Archive for December, 2014

December 14, 2014

Stewart is Ready for Christmas Breakfast! Are you?

Santa Stewart
Stewart is ready for christmas breakfast! Are you? Since the Christmas shopping season starts earlier and earlier each year, I’m wondering if you’re experiencing less rush and more relaxation? I mean, it stands to reason that if we start shopping earlier, we should finish earlier, right?

So far it’s working that way for me because I’ve decided to keep things simple, but my grandog Stewart is way ahead of me. He has already donned his Santa hat, delivered his presents and moved on to picking out his outfit for Christmas breakfast. (He’s leaning toward this gray hoodie. What do you think?) Stewart prefers to focus on the food at all occasions so I guess it’s natural he would want to rush through every other task and get ready for the meal.
Hoodie

This is Stewart’s first Christmas with us, so we had to explain to him that our traditional Christmas meal is breakfast rather than dinner. I don’t think he really understood pancakes, biscuits & gravy or anything else he heard until we got to the word bacon. That one he knows. He immediately perked up and became the most obedient dog ever!
pancakes
bacon

Before my sister would agree to go gluten-free, she needed to know how it would affect all the traditions to which she’s attached. Christmas breakfast was one of those traditions. It was important to her to know that she could still have biscuits, or moonrocks as we call them when my mom does the baking.

My sister was pleased to find out that biscuits and gravy could still be on the menu. In fact, we haven’t found anything in our traditional family meals that can’t be made deliciously gluten-free. If you’ve been looking for a gluten-free biscuit recipe, give this one a try:

Success, Biscuits!
Makes 6 – 8

1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup unblanched almond flour
1/4 cup sweet white sorghum flour
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp tapioca flour
2 tbsp arrowroot flour
2 tbsp potato flour
2 tbsp potato starch
2 tbsp beet sugar
1 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup shortening
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp buttermilk
Cooking oil spray

Preheat oven to 400º. Spray baking pan with cooking oil spray.

In large bowl, combine brown rice flour, unblanched almond flour, sorghum flour, tapioca flour, arrowroot flour, potato flour, and potato starch. Whisk together until well mixed. Add sugar, salt, and baking powder and mix well. Use a pastry blender to cut shortening into the dry mixture until it forms pea size chunks. Stir in milk and buttermilk until all the dry ingredients are mixed in and begin to form a ball. Beat with a spoon for 30 seconds.

Divide dough in half. Place half the dough on a piece of wax paper and lightly flatten with your palm. Place a second piece of wax paper on top. Roll until 1 inch thick. Using 2 more pieces of wax paper, repeat for the second half of the dough. Remove the top pieces of wax paper from both sections of rolled dough. Turn one of the sections over onto the top of the other to create a second layer. Use a two inch biscuit cutter to cut the dough into circles.

Place cut biscuits 2 inches apart in baking pan & bake at 400º for 18- 20 minutes. Remove to cooling rack. Serve warm.

biscuits
Christmas breakfast is best enjoyed in your PJs with a cup of piping hot coffee and the ones you love. Don’t tell Stewart. He really wants to wear his hoodie.

December 7, 2014

Making Holiday Memories – Take a Limo to See the Lights!

Making holiday memories – take a limo to see the lights! This year I’m focussed on making memories during the holidays rather than making gifts or involved menus. My easy take on Thanksgiving turned out to be delicious in its original form as well as the one-pot version that followed.
Thanksgiving

Now I’m looking toward Christmas and New Year’s with the same goal in mind. I think I’ll resurrect one of my favorite holiday activities – taking a limo to see the lights. It’s easy, festive, and relatively inexpensive if everyone chips in. In my city you can spend 4 hours riding around in style with a fully stocked bar for around $50 – $60 per person including a decent tip for the driver. While that’s not dirt cheap, I can save that much by eating lunch at home for a week or two so the price doesn’t feel out of reach.
Hats in LimoLimo

We always come to the limo prepared with snacks, music, and hats! Why hats? I have no idea. Just seems more fun somehow. Once in the limo, we pop in our favorite holiday CD and put on a hat and we’re ready to ride. The driver often helps us decide the route. You can encourage the use of, or temporarily confiscate, the ubiquitous smart phone cameras depending on how raucous a crowd you invite and what sort of reputation you desire on social media.

I think I’ll include Kahlua and Peppermint Schnapps in my bar request so we can enjoy Kahlua Mint Hot Chocolate along with our snacks. If you’d like to do this too, just bring a thermos or two of hot chocolate along. After you pour a cup, swirl in an oz of Kahlua and an oz of Peppermint Schnapps to warm your tummy.

I’m going to keep the snacks easy to make and easy to serve. Gluten-free sausage balls and ChexTM Mix will fit the bill. I can carry both of them in zip top plastic bags that can be passed around the car. When I was a kid, we called ChexTM Mix “party” mix and you had to make it in the oven. The prepackaged kind didn’t yet exist. I still prefer the kind made in the oven and I don’t think bagel chips belong in the recipe. I use Corn Chex, Rice Chex, Kix, gluten-free mixed nuts, gluten-free pretzels, butter, Worcestershire sauce, seasoned salt, garlic powder, and onion powder and follow the recipe from one of the cereal boxes. I prefer to use a few more Corn and Rice Chex than I do Kix rather than the standard 3 cups of each. You can leave out the Kix entirely if you don’t want the sweetness.
Sausage Balls

If I want easy to become even easier, I can skip making the snacks entirely by grabbing some white chocolate peppermint drizzled popcorn, gluten-free ginger snaps, M&M Holiday Candies, and a bag of gluten-free pretzels from the grocery store. Even better, I don’t have to make a decision right now. I can wait and see how the next couple of weeks turn out. If I determine that making the snacks will interfere with time I can spend with James, I’ll opt for plan B.

Now that I have a loose plan in place, I feel calm and ready to enjoy the lights.
Christmas Lights

Have a fun holiday memory making activity? Share it here and we’ll give it a try!