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Pear Muffins

I love pears, but they're never ripe when you buy them, and they seem to take so long to ripen.  Half the time I totally forget about them until they're overripe, and then I feel guilty for throwing them out.  The last time this happened I decided to try using them to make muffins and it worked!  The spices weren't quite right, but on the second try they came out tasting the way I had hoped. time you have overripe pears, or are just craving something warm and sweet, try these.  I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Pear Muffins

1 cup fully ripe or overripe pears (about 2 medium) cored, peeled, and mashed (a pastry blender works well for mashing)
2 eggs
1/3 Cup granulated sugar
1/2 Cup oil
1/2 Cup golden raisins (optional)
Combine above ingredients in large bowl and mix well.  In a smaller bowl combine:
1-3/4 Cups Four Flour Bean Mix
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400.  Grease 12 muffin tins.  Add dry mixture to wet mixture and stir together until mixed.  Do not overbeat.  Spoon into prepared pans.  Bake for 15-20 minutes.  Remove from pans and cool on rack.  Makes 12 muffins.


No. 1 Caramel Corn

No. 1 is kind of a play on words, because each of the ingredients and the instructions has 1 in it, which makes it easy to remember in case you want to make some when you're at a friend's house and don't have your recipe with you :).  It's also a wonderful ooey, gooey totally yummy caramel sauce that doesn't sugar or go hard by the next day if you happen to have some left over, which isn't likely, and that you can also use as a dipping sauce for cut up fruit if you don't want to pour it over popcorn or make popcorn balls.  It's No. 1 at our house!  Hope it'll be No. 1 for you too!

No. 1 Caramel Corn

1 lb. (2-1/3 Cups) brown sugar
1 cube (1/2 Cup) butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 Cup light corn syrup

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Boil for 1 minute.  Pour over approximately 3 gallons of popped corn. 

Remember those big old Tupperware bowls.  I still have mine (they last forever) and 3 gallons filled two of them with enough room to stir.  Just pour about half of the caramel sauce over each bowl and stir.  I also have a giant stainless steel bowl that I use for canning that all of the popcorn would fit in, but I found it easier to stir it into the popcorn and get it evenly coated in the smaller bowls.

To form the popcorn balls, though, I went ahead and poured the contents of the smaller bowls into the bigger bowl, buttered up my hands, and dived in.

Be sure you have some room temperature butter nearby when forming the popcorn balls, so you can butter up your hands often.  One recipe makes 16 big popcorn balls.


For you sharp-eyed readers who will notice that there are only 15 popcorn balls on the cookie sheet, that's because my husband snagged one to eat before I could get the picture taken :)  Enjoy!


Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cake

Seems like forever since I've posted on this blog.  Apologies to my faithful readers.  My mom and mother-in-law (93 and 90 respectively) have both been through a long rough patch, but are both doing better now, so back to cooking!  I adapted this recipe from a recipe I got from my friend Gail (of the Gail's Green Beans fame).  She brought this cake to a party we attended and I loved it!  It's a snack cake -- so no frosting is needed (call me crazy, but I've never been a fan of frosting).  You can drizzle it with chocolate sauce or sprinkle it with powdered sugar, if you like, or you can serve it up my favorite way -- with Magic Vanilla Ice Cream on top, drizzled with Hot Fudge Sauce.  Yummmm.....decadence at its best!

This cake also transports well, which makes it a great picnic cake for all your summer outings.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we have!

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cake

1 Cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Old Fashioned Rolled Oats (see note below)
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
1-3/4 Cups water
Put in a large bowl and microwave for 4 minutes on high.  Remove from microwave and cover to steam while doing the next two steps.
1 Cup brown sugar
1 Cup white sugar
2 eggs, whisked
Mix sugars and eggs together.
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp cocoa powder
Whisk dry ingredients together. 
10 oz. chocolate chips (I use semi-sweet)
Add chocolate chips to the flour mixture and stir to coat the chocolate chips.  This keeps the chips from sinking to the bottom of the batter when baking (great hint Gail -- thank you!)

Now take the cover off the oatmeal/butter mixture and stir in the sugar/egg mixture, then the flour/chocolate chip mixture.  Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 13 pan and bake at 350 for 35 minutes. 

Note:  if you prefer less oatmeal texture, you can substitute Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Instant Oatmeal.

Also, for you wheat-OK followers, just leave out the xanthan gum and use regular oatmeal and flour.  No change in quantities.


Wonderful Waffles

I adapted this recipe from one that I received with my power bill -- you never know where you're going to find a good recipe!  I hope you've discovered Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Oats.  They are wonderful!  They work great in this recipe, and are a delicious hot breakfast cereal all by themselves.  They give these waffles a chewy texture, which is quite delightful. 

Wonderful Waffles

1-1/2 Cups gluten-free Four Flour Bean Mix
1 Cup gluten-free rolled oats
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon

Stir together in a large bowl.  Set aside.

2 eggs, separated
1-1/2 Cups milk
1/3 Cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp brown sugar

In a medium bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form;  set aside.  In another medium bowl beat egg yolks slightly; stir in milk, oil, vanilla and brown sugar.  Add egg yolk mixture to flour mixture; stir just until moistened.  Gently fold in egg whites.

Pour about 1/2 Cup batter onto grids of a preheated, lightly greased waffle baker (if it has a non-stick surface, it doesn't need to be greased).  Close lid.  Bake according to manufacturer's instructions.  When done, use a fork to lift waffle off grid.  Repeat with remaining batter. 

Makes 7 (6-1/2-inch) waffles.

I love sliced up bananas and light syrup on waffles, but use whatever you love best.


Valentine's Day Breakfast Cake/Valentine's Day Special Breakfast

There was a reason I decided on Valentine's Day Breakfast Cake as the item for the sweet course at the Sweetheart Tea-- I knew my daughters would immediately remember our Valentine's Day breakfasts when they were children as soon as they saw it.  Years ago when I was newly married, a neighbor down the street from my parent's house, Wanda Johnson (who had eight children), told me about their tradition of a special breakfast on Valentine's Day, and gave me this recipe.  I loved the idea and immediately implemented it.  Every Valentine's Day, no matter which day of the week it fell on, we had a special breakfast.  Even though I worked full-time outside the home while my kids were growing up, it was still possible to do this because the Breakfast Cake (their favorite part of the breakfast, of course) could be made the night before and refrigerated.  The next morning, I would just pop it in the oven to bake while I was preparing the other parts of breakfast, and it would fill the house with the most amazing aroma.  That was one morning that no one had to be coaxed out of bed!  It turned out to be one of our favorite family traditions.  Here's the menu:

Valentine's Day Special Breakfast

Fresh orange slices (twisty oranges, as the kids called them -- see picture)
Bacon or sausage (it's fun to make heart-shaped patties out of bulk sausage)
Scrambled eggs (if anyone wants my husband's delicious scrambled eggs recipe, leave me a comment)
Valentine's Day Breakfast Cake
Milk or juice

Valentine's Day Breakfast Cake

2-1/4 Cups GF Rice Powder Mix
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 Cup sugar
2 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 Cup shortening
1-1/3 Cups milk
2 eggs

Whisk together dry ingredients.  Cut in shortening.  Beat milk and egg together and add to flour/shortening mixture.  Stir together.  Pour into greased 9 x 13 pan.  Sprinkle topping over batter.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, if desired.  To bake, remove plastic wrap and put in preheated 400 oven.  Cook for 25 minutes.  Let cool briefly.  Serve.  (For the non-GF version, just substitute 2-1/2 Cups regular flour in the batter and 1/2 Cup in the topping and eliminate the xanthan gum.)


1/3 Cup brown or white rice flour
3/4 Cup granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Whisk together.  Cut in:

6 Tbsp butter.  Sprinkle over top of cake batter.

This is easy to do and a fun tradition.  I hope you'll try it!


Chicken Salad Sandwich Filling/Sweetheart Tea

Last weekend I threw a Sweetheart Tea for all the women in my family (there were 17 of us!).  Originally it was supposed to be one year after our Teddy Bear Tea, which would have put it last November, but on calling around to my daughters, they all agreed that November/December was too busy, and why not schedule it for January/February when the weather is terrible and you're just dying for a party to go to to break up the monotony of winter.  I thought that sounded like a good idea, so we had it last Saturday, Feb. 5th, which was a little early for Valentine's Day (hence the theme) but I also wanted to work in a celebration of my mom's 93rd birthday on Feb. 4th.  Everyone was supposed to wear a Valentine shirt or Valentine colors, bring a card for my mom, and could bring their favorite doll if they wished.  My mom brought her only doll from her childhood (it's 81 years old) and told us about it.  I decorated with dolls from my childhood

and several of the granddaughters brought their dolls.  Here's Lauren showing us her doll:

For the menu, we had mini croissant chicken salad sandwichs (no gluten intolerance in this group) and Pasta Chicken Fruit Salad for the savory course, mini Poppy Seed Muffins and Applesauce Spice Raisin Muffins, and Orange-Cranberry Scones cut in heart shapes (recipe coming soon) for the scone course, and Valentine's Day Breakfast Cake (also coming soon) for the sweet course.  Here's a picture of the table with the above dishes on it:

I got the recipe for the sandwich filling from my daughter-in-law Julie (who also supplied the recipe for the previous post).  It would look and taste great on any of the GF breads sliced thin, lightly toasted, crusts cut off and cut into small squares or triangles (or hearts for a Sweetheart Tea :), especially the Soft White Bread

Chicken Salad Sandwich Filling

3 Cups cubed cooked chicken
1-1/2 Cups grapes, sliced in half
1/2 Cup sliced almonds or roughly chopped cashews
4-5 diced green onions
2 stalks celery, diced
8 fresh basil leaves, minced (if you can't find fresh basil leaves, substitute 1 tsp dried basil)
3-4 - 1 Cup mayonnaise
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
Havarti cheese

Mix the mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, pepper and basil together until well mixed.  Combine chicken, grapes, nuts, onions and celery.  Fold in mayonnaise mixture.  Refrigerate.  When making sandwiches, top filling with a thin slice of Havarti cheese and a lettuce leaf.  Serve immediately.

I decided to serve all the courses at once this year because at the Teddy Bear Tea I did each course separately, and everyone was too full by the time we got to the sweet course.  Here's everyone filling up their plates:

and our group shot:

A good time was had by all!


Yummy Fall Salad

This is a wonderful recipe that I got from my daughter-in-law, Julie.  Whenever we have a family get together, it's always a potluck (there are 30 of us and there's no way I'm cooking for that many on a regular basis :) and she brought this salad to one of them.  Everyone loved it so much that she has to bring it to every party now.  As a side note, we usually serve the cashews in a little bowl separately rather than mixed in the salad since we have some family members who are allergic to nuts.  It's such a tasty salad, that it's good even without them, although better with!  Also, don't let the Fall in the name deter you from making this anytime -- I think it's called that because of the apples and pears which are usually considered fall fruits, but which you can find most of the year.  Be sure that the pears are perfectly ripe so that they'll be full of flavor.  You'll also notice that there are no amounts for the salad -- make as much as you need!  Serve the dressing separately too, letting each person put on the amount they want.  You'll find yourself hoping that there is some left over for later -- it's a wonderful dressing.  Enjoy!

Yummy Fall Salad

Salad:  Romaine lettuce, chopped
            Swiss cheese, cubed tiny
            Cubed apples
            Cubed pears
Dressing: 1/2 Cup sugar
                1/3 Cup lemon juice
                1/2 tsp dry mustard
                1 tsp salt
                2 tsp chopped onion
                2/3 Cup oil
                1 Tbsp poppy seeds

Combine sugar, lemon juice, dry mustard, salt and onion in blender; blend well.  While blender is running, add oil in a slow, steady stream;  blend until smooth.  Pulse or stir in poppy seeds.