Shortbread (Sand dollars) Gluten Free

School is out for Isaiah. He graduated from kindergarten this week and so we are in full summer celebration mode. We have been talking about things related to summer, places we’d like to go, pools we’d like to hit up, and, of course, the beach.  We talked a lot about the elaborate sand castles we plan to build and so, today, in that vein of thinking, I made sand dollar shortbread cookies. I have been wanting to try “Art of Gluten Free Baking’s” shortbread cookie recipe for a while.  Then, I came across a picture of sugar cookies that looked like sand dollars by applying a sprinkling of cinnamon/sugar and pressing slivers of almonds into each cookie. I decided to give it a go! They turned out very delicate and buttery, with a bit of a snickerdoodle taste to them because of the cinnamon/sugar on top.  You can most definitely use these shortbread cookies for lots of things. They obviously make great jam filled cookies (as you can see in the original post on “Art of Gluten Free Baking”). You could drizzle them or dip them with dark chocolate or even use them to make a cream filled sandwich cookie.

The dough is super easy to whip up and uses Jeanne’s flour mix which I now keep on hand when I want to make her dinner rolls. My kids had a great time helping me roll out the dough and press the cookie cutters in to make the rounds. Mercy loved helping me sprinkle the cinnamon sugar and Isaiah was very careful in placing the almond slivers at just the right spots. All in all these were fun to make and equally fun to eat. 🙂

Hope you enjoy!

Gluten Free Shortbread (Sand dollars)

Shortbread recipe from “Art of Gluten Free Baking-adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Note: This recipe uses my gluten-free flour mix:
Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix (mix together and store in fridge):
1 1/4 C. brown rice flour
1 1/4 C. white rice flour
1 C. tapioca flour
1 C. sweet rice flour (also known as Mochiko)
2 scant tsp. xanthan gum

(you can also use the gluten-free flour mixture of your choice–just be sure it contains xanthan gum. Or, you can add 1/4-1/2 tsp. xanthan gum per cup of gluten-free flour. If you use bean flour, it will add a bean taste to the cookies)

3 1/2 C Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 lb (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 C granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract (I used almond extract to compliment the almond slivers I was planning to put on top)
extra tapioca flour for dusting

1 egg white mixed with 1 TBSP water (used for brushing on the cookies before baking)

4 TBSP sugar mixed with 1 TSP cinnamon

slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-in a medium bowl, combine flour and salt, set aside
-in the bowl of a mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until it is light and fluffy
-add the sugar, continue to beat
-add the vanilla extract
-add the flour and salt mixture to the butter mixture, beat until just combined
-remove bowl from mixer and do the final mixing of the dough with your hands
-divide into two lumps
-shape each lump into a flat disk and wrap each disk in plastic wrap
-put into refrigerator to chill (for about 15-20 minutes)

When you’re ready to make the cookies, take out your first disk from the refrigerator and set onto counter to warm up a bit
-when dough is soft enough to roll out, place dough onto a Silpat mat (or between two sheets of plastic wrap)and roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thickness.

Cut out rounds and place on parchment lined cookie sheets.  Brush each cookie round with a bit of the egg wash.  Sprinkle a small amount of cinnamon sugar over each cookie. Place 5 almond slivers on each cookie so that it looks like a sand dollar.

Bake in over for about 5 min.  Take out and gently press the almonds down into each cookie. Return to oven for another 6-8 min.  Take them out when the edges start to appear slightly brown.

Let cool on the pan for 10 minutes before removing. These are delicate cookies so if you remove them much sooner you will end up with broken cookies.

Hope you enjoy these and that they get you thinking about your fun summer adventure plans. 🙂


A Happy 4th Birthday and Rich, Dark Chocolate Cake (Gluten free or Regular)

I found a recipe online for a rich, dark chocolate cake and decided to make it for my daughter, Mercy’s, 4th birthday party. She wanted a chocolate cake with pink ruffled frosting and I wanted it to be perfect. I browsed tons of cake recipes and settled on this one from Sweetapolita. It was all I had hoped it would be and the guests at the party loved it. I have now made it gluten free and regular and you cannot tell the difference.  It is delightfully moist and holds up great to layering. I have also made it into cupcakes and they turned out great too. I just lessened the baking time a bit.

I am going to give you the gluten free version. You can go to Sweetapolita and get the regular version. For my frosting I made a cream cheese buttercream because I don’t like doing meringue frostings. I’m just not good at them yet and end up quite frustrated when they don’t whip up correctly.

You really should try this cake next time you need a good chocolate fix.  Would love to hear back from you if you do! 🙂

Rich and Dark Chocolate Cake (Gluten Free)


1 cup rice flour (I have used brown and white and gotten the same results with no discernible differences)

1/2 cup Potato starch

1/4 cup tapioca flour

2 cups granulated sugar

3/4 cup Hershey’s Special DARK Cocoa

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup strong black coffee (can be hot)

1 cup buttermilk, room temperature (I used 1 cup of milk mixed with 1 tsp apple cider vinegar)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract ( I actually omitted this b/c I didn’t have any)

Directions: (from Sweetapolita with my notes in itallics)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare 2 x 9″ (or 3 x 8″ for slightly shorter layers) cake pans with butter and flour or parchment paper. (I buttered my pans and dusted them with cocoa powder. They came out beautifully). In bowl of electric mixer, sift all dry ingredients. Add all remaning ingredients to bowl with the dry ingredients and with paddle attachment on mixer, mix for 2 minutes on medium speed (you may need the plastic splashguard that comes with mixer) and pour into prepared pans. Batter will be liquidy. (I seriously couldn’t believe how liquidy this batter was, both regular and gluten free.  I was pretty freaked out that  there was no way this cake would bake up correctly. I was pleasantly surprised!)

Bake for 20 minutes and rotate pans in oven. Cakes are done when toothpick or skewer comes clean–approximately 35 minutes. Try not to overbake. Cool on wire racks for 20 minutes then gently invert onto racks until completely cool.

*If doing the ruffly cake, you will likely want to increase the cake recipe to add a third 9″ layer.

*This cake is sturdy enough to be used under fondant, stacked, etc. but also moist and tasty enough too go on its own with almost any type of frosting, glaze, etc.

Wanna see the inside of that girly ruffle cake? I thought you might. 🙂

And just for fun, here are a few more pics of the birthday party. I sure do love my little girl! I can’t believe she is 4!!!

Thanks to my friend, Sarah Mcclendon, for the great pictures!

Sweet Pork Tacos with Cilantro Lime Slaw (Gluten Free)

Doesn’t that sound yummy!?? Oh it is. This combination of sweet pork and crunchy cilantro lime slaw is killer.

I found the recipe through Our Best Bites. They were doing a series on another crafty blog called Make it and Love it.  As soon as I saw the recipe, I put all the ingredients on my shopping list. I love that I can make the meat in the crock pot, do the slaw earlier in the day and then let the flavors marry, and assemble simple tacos when the dinner time craziness begins. The kids and husband loved these!

So, head on over to Make it and Love it HERE and make this for dinner sometime soon. In order to ensure it is gluten free, just make sure your Enchilada sauce is GF and use corn tortillas. I also added some halved cherry tomatoes to our tacos.  So good.

And if you are crafty, have a look around that blog. I’m amazed at what that lady does with fabric and craft supplies! I am not gifted like that. If you are, have a blast and make some of her fun things.

Enjoy your dinner!

Funnel Cakes (Gluten Free)

Do you feel a tiny bit sorry for yourself in the fall when you are at fall festivals and the air is full of the scent of fried dough?  You see the funnel cake line stretched long with people excited to pay $5 for a small plate of funnel cake bliss.  If you are like me, you wish you could have just a bite. Of course, you know that one bite would not be worth the price paid in stomach pain and misery later. But still… You remember the old days before you were diagnosed as gluten intolerant when you could partake in that classic fall festival yumminess.

Well, I know it is not fall but the idea to make these was very random. I was sifting through some of my favorite online blogs and landed for a bit on The Pioneer Woman. Such a fun blog to read. Her recipes are wonderful and her humor always gets me laughing. She had a post about funnel cakes. As I was reading she commented that funnel cake batter is really sweetened, thin pancake batter that is fried. Hmmmm… I can make gluten free pancake batter. Could I fry it and have a funnel cake?? You see where this is going.

I did some funnel cake research online. It seems that most recipes are basically pancake batter and a lot of people recommended adding an extra egg white.  I don’t really know why, but I decided to go with it. For simplicity and to easily see if I was onto something, I whipped up a batch of pancake batter using Pamelas Pancake and Baking Mix. I followed the directions but added the extra egg white, 2 TBSP sugar, and a 1/2 tsp of cinnamon because that sounded yummy to me. I also added an extra tsp of baking powder for a boost of leavening. *I found after a few test runs, that it worked better to add two extra TBSP of pamelas mix in order to have a little thicker batter.

I heated the oil, put all my pancake batter into a ziploc bag, snipped the corner, and did my best to drizzle the batter into the oil in a funnel cake shape.  I don’t have to tell you what happened because you already saw the picture. Yep, deliciousness. My kids gobbled up the first and second one I made before I even got to taste it. But when the third one came out and it had cooled beyond scorching my mouth, you better believe I had my taste. Seriously, good. Really good. I was immediately taken back to those long lines at the festival.

I know frying stuff is messy. But these really are easy. You should whip some up soon.  Have fun playing with shapes and toppings. I was thinking I could have tried funnel cake hearts or mickey mouse heads for my kids. They would have loved that.  Might be harder than I think though and they were more than happy with the regular round funnel cake.

I dusted ours with powdered sugar because that is how I have always had them. But in reading online, lots of people dust with cinnamon/sugar, drizzle chocolate sauce on them, or top with strawberry sauce and whipped cream. I don’t think you can go wrong.  I just love them the old fashioned way.

You could probably use any pancake recipe that you have and like. Like I said, I used a mix and it worked great and therefore that is what I’ll use for this “Recipe”.

Funnel Cakes (Gluten Free).

*Makes 5-7 funnel cakes, depending on how big you make yours


1 Cup + 2 TBSP Pamelas Baking and Pancake Mix

3/4 cup water

1 TBSP oil

1 large egg + 1 egg white

2 TBSP granulated sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon


Make pancake batter by combining all ingredients and mixing well.

Heat about 1 1/2 inches of oil in a heavy pan until it reaches about 370 degrees. Pour your batter into a piping bag with a wide tip or you can improvise like I did and put it in a large ziploc bag and snip the corner off. Pipe the batter into oil, making a free-form lattice pattern; cook until browned, flipping once.  Mine needed about 1 1/2 minutes per side, but keep an eye on them because they can brown quickly.

If you see they are getting too brown too quickly, lower your oil temp a bit. Remove your funnel cake from oil and place on a plate lined with paper towels.  Wait about two or three minutes for it to drain off some of the excess oil and then top with powdered sugar.

Continue until all of the batter is used.

Enjoy!! And please let me hear your feedback if you try them. 🙂

Black Bean Chocolate Cake (Gluten Free)

*photo courtesy of my sweet friend, Leigh Ann. 🙂

Ok, I am sure that after reading that title, some of you are pretty skeptical. Hang with me. This is ACTUALLY good. And I just love how deviant it is to put black beans into a dessert. Come on, you know somewhere in you is a little rebel who wants to at least give this a try.  I can assure you that you CANNOT taste the black beans. . . at all. But isn’t it cool how they add an extra punch of protein? I love that in a cake. Makes me feel almost justified in eating it. 🙂 Also, this has 5 eggs in it! 5.  That is also a protein boost. Wanna make it yet? You should. Even if you don’t have an issue with gluten, you should try this. Make it for your family and let them eat it… then watch their faces when you tell them that it is made with black beans. Awesome. You can frost this with your favorite icing but I like it just dusted with powdered sugar. It is not an overly sweet cake, which I love. The powdered sugar adds a slight touch of sweetness without overpowering the delicious rich chocolaty flavor.  You could also serve this with a fresh pile of whipped cream. Mmmmmm.

I came across recipes for black bean brownies (which I have not yet tried) a few years ago and was curious. I bookmarked the recipe.  When searching through my bookmarks I saw it and started wondering if a cake could be made with the beans. I found a few recipes online for just that, so I gave it a shot. I’m not sure who the original author of this recipe is. But to whoever you are: pure awesomeness! I really think this might be my go to chocolate cake recipe from now on. I took some to my mom and she agreed. Plus, it saves me a lot of money to not use expensive GF flours.  A winner indeed!

Here it is:

Black Bean Chocolate Cake (Gluten Free)

1 can of black beans (drained and rinsed) (15 oz)
5 large eggs
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
6 tbsp cocoa  powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a 9 inch cake pan and dust with cocoa powder.

Place the beans,  eggs, vanilla, sugar and salt into blender or food processor (I used my food processor). Process or blend on high until beans are completely liquified.

Add the remaining ingredients and process on high for 2 minutes until everything is well incorporated.

Pour into your prepared pan. Bake 30-40 min until the top is slightly rounded and firm to the touch. Do not overbake. My center actually still looked a tiny but underdone but remember that it will keep cooking a little even after you take it out.

Cool for 10 min and then invert onto a plate. Dust with powdered sugar (or frost when cool).  Serve and enjoy!

And if you make this, please leave some feedback! I can’t wait to hear. 🙂

Caramel Popcorn with Dark Chocolate Drizzles

I have never made caramel popcorn. But I now know it is really easy to do. I put this out last night as a snack while we played games on New Years Eve. It is yummy and  gluten free.
This makes A LOT. So if you don’t need a ton of it, you can do what I did and just halve the recipe. We still had plenty left over. Or if you are having a really large gathering or you want to give this as gifts, go ahead and do the full amount. Either way you will be pleased with the end result.
I found this recipe on after doing a simple google search for caramel popcorn. I altered it a bit because I didn’t want too much chocolate on it. Their recipe has you completely coat the popcorn in caramel and then completely coat that in chocolate. I wanted caramel popcorn with little bits of dark chocolate so I just drizzled. Besides, drizzling is fun. 🙂

Caramel Popcorn with Dark Chocolate  Drizzles


* 2 bags microwave popcorn (yield: 24 cups popped popcorn)
* 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter, cut into pieces
* 1 cup packed brown sugar
* 1/2 cup light corn syrup
* 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* 8  oz of dark chocolate chips (you can certainly use milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate if you prefer)


1. Line roasting pan or jelly roll pans with parchment paper. Trust me, this is important so that you don’t end up with a huge mess of sticky popcorn stuck to your pans! Pop both bags of microwave popcorn, and empty them into a large roasting pan, or two 9×13 pans. You should have approximately 24 cups of popped corn. Remove as many unpopped kernels as you can. Turn the oven to 250 degrees, and place the popcorn in the oven to keep warm.

2. Place the butter, sugar, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar melts, and continue to cook, stirring, until the butter is melted and the candy begins to boil.

3. Stir in the condensed milk, and insert a candy thermometer. Continue to cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, until the candy reaches 238 degrees. ( I did not have a candy thermometer so I just eyeballed it and it turned out fine. I let it really bubble and thicken for a few min and it turned a nice rich dark caramel color.) Remove it from the heat, and stir in the vanilla.

4. Take the popcorn out of the oven and pour the caramel over the popcorn, stirring it so that the pieces are evenly coated.

5. Return the popcorn to the oven, and bake it for about 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. If you use multiple pans and your popcorn is in a single layer, the cooking time will be closer to 25 minutes. It is done when the caramel mixture darkens and bubbles all over the pan.

6. Remove the popcorn from the oven and allow it cool completely at room temperature before breaking it into pieces by hand.

7. Place the chocolate chips in a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted, stirring after every minute to prevent overheating. Using a spoon or fork, drizzle the melted chocolate all over the popcorn, using a back and forth motion. Put the chocolate-covered corn in the refrigerator to quickly set the chocolate for about 15 minutes.

8. Once set, break up the chocolate caramel popcorn into pieces, and store it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Cupcakes

Apparently, this is a Martha Stewart recipe. A quite good and easy one and relatively simple to convert to gluten free. I made these for a new years eve gathering at our house last night and amidst all the game playing fun, forgot to put them out. Sad. We ate one after everyone was gone but I’m left with about a dozen of them. Guess I’ll be taking them to my parent’s house for everyone to share today.
These really are simple and quick to make. Mercy (my 3 year old) had a great time helping me. Can you tell? 🙂

The only thing necessary to make these gluten free are some gluten free oreos or similar sandwich cookies. Our Kroger carries a brand that is quite good.

Cookies and Cream Cheesecake Cupcakes
(This is half of the original recipe. The original recipe makes 30 which I didn’t need. If you want that many, just double everything)
(Makes 15)


*15 cream-filled sandwich cookies, such as Oreos, 15 left whole, and 7 or 8 coarsely chopped (The Kinnikinick brand of GF oreos has about 21 or 22 in the container) If you use regular oreos you will have some leftovers to snack on. 🙂
* 1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 1/s tsp vanilla extract
* 2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
* 1/2 cup sour cream
* Pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Place 1 whole cookie in the bottom of each lined cup.

2. With an electric mixer on medium high speed, beat cream cheese until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Gradually add sugar, and beat until combined. Beat in vanilla.

3. Drizzle in eggs, a bit at a time, beating to combine and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in sour cream and salt. Stir in chopped cookies by hand.

4. Divide batter evenly among cookie-lined cups, filling each almost to the top.

Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until filling is set, about 22 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Refrigerate at least 4 hours (or up to overnight). Remove from tins just before serving.

These are fun any time but would certainly make great dessert for a baby shower or party.  I read on one blog where someone said they tinted the cheesecake part blue for a boy baby shower. Cute idea.

Hope you enjoy these!