stories of a lifelong lover of food who had no choice but to go gluten-free. the trials, the triumphs and the joy of finding recipes that are worthy of sharing!

Monday, July 23, 2012

My Apologies for Such a Long Hiatus!

YIKES! I knew it had been a while since I sat down and posted anything new, but it wasn't until I needed to glance at one of my own recipes that I realized there hasn't been a new recipe for you all to enjoy since LAST YEAR!!! Must be true that time flies when you're having fun...and getting back to a "normal" life with work and family functions and all those other day-to-day doings. 

Despite the fact that I haven't shared anything over these past several months, I have definitely been in the kitchen, and have a few new dishes that I will be getting up in the near future! So, go ahead and enter your email address along the sidebar to "subscribe," and you'll be sure to know when the next post hits. Until then, revisit some of the past posts, keep cooking and enjoy the summer sunshine!

Be Good & Have Fun-

PS: Here's a hint at what's in store...Much of the time I would have spent blogging has been given over to my two new loves, the KitchenAid Ice Cream maker attachment and The Vegan Scoop!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Inconceivably Awesome (VEGAN) Holiday Pie

OKAY...Its pretty hard to ever guarantee anything with a food recipe. There are just too many opinions out there as to what makes a dish delicious. Everyone has their own preferred flavor, texture, aroma, some of us even pick our favorite foods by color. Because this is just the reality of cooking for others, or sharing recipes with the masses, it is virtually impossible to promise anyone anything when it comes to putting smiles on the faces around the table. The key phrase there is "VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE." Today, my good people, I throw caution to the wind. I go out on a limb. I am making you a promise; I am stating AND proclaiming; I am offering you a one-time-only-100%-money-back-no-questions-asked guarantee! If you have family or friends who are known to enjoy pumpkin pie, but scoff at the idea of "health foods", cringe at the thought of tofu, or run from the room when someone dares utter the "V" word...(vegan, that is)...I am prepared to stake my reputation and bet the barn that they will NEVER suspect that this creamy, custardy, crazy-delicious Pecan Topped Pumpkin Pie is completely vegan, as well as gluten-free. Go ahead, let the little devil inside you creep out this Christmas...bring one of these bad boys to the dessert buffet. Cut an extra large slice for Uncle Joe, the guy who, just a short while ago, carved up the holiday roast- all the while shamelessly smacking his lips in anticipation. Watch his eyes glaze over as he savors every silky smooth bite of that pie. Go so far as to wait until he's slid back the chair and given his belly a contented little pat or two. And then tell him. Let your own shameless grin appear. Say it, "Ya know the secret to such a great pie, Uncle Joe? I make it almost entirely out of TOFU." If you've been good this year, and all your holiday wishes are coming true, old Uncle Joe might just fall right out of that flimsy folding chair he's relaxing in. And he might just finally stop taunting the lone vegan at the celebration and concede, after all these years, that tofu can actually taste terrific!

There are many reasons to love this recipe, but one of them is because you can put it together with as much or as little effort as you feel like giving amidst the chaos of the holiday season. Feeling wiped out from shopping all those last minute sales?  Then take the easy road and use a store bought crust and packaged spice mix. Or, if all your little elves have taken care of the busy work for you, follow the recipe included here for crust from scratch and mix up your own custom blend of spices (there's a recipe for that, too!). Either way, you'll be surprised how just a few simple ingredients can come together to make such a remarkably flavorful treat for any celebration. You might just find yourself bookmarking this recipe to use all year round...who says you can't have Christmas in July?! A tip worth noting, though, is that this particular pie tastes best once it has had a day, or even two, to chill out in the fridge. Its not a necessity, but planning ahead just a bit will make it all the more enjoyable in the end.

Well, my mouth is watering so let's put on the apron, grab the rolling pin, and get baking...



  • 1 and 1/4 cans (15oz each), about 2c total, organic pure pumpkin puree
  • 3/4c turbinado sugar
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 2tsp pumpkin pie spice (recipe follows)
  • 12oz silken tofu, soft or firm*
  • 1-9"or 10" pie crust, unbaked (recipe follows)
  • walnut or pecan halves for decoration (optional)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 
If making scratch crust, prepare it before you begin the filling.

For pie filling, begin by blending the tofu in a food processor or blender until smooth and creamy. 

In a separate mixing bowl, cream together the pumpkin puree and the sugar until well blended. Add the salt, spice mix and tofu and continue blending until all ingredients are well incorporated. The filling should be a beautiful and uniform, autumnal shade of orange with no visible streaks of the white tofu.

Pour filling into the prepared, but UNBAKED, crust and smooth the top gently with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Decorate with walnut or pecan halves, if desired.

Bake the pie for 15 minutes at 425 degrees, then reduce oven temp to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 40-45 minutes. If crust begins to darken, shield gently with foil. Pie will appear slightly dry and center will be well set when it is done. Remove from oven, cool completely and refrigerate until ready to serve.

*Be sure you are using "silken" tofu, sold in shelf-stable packaging similar to that of juice boxes. For more about silken tofu, check out the notes in this older post!

Serve chilled or at room temperature, with whipped cream or vegan vanilla ice cream, if you like.
Recipe yields one 9-10" pie.
Gluten Free and Vegan, with Nut-Free option.


  • 3/4c plus 2Tbsp white rice flour
  • 2tsp sugar
  • 3/4tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • 7 Tbsp cold vegan buttery sticks or shortening (such as Earth Balance), cut into pieces
  • 2-3 Tbsp cold water, as needed
Sift together flour, sugar, xanthan gum and salt in a large mixing bowl. (Alternatively, pulse dry ingredients with the blade attachment in a food processor.)
Add butter and cut in to flour mix using a pastry cutter of two sharp knives, crisscrossing the blades until butter resembles "pebbles" the size of peas. (If using processor, pulse until butter is distributed.)

Add the water one tablespoon at a time stirring until a soft ball of dough forms.
Roll dough, immediately, between two sheets of parchment paper, or wrap with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to use. Room temperature dough can also be pressed into pie pan using slightly moistened fingertips.

Yields enough dough for one 10" single crust pie.


  • 8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground clove
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
Blend all spices together and store in a tightly covered container.
Yields approximately 1/4 cup.

Monday, November 21, 2011

My InsubFest Souvenir: Barbecue Pineapple Pizza

     After 6 years, the annual trip my husband and I take to Baltimore for Insubordination Records' pop-punk music festival can most certainly be considered a tradition. Its something we look forward to all year. Three days full of nearly non-stop great music, various and sundry hijinx and the reunion of the most diverse and unassuming group of pop-punk fanatics and friends one could my opinion, it's Paradise. The cherry on this metaphorical sundae? The show's venue, Ottobar, happens to be located just half a block away from Celiacs heaven...Sweet Sin Bakery!! In the past I have made a point to visit Sweet Sin to fill up on their phenomenal cupcakes. (Some readers will recognize the name as they do distribute frozen treats throughout the United States and Canada.) With flavors such as Cookies & Cream, Caramel Apple, Lemon Chiffon, the "Hostess", Classic Birthday Cake, and Chocolate Cheesecake you can't go wrong. I'd make the 300 mile trek for these tasties alone. This year, things got even more divine...Sweet Sin in Waverly now serves a full menu of gluten free breakfasts, lunches and PIZZAS! This is no run-of-the-mill menu, either. In the three days we spent in the Charm City I dined on delights like Mex-Indian Breakfast Burritos, Spiced Waffles, Vegan French Toast and California Chicken Pizza. MMMMM...PIZZA!! Really good pizza...better-than-I-remember-pizza-tasting pizza. Loaded with savory-sweet barbecue chicken, peppers, onion and pineapple. When I regard this cafe as heavenly, be assured I do not exaggerate. So when our vacation came to a close and we headed north on the interstate with heavy bellies and heavier hearts, I knew that I would be in the kitchen working to recreate this dish even before our bags were unpacked. To my delight, I had a respectable replication on our table less than 24 hours after we returned to Syracuse. And because something this wonderful MUST be shared, I offer my own version of Sweet Sin Barbecue Pineapple Pizza to you. And because pizza tastes best when you enjoy it to the pogo-jumpin', fist-pumpin' sounds of punk rock, I have included a few favorite songs to bring home the full InsubFest ambiance.



  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • olive oil for pan
  • 3/4c Memphis style barbecue sauce, divided (bottled is fine, just be sure it is GF)
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 green pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1c pineapple chunks, fresh or canned, well drained
  • 1 package GF vegan mozzarella, slices or shredded
  • seasoning salt, to taste (optional)
  • 1 GF pizza crust of choice, unbaked*
     Preheat oven according to pizza crust specifications. Generally about 450 degrees.

     Begin by preparing chicken (or substitute; see note). Heat a small amount of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season cut chicken breast with a pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper. Place in skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is opaque, about 5-8 minutes. Add about 1/2c barbecue sauce and stir to coat chicken. Add half of the onion slices and continue cooking for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

     Meanwhile, prepare pizza dough and roll or press onto an ungreased pizza pan. Spread remaining 1/4c barbecue sauce over crust. Layer one half of the total desired amount of cheese over sauce, usually about 5 slices or 1c shredded. Top with cooked chicken, pepper slices, remaining onion and pineapple chunks. Finish by adding the remaining cheese and seasoning salt, if desired.

     Bake according to pizza crust recipe directions. This should generally be16-20 minutes in a 450 degree oven. Pizza crust should be golden brown and the cheese should be melted and slightly browned. We all know what a well cooked pizza looks like, right?! Resist the urge to cut into your pie before it cools a bit, you'll save yourself the pain of a burnt mouth AND avoid the risk of losing all the tasty toppings.

     NOTE: For a vegan pizza,  lightly steam 8oz of cubed tempeh and substitute this for the chicken pieces, proceed with the recipe as written. Also be certain you are using a crust that is free of any animal derived ingredients!

     *I have had great success with Chebe brand GF Pizza Crust Mix. It is simple to prepare, easy to roll out and makes a perfectly crispy thin crust pie every time.

Makes one 14" pizza.
Gluten Free, Dairy Free, with Vegan option.

     Now that you have the recipe, check out a few of the bands that added to the fun at InsubFest over the past few years. I guarantee your pizza will taste ten times better if you add a little pop punk!

the Copyrights:

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Super Simple Summer Supper

     One of the surprising benefits of this busy summer season has been the discovery of some really fantastic store-bought gluten-free items that not only taste wonderful, but also save tons of time and effort at the end of a long, hot day. I shared a quick fix recipe for breakfast and lunch in my last entry, so I thought today I might go ahead and post something equally easy to whip up for dinner. My previous Breakfast Quesadilla was inspired in part by Food for Life's brown rice tortillas. This post's all-American(ish) dish came to mind when I found Rudi's gluten-free hamburger buns in the grocery store freezer. The burger buns have a nice flavor, a good texture and will totally knock your socks off if you take an extra minute to butter and toast them before piling them high with your favorite meats, veggies, or in this case, tofu! That's right...BBQ Tofu Burgers with Lime Marinated Onion Slaw. Not only is this recipe ready in under 30 minutes, it also satisfies those pesky cravings for all the flavors that go with the traditional backyard summer gathering. This version is baked under a hot broiler, but you could just as easily throw these tofu "burgers" on a well-oiled grill at your next cookout. I think even the meat lovers will be thrilled and shocked when they give these a try!


Summer Flavors, Summer Fun!!
  • 1 medium red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1 and 1/2 cups shredded lettuce or green cabbage
  • juice of 1 lime, freshly squeezed
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 
  • one 16oz block extra firm tofu, preferably  hand-crafted, well-drained and pressed*
  • approx. 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce of choice, homemade or bottled
  • cooking spray or vegetable oil for pan
  • 4 gluten free hamburger buns
  • vegan buttery spread, or butter
  • 4 large tomato slices
  • vegan chipotle dressing, optional (recipe follows)
    Begin by placing the onion slices, lettuce or cabbage, lime juice, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Toss gently to combine and set aside to marinate at room temperature while preparing burgers.
    Once drained and pressed, slice the tofu in half both vertically and horizontally, creating four thick rectangles. Press each piece once more between clean paper towels, removing as much moisture as possible.*
    Divide chili powder equally and rub all sides of the tofu pieces to coat them generously.
    Pour 1/4 cup BBQ sauce onto a large, shallow plate and use a basting brush to spread it into a thin layer. Now place the tofu pieces on the sauce-covered plate in a single layer. Pour remaining sauce over top of the tofu and use the brush to coat each piece evenly. Allow to sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes while you preheat broiler and prepare pan.
    Cover a large, rimmed broiler pan with aluminum foil. Generously spray a baking (sometimes called cooling) rack with non-stick cooking spray. Place the rack on top of the foil-lined pan.
    Once tofu has marinated for 15 minutes or more, transfer the pieces to the prepared pan and reserve remaining sauce for basting. Cook the tofu under a preheated broiler for 10 minutes, turning them over once after five minutes. Baste tops of tofu burgers with reserved sauce and allow to cook about 2 more minutes until the sauce is beginning to darken and starts to look slightly dry.
    While tofu is cooking, slice buns and butter each of the cut sides lightly with vegan spread. Toast buns very briefly under broiler or on the stove top in a skillet over medium-high heat. Watch carefully to avoid burning the buns!
    Once burgers have finished cooking, its time to put everything together. Spread each bun with a little chipotle dressing, place one slice of tomato on each bun bottom, then one piece of tofu. Top each piece of tofu with a generous spoonful of onion slaw and cap the beautiful burgers off with bun tops. A toothpick works great to hold everything in place, just remind your guests to take it out before anyone takes a bite. (OUCH!!)
    Serve burgers alongside your own picnic favorites. Some suggestions include: roasted sweet corn, mashed sweet potatoes, baked beans or a fresh garden salad.
    *A helpful hint when cooking with tofu: Store tofu in the freezer and allow to thaw overnight before pressing and cooking. This will give the tofu a much "meatier" texture and, in this recipe, will help the burger resist crumbling. I have mentioned before that choosing the right tofu is important in achieving the best results. Here, silken tofu will not work and a hand-crafted, very firm tofu will reward you with the most enjoyable burger. I always use Ithaca Soy tofu...hands down, the very best!
    Makes 4 burgers. 
    Gluten-free. Vegetarian. All-American.
    This recipe was developed by trial and error and is meant to replicate the amazing ranch dressing served at Panera Bread with their BBQ Chopped Chicken Salad. It is one of our family's favorites!
  •  1 or 2 dried chipotle peppers, according to taste
  • 6oz firm silken tofu
  • scant 1/3c canola oil or light olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp capers, drained
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon, freshly squeezed
  • 2 tsp agave nectar, or 1 and 1/2tsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1/4c red onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
     Begin by softening the dried chipotle(s). To do this, simply place them in a small bowl with enough VERY HOT tap water to cover the peppers. Let them sit for about 10 minutes. Once pliable, drain the water and remove pepper stems. Seeds may also be removed if you want a less spicy dressing.
     Place the peppers along with all remaining ingredients into a food processor or blender and process until smooth and creamy.  Taste and adjust seasoning. If too spicy, and a small amount of lemon juice. You can also add a bit more oil (to thin) or tofu (to thicken) in order to achieve your preferred consistency.

     Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
     Makes about 2 cups.
     Gluten-free. Vegan. Creamy and Delicious!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Quick and Delicious Breakfast Quesadilla

     Going gluten free kind of killed my love for breakfast. Until recently, that is! Not only did I try Udi's sandwich bread for the first time a few months ago, but in the same week I also discovered Food for Life tortillas. The sandwich bread makes for pretty decent french toast and even puts the joy back in a simple plate of toast and eggs or an egg and bacon sandwich. The tortillas became the inspiration for my new favorite breakfast (and sometimes lunch): Scrambled Egg Quesadillas with Garden Tomatoes and Basil.
     It wasn't exactly a stroke of genius but I certainly had a good idea when I decided to jazz up my scrambled eggs by adding some of the tomatoes, basil and peppers that were picked from the garden that morning and then grill it all up in a brown rice tortilla with some mozzarella cheese. It was like something from a luxury resort and it took no more than 10 minutes to make. Plus, there are a million ways to take this basic recipe and make it your own. After the first bite my mind was already racing with thoughts of black olives and cilantro, asparagus tips and goat cheese, apple slices and brie, mushrooms and get the gist! So go ahead and try this out and feel free to share any tasty take-offs you come up with by posting them in the comment thread.


Everything You Need
  • 2 eggs*
  • 2 Tbsp soy milk
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 5-6 grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 banana pepper, hot or sweet, sliced into thin rings
  • 3 slices non-dairy mozzarella cheese
  • 4-5 whole, fresh basil leaves
  • 1 GF brown rice tortilla, 10" or larger
  • cooking spray or vegan buttery spread for pan
     Begin by scrambling the eggs. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and soy milk along with a pinch of salt and pepper. In a non-stick skillet large enough to accommodate the tortilla, over medium-high heat, melt just enough butter to coat the pan. Add the egg and milk mixture and cook, gently stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula until cooked through. This will take about 3 minutes.

     Remove eggs, setting them aside, and add about one teaspoon butter to the pan, re-coating the bottom.

     Place the tortilla into the pan and use 2 slices of cheese to cover one half of the tortilla. Now spread the cooked eggs evenly over the cheese, and top the eggs with chopped tomatoes and pepper rings. Layer the basil leaves over the tomatoes and then top everything off with the remaining slice of cheese. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.

Ready to be folded!

Once you have stacked all of your ingredients, use a spatula to gently fold the empty half of the tortilla over the fillings, creating your quesadilla. Lightly press the top of the quesadilla with the back of the spatula, or place a heat-proof plate and heavy can on top to create a "press." Allow the quesadilla to heat through until cheese is melted and tortilla is lightly browned, about 1-2 minutes.

A Perfectly Good Press

     Remove the finished quesadilla from the pan and let cool slightly before cutting into 4 wedges. Garnish with basil and enjoy!

Breakfast is Served!!
     *For those who want a completely vegan quesadilla, substitute scrambled tofu for the eggs and use a casein-free cheese alternative. 

     Serves 2.
     Gluten-free, Nut-free, Dairy-free, with Vegan option.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Killer Kung Pao

     Most everyone enjoys dining on an order of Chinese take-out once in a while. Its a great way to get a variety of tasty dishes that can be served up family style, and everyone can have a little of their favorite Asian delights. But those of us following a gluten free diet need to be cautious when ordering from the menu because there are often hidden sources of troublesome allergens lurking in those sweet and savory sauces. Almost every Asian sauce is made with soy sauce, and most soy sauce contains wheat! Furthermore, chicken and pork can be dusted in flour before cooking to give them a crispy texture. For those with nut or seafood allergies, there are a whole host of concerns. So, although it may be tempting to cheat a bit on our dietary restrictions, it is imperative that we refrain from diving into those take-out containers if we want to continue feeling well. My weapon for fighting those  dangerous temptations? An arsenal of quick and easy Asian recipes that rival the best restaurants and are 100% safe for us gluten-freebies!

     One of my favorite meals is Kung Pao. This is a dish that combines sweet, savory and spicy flavors that mingle and balance to create a very nice layering that perks up every part of the palate. Being of Szechuan origin, Kung Pao is traditionally quite hot, using a fair amount of red chili to impart a spicy kick. Feel free to adjust the recipe to your liking, I use fresh jalapeno and a very small amount of dried red pepper and keep it fairly mild. Those who want it hotter can add more pepper flakes at the table. Commonly, you find this made with chicken, and the recipe would work fine with just about any poultry or meat that one would like. My protein of choice here, however, is tempeh. I love the flavor of tempeh, which is slightly nutty and compliments the Kung Pao peanut sauce perfectly. Tempeh also has a great texture that holds up well with the crisp carrots, peppers and water chestnuts that round out the dish.  Served over brown rice, this is a meal that comes together quickly and satisfies completely. So put down the phone, put away that take-out menu and get ready to cook up a real Asian sensation!


  • 3 Tbsp gluten free lite soy sauce*
  • 3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp dry sherry, divided
  • 3/4c vegetable broth
  • 1 plus 1/2 Tbsp light colored honey
  • 1 (8oz) pkg soy tempeh, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 2 Tbsp roasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 - 1 whole jalapeno, minced
  • 1/2-1 Tbsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled** and grated or minced
  • 1/4c creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4c dairy milk, soy milk or nut milk
  • 1 sweet pepper, any color, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 can diced water chestnuts, rinsed and drained or cashews
  • 4 scallions, greens and whites, chopped
  • cooked brown rice for serving
In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, 2 tablespoons sherry, broth and honey. Set aside.

Place the tempeh in a steamer basket over 1-2 inches of boiling water. Cover and steam for 8 minutes.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons sherry, cornstarch, salt, pepper and sesame oil. When the tempeh has finished steaming, add it to this bowl and toss to coat. Set aside to marinate while continuing to prepare recipe.

Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the jalapeno and red pepper, saute for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat slightly and add the garlic and ginger, cooking just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Transfer the tempeh from the marinade to the skillet, reserving the marinade for later use. Saute the tempeh over medium-high heat until evenly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the bell peppers, carrots and water chestnuts (or cashews). Saute an additional 3 minutes, stirring often.

Add the peanut butter and milk to the soy sauce mixture and stir to break up the peanut butter a bit. Make a small "well" in the center of the skillet and add the peanut butter mixture and reserved marinade, stirring until the peanut butter melts, creating a sauce.

Bring to a very gentle boil, reduce heat to lowest setting and simmer for 10 minutes.

Serve over brown rice, topped with scallions, and with red pepper flakes available for addition at the table.

Yields 4 servings.
Gluten Free, Vegetarian (with Vegan Option).
Ready in 35 minutes (or less!).

*As of this posting (4/2011) La Choy Lite Soy Sauce is gluten-free. Most brands are not. Braggs Liquid Aminos can be substituted 1:1 for soy sauce in this recipe, but the salt should then be reduced. Always read product labels carefully as manufacturers sometimes change their ingredients.

**TIP: To make peeling ginger super-easy, use the edge of a spoon to scrape the skin off. It not only works better than a knife, but you'll waste less of the ginger! If you have ginger left over, peel it and store it in a zip-top bag in the freezer. Pull it out anytime you need it and its ready to go.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

GF Baking, Part 3: Cowboy Cookies (Courtesy of Mary B.)

     Once or twice a week I am lucky enough to be able to share some of my skills in the kitchen with the guests at a local hospital hospitality house. The people I am cooking for are either patients at area hospitals or they are family members of patients. They are away from their homes and have often times just found out that they (or their loved one) are beginning a long, difficult journey down a road of recovery from cancer, severe trauma or injury. Needless to say, they are in the throws of some very trying times. One might expect this stress to manifest itself in the attitudes of folks faced with such adversity. One could certainly forgive any person in this situation if they did act sheltered, cold or angry. The great wonder to me is that in months of visiting the house, I have not once seen any of those characteristics. More miraculously, I mostly see strength of spirit and immense faith and gratitude. It is humbling. It reminds me of my own path to healing and how blessed I have been.
     One woman who I have come to know through volunteering here, Mary, has touched a particularly soft spot in my heart. Perhaps it is because she reminds me a bit of my grandmother.  The first time I met her she came right into the kitchen and started peeking at the pots and pans I had on the stove and telling me how much she enjoyed cooking for her family when she was home and feeling well enough to do so. Her husband, Matt, was already seated at the kitchen table lending me a hand with supper for "the House" by peeling potatoes. You could see just how much he cared for and adored Mary as he listened to her talk- both of them happily distracted from the woes of the day.  At one point, just making conversation, I asked her if she also liked to bake. The corners of her mouth turned up slightly and her eyes widened a bit and she replied, "Oh, I love to bake! My kids always like it when I bake. I made some cookies the other day, would you like one?" I knew her "kids" were all well into their adulthood, so it made me chuckle to think of them getting excited to have her home baked goodies. I couldn't try the cookies (which she procured from a secret stash of sweets) myself, as they were made with wheat flour, but I asked if I could take a few home to my husband and Mary readily obliged.  When I saw her again, a few days later, I told her how well received the cookies had been and asked if it was a recipe she'd be willing to share. Again, she was only too happy to indulge me. She gave me the recipe, hand written, on a 3x5 index card, just like my grandma would have done! I think she was really glad to share the recipe, and it was so wonderful to see how something so simple as communing over a cookie could take our minds away from life's struggles, even if only for a few minutes.
     Out of my appreciation for the way that she had so kindly shared the recipe with me, I decided I MUST take the original recipe and try my hand at adapting it to be gluten free. The results were amazing, the best cookies I have EVER made, hands down!! So, now, I am happy to pass along these heavenly delights in both their GF and their traditional forms. I hope you all will count your own blessings and think a good thought for those facing tougher times as you warm your ovens and bake up a batch of Mary B's Cowboy Cookies!

Cowboy Cookies (My Gluten Free Version)

A Short Stack for Dunking!
  • 1/2c butter flavor shortening
  • 1/2c sugar
  • 1/2c light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3c sorghum flour
  • 1/3c rice flour
  • 1/3c potato starch (aka potato starch flour)
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup GF rolled oats*
  • 3 ounces butterscotch baking chips
  • 3 ounces dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4c sweetened flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a small mixing bowl, sift together the flours, potato starch, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine shortening, sugar and brown sugar. Beat at medium speed, using the paddle attachment, until creamy and well combined.

Add the egg and vanilla. Beat at medium speed until evenly incorporated, about 30 seconds.

Gradually add flour mixture while stirring at low speed, just until dry ingredients are blended in.

Finally, add the oats, butterscotch and chocolate chips, and coconut and mix them in using the STIR setting of the mixer, or by hand with a wooden spoon.

Scoop the dough in a rounded tablespoon measure and place on the lined baking sheet, spread about 2" apart. Bake 9-11 minutes at 350 degrees, until just slightly browned at the edges.

Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 1-2 minutes, then remove and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yields 3 and 1/2 dozen cookies.
Cooled cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days. They also freeze well in zip-top plastic bags and can be thawed quickly by microwaving for about 10 seconds.
Gluten Free when prepared as above.

*A NOTE ON OATS: Although "gluten free" rolled oats are available commercially, it is important to understand that due to common growing practices, there can be issues of cross contamination of crops that may result in an adverse reaction when the product is consumed by individuals with extreme sensitivities to wheat and gluten. Read the packaging carefully before you buy or use any oats, even if they are expressly labeled as gluten free. I have used Bob's Red Mill Rolled Oats and have not had any evident issues, however, if you know or suspect that you are highly sensitive, it may be best to forgo eating these cookies!

Cowboy Cookies (Original Version, As Written by Mary B.)

A Real Recipe Box Treasure
  • 1c shortening
  • 1c sugar
  • 1c brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2c flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2c rolled oats
  • 1 (9oz) pkg chocolate or butterscotch chips
  • 1/2c coconut flakes
  1. Cream shortening, sugar and brown sugar.
  2. Add eggs and vanilla.
  3. Add flour, baking powder, soda and salt.
  4. Add oats, coconut and chips.
  5. Place spoons of dough on greased sheet. Bake 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees
How About a Baker's Dozen?
Yields about 6 dozen.

This post is dedicated, with sincere gratitude, to Mary B, her husband Matt and their children, for letting me share in this little bit of their lives. It is my pleasure to have met each of you!