff. But it’s also full of some pretty fantastic stuff. I share my discoveries here. Not all of them will be new to you, but hopefully they’ll brighten your life at least a little!

Created by NerdFighters, Tab for a Cause is a pretty nifty Firefox extension that uses the advertising revenue raised from opening tabs & donating it to non-profits like Human Rights Watch & Conservation International. You also get to learn about the work these organizations do. So simple, yet so amazing. Love it!

Recipe: Cheesy Pepperoni Two Bite Biscuits

A lot of my recipes come by way of necessity, & this was no exception. We threw an Alice in Wonderland tea party at work for a dear co-worker’s retirement, & my original plan of making gluten-free vegetable pizza was taken by someone else, leaving me to come up with my own contribution last minute. It needed to be a savory finger food, as there was to be cake & a few other desserts, so I had to sort of think on it. Then, to my complete joy, I discovered that I had an entire box of gluten-free Bisquick in my pantry!

Now, I know I advocate for Real Food, & I absolutely think it’s important. But sometimes, you just want pancakes that taste like pancakes! & for that, I keep GF Bisquick on hand. Someday, perhaps, I figure out my own blend of GF flours, but until then, I’ll just rely on it. I LOVE that it doesn’t have tapioca starch in it – for whatever reason, that seems to bother my tummy. The ingredients are fairy simple – rice flour, sugar, potato starch – so I don’t feel too much guilt using it. You shouldn’t either!

I’ve made cheesy biscuits in the past (they continue to be a popular recipe at my old blog), but I only had three eggs, so those were out of the question. The cheese garlic biscuit recipe at Betty Crocker only makes ten biscuits, & that’s just not enough for a party. So I just measured out how much mix was in the box, sort of combined the two recipes, & went from there!

I assume you could leave out the cheese & pepperoni, & just have biscuits. Or you could add other savory or even sweet bits & it would be delicious. I’ll definitely be testing it out in the future, but in the meantime, here’s the recipe for cheesy pepperoni two bite biscuits! They’re best served warm & with a bit of butter, but are tasty at room temperature as well. These are also much closer to Red Lobster’s Cheddar Bay Biscuits than my previous recipe.

Cheesy Pepperoni Two Bite Biscuits
Makes approximately three dozen mini biscuits

Ingredients:
1 box GF Bisquick (approx 2 & 1/2 cups)
3 eggs
1 cup milk (I used plain almond; I’m sure any type would do)
6 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons dried chives
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2-3 ounces pepperoni minis (half the package of Hormel brand)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Combine Bisquick, eggs, milk, & butter in a bowl, then add garlic, chives, & cheese. Stir in pepperoni.
3. Roll batter into small one-inch balls, & drop onto greased cookie sheet. Be sure to leave some space for expansion!
4. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned & a toothpick comes out clean.

Update: Before anyone asks, no, I have NO IDEA if this would translate well using regular Bisquick. I assume it would? But as I don’t want wheat flour in my kitchen, I’m not about to find out.

Fantastic Stuff: Your LL Bean Boyfriend

The internet is full of some pretty awful stuff. But it’s also full of some pretty fantastic stuff. I share my discoveries here. Not all of them will be new to you, but hopefully they’ll brighten your life at least a little!

Apparently, all the clever people hang out on Tumblr. It gave us The Hawkeye Initiative, all of the “Hey Girl” Ryan Gosling incarnations, & now this: Your LL Bean Boyfriend.

As someone who salivates over the LL Bean catalog each & every time it shows up in my mailbox (the flannels! The soft sweaters! THE FLEECE LINED JEANS!), it’s as if this was made for me. Love it! Methinks I know where I’ll be wasting an hour’s worth of time…