Peanut Butter Cookies (regular and gluten free recipe)

Posted by Tara on Thursday, April 10th, 2014

pb cookie

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter, smooth or crunchy
  • 1/2 stick soft butter
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cup plain flour (Use Bob’s baking mix for gluten free version)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream the sugars with the butters and shortening. Add the egg and vanilla.  Then add the flour, soda, baking powder and salt. Cover and chill until dough is firm enough to roll into 1 1/4 ” balls.  Roll balls in a bowl of sugar to coat.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet at least 3″ apart.  Use a fork to flatten cookies, making a criss cross design on each one.  Bake in preheated 375 degree oven 8-10 minutes or until cookies are golden brown. Cool cookies 5 minutes before removing from pan.

Recipe is adapated from Betty Crocker.

Filed in Cookies, Candies, and Squares, Gluten Free | One response so far

Gluten Free Meatball Soup, or Just Make the Meatballs!

Posted by Tara on Thursday, March 20th, 2014


I just love one pot dishes that serve as a complete meal.  Meatball soup fits the bill here at our house for a complete meal all in one pot.  Our family LOVES these meatballs not only because they are gluten free, but also because they ae super tasty.  Make this soup.  Or just make the meatballs.  Either way – you win!

For the meatballs:

  • 1.5 pounds Ground Beef
  • 1 cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley, Minced
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 2 cloves Minced Garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons Lemon Juice
  • For the Soup:
  • 4 Tablespoons real butter
  • 2 32 oz boxes beef broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 1 cup Onion, Chopped
  • 1 cup Carrots, Chopped
  • 1 cup Celery, Chopped
  • 1 cup Russet Potato, Chopped (or 1 cup chopped Parsnips for a lower carb version)
  • 1/2 pound Cabbage Chopped
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese To Serve
  • Spice bag (can tie the following in cheesecloth, or place inside a tea ball)
  • 4 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley, Minced
  • 2 whole Bay Leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Peppercorns

To make meatballs, combine the ground beef, Parmesan Cheese, fresh parsely, egg, minced garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, and lemon juice in a large bowl and mix well. I use a 1 oz cookie dough scoop to shape mixture into small balls, then and chill about 30 minutes.

Place 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, bay leaves, and peppercorns in a cheesecloth bundle. Tie to secure. You can also secure these ingredients inside a tea ball.

After chilling the meatballs,  heat butter over medium-low heat in a heavy pot.  Brown meatballs, then remove to a plate.

To pot, add beef stock, water, salt, tomato paste, and herb bag. Bring to a boil, then simmer 30 minutes.

Add onion, carrots, celery, and potatoes or parsnips.  Simmer 15 more minutes. Remove herb bag.
Add cabbage and meatballs. Bring to a boil, then simmer 8 to 10 minutes.

Serve with plenty of freshly grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled over the top.

You can also just make the meatballs and serve with your favorite marinara sauce over noodles.

Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Filed in Gluten Free, Soups and Salads | No responses yet

Wilson’s Mac and Cheese from my friend Connie

Posted by Tara on Monday, February 24th, 2014

This is probably the best Mac and Cheese recipe I’ve ever tasted.  Thank you Connie for making Wilson’s Mac and Cheese recipe when you cooked dinner for our family.  This recipe is a long standing Southern staple and originated with Ed Wilson of Wilson’s Holy Smoke BBQ and was featured on TV’GUY’S BIT BITE, It’s Finer in Carolina episode.  Connie has made this recipe in her crock pot.  Pictured here is the original recipe made with gluten free noodles, cooked according to package directions.
  • 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni (can also use gluten free pasta)
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
  • 1/2 stick real butter – melted
  • 16 oz sharp grated cheddar cheese – divided
  • salt, pepper, and paprika for seasoning to taste

In a large pot or Dutch oven, bring water, salt, and oil to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 8-9 minutes.  Drain pasta and rinse with cold water.  In a large bowl mix together the eggs, evaporated milk, melted butter, salt and pepper.  Stir in 3/4 of the cheddar cheese and add the pasta.  Stir to coat the pasta with cheese and egg mixture.  Pour mixture into a preheated crock pot that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Top with remaining cheese and sprinkle on some paprika.  Cover and cook on low heat 2-4 hours, or until cheese in melted and bubbly.

Oven method:  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray.  Add the prepared mac and cheese mixture, top with remaining cheese, and dust with paprika.  Cook until the cheese is golden and bubbly or about 3o minutes.  Serve while hot.

Filed in Casseroles, Gluten Free, Meatless Monday, Side Dishes | One response so far

Lemon Vanilla Bean Scones

Posted by Tara on Monday, January 20th, 2014

Lemon SconesI made my first batch of scones recently to kick of Season 4 of Downton Abbey.  These Lemon Vanilla Bean scones were incredible and now my family is hooked on this sweet delicacy.  Here’s how I made them:

For the Scones:

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 10 Tablespoons very cold or frozen butter – grated
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 large egg
  • Vanilla bean caviar from 1 long vanilla bean
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl combine the sugar with the lemon zest and mix with a wire whisk.  Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Whisk to combine.  Grate the frozen butter into the flour mixture and use hands to combine mixture.  Mixture should resemble small peas.  In a small bowl whisk the sour cream with the egg. Add the vanilla bean caviar and mix well.  Then add the sour cream mixture to the flour mixture. Use hands to form a ball in the bowl with the mixture.  You could also use a large stand mixer for this step.  Place ball of dough on a lightly floured surface and press into a 7″ circle, or a circle about 3/4″ thick.  I used a pizza cutter to cut the circle into 8 equal triangles.   Place triangles on parchment lined baking sheet, at least an inch apart. Bake until golden brown, approximately 15 minutes.  Cool for 5-10 minutes, then dunk them in the prepared glaze (see below).  Top with more lemon zest! Serve slightly warm.

For the Glaze:

  • 3 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Vanilla Bean Caviar from another vanilla bean
  • 2 Tablepsoons Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon – save for garnish after scones are glazed

In a medium sized bowl, mix the melted butter, powdered sugar, vanilla bean caviar, lemon juice, and vanilla extract until smooth.  Dip the baked scones in the glaze then set them on wax paper until ready to serve.  Grate more lemon zest over glazed scones.  Serve while slightly warm for best results.  Scones can be stored a couple of days in an airtight container IF there are any left.

Filed in Breads, Doughs, and Crusts | 3 responses so far

Fireside Lemon Pie S’mores

Posted by Tara on Saturday, January 18th, 2014

Lemon Pie SmoresIf the cold weather has you feeling blue, grab a jar of Lemon Curd, a bag of fresh marshmallows and some graham crackers.  We toasted our marshmallows over a fire we built in our fireplace, smeared some lemon curd over a graham cracker added the toasted gem then topped it all with another graham.  This is definately an experience worth repeating as often as necessary!

For each S’more you will need:

  • A toasty roasty fire in your fireplace
  • 1 Marshmallow Toasted
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Curd
  • 2 Graham Cracker Squares

Filed in Desserts | No responses yet

Beef Stew

Posted by Tara on Monday, January 6th, 2014


With the single digit temps here in the south, there is no better time to whip up some home made beef stew and cornbread.  I put all the ingredients in my Dutch oven and cooked it a couple of hours at 350 in my oven while I was away one morning recently.  This could also be an easy crock pot meal too.  And it is delicious!

  • 2 pound chuck roast, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into diagonal slices
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into diagonal chunks
  • 1 sweet onion chopped
  • 1 14 oz can petitie diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)
  • 2-3 medium potatoes diced
  • 8-12 cups non MSG beef broth
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients into a large Dutch oven or crock pot.  Place Dutch oven in a 350 degree oven for 2-2 1/2 hours or until meat is tender.  If cooking in a crock pot, cook on low overnight or all day.  Serve with cornbread.

Filed in Gluten Free, Soups and Salads | One response so far

The Three Pigs Oink Out Sandwich with Jalepeno Aioli

Posted by Tara on Friday, December 27th, 2013


There are many ways to strengthen marriages and relationships.  In my book, BACON never fails to make my man happy.  There’s only one way to improve bacon, and that is to serve it up with pulled smoked pork BBQ AND thin shaved country ham!  This sandwich is incredibly hearty and pleasing served up on sourdough rolls, with smoked provolone cheese and some jalepeno aioli.

To make 4 hearty sandwiches:

  • 4 sourdough buns or 8 pieces of sourdough bread
  • 1 pound smoked and pulled pork BBQ from your local pit BBQ joint
  • 8 pieces cooked bacon
  • half pound country ham sliced super thin (I get Clifty Farms Country Ham from our Kroger deli)
  • 8 slices smoked Provolone cheese
  • Butter for grilling the bread or buns
  • Jalepeno Aioli

To prepare sandwiches, spread soft butter on top sides of sandwich bread or insides of bun.  Grill over medium high heat until bread is golden brown and toasty.  Lay a slice of Provolone cheese on top of grill bread or bun pieces.  Spread some aioli over the cheese, then add sliced country ham, pork BBQ, and bacon strips. Top with remaining bread and PIG OUT!

Jalepeno Aioli:

In a blender add and blend until smooth:

  • 1/2 cup Mayo
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1-2 jalepeno peppers (remove seeds for less heat, keep seeds for more heat)
  • juice of 1 lime plus lime zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, or 1 fresh clove of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

Filed in Pork, Pork, Super Bowl | No responses yet

Cranberry Bliss Cookies

Posted by Tara on Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Cranberry Bliss Cookie

If you’ve ever had a Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bar available only during the holidays – you will appreciate this recipe inspired from those tasty fruity bars. There is a lot of tounge pleasing flavors happening with this cookie.  Cranberry. Candied Ginger bits. White Chocolate.  Orange Zest. Cream Cheese Frosting! This year I created this recipe to kick off the annual cookie swap here at our house.  This is my favorite cookie creation ever!

  • 2 sticks soft butter – no substitutes
  • 1/2 cup organic vegetable shortening
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • 3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped candied ginger pieces
  • 10 oz finely chopped Craisins or dried cranberries (about 1 3/4 cups) reserve 1/4 cup to top cookies
  • 2 4 oz Ghirardelli White Chocolate Premium Baking Bars – chopped and divided

For the frosting:

  • 4 oz cream cheese softend
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2-3 Tablespoons orange juice, cream, or half and half
  • 1/4 cup of the reserved chopped dried cranberries

4 oz of the chopped reserved white chocolate – melted

In a large bowl combine butter and shortening and beat with electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Add the sugars and cream them with the butter.  Add the eggs one at a time and beat after each addition.  Add the vanilla and mix well.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, soda and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter sugar mixture and beat on medium speed to blend.  Add half of the white chocolate pieces and 1 1/2 cups of the chopped cranberries to the mixture and combine.  Add the candied ginger and mix well.  Use a 1 oz cookie scoop to drop cookies 2″ apart on a greased cookie sheet.  Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 9-11 minutes.  Remove cookies from oven and transfer to a cooling rack.

While cookies are baking, whip the cream cheese until light and fluffy.  Gradually add the powdered sugar and mix with electric mixer.  Add the orange juice (or cream or half and half) a Tablespoon at a time to the powdered sugar mixture until desired spreading consistency is acheived.  Add the vanilla and orange zest.  Spread cooled cookies with icing. Sprinkle remaining chopped Craisins on top of icing.

Melt some white chocolate pieces and drizzle over iced cookies, first in horizontal line patterns, then in verticle line patterns. Allow drizzle to harden before moving cookies to a party tray or airtight container.

Filed in Christmas, Cookies, Candies, and Squares | No responses yet

Christmas Cranberry Salsa

Posted by Tara on Saturday, December 14th, 2013


I enjoy creating new recipes for Christmas each year.  This recipe was inspired by a photo I thought I pinned to Pinterest but never could find when I wanted to make the dish.  So I have created my own recipe for Christmas Cranbery Salsa.  It can be served with corn chips. But I like to spread the salsa over 2 bricks of soft cream cheese and dip Wheat Thins or Pita Chips in the salsa.  It’s tart and sweet at the same time with a hint of cilantro, orange zest, and a jalapeno pepper.  Remove the seeds from the jalapeno for a milder salsa or leave the seeds for a hotter version.  Either way this dish makes a festive party appetizer.  I took it to my daughter’s Christmas program reception last night and found the following note on my empty dish:

please note

Place the following ingredients into a food processor and pulse until ingredients are finely chopped:

  • 1 12 oz package fresh whole cranberries
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro (about a cup)
  • 1 small purple onion – skin removed and onion quartered
  • 1 jalapeno pepper – remove seeds for mild salsa, leave seeds for some heat
  • zest of one orange
  • 2  1/4 ounce packets of unflavored gelatin
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 cup sugar – More or less to suit your tastebuds

Pulse all ingredients until cranberries and onions are finely chopped, but not pureed.  Pour salsa into a large bowl, cover and place in refrigerator at least 4 hours.  While salsa is chilling, let 2 8 oz packages of cream cheese set on counter to soften. Spread cream cheese over a pretty plate or dish, then top with the salsa.  Serve with pita chips, Wheat Thins, or Triscuits.  Refrigerate leftovers IF there are any leftover!

Filed in Appetizers, Christmas, Holidays | 7 responses so far

Turkey (or Chicken) Harvest Soup

Posted by Tara on Saturday, November 30th, 2013

Chicken Harvest Soup

Now that Thanksgiving is over many cooks will be eager to whip up an easy, healthy recipe using some of the leftover turkey or chicken. This recipe can also be made with a deli-cooked bird for a quick dinner at the close of a busy work day. This soup gets rave reviews from the kids, the in-laws, and more importantly – the Hubbs!

  • 1/2 stick real butter
  • 2 cups chopped broccoli florets
  • 1 cup diced carrots or pre-shredded carrots
  • 3 stalks celery- finely chopped
  • 1 sweet onion – diced
  • 1 cup diced butternut squash (optional)
  • 2 28oz cartons chicken broth
  • 2 chicken bullion cubes (I use NOT CHICKEN brand)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2-3 cups cooked shredded and chopped turkey or chicken

In a large dutch oven melt the butter then add the chopped broccoli, carrots, celery, onion, and butternut squash.  Sautee over medium heat for a couple of minutes then add the chicken broth, bullion cubes, and seasonings.  Continue stirring until seasonings are well blended.  Let soup simmer over low-medium heat about 20 minutes, or until veggies are tender. Then add the chopped turkey or chicken and cook a couple more minutes before serving.  This soup can also be made a little “heartier” by decreasing some of the chicken broth and adding a pint of real cream when the chicken or turkey is added.

Filed in Gluten Free, Healthy Cooking, Soups and Salads | One response so far

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