Thursday, July 26, 2012

Gluten-Free Samoa Girl Scout Cookies

Katie found this recipe on a gluten-free blog recently. I love trying new things and I'm always experimenting to try to make the most delicous treats without using wheat flour or gluten. These cookies are just like our favorite Girl Scout Cookies, but homemade and gluten-free. These have always been my mom's favorite Girl Scout cookie too, which is fitting since today is her birthday! Happy Birthday, Mom!!!

I think the Girl Scouts have changed the name of the Samoa cookies, but they still look and taste the same as they always did. You could make these cookies with regular wheat all-purpose flour, but I don't think the flavor would be as good. The flour combination makes the shortbread cookie base so tasty.

Gluten-Free Samoa Girl Scout Cookies
1 stick plus two tablespoons butter at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup plus two tablespoons coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line cookie sheets with parchment paper. 

Beat the butter and sugar using an electric mixer on medium speed for 5 minutes until the mixture becomes light and fluffy. Mix in the flours and xanthan gum, finishing by hand if necessary.

I use a small cookie scoop to get uniform amounts of dough (about 1 1/2 tablespoons each). Roll the dough into balls and flatten with the the palm of a clean hand onto the cookie sheets.  I cut out the middle of the cookies with a pastry bag tip, but you could skip the hole in the middle if you like.

Bake for about 18 minutes or until light golden brown.

Remove the cookies from oven and allow to cool.

Melt half of the chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave at 30 second intervals using the 50% power setting until smooth. Using a knife, spread the melted chocolate on the bottom of each cookie. Place the cookies in the refrigerator or freezer to allow the chocolate to set.

In a small saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons butter, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup corn syrup. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes, stirring continuously. Add 2 tablespoons almond milk (or 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk) and cook until the mixture reaches 220 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Using an electric mixer, beat for about 4 minutes, then stir in 1 cup toasted coconut. Check out this post for how to toast coconut.

Using a knife, spread the coconut mixture onto the top of each cookie. This is the hardest part because the mixture cools very quickly and becomes too stiff to spread. You can heat it up a little in the microwave or sit your bowl over a pot of barely simmering water to keep the temperature warm while "frosting" the cookies.

Melt the remaining chocolate in the same way you did earlier. Place the melted chocolate into a ziplock bag and cut a small hole on one corner. Drizzle each cookie with the chocolate. Store in the refrigerator.


recipe slightly adapted from

Truffled Mac & Cheese

I love anything that has truffle oil... which is kind of odd because I do not like mushrooms (if you didn't know, truffles are a type of mushroom). Really, it's the texture of the mushroom that I don't enjoy - mushroom flavor is delicous. So truffle oil is amazing! It makes anything you put it on or in taste rich. Mmmm... This might be one of my favorite mac & cheese recipes. Bonus --- it comes together rather quickly so it can even work for a weekday dinner. Serve it with a simple salad.

Truffled Mac & Cheese
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons garlic, chopped
1/4 cup flour (I used gluten-free all purpose flour)
2 1/2 cups milk
1 pound cooked pasta (I used brown rice pasta)
1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, basil)*
2 tablespoons white truffle oil
3 cups grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt & pepper to taste

*If you don't have fresh herbs, you can use dried herbs. Just be sure to only use half of the quantity.

Preheat the broiler.

Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until they are softened and lightly browned. Add the flour and whisk together for a couple of minutes to make a roux. Whisk in the milk and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook for a few minutes until the roux has dissolved completely. Add the cheddar cheese and half of the Parmesan cheese. Stir until melted. Add the pasta, herbs, salt&pepper, and truffle oil. Stir until thoroughly combined. Pour pasta mixture into an ovenproof dish and sprinkle remaining Parmesan on top.

Place under the broiler until top becomes golden brown. Enjoy!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Kool-Aide... not just for drinking

I remember kool-aide as one of my favorite drinks as a kid. I think my mom might have even had a pitcher or plastic cups that looked like the "kool-aide" man that was on TV. Kool-aide was fun because it came in all kinds of flavors - yum! Now that I'm grown up, I realize it's just water, flavoring, and lots of sugar (one time my aunt mistakenly added salt instead of sugar - oh that was nasty).

Did you know it's also a rather effective hair coloring product. So if you want to have some fun with color in your hair, try this non-permanent technique. My friend Karly showed me how to do it recently. We colored sections of full strands in our hair. But you could also use the same process to just color the tips if you like. Here's the end result.

First pick a color. Kool-aide comes in so many flavors and colors! Karly and I used cherry. If you have dark hair, be sure to choose a bold /dark color - reds work very well... yellow wouldn't. If you have blonde hair, be very careful... the kool-aide may last for quite a long time (maybe months). I have a different less permanent option for all you blondes out there coming soon.

Boil a saucepan about half full of water. Add one packet of kool-aide and mix. Carefully pour the kool-aide mixture into a tall glass, filling it as high as possible so you can get the color close to your roots.

Select a section of hair to color, separate it from the rest of your hair, and pull or pin the rest of your hair out of the way. Dip the section of hair into the glass, trying to get the kool-aide mixture as close to your scalp as possible.

Hold  your hair in the glass for about 10 minutes. Less time will result in a lighter color... more time will result in a stronger color.

Remove hair from the glass and dry with a towel. Dry completely and style as you normally would.
Karly suggests waiting a day to wash your hair, allowing the color time to set.

Try lots of colors! Enjoy and have fun!!!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Cupcake Love

If you check out this blog often, you know that every so often I post a review about something new I've found that I think is worth sharing with others. Here's one for all of you in the Oklahoma City/Edmond area... Go check out Gigi's Cupcakes!

Seriously, I am a little bit of a snob when it comes to cupcakes. All too often, then cupcakes I try at bakeries are dry or lack flavor or creativity. So it's rare that I'll buy cupcakes because I'd rather bake them myself. But I have to tell you that Gigi's Cupcakes are amazing! The cakes are moist, full of flavor, and the frosting is perfect in texture and flavor. To top it all off, they look beautiful and come in cute boxes.

We recently tried three of their flavors - Pistachio was my favorite.

Caramel Sugar Mama... caramel cake with caramel buttercream frosting. Then drizzled with caramel and topped with some Sugar Babies candy.

Chocolate Almond... white coconut cake with chocolate buttercream frosting. Rimmed with toasted shaved almonds. The cupcake version of an Almond Joy candy bar.

Pistachio... pistachio cake with pistachio buttercream frosting. Topped with pistachios and course sugar.

Gigi's Cupcakes has a store on May Avenue (next to one of our favorite quick and delicious restaurants - Cafe 7) in Oklahoma City near Quail Springs Mall and also one in Norman (haven't been to that one). They have a variety of flavors that change daily and seasonally. I think I'm hooked!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Lemon Ricotta Cookies

I had some extra lemons laying around and a container of ricotta cheese to use. So I decided to make these lemon ricotta cookies. I usually make them at Christmas time, but they are also perfect for summer. The light lemony flavor of these cookies is kind of refreshing. They are also quick quick and easy to make. Whip them up for your next summer get-together.

Lemon Ricotta Cookies
for the cookies...
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 lemon, zested

for the glaze...
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 lemon, zested

Prepare a baking sheet (or two if you have them) with a sheet of parchment paper or a silpat mat. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.


Make the cookies...
In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar. Cream using an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, ricotta, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Mix until combined. Add the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir until just combined. Drop onto prepared baking sheet about 1 tablespoon at a time. I have a small "cookie-size" ice cream scoop that I use to create uniform cookies.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly on the baking sheet (just a few minutes). Then remove the cookies from the sheet and place on a cooling rack to cool completely.

Make the glaze...
In a medium bowl, combine powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the cookies and allow to dry.

Store in an air-tight container (if they even last long enough to go in a container).

recipe from Giada De Laurentiis "Everyday Italian" on Food Network

Monday, July 9, 2012

Polka-dot Gradient Manicure

I want to share this simple, yet fun manicure. If you don't want to go for a bold color on your nails, try this nude polish. The polka-dots add some fun without being too wacky.

Here's the polish I used... Start with Essie "First Base" base coat. Follow with two coats of Essie "Sand Tropez." Follow with polka-dots in OPI "Alpine Snow." Finish with your favorite top coat (I use CND "Super Glossy"). If you haven't tried drying drops, yet - go get some! I used Essie drying drops, but OPI also makes a similar product. One drop on each nail after polishing dries nails in about 5 minutes... perfect for people like me that can't sit still long enough to allow their manicure to dry completely.

 I used a small dot painting tool to create the polka-dots. You can get one at a beauty supply store or even a craft store. But you could also use a toothpick.

Start out with just a few polka dots at the tips of your nails. Then gradually add more to about half-way down your nail. Add the most near the tip, and only a few small dots as you move toward the middle of your nail.

Try it with any color combination you like! Have fun!!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Cilantro Lime Grilled Chicken

Here's a recipe that we use over and over in our house. It's usually a joint effort - I prep the chicken and marinade, then my husband grills it up for us (and usually makes some of his perfect guacamole to go with it). Yum! It's simple and perfect for a summer day lounging by the pool. Simply add the chicken to the marinade early and when you're ready for a snack, pull it out and grill it.

Cilantro Lime Grilled Chicken
1 bunch cilantro, leaves only (stems discarded)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 jalapeno, stem and seeds discarded, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
juice of 1 lime
3 chicken breasts

Reserve about 1/4 cup cilantro leaves. Place the remaining cilantro, oregano, salt, pepper, jalapeno, olive oil, vinegar, and lime in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture forms a paste. Put the paste and chicken in a large ziplock bag and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours.

Heat grill to medium-high, grill chicken about 15 minutes, flipping half way through, or until cooked through. Remove the chicken from the grill and slice into smaller pieces. Serve with tortillas, guacamole, and cilantro. Enjoy!!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Raspberry Lemonade Bars

I hope you enjoyed celebrating the great freedoms we have in the USA! We had a blast with friends and family on July 4th - complete with delicious food and sparkling fireworks. The raspberry lemonade bars I made were the perfect patriotic combination with some blueberries for a red, white, and blue treat. But you don't need to reserve these for Independence Day... they are great all summer long! Sweet, a little tart, and very refreshing.

Raspberry Lemonade Bars
for the crust...
2 1/4 sticks (18 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

for the raspberry lemonade layer...
3 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups flour
3 tablespoons lemon zest (zest from about 4 lemons)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 12-ounce package frozen raspberries, thawed
6 egg whites
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (it will take you about 8 lemons)

Powdered sugar and fresh raspberries for garnish

Make the crust...
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 by 13 inch baking pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Slowly add the flour and salt, mixing until blended. Place the dough in the prepared baking pan, spreading the dough evenly over the bottom. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Prepare the raspberry lemonade layer...
In a large bowl, mix the sugar, flour, lemon zest, and salt. Add the eggs and egg whites and mix (I continued using my electric mixer to do all of the work here). Press the frozen raspberries through a fine mesh sieve, pressing through with a spatula or spoon to get as much juice and pulp through the sieve as possible. Add the raspberry puree (discarding the seeds left behind in the sieve) to the bowl. Also add the lemon juice and blend.

Pour the raspberry lemonade mixture over the prepared crust. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until the center no longer jiggles when gently shaken. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Remove the raspberry lemonade bars from the baking pan by carefully lifting the parchment paper. Place on a large cutting board and cut into squares. (I also like to cut the squares in half diagonally to form small triangle pieces). Sprinkle with powdered sugar and garnish with a fresh raspberry. Enjoy!!

Store covered in the refrigerator.

recipe from

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream

Summer, Summer, Summer time! It's been about 100 degrees every day recently at our house. I love it! Bring on the warm sun. Try this luscious strawberry ice cream on a summer day. It would be a great refreshing dessert for July 4th. Garnish it with fresh blueberries and some whipped cream for a red, white, and blue treat.

Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream
1 pound fresh strawberries, sliced
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Place sliced strawberries and sugar in the pitcher of a blender. Do not blend right away. Allow the strawberries and sugar to sit at room temperature for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Add the sour cream, heavy cream, and lemon juice. Puree in the blender until smooth.

Chill mixture for an hour. Transfer to an ice cream maker to freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to a storage container and freeze completely in the freezer. Enjoy!

recipe from (one of my favorite food blogs. check it out!)