Gluten-Free Meatloaf Cupcake Recipe

meatloaf cupcake

Meatloaf, like Brussels sprouts and kale, has enjoyed a culinary renaissance in the past years. Meatloaf cupcakes are one such incarnation.  They’re cute and trendy, and have the perfect amount of sauce coating topped with fancy mashed potatoes.  Serve them at dinner parties where you will wow your guests and eliminate the hassle of cutting individual portions, or make them for your family and store the conveniently sized lunch leftovers.  Either way, they are delicious.

Whether you make meatloaf as cupcakes or in a large loaf, my meatloaf is moist and delicious. The recipe is based on a recipe given to me years ago by my former boss and her sister.

First, get mashed potatoes going.  I’m not going to go into a recipe for this, as I assume you all have a recipe for mashed potatoes, and you all think your recipe is better than any other recipe. No matter your chosen method, it will be best, at least for this recipe, if you first peel your potatoes and you make them as unlumpy as possible.

Now on to the main event.

meatloaf milk and bread

Start by getting the oven going and cubing four pieces of gluten-free bread (or three pieces of regular bread).  I used Udi’s Whole Grain bread here.  Gluten-free bread is significantly smaller, which is why you add more.

Add milk and let the mixture sit together until the bread is mushy.  This liquid-infused binder is the key to the moist meatloaf.

cheese, carrots, onions

While the bread and milk are doing their thing (or thang as we say it in Texas), it’s time to prep. Shred a bunch of cheddar cheese and carrots (or be lazy like me and use matchstick carrots), and thinly slice the white and green parts of some green onions.  Yes people, this meatloaf has flavor.

milk and bread

After just a few minutes, the bread looks like this.  I used a fork to mush up the bigger pieces.
mixtureMix together the bread, two pounds of lean ground beef, two eggs, some salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce.  You want to mix this by hand because it can easily become over-mixed in a stand mixer.  That would result in thick, solid, and brick-like (read: sad) meatloaf.  And that’s not what we’re going for here.  So roll up your sleeves, wash your hands, and dig in.

After the base is mixed, add the veggies and cheese and mix just until everything is incorporated. I didn’t photograph this part, as my hands were a bit icky.

gluten-free meatloaf cupcakes | www.accidentalokie.com

Now your hands are clean and beautiful once more.  Lightly oil a regular-sized muffin pan.  I use a spray oil.  (Gluten-free beginners: spray oils can sometimes contain gluten, so make sure to read the label).

meat loaf cupcakesAdd meatloaf to the muffin pan.  Make sure to pack the meat in tight and make a domed top to give the appearance of a cupcake.  Remember, meat does not rise.

This recipes yields 12 cupcakes.

meatloaf sauce

While the meatloaf is cooking, make the topping.  This is an unholy union of brown sugar, ketchup, mustard and Worcestershire sauce.

meat loaf cupcakes out of the ovenAfter about 25 minutes, pull them out.  This is where you might say, “Oh look, my meatloaf cupcakes are gross and ruined.”  Have no fear!  They’re not.  The fat has cooked out of the meatloaf.  I used 93/7 meat, which is quite lean and still the cupcakes looked like this.  They’ve also shrunk.  Don’t worry.

meatloaf

Spoon each cupcake out and put on a cookie sheet.  The cupcakes still have five minutes to cook until they should reach their internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, so do this step quickly – you don’t want the meat to begin cooling down, and carefully – you don’t want to burn yourself.

Liberally spoon the ketchup mixture on the cupcakes.  Imagine a bundt cake with lemon frosting perfectly oozing down the sides of the cake.  That’s the look you’re going for here.  Back in the oven they go for about five minutes.  When you remove them, they should be at temperature.

meat loaf

Now they look like this, which is pretty close to perfection.  But in the words of my infomercial friends…but wait, there’s more!

meat loaf frostingOh yes.  Potato frosting.  Fill a frosting bag or frosting gun with the non-lumpy mashed potatoes and using a large tip, frost the cupcakes.  When they’re all frosted and lovely, put them back in the broiler until the tips of the potato are slightly golden.

meatloaf cupcakeServe with extra potatoes and salad and look like a domestic goddess.  You’re welcome.

Gluten-Free Meatloaf Cupcake Recipe
Yields 12
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Meatloaf
  1. 1 cup milk*
  2. 4 slices gluten-free bread (I used Udi's Whole Grain Bread)*
  3. 2/3 c. finely chopped green onions, white and green parts
  4. 2/3 c. shredded (or matchstick) carrots
  5. 1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  6. 2 lbs. lean ground beef
  7. 2 large eggs
  8. 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  9. 2 tsp salt
  10. 1/4 tsp pepper
  11. * If you're not using gluten-free bread: 3 slices of bread and 2/3 c. milk
Topping
  1. 3/4 c. brown sugar
  2. 3/4 c. ketchup
  3. 1 tbsp yellow mustard
  4. 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and lightly oil a regular-sized muffin tin that makes 12 muffins.
  2. Make a batch of mashed potatoes, opting for peeled potatoes. When mashing the potatoes, make them as unlumpy as possible.
  3. Slice bread into approximate inch-by-inch squares, place in a bowl and cover with milk. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, or until the bread is soaked through and mushy.
  4. Shred the carrots and cheese, slice the onions.
  5. Once the bread is soaked through, in a large bowl, mix the meat, bread and milk mixture, eggs, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Just mix with your hands, so as to not over work the meat. Add the vegetables and cheese and mix just until combined.
  6. Fill each cupcake cup with meat so that it is packed in the cup and mounded on top to look like a cupcake.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the center of the meatloaf is nearing 160 degrees. While the meatloaf is baking, make the topping. You can microwave it for a few seconds if the brown sugar is not mixing in well.
  8. Remove cupcakes from the oven and carefully transfer each cupcake to a cookie sheet. Quickly spoon a liberal amount of sauce over each cupcake and return to the oven for about five minutes.
  9. Place mashed potatoes into an icing bag with a large tip. Remove the meatloaf cupcakes from the oven and "ice" with potatoes. Place under broiler until the potatoes are slightly golden on the edges. Serve.
Notes
  1. You can also make this as a loaf. To do that, line a large rimmed baking dish with foil. Put the meatloaf on the pan, forming into a loaf shape. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Top with sauce and bake for 15 minutes more. When making as a loaf, the topping measurements are: 1 c. brown sugar, 1 c. ketchup, 4 tsp. yellow mustard and 3 tsp Worcestershire sauce. No potato topping.
  2. Cooking on a large pan and forming the meat into a loaf (as opposed to a loaf pan) allows the grease to move to the sides of the pan. Remove the loaf and serve on a fresh platter for a beautiful dinner.
The Accidental Okie http://theaccidentalokie.com/

Cheese Ball Recipe

I made a cheese ball.  It was amazing.

My coworker Rebecca introduced me to this recipe, and it may be the best thing I’ve ever eaten.  I think it’s pretty standard, as far as cheese balls go.  I found similar recipes across the interwebs, but know that this specific recipe is Accidental Okie approved.  And when I say approved, I mean that I might have eaten the leftovers for breakfast.

www.accidentalokie.com | cheeseball

It’s really easy, too.  Two blocks of cream cheese.  I used neufchatel cheese – the low-fat version of cream cheese.

In my head, it’s pronounced new-fan-chang-el.  I have a suspicion that might not be correct.

About three-fourths cup of mayo.

www.accidentalokie.com | cheese ball recipe

The green and white parts of three green onions, thinly sliced..

www.accidentalokie.com | cheese ball recipe

One heaping teaspoon of dried dill.  Mmmmm.

And Bacon.  How did I forget to take a picture of the bacon?  It’s a disaster!!!!

Add about five slices of cooked and chopped bacon, or about a cup of smoked bacon pieces.  But really, add however much you want.  Because when has anyone ever said, “Oh no!  I added too much bacon to that recipe!”  Never – that’s when.

I had a bag of smoked bacon pieces from Costco similar to these in my fridge, so I used them.  They’re not bacon bits – but real smoked bacon.

If you don’t add bacon, add salt to taste.

www.accidentalokie.com | cheese ball recipe

Roughly chop about a cup-and-a-half of pecans.

www.accidentalokie.com | cheese ball recipe

Mound into a half sphere on your serving plate and coat with pecans.

www.accidentalokie.com | cheese ball recipe

And you’re finished.  Make sure to wipe off the rim of the plate of any rogue cheese smears and chill for at least 30 minutes.  You can make it the day before.

Serve with crackers or veggies (if you’re healthy like that).  I served mine with Glutino Snack Crackers.  They are these amazing new gluten-free crackers.  I used both the Sea Salt and Rosemary & Olive Oil flavors.  All the gluten-free people and non gluten-free people thought they were delish.

Cheese Ball Recipe
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Ingredients
  1. 2 8-ounce blocks of cream cheese or neufchatel cheese, softened
  2. 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  3. 3 green onions, green and white parts thinly sliced
  4. 5 slices bacon, cooked and chopped - or - about 1 cup chopped bacon
  5. 1 tsp dried dill
  6. 1.5 cups pecans, roughly chopped
Instructions
  1. Mix the softened cheese and mayo in a stand mixer or hand blender until they're combined. Add the onions, bacon and dill. Mix until combined. Form into a half sphere on a plate and coat with pecans.
  2. Chill for 30 minutes before serving.
The Accidental Okie http://theaccidentalokie.com/

Gluten Free Crepe Recipe

Crepes are one of my new food loves.  Sadly, I didn’t attempt making them until this year.  Crepes seemed intimidating with all that pan twirling.  And didn’t I need a special crepe pan?  And gluten-free crepes, those can’t be good or easy, right?  Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong.

Unlike pancakes which are very bready, crepes are more milk and eggs than flour.  This means they don’t give me that overly sweet headache I get after eating pancakes.   I’ve become very sensitive to overly-sweet things in my old age.  A crepe is basically solidified, not-too-sweet, pan-fried custard.  Serve with a little powdered sugar and a big glass of milk, and you’ve got yourself a great breakfast…or dinner.  I love them.  And I hope you will love them too.

Crepes are also very easy to modify to be gluten-free.  I found a recipe I like here, and have made a few modifications of my own.

Start with some good gluten-free flour.  I used King Arthur Multi-Purpose Flour.  If you make your own flour mix, use that.  If you buy a mix, make sure it doesn’t contain any xantham or guar gum.  No thickeners are needed in this recipe.

Full disclosure: King Arthur Flour sent me this flour to review, but don’t worry, you can’t buy my love.  My reviews are unbiased because my goal is to be helpful, especially if you’re new to the gluten-free diet.  Also, all that stuff about ethics.

I like King Arthur Multi-Purpose Flour mix for several reasons:

  1. Their flour mix is very close to the mix I make.  It’s a good mix with great texture, no funky smells and no graininess.
  2. The mix contains no salt, xanthum or guar gum.  It is a blank palette.
  3. It is “multi-purpose mix.”  I like that they call it that.  There is no such thing as all-purpose gluten-free flour.  The quicker you get the idea of all-purpose gluten-free flour out of your head, the quicker you’ll stop having a broken heart and ruined recipes.  Like the name implies, multi-purpose flour doesn’t work for everything.  I wouldn’t make a roux with it.  I wouldn’t use it to make pâte à choux.  I would use it for crepes and pancakes and cookies and cakes and banana bread though.  (Anything except crepes and pancakes need to have xantham or guar gum added).

Mixes are always more expensive, so make your own flour mix if you’re a pro.  If you’re a gluten-free beginner, mixes are a great way to get your sea legs.

Back to the crepes: get a cup of gluten-free flour.

Mix together the flour and the rest of the dry ingredients: baking powder and sugar and a bit of salt.  Stir the dry ingredients together so they’re nice and mixed together.

Remember one of the cardinal rules of gluten-free baking: if you modify a regular recipe to a gluten-free recipe, always half the salt and use unsalted butter.

Gluten-free flours have a neutral taste compared to strong-tasting (and evil) wheat flour, and therefore can’t take the full amount of salt.  But there is a silver lining: that same neutral tasting gluten-free flour puts the spotlight on other flavors – cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg – they are all more vibrant in gluten-free baked goodies.

You haven’t lived, I tell ya, until you’ve had a gluten-free spice cake.  And that’s a fact, Jack.

Put two tablespoons of butter in the microwave to melt.

Measure out one and a quarter cups of milk.

Using only your palest and most unmanicured hand, crack two eggs into the milk and stir them up real good.  See, I told you crepes were more about the milk and eggs and less about the flour.

Stir in the butter.  This is why you want the eggs to be mixed in really well.  You wouldn’t want splotches of scrambled eggs in your crepes.  That would be gross.

Don’t toss the butter bowl into the sink just yet.  You’ll use it again in a second.

I owe a lifetime of gratitude to Ree Drummond for introducing me to vanilla bean paste.  It’s basically the scraped out bits of the vanilla bean in a convenient jar.  Oh so good.  It’s much cheaper than vanilla beans, and costs about the same as high-quality vanilla extract.  One bottle usually lasts me a year.

Can you see all the vanilla beans (technical name: vanilla caviar) in the thick, gooey paste.  Yum.

If you want to make savory crepes, skip the sugar and vanilla.

But that leads me to an important question.  Why would you want to make savory crepes?  The powdered sugar is the best part?  I guess you could fill it with chicken and spinach and all those other crepe-y things.  If you must.

Dump the wet and the dry mixes together and whisk until the batter is nice and smooth.

Side note: I love my flat whisk.  It’s a whisk.  It’s a spatula.  It senses my needs.

Remember that butter bowl (or ramekin in this case) I told you not to toss in the sink?  It’s time for its second act.

Melt a tablespoon or so of butter in it.  Once it’s melted, add about a tablespoon of vegetable oil.  Don’t stress out about the measurements – just get it about half and half.  You’ll use this to butter the pan each time.  The butter gives the crepes great flavor, keeps them from sticking to the pan, and creates the signature bubbly marks on the crepes’ surface.  The added oil keeps the butter from burning on the pan.

Now heat up your pan over medium-high heat and assemble your tools: a spatula, a cooking brush, a quarter-cup measure and a whisk.  Get ready to do the crepe dance.

The crepe dance goes something like this (to the tune of Gangnam Style).

  1. Butter – Butter pan with cooking brush.  I just use my regular old 10-inch non-stick frying pan.  It works great.
  2. Whisk – Give the batter a quick whisk.  The batter is so light that the flour sinks down to the bottom.  Do this step every time.
  3. Pour – Scoop a quarter cup of batter on to the hot pan.  The batter will immediately start to sizzle.  Grab the skillet’s handle and swirl the skillet around gently until the batter is evenly distributed.  (Adjust the amount of your scoop based on the size of your pan).
  4. Flip – Allow to cook until the bottom is golden brown (you can slide your spatula under to take a peek).  It’s about 45 seconds to a minute.  Flip with your spatula and let it cook for another 30 seconds to a minute.
  5. Repeat – Until all your beautiful crepes are cooked.

Fold them in fours and put them on a plate.  Top with a little butter and powdered sugar.

Aren’t they beautiful, and you can make them too!

Gluten Free Crepes
Yields 8
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup gluten-free flour mix without xanthan gum
  2. 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  3. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  4. 1 teaspoon sugar
  5. 1 1/4 cups milk
  6. 2 large eggs
  7. 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  8. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  9. 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  10. 1 tablespoon canola oil
Instructions
  1. Mix the dry ingredients - flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
  2. Melt two tablespoons of butter in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, mix the milk and eggs and then drizzle in the butter, constantly stirring the milk. Whisk in the vanilla. Mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients and whisk until the batter is smooth.
  3. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter. After it's melted, add the tablespoon of oil. Stir to combine.
  4. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Brush the butter/oil mixture on the skillet, rewhisk the batter and scoop a quarter of a cup of batter on the skillet. Quickly grab the handle of the skillet and twirl the pan around until the crepe is spread thinly around the pan. After about a minute, flip the crepe and let it cook for 30 seconds to a minute on the other side. Complete this step for every crepe.
  5. Serve with any of the following: butter and powdered sugar, fruit compote, Nutella, or maple syrup.
The Accidental Okie http://theaccidentalokie.com/
 

Gluten-Free Holiday Cooking Tips

Thanksgiving Painting

While originally written for Thanksgiving, this cooking guide works for any holiday or gathering – Christmas, New Year’s parties, Easter – where you are hosting a bunch of people!

I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance in spring of 2006.  Fall 2007 was my first Thanksgiving, and I was scared.  Feeling sorry for me, my dad bought me an early Christmas present – my navy blue KitchenAid mixer.  I still use it today.  I also took a cooking class by Claudia Pillow, co-author of this book, which was incredibly helpful.  The next years have been an exercise in trial and error.  There have been successes and failures.  Lessons have been learned along the way.

Because so many Thanksgiving standards contain gluten, I would bring my versions to our family’s big Thanksgiving celebration.  That’s a lot of food to bring – stuffing, gravy, green bean casserole, desserts.  Over the years, I learned what I was willing to do on Thanksgiving – the modified standards that were a must-have – and those I could do without.

My family got the hang of it too.  My grandmother now makes her candied sweet potatoes with gluten-free flour and thickens her gravy with corn starch.

While I don’t have the grocery budget or the time to cook Thanksgiving standards for all of you (sorry), I still wanted to give you tips for having a successful gluten-free Thanksgiving, especially if this is your first gluten-free holiday, or if you’re having a gluten-free guest over to your house this year.

General tips:

  • Are you brand new to the gluten-free world?  Here’s my gluten-free starter guide.
  • Read all the labels.  Here are just a few foods you’d never guess have (or might have) gluten: canned chicken broth, ice cream, soup mixes, salad dressings, marshmallows, chewy candy like Twizzlers.  Information on deciphering labels is on my starter guide.
  • Whether you are the gluten-free guest for a large Thanksgiving gathering or you are cooking for a gluten-free guest on Thanksgiving, do not expect to have every dish gluten-free. The meat, a few sides and at least one dessert will be sufficient.  If you’re hosting and cooking the food, then it’s easy to make everything gluten-free.
  • Be thoughtful to make small changes that will easily make a dish gluten-free.  Use tapioca starch in gravy or gluten-free marshmallows in candied yams, for example.  If you’re cooking a turkey with a browning bag, use gluten-free flour in the bag – any gluten-free flour without xanthan or guar gum will do.  I usually use brown rice flour.
  • Hosts: never ever think “Oh, it’s just a little flour.”  Just 1/8th of a teaspoon is enough for me and many of my fellow celiacs to have a full-scale reaction.
  • Buy gluten-free rolls.  Udi’s and Schar both make great rolls.  Against the Grain makes a great baguette.
  • Let the gluten-free guest serve him or herself first.  Give them their own butter dish that is not contaminated by bread crumbs.  Remind your guests to keep each serving utensil with its appropriate dish.
  • Feeling crunched for time or intimidated about your first gluten-free attempt being on Thanksgiving?  There is no shame in utilizing mixes and other shortcuts!  My favorite gluten-free mixes these days are King Arthur flour, which are now carried at Target.  You can read my reviews of King Arthur gluten-free chocolate chip cookie mix and yellow cake mix here.  Also, dress up gluten free store-bought cookies, like I did here.
  • Speaking of shortcuts – gluten-free pie crusts are available at most health food stores.  I love Whole Food’s gluten-free pie crust.

Gluten-Free Stuffing Recipe

Nothing says Thanksgiving like stuffing.  Unfortunately, nothing says gluten like stuffing.  Have no fear, you can modify your favorite homemade stuffing recipe into your new gluten-free standard.  There are a few simple tips:

  1. Make a flourless cornbread recipe.  You’ll find about a thousand variations online.  They just use corn meal.  Make two batches a day before you prepare the stuffing.  Make sure your corn meal says gluten-free on the box, and don’t use white corn meal.  (White corn has a small amount of natural gluten and some people including yours truly react to it).
  2. One of my favorite memories of Thanksgiving is Grandmommy drying cubed bread for her stuffing.  She dries it overnight so it is dry and crisp and ready to be included in the stuffing.  You do the same with gluten-free bread, but it takes substantially longer to dry out.  Dry it out for a day, turning occasionally, but still be prepared to stick it in a hot oven while the bread crumbs truly dry out.
  3. A key to making great stuffing is starting out with a moist stuffing mixture.  To get the gluten-free mix to the proper moistness, prepare to use two or three or four times more liquid than normal.  This means keeping a very close eye on the level of saltiness.  I usually dilute low-sodium chicken broth.  Be prepared to use a lot more broth!

Here is my stuffing recipe.  It’s really good, but you can also use the tips above to modify your favorite stuffing recipe!

Gluten-Free Stuffing Recipe
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Ingredients
  1. 1 batch gluten-free corn bread, two round nine-inch pans, baked, crumbled and dried out
  2. 1 loaf gluten-free bread (12 ounces), cut into cubes. I use Udi's White Bread
  3. 1 pound pork sausage, crumbled and pan fried - you can use sage, normal pork breakfast sausage, spicy Italian...really whatever kind of sausage you want.
  4. 4 tbs butter
  5. 1 large onion, diced
  6. 1 pint sliced mushrooms
  7. 2 c. sliced celery
  8. ½ tsp. salt
  9. ½ tsp rubbed sage
  10. 1 tsp thyme
  11. 1 c. pecans or hazelnuts
  12. 1 c. Craisins
  13. 4 - 6 c. low sodium, gluten-free chicken broth – enough to get it VERY moist
  14. * adjust the extra veggies, dried cranberries and nuts as you wish. I think I always end up putting more of everything. I like my toppings.
Instructions
  1. Cube bread and dry in a 350-400 degree oven until they're dry and toasted, about 30 minutes, flipping occasionally. Crumble cornbread, let dry overnight.
  2. The day of: Cook sausage and crumble. Set aside. Use a tablespoon or so of the sausage drippings and butter to sweat (sautee, but so they're still crunchy) the onions, mushrooms and celery, adding in the spices and salt. Quickly toast the nuts in a dry frying pan.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the crumbled corn bread, bread cubes, sausage, sautéed veggies, nuts and craisins. Moisten the stuffing with chicken broth until it is thoroughly moistened. Think soggy. If you don't add enough broth, the stuffing will be dry and mealy. Be careful with chicken broth. Canned chicken broth many times has gluten. Check the label.
  4. Cover with foil and bake at 400 for 1 hour. This is a wonderful recipe. My favorite part are the Craisins! They add a sweetness and color.
The Accidental Okie http://theaccidentalokie.com/

Autumn Salad

Make a big naturally gluten-free salad!  My fall salad with pomegranate hazelnut vinaigrette, lettuce, pomegranate seeds, green onions, pumpkin seeds and Parmesan cheese will have no one missing the gluten!

Gluten-Free Gravy

Make a roux just like you normally would, but use tapioca starch flour or sweet white rice flour.

Green Bean Casserole

Green Bean Casserole, oh how I miss you.  I usually skip this side because it is a lot of work.  I made it the first Thanksgiving after my sister was diagnosed with gluten intolerance because I wanted that Thanksgiving to be full of good memories for her.  (Best big sister award, or what?!)

Here’s the recipe I use.  It’s pretty good.  It takes forever.

This dish is something that over the years I decided wasn’t a priority for me.  I now prefer a simpler green bean dish with steamed beans and bacon.  Because what’s better than bacon?

Candied Yams

Candied yams or candied sweet potatoes are a classic, and easily modified to be gluten free.

Namaste Spice Cake Mix

Quick Pumpkin Bread

Make this quick pumpkin bread!

One pack of gluten-free spice cake mix – I use Namaste
1 egg
1 15-ounce can of pumpkin
Up to 1.5 cups of pecans and golden raisins, your preference.

Bake per the cake’s instructions.

Pecan Pie

Gluten Free Baking Classics by Analise Robers contains the world’s greatest pecan pie recipe ever.  Buy it.  Bake it.  Love it.

Banana Bread

Make my gluten-free banana bread.  It’s a perfect breakfast on Thanksgiving morning.  And it makes a great on-the-go breakfast for Black Friday, too!

Do you have any more questions, suggestions or advice?  Put them in the comments section.

Life Lessons from a Peach

I am genetically programmed to love peaches.  Really.  I am.

Eight generations of my family are buried in Weatherford, Texas, a small town renowned for their peaches.  They grow six varieties of peaches that come ripe throughout the summer like waves of fuzzy infantrymen.  I love peaches and Weatherford so very much that I even have made the trek to the Parker County Peach festival.  And yes, it is as amazing as it sounds.

Peach Julip

Peach Julep from the Parker County Peach Festival

To say that I am a peach snob is an understatement of the greatest magnitude.  I judge peaches on their color, texture, firmness and, of course, smell.  I scrutinize each piece of fruit as if it were a crown jewel…which it kind of is, metaphorically at least.

After years of dedicated peach snobbery, here are the lessons I’ve gleaned.

1. Accept No Substitutes.
Do not buy peaches in winter! Yes, I know it’s summer in Chile, but peaches are not meant to travel that far.  They’re meant to be picked ripe and eaten quickly.  The end.  I don’t even buy domestic peaches until after July 4.

2. If a Peach Doesn’t Smell Good When It’s Under Ripe, It will NEVER Be Good.
I think this applies to so many areas of life.  When something is bad from the beginning, it will not ripen into something good.  It will always be sub-par.  The guy who treats you bad on your first date, who ignores you or pressures you or makes fun of your appearance will never ripen into a good husband.  And a flavorless peach will always be a flavorless peach, even if it softens over time.

3. Don’t Try Hoarding.  They Will Not Last.
Confession: too much of my favorite fruit goes bad before I eat it.  Not because I forget about it and not because I’m excessively wasteful.  I want to keep my peaches as long as possible and stretch their goodness out over days.  This does not work.

Perfectly ripe watermelon ferments (and it is a terrible smell).  My favorite fruit – fresh figs – shrivel up like too-wet toes.  And peaches rot.  Like all good things – the milky smell of infants, perfect sunsets and your grandmother’s wisdom – they all disappear too quickly.

4. Don’t Ruin a Good Thing
Canned peaches in syrup? Sacrilege!