Monday, December 31, 2012

Gluten Free Rum Balls

I had a feeling that 2012 was going to be the year of big changes.  Little did I know that last year's goals of dating and traveling would turn into purchasing my very first home, instead, which in itself created a whole new set of challenges that have been fun yet more difficult than I'd ever thought I'd have to face so quickly.  In the end, it has been worth the new struggles of bills, cooking for less and missing the family.  And as much as I adore my family and can't stand being apart from them, this year I had to find my own independence, conquer my fear of loss and change, separate myself from trying to live the lives of others and do what was right for me.  It's been hard but also liberating and rewarding.  So, I apologize for the lack of posts these past few months, as I am still settling down from all the commotion and craze!

So, to celebrate another year of accomplishments and healthy change, I'm rewarding myself with my Grandma Jo's famous and potent Rum Ball Cookies (with a twist).  As soon as you open a can of these unbaked sweets, you immediately know what you're getting yourself into.  No, you will not get drunk off of these unless you eat the entire batch, which I don't recommend because it makes about 3-4 dozen, and you don't want to have to roll in bed in the middle of a fun party (like I did after eating just 10 in a couple hours)!  So, note to self, control yourself when eating these.  But you will get a big hint of that tingling rum which pairs perfectly with its pecan and chocolatey flavor.  A great way to get any holiday party or event started!

What you'll need: Makes 3-4 dozen

1 6 oz pkg semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 1/2 cups finely crushed gluten free pecan flavored cookies (I use Mi-Del)
1 cup finely ground pecans
3 tbsp agave syrup (better than using wht corn syrup)
1/2 cup rum (I use Bacardi)
 1/2 cup sifted powered sugar (plus extra for rolling)
red sugar sprinkles for rolling

Melt the chocolate chips (double boiler method) by placing in a small glass bowl over a small pot of boiling water.  Don't let the bowl touch the water.  Stir occasionally until completely melted, remove from heat.  In a large bowl, combined the crushed cookies, pecans, agave, rum, powdered sugar and melted chocolate.  Mix well until evenly incorporated.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 1/2 hour.  Form into 1 inch balls then roll in powdered sugar or colored sugar sprinkles.  Place in air-tight container (to prevent from drying out) and let sit for at least 24 hours.  The longer they sit the stronger they taste!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Remembering Grandma Kay

Today would have been Grandma Kay's 96th Birthday.  I miss her so much but know that she's celebrating somewhere in spirit with her loved ones, pain free and happy.  Christmas is going to be strange yet serene without her this year.  But we will keep her in our hearts as we fill our kitchens with her Pizzelles, Ambrosia Fruit Salad and Almond Roll.  During her last years, she mentioned often how much she missed being in her kitchen, the place that filled her with meaningful tradition, love, comfort and family.  And someday I wonder if I'll ever have to feel the same.  But until then, the least I can do for a special grandma is to keep her memory and favorite sweets alive in our favorite room of the home, our beloved kitchens. Happy Birthday, Grandma.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Home to Grown Into

It's been about two weeks since I've been in my new home and it's already starting to feel like my new normal.  I'm glad I took everyone's advice in taking my time making this my own.  In the beginning, I felt like if I rushed getting everything that I thought I needed (essentials plus a little extra) that the space would feel fuller, less lonely and more of a home.  But in the end, I realized that it's the unique individual items and ideas that are what make a space feel more like home, not how many things you have in it.  They have to give you joy and comfort.  And if I didn't feel that, then I knew they didn't belong.  It takes time to create a space you feel comfortable in and I've learned that.  For now, I only have the essentials, but that's okay because it's fun slowly growing into a home, having fun finding new things over time and turning it into something that reflects your own personality.  So here are a few things, so far, that have helped turn my home into something I love coming home to.  Only thing missing... is a cat or two.

West Elm zig zag rug and a favorite pair of oxfords.

Weekly fresh flowers in vintage juice glasses on the bathroom vanity.

Holiday owl and lights on a ficus tree.

A flea market night stand and "back to basics" Ikea alarm clock.

A Pendleton scarf dining room table runner.

What are your favorite house things/ideas you love coming home to?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Gluten Free Turkey Meatballs

When people think of the winter holidays, ham and turkey usually come to mind.  But when I think of them, all I crave is hearty Italian food.  Growing up, my mom didn't have a typical all-American feast for Christmas, but instead gathered around a table full of Grandpa's lasagna, eggplant parmigiana, etc.  But as my mom grew up, moved out and became a more Americanized wife and mother, the Italian food slowly went away for Christmas and the ham and turkey came in its place.  But feeling closer than ever to my family and roots this year, I'm determined to bring back our Italian traditions this December and I've started with Meatballs.  Typically made of ground beef, white bread and breadcrumbs, I've decided to switch things up a bit (for health and allergy reasons) by using turkey, gluten free bread and gluten free breadcrumbs, instead.  The traditions are still there but the guilt is gone.  Plated on your choice of marinara or topped on your favorite pasta, these meatballs are the perfect comforting munch for this chilly time of year. 

What you'll need: serves about 4

1 slice gluten free bread (I used Udi's White GF bread) cut in 1/2 inch cubes
2 - 3 tbsp low fat milk
1lb ground white turkey
1/2 yellow onion (finely chopped)
1 clove garlic (minced)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup gluten free Italian breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Olive Oil

In a small bowl, combine the milk and cubed bread and let the bread completely soak up the milk and break up (about 5 minutes).  Add a bit more if needed.  In a medium size bowl combine the turkey, onion, garlic, Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, soaked bread, oregano, basil and pepper until all is incorporated.  But don't over mix!  You don't want tough meatballs.

Roll the meat into 1 1/2 inch size balls.  In a large fry pan, heat the oil over medium high heat.  Brown each side (for about 2 mins: total of 8 - 10 mins).  Finish cooking them in the oven for another 10 mins at 350 degrees.  Plate over a bed of marinara sauce and eat hot!