Trifecta of Celebrations

First up, a very heartfelt thank you to all who commented and offered support on my last post about my other writing life. Hopefully by outing myself as a fiction writer on this blog, I will keep up with my goals and not slack off. Fingers crossed.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

November was a big month for us as we got to celebrate a trifecta of festivities: Little Guy’s birthday, Thanksgiving, and Chanukah. Rather than torture you with three individual posts, I’m lumping it all together.

First up, my birthday boy. I can’t believe this guy is TWO.

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Yet, I totally can because he is talking up a storm and can’t stop running around and dive bombing family members (leading, unfortunately, with his head). He also loves taking off all his clothes – and the clothes of EVERY single one of Bunky’s dolls. It’s really cute until he pees on the couch.

Last year I made him pumpkin muffins because that seemed like a responsible and healthy thing to do for a one-year-old. But a lot changes in a year, let me tell you. The kid still loves pumpkin, but that gourd has nothing on chocolate.

little guy second birthday cake

Everyone LOVED this cake. Courtesy of Gluten Free on a Shoestring’s Perfect Chocolate Cake. It really is perfect. Dense and rich and yet not overbearing at all. A sure thing for my chocoholic family. The fall foliage sprinkles were my favorite part.

Double thumbs up is the highest praise in our house.

Double thumbs up is the highest praise in our house. Little Guy only had one hand free.

little guy birthday cake close up

How cute is this kid? He’s totally trying to share his cake with me.

Which leads me to these leaf shaped sugar cookies I made for Thanksgiving. A GF Shoestring blog recipe. I highly HIGHLY recommend. My kids couldn’t eat them fast enough. And neither could my husband. Um, or me.

cookies close up

I frosted some with royal icing (not pictured), but it was a mistake. I’ve since realized that royal icing is more about making pretty decorations with a piping bag (which I don’t have). However, while the iced cookies didn’t look as pretty as I had hoped, no one complained as they were too busy cramming cookies into their greedy little mouths.

There was also chocolate pretzel marshmallow bark, because why not.

chocolate pretzel marshmallow bark

I jazzed up last year’s fail proof peppermint pretzel bark recipe and added mini marshmallows toward the end after the chocolate was cool. YUM.

Ariel view anyone? (Sorry, can’t help myself, it’s just so pretty.)

Oh, the lighting at my dad's house is just perfect.

Now let’s talk about PIE. Last year I made a cheesecake for my husband, but this year he requested (um, begged) for an apple pie. His absolute hand’s down favorite dessert.

My husband is a pie man.

My husband is a pie man.

I obliged because that’s the kind of awesome wife I am. Not shockingly, I went with another tried and true GF Shoestring recipe. I love Nicole Hunn’s pie crust recipe and helpful video. It’s worth mentioning that it’s the ONLY pie crust I’ve ever made from scratch (gluten and GF), but still, why mess with a sure thing? Here is one perfect looking slice. Seconds later it was gone, I’m sure.

apple pie

One of the best parts about Thanksgiving (in my opinion) is eating (a lot of) pie for breakfast the next morning. Nothing tastes as good, and for me, that pie must be pumpkin. Absolutely. No exceptions.

pumpkin pieLast year I made the mistake of attempting a graham cracker crust on my pumpkin pie. VERY bad move. The crust basically burnt to a crisp during the hour plus baking. Don’t cry for me because I ate the ENTIRE interior anyhow with a spoon. It wasn’t pretty, but it was good.

So, I stuck with the same decadent yet simple recipe as last year, but opted to make a double batch of traditional pie crusts to use for both the apple and pumpkin pie. This year I ate the whole pie, basically by myself (since my husband and daughter don’t like pumpkin pie?!?) but this time with the crust. It was DREAMY. I got a little fat. But it was worth it.

Besides the desserts, the other best part of Thanksgiving this year was the ease of it. Everyone was so chill and happy. It was hilarious watching Little Guy try to keep up with his cousin (three months younger but way faster) as they ran circles in the house. Bunky had a blast playing with the “big cousins” who are all college graduates. There was an adorable (though ear drum shattering) jam session with an electric guitar, a broken violin, a piano, and a mechanical singing Santa.

There was very little talk or anxiety over FOOD. Our kids ate our stuff, the rest of us ate their GF offerings, and we all shared dessert. Couldn’t ask for better, really.

Next up, or rather, simultaneously up, Chanukah.

Oh, Chanukah why are you so long?

Oh, Chanukah why are you so long?

The first night or two was sweet. Candles, singing dreidel songs, opening presents. But then a few days in, things started to go south. My husband grumbled about it, muttering about how at least Christmas gets it all done in one day. At first I defended my holiday, insisting how great it was to get eight nights of festivities, until it wasn’t. The truth is, one gift a night can be kind of frustrating for a kid. At least on Christmas the meh gifts get pushed aside for the great ones, but on Chanukah some nights end up being only meh – which translates to horrendous amount of whining around my house.

All that said, the last second to last night picture is pretty sweet. Bunky loves her waitress costume.

last night of chanukahI am pretty relieved it’s over, though. Until next year.

Now that I’ve got all that out of my system, I leave you with an image that will hopefully be symbolic of the rest of the season: may we all kick up our feet in green high heel shoes and relax.

little guy heelsHope you all survived November and I wish you the best of luck during December’s shenanigans. If the going gets tough, just be glad you’re not trapped in a jar like this poor lady. (Totally random and unrelated aside, but I am strangely in love with this picture.)

princess in a jar

My family will be spending Christmas in our pajamas watching movies. The kids will get one gift each, IF they’re lucky. Greedy ungrateful little boogers.

Just kidding. Mostly.

 

I’m so happy to be part of Vegetarian Mamma’s Gluten Free Friday recipe link-up! Click the badge below for more great GF recipes.

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Peppermint Pretzel Bark is Insane!

bark 4Insane meaning SUPER easy to make. And to eat. We’ve gone through several batches already. Last night I found my husband pawing through the refrigerator on a search for more. Unfortunately for him I had given the rest away as gifts to Bunky’s teachers for the holidays. He looked at me suspiciously and asked if I was sure there wasn’t any left. As if I had my own secret stash.

Yes, this bark is so good it makes the most rational of men paranoid.

Go right now and check your pantry. Here’s what you’re looking for: chocolate, pretzels, candy canes. Or whatever is crunchy, salty, and sweet. That’s the beauty of this bark. You can personalize it. But you need chocolate. Chips, chunks, bar, whatever. Don’t have any? Go buy it. Now. I’ll wait.

Here is what you need, specifically, for this bark.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of semi sweet chocolate chips, 12 ounces
  • a few handfuls of broken up pretzels (we used Glutino)*
  • 4 regular sized candy canes (Bob’s brand is GF) crushed and separated in 2 piles

The directions look long because I’m chatty, but really, making the bark takes under 10 minutes. (Takes about a half hour to harden.) You can even do it one handed if you need to hold your baby, like I did when Little Guy was fussy.

Directions:

1. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper, set aside.

2. Put chips in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 30 second intervals. Check and stir after each 30 second increment. Be careful not to overcook! My crazy powerful microwave melts the chips in 1 minute 15 seconds. Sometimes you just need to stir the chips to finish melting. The chocolate should be smooth and shiny. Let sit for 5 minutes.

3. While chocolate is cooling a bit, break up pretzels. Try not to pulverize or you’ll be left with too many useless crumbs. Then put candy canes in a zip lock bag and hit with a wooden spoon or one of those potato masher thingies. It’s a fun way to get out excess aggression.

*I used Glutino because we have an excess now that they changed their formula. Bunky doesn’t like them anymore, and to be honest, neither do I. They are puffier and have less flavor. However, doused in chocolate, they are good.

4. Add all pretzel bits and HALF of the candy cane pieces (2 canes) to the melted chocolate. Stir it up so it’s completely coated. Lick the spoon. I won’t tell.

bark bowl

5. Using a spatula or spoon, pour onto the wax paper. Smooth out a bit. It won’t make as much as you think. If you doubled the recipe it would probably fill up most of a cookie sheet.

6. As a finale, sprinkle the top with the rest of the candy cane pieces. Put the cookie sheet in the fridge until hardened.

bark marble

Looked prettier off the cookie sheet for the pic.

7. Break into pieces using the wax paper to keep your hands from becoming covered in chocolate (there are worse things) and then store in a zip lock bag in the fridge or freezer.

bark plate

Toss a few pieces in cellophane bags and tie with curled red and white ribbons for holiday gifts.

Little Guy is not walking yet, but does enjoy driving his sister’s four-wheeler. He climbs on and off by himself so if I’m not paying attention, he’ll start zooming around solo. Our place is small, so he can’t get far without hitting a wall. The kid is going to LOVE bumper cars.

There's a spot in front for a beer, I mean sippy cup.

There’s a spot in front for a beer, I mean sippy cup.

I’m happy to have shared this post at the Gluten-Free Friday’s link up party hosted by Vegetarian MammaEat.Live.Make, and Gluten Freed R.D., and One Creative Mommy’s Gluten Free Monday link up. Click the links to find more great GF recipes.

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