Maple Cookies with Apple Cider Glaze

I love fall baking and my husband loves maple and apple, so this is always a very yummy few months for us. Just because I decided to give up gluten, it doesn’t mean my family has. Of course they support my new eating lifestyle, but truth be told, gluten-free baking is a whole world of its own. Ingredients are different, baking times are different, the whole chemistry of it all is different. It intimidates me, so I still bake some “regular” treats for my boys to enjoy, and to keep my confidence up amidst countless gluten-free recipe fails.

I ended up making this recipe up. My husband was in the mood for something maple flavored, and I was anxious to perfect an apple cider glaze. I figured I might as well try to kill two birds with one stone, because, why not?

The result exceeded my expectations. YUM! The cookie wasn’t too sweet, and the glaze gave it a little extra. I’m always afraid glazes will taste to much like powdered sugar, but this one kept the apple flavor and was sweet without tasting just like sugar. Success! The cookie was good without the glaze, but I really think the glaze just made the cookie. I brought some extras to work and they didn’t last long. Give this one a try! It would be great on the Thanksgiving dessert table, too. Enjoy!

Maple Cookies with Apple Cider Glaze

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. maple extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • dash of salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F and cover cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.
  2. Cream shortening and brown sugar until fluffy.
  3. Beat in the egg, syrup, and extracts until well mixed.
  4. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture.
  6. Chill the dough for an hour.
  7. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheets.
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  9. While the cookies are cooling, make the glaze. Bring the cider to a boil over medium heat, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes or until reduced by half. Stir in the butter, cinnamon, salt, and 1/2 cup of powdered sugar until well combined. Add remaining powdered sugar to thicken the glaze, if desired.

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Gluten-Free Recipes

When I decided to give up gluten, I thought it would be impossible. Wheat and flour are in EVERYTHING! I did a little internet research to see what I could and could not eat if I was going to fully commit to this diet. This article was very helpful in telling me what to avoid, what to check, and what was OK. Basically, the foods to avoid list was intimidating:

  • Barley
  • Bran (oat, wheat)
  • Bulgur
  • Cooking spray for baking (may contain wheat flour)
  • Couscous
  • Durum
  • Einkorn
  • Emmer
  • Farina
  • Farro
  • Flour containing wheat, barley, or rye or any of their derivatives
  • Graham flour
  • Hydrolyzed wheat protein
  • Kamut
  • Malted milk
  • Malt flavorings
  • Malt vinegar
  • Matzo
  • Meat, poultry, seafood, or vegetables that are breaded, floured, served with a sauce made from wheat, or marinated in a wheat-based sauce such as soy or teriyaki
  • Rye
  • Seitan
  • Semolina
  • Spelt
  • Triticale
  • Wheat
  • Wheat germ

See what I mean?! If I’m not allowed to eat any of these things, what could I eat? Well, after scouring the interwebs for a little bit, I did find a decent collection of recipes to get me started. This got me through my first gluten-free week and gave me the confidence I needed to continue eating and cooking this way. I’ll post reviews of some of these recipes soon.

Better Homes and Gardens Gluten Free Recipes
Simply Recipes – Gluten Free Recipes
King Arthur Flour Gluten Free Recipes
Gluten-Free Goddess Recipes

My First Trifle: Lemon Berry

For as much as I like to bake, I’m almost embarrassed to admit that until this summer, I had never – ever – made a trifle. It’s one of the easiest desserts to make, and it was the perfect solution when trying to figure out what to bring over to my sister’s house for our playdate/bbq. I had an ungodly amount of berries on hand, so I went for a lemon berry trifle.

When looking for a recipe, I noticed that most of them required cream cheese. My sister has a serious aversion to cream cheese, so I ended up just making up my own recipe. I also relied on Cool Whip and boxed angel food cake mix since I was seriously pressed for time. The biggest disappointment was that I don’t actually have a trifle bowl (GASP!), so I settled on a clear mixing bowl (I can’t believe I admitted that). My version did end up a little on the sweet side, but overall I think it had a really great, refreshing flavor.

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Lemon Berry Trifle
My own recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of Betty Crocker angel food cake, prepared in loaf pan
  • 1 box lemon flavored instant pudding
  • 1 box French vanilla flavored instant pudding
  • 12 oz. Cool Whip
  • Assorted berries (I used blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries – about 2 qts total)

Directions:

  1. Prepare the angel food cake according the box. Once cooled, cut into 1″ cubes.
  2. Prepare the two boxes of pudding together. Mix in half of the cool whip and then refrigerate for at least a half hour.
  3. Get your berries ready by washing, drying, and slicing them how you’d like.
  4. To make your trifle, layer the cake, pudding mixture, and berries. I started with the angel food cake and then added a layer of the pudding mixture. I arranged the berries along the edge to they’d look nice through the glass bowl, and just dumped a thing layer in the middle. I topped that with a little more pudding mixture and then I went through the pattern again. My last layer was the rest of the Cool Whip topped with the remaining berries.
  5. Chill for another half hour and serve the same day.

Tang Pie Parfait

Tang Pie. What in the heck is that? That was my first question when I heard of this. I went to a Memorial Day party this weekend. This is an annual party that has a different theme each year. This year’s theme was country/hillbilly/white-trash. I always bring a dessert, so I needed to come up with something appropriate. My husband came to the rescue and asked around at work for ideas. Alas, Tang Pie was thrown into the mix.

I didn’t like the idea of bringing a questionable pie to such a large party, so I decided to make individual Tang Pie parfait things. To my surprise, they turned out! It tasted like a less cold version of orange sherbet.

Next time I think I would make them in shooters. This amount was a bit much and a little too rich, but all in all, a pleasantly surprising success!

TangPie

Tang Pie Parfait
Adapted from this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup Tang orange drink powder
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 12 oz. Cool Whip
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 box of Nilla Wafers
  • 1 bag of Orange Slices candy
  • Clear plastic cups

Directions:

  1. Mix together the Tang, sour cream, Cool Whip, and sweetened condensed milk. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  2. Crumble three Nilla Wafers in the bottom of each clear plastic cup.
  3. Fill the cups with the desired amount of the Tang mixture.
  4. Crumble another Nilla Wafer on top of the Tang mixture.
  5. Garnish with an Orange Slice candy.
  6. Keep refrigerated and serve chilled.

Baked Kale Chips

Kale chips. Yes, you read that correctly. I made kale chips. It isn’t something I’d typically choose to make, but I was intrigued. I kept hearing friends and food bloggers rave about these as a great alternative to regular potato chips, so I was interested to see what the hype was all about.

I happened to have some kale left over after testing a recipe for America’s Test Kitchen. My family isn’t real big on leafy green foods, and I didn’t want to waste the kale, so I thought it was the perfect time to attempt kale chips.

First of all, this is probably the easiest recipe I’ve ever followed. Second of all, I was pleasantly surprised by the awesome flavor and texture! I now understand what everyone was raving about!

I’m not sure I’d go out of my way to make these all the time, but I will absolutely make these when I have extra kale laying around. I love how easy it is and how simple it would be to try different seasonings. The health benefits as compared to fried potato chips are undeniable as well. Enjoy!

Baked Kale  Baked Kale chips

Baked Kale Chips

Adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients:
1 bunch of kale
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon seasoned salt


Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Line a non-insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  3. With a knife or kitchen shears, carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bit sized pieces.
  4. Wash and thoroughly dry kale.
  5. Drizzle kale with olive oil. Make sure all the kale is covered in a thin layer. Sprinkle with seasoning salt.
  6. Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt (10-15 minutes)

My Pi Day Pie

Please excuse my mini hiatus. I tend to take the month off to celebrate my birthday. Yes, the whole month. My grandma taught me that 🙂 I’ve entered a new chapter of life (my thirties!) and am fully rejuvenated thanks to a spa day at the Four Seasons that I gifted myself. So, despite the 30°F temps here in Chicagoland, it’s time to come out of hibernation.

I know, Pi Day was  12 days ago, but I wanted to share my nerdy tradition with you. If you’re not familiar with Pi Day, it is exactly what you’d expect it to be: a celebration of the mathematical constant better known as pi (π). Even though PIE Day is January 23rd, I still find it  fun to bake a pie for PI Day and give a little birthday shout out to my man Albert Einstein. Last year I made a peanut butter and jelly pie for my coworkers. It turned out…OK…but I didn’t use any sort of recipe so it didn’t turn out quite right. It was too soft. This year, keeping with the peanut butter idea, I made a peanut butter pie with peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.

About a week before Pi Day, I made peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. They were a little crispier than we like, and my husband happened to comment that they’d make a good pie crust. And just like that, my Pi Day pie idea was born. It turned out great and I decided not to bring it to work – I just shared it with my boys at home.

 Pi_pie

Peanut Butter Pie with Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Crust

Ingredients:
For the crust:
1-1/2 cups crushed peanut butter chocolate chip cookies
4T. butter, melted
1/2 cup chocolate chips

For the filling:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup milk
1 container (8 ounce) of Cool Whip (I used reduced fat)
1/2 cup chocolate chips for decoration

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the crushed peanut butter chocolate chip cookies and the melted butter.
  3. Evenly press the mixture into a 9″ pie plate and top with chocolate chips.
  4. Bake the pie crust for about 10 minutes. When you take it out of the oven, spread the melted chocolate chips around to form a thin layer over the entire crust.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, whip cream cheese until soft and fluffy.
  6. Beat in sugar and peanut butter.
  7. Slowly pour in milk, beating mixture until smooth
  8. Fold whipped topping into mixture. 
  9. Pour mixture into crust and decorate with chocolate chips if you’d like.
  10. Freeze until firm.
  11. Store any leftovers in freezer.

America’s Test Kitchen

Time sure is flying! I just had my first temporary single-parent week and am happy to announce that I survived. My husband was gone on a business trip and I think it was the most interesting week I’ve ever had. We all survived, though, and are looking forward to a little R&R this weekend.

Anyway, I’ve been meaning to plug the awesomeness that is America’s Test Kitchen for awhile now. Not only do they have incredible recipes, but they produce the trust Cook’s Illustrated magazine/books, and their TV show is fun to watch and one of the more educational cooking shows out there. But that’s not why I’m writing about America’s Test Kitchen. I’m writing about it because you can sign up to be a recipe tester! No, I’m not kidding. You can sign up to test recipes for Cook’s Illustrated Magazine.

They send you a recipe, you test it within two weeks, and then you fill out a survey. It’s that easy. So far I’ve  received three recipes but was only able to make one. (That’s another thing – if you can’t make one, it’s no big deal.) Not only did it turn out incredible, but it’s a fun thing to be a part of. Full disclosure: I signed up hoping I’d get to try some incredible desserts. I haven’t received any dessert recipes to try yet, but I’m totally OK with that.

Herb-Crusted Salmon

Alright, you guys – go sign up and have an awesome weekend!