Bakes the Halls – Gluten free style!

I’m lucky enough to be part of a community of really great Christians, and have a close knit group of girls that I get together with on a weekly basis. We intentionally push one another on our walks with Christ. Th first time I had this treat we were celebrating 2 of the girls birthdays, both of them are gluten free. I was really skeptical of this brownie, but my expectations were blown away and I was surprised to say the I wanted the recipe! I’ve had other brownies that were gluten free and what I think makes this one stand out from those is the frosting that goes on top of the brownie.

Gluten Free Skillet Brownie

Original recipe found here

This tastes amazing!

This tastes amazing!

Ingredients:

Brownie:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1/2 cup gluten free all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 tbsp Nutella

Frosting:
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 tbsp Nutella
1/4 cup milk
2 cups powdered sugar
Directions:

1. Pre heat oven to 325 degrees. Cream the butter and sugar, then add the vanilla and the eggs.

2. Stir in the dry ingredients; the gluten free all purpose flour (if you aren’t gluten free by all means regular flour can be used), cocoa, salt and baking soda.

3. Once those are all mixed, fold in the chocolate chips and pour batter into a cast iron skillet. Once in the skillet, add the Nutella and swirl with a knife.

4. Bake for 35-40 minutes

5. To make the frosting, I would wait until there was just a couple of minutes left before the brownie was finished, or even start right after you take the brownie out of the oven. The frosting doesn’t take long at all to make. The original recipe used a microwave, since I don’t have one I used the stove. Melt the butter and chocolate chips over low to medium heat, stirring constantly to avoid burning.

6. Just as the chocolate chips were half way melted I added the milk (the chocolate was starting to stick to the bottom of the pan) and the Nutella.

7. Once the chocolate, milk and Nutella are melted and creamy remove the mixture from heat, and slowly start adding the powdered sugar. Once all the powdered sugar is added pour the frosting over the brownie, cut and serve! Make sure not to touch the skillet, its HOT!

More baking goodness!

Bake the Halls – Gingerbread

Bake the Halls – Sugar cookie frosting

12 Days of Cookies

Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies

Desserts for a wedding!

A friend was getting married and a couple of us were making the desserts. The goal was to have many different types of bite size treats for the guests to have after a tasty BBQ dinner. The treats I was tasked with were these amazing chocolate cookies, originally found here.

Now I had seen these cookies around a couple of times at different get togethers I had been at, the girl that normally makes these was coming in from out of the country so I got to bake them. She emailed me the recipe and I was pleasantly surprised at the fact that these were gluten free! Made without either butter or flour! There was a couple of challenges were overcome with this recipe, the first is I don’t have a mixer, I know I know with all the cooking/baking I do I should have one but I don’t. The second is that I don’t have a microwave either. Don’t worry I am indeed a bit strange with that one, but really it frees up counter space and I have one I use at work for leftovers. This recipe really needs both, now I could have made a double boiler but without a mixer I was still in a bind. That is until my friend Theresa texted to see if I was interested in a baking party! You better believe I was!

20130528-105544.jpg In case you were wondering, her dessert involved strawberries!!

Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies

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Ingredients:
1 ½ cups bittersweet chocolate chips, divided
3 large egg whites, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar (will need extra to roll cookies in)
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp cornstarch
¼ tsp salt

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, spray 2 large baking sheets with nonstick spray. Melt 1 cup of chocolate chips in a bowl in the microwave. I did 30 second intervals, stirring after each round
2. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites in a large bowl to soft peaks. Gradually beat in 1 cup of sugar. Continue beating until mixture resembles soft marshmallow crème.
3. Whisk 1 cup sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt in a medium bowl. On low speed, beat dry ingredients into meringue (don’t pronounce the e at the end). Stir in lukewarm chocolate and ½ cup of the unmelted chocolate chips. (This will make the dough really stiff)
4. Round 1 rounded tablespoon of the dough into a ball, and coat in powdered sugar.
5. Place on prepared cookie sheet, and bake for 8-10 minutes.

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First time using a mixer! Big steps here guys :)

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It has begun

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Well today was the day started the office winter weight loss challenge. The official weigh in was at 10 am this morning. Needless to say this week was kind of a difficult week, I missed two of my workout classes that I try to attend every week, and was about 15 minutes late to my spinning class this morning. Sad I wasn’t on time, but at least I made it in for most of the class. I was tempted to stay in bed, as soon as I finished that thought I literally jumped out of bed (sorry downstairs neighbor!) and started getting ready to leave.
I was using Livestrong to measure what I was eating, then the holidays came around and I abandoned that! Time to start that up again. Ok, not to get into a huge discussion about this but people are all talking about how Lance Armstrong was doping and what not I agree with my friend who put it this way: “I can’t help but feel sorry for people like Lance Armstrong. I’ve made tons of mistakes in my life and none have made it on the world news”. I would hate for my mistakes to be splashed across newsstands, whatever you may believe, I personally would just be cautious and have compassion. I don’t’ know what he went through, or even how he is feeling now.
On to the challenge! My plan of attack will be: 1) Using the My Plate on Livestrong to accurately measure my calories per day (even on the weekends) 2) Workout 4-6 times a week incorporating strength, cardio, and stretching 3) Incorporate more exercise in daily life, in example parking farther from the entrance, walking during my breaks at work. I believe with these 3 changes will have a big impact on my weight loss goals. I have been pretty consistent with working out 4 times a week, minus this past week. I eat pretty healthy, but without monitoring my portions, I find that the portions get larger and larger!
There were two categories as I have mentioned before, I decided to go with trying to lose 4% of my body weight over the next 12 weeks. That is 7 lbs, sounds simple right? Well remember this challenge I did? 6 weeks of being pretty intense and I lost a lot of inches but the weight didn’t change too much. Which is alright, but for this challenge is based on weight loss and not body composition. There is a total of 19 participants in this office, this is a companywide challenge! More may join but I’m not sure if they will.
As eating healthy is a main variable I can control in this challenge, I will be posting some healthy recipes that I will be trying out. I may try to be gluten free in February or try the Paleo Diet. For the most part I know that people who go gluten free do so because of a medical reason. While I do not have a gluten allergy, people I’ve talked with have said in general that they have become healthier since going gluten free, both people with and without medical conditions. I know that there is a difference between gluten free and Paleo, but not completely sure of it, will need to do more research. I’ve hear a lot of people talking about a Paleo diet.

Have you tried the Paleo Diet? If so what are your thoughts about it? Did you notice a difference in weight, and how you felt? Let me know!

Related:
12 week challenge

12 Days of Cookies! Day 1: Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

It’s December, and around my house that means the holiday baking is just beginning. Baked goods are always great when giving out holiday gifts, in honor of that I will post a cookie recipe each day for the next 12 days. Most of my Christmas presents this year are homemade gifts. This recipe was given to me by a friend, and to be honest I am not sure where she got this from. If you know please comment and I can add a link. It is quite possibly the simplest recipe I have ever made, yet it yields amazing cookies. I never knew peanut butter cookies we’re so easy to make; you will never want to buy a store bought mix again. Not only are they easy to make, but an added bonus is that they are gluten free as well.

Flour less Peanut Butter Cookies

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Ingredients:
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg

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Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl, when thoroughly mixed roll the dough into small balls, about a tablespoon amount of dough. Place the peanut butter balls on a ungreased baking sheet. Pres down with a fork to make the hash tag looking marks on the top of the cookies. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes.

**Please remember to give the cookies some room on the cookie sheet, see below for how much they spread while cooking**

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The rest of the days:
Day 2: Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip
Day 3: Lemon Sugar Cookies
Day 4: Birthday Cookies
Day 5: Candy Cane Cookies
Day 6: Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies
Day 7: Chocolate Sugar Cookies
Day 8: Creamsicle Cookies
Day 9: Classic Spritz Cookies
Day 10: Peppermint Chocolate Chip
Day 11: Gingerbread Cookies
Day 12: Peppermint Kiss Cookies