I’ll be Home for Christmas

A couple of weeks ago our pastor told the story behind the song “I’ll be Home for Christmas”.  It was written during wartime and the writer couldn’t get a record label to record the song.  One day while golfing with … Continue reading

Recipe: Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake

When it comes to holidays, we don’t do much tradition for meals.  Yes, for Thanksgiving we have turkey and stuffing but then it kind of varies.  For Christmas we don’t do ham or turkey (or rarely do turkey), we do things like shrimp scampi or steak or something like that.  For Christmas Eve this year we ordered in pizza from Chicago’s Pizza in, where else, Chicago.  I can’t even tell you how excited I am about that!

So when it comes to dessert, I usually take it on.  I LOVE baking and for a holiday is no different.  I want to do something that is unusual, last year for Thanksgiving I did tiramisu.  This year I found a recipe that will remain close to my heart:  Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake.  Anytime you have whiskey in the title, you have my attention.  The only issue was that this wasn’t a gluten free recipe and, if you have tried converting recipes in the past, sometimes you have luck and sometimes you just throw it away.  This one turned out SO good!  I have to share and, maybe for Christmas, this will be your dessert.  Also, I found this recipe at www.loveandoil.com, I want to give credit where it’s due!

Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake with Whiskey Caramel Sauce

Yield: 12 servings

Total Time: 2 hours

Ingredients:

For Cake:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups gluten free flour
  • 3/4 cup dark or dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup whole buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup decent quality Tennessee whiskey or bourbon (I used Pendleton)

For Caramel:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • pinch cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream (I ended up using light cream, that’s what I get for shopping the night before Thanksgiving)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons whiskey or bourbon
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Generously butter a standard (12-cup) bundt pan. Dust with 1 tablespoon each flour and cocoa powder, and tap and turn until pan is completely coated. Dump out excess.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, whisking until thoroughly combined. Add eggs, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla and mix with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until dry ingredients are almost incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add warm water and whiskey and mix until just combined and no dry ingredients remain (do not overmix). Pour into prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the deepest part of the pan comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack until cool enough to handle, then gently invert onto a wire rack. Allow to cool completely.
  4. To prepare caramel, place sugar and cream of tartar in a medium, high-sided saucepan set over medium-high heat. Pour water around edges. Bring to a boil, then cover and cook for 2 minutes (the steam buildup will help dissolve any stray sugar crystals on the sides). Remove cover and continue to boil, without stirring, until sugar caramelizes to a light amber color, about 5 to 7 minutes. Watch it carefully, as it can go from golden brown to burnt in no time if left unattended.
  5. Remove from heat and quickly whisk in cream and butter (mixture bubbles a lot, this is normal), then return to low heat and whisk until completely smooth. It may seem like it is seizing, but keep whisking and most of the hard caramel chunks should dissolve.  I had a few left and strained them out. Remove from heat and let cool for about 2 minutes, then stir in whiskey. Transfer to a heat-proof container and let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour, or until thickened yet still pourable.
  6. Pour about half of the caramel over the top of cake, letting it drip down the edges and pool at the base. Slice and serve and drizzle with additional caramel as desired. Cake will keep, stored in an airtight container, for up to 5 days.

Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake
For a gluten free cake, this kept SO well.  I’m talking that it was still moist after four days, which is unusual.  This is a recipe I WILL make again…and why not?  It’s amazing!

Don’t forget that you can follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more information on what’s going on in the gluten free world and my life!

As we age…

I just had another birthday.  Somedays I’m astonished at the fact that I’m nearly 40.  I don’t feel forty, luckily don’t look like it either so maybe that’s why I’m surprised.

I was having a conversation with my person, Shawna, last night.  We were talking about how it is nearly Christmas and how the month just flew by.  I asked “remember when you were a kid and Christmas seemed to take so long?”  She nodded in agreement.  I said “Why is it that now things go by so quickly?  Why as we age does time just fly?”

I don’t know what the answer is.  Maybe it’s because we have adopted hectic lifestyles, fill each minute of the day with SOMETHING.  And if we aren’t doing something, there is guilt because we could be doing something (in my case it’s usually housework).

We weren’t made to move and run constantly though.  We were made to have rest days, to have down time.  The unfortunate part is that as technology becomes more and more available to us at all times of the day, we never take a real rest.  We don’t take the time to stop and smell the roses, to take a walk, to take a leisurely drive to look at Christmas lights.  It’s all about squishing as much as we can into each and every day…but how much of it really matters?

I’ve been convicted recently to not have conversations via text.  I know that text, and email, is easy and quick but when something happens in my life, I don’t want to text my friends, I want to talk to them.  Even a phone call is good but face to face is a lost art.  I have a handful of friends that I see and get to tell my news to, the rest find out another way, I guess.

When I die (and each day I’m getting closer, reality says) I don’t want people to say “she was a busy person”, I want them to say “she spent time with us, took time with us” and I hope that conversations are remembered, not a rushed text.  I hope that the laughter and good times are remembered.

Take time.  Take time to have coffee, make a phone call.  Because in the end no one will remember the email you sent in a hurry or the text you sent to see what big thing happened in your life, the people who you took time for will remember you.

Christmas-time is here

Yes, it’s here, folks.  Tomorrow is Christmas.  As we move from the hustle and bustle of Christmas gift shopping and preparing for guests, don’t forget to be thankful for the simple things because when it all comes down to it, it doesn’t matter if dinner is perfect or if that gift isn’t the right size.  What matters is time with family and friends.

My brother recently lost a friend of his, he took his own life.  And yes, right before Christmas.  While this seems significant to many, in my mind it doesn’t matter.  Losing someone, no matter how, is hard at any time of the year.  I’ve watched my brother upload picture after picture of his friend, grieving via social media.  The really good thing about social media is that it brings people together at times like this and he is able to talk with others that knew this gentleman, sharing memories of him.

So, this Christmas, put away the one upping of “my gift cost more” or “my house is decorated better”.  Treasure time with those you love, tell them “I love you” many times because it can never be enough.  Most of all, have a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

It’s the Holiday Season

I had a great Thanksgiving:  spending time with my parents, ran a race, and just vegged.  Saturday I came home, got the decorations and tree out and started decorating the house.  I love this time of year, the festive decorations, the Christmas carols, parties…it all makes it so special.

Every year I set up my Christmas tree (all pre lit lights since I HATE putting lights on the tree) and then line out all of the decorations.  I know some people have a certain “look” to their tree but me, well, I like to keep it nostalgic.  I have ornaments from so many people, so many parts of my life, that I like to remember as I put them up.  There is the wooden teddy bear that my Grandpa made me.  Every year I look at it, remember how he loved his wood working, how he let me paint the details and how he made so many things in his shop in the basement.  He took such pride in those items and I hang it with pride year after year.

There are my Coke ornaments: one from a former roommate, one from an ex-boyfriend.  The two ceramic ornaments that I got from a secret Santa in high school, the one I bought because it looks like my Punky cat, the Chicago Bears ornament because I’m a die hard fan and the nursing ornaments.  Those are crazy because for a good majority of my growing up, and into my first years of college, I wanted to be a nurse.  So, I got a few ornaments of that nature.

There are the ones from when I was born, some my mom made for me and many more that have so much meaning to them.  So not only has this become a Christmas tree, it’s a memory tree.  As I hang each one, as I look them over throughout the season, I smile at the good times I had with the people that gave me the ornaments and I cry for those that have left this world because I miss them.

This Christmas season, I suggest that you take time to remember past holidays, people that may not be in your life anymore.  Laugh, smile, cry…remember.