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!

Letting go

I spent the 4th of the July weekend in beautiful Ouray, CO.  For those of your who have never been there, it’s been dubbed the “Switzerland of America” and they do Independence Day up right.  From the parade and jet flyover to water fights between fireman and ending the night with gorgeous fireworks, it was a good weekend.

Eating out proved to be a little bit of a challenge but some of that was my fault in not wanting to try overly hard to find a place that would accommodate my needs so I kinda lived off of potato chips.  Yup, the picture of health!

This morning I woke up at 6am, about two hours before anyone else was stirring.  It gave me time to think.  This last month has been a hard one for me and I can’t really put my finger on what is going on.  I want to blame things like meds being off or the heat or just too much going on, and that might have something to do with it, but…I’m not sure.

I know I’ve been harboring bitterness in my heart and the more it festers, the more frustrated I get with life in general.  It builds and then explodes.  Not a good scenario at all.  So this morning I decided to just let it go, let the frustration and bitterness go because it’s not doing any good.  Not for me or anyone else.

Also, last night a lot caught up with me.  My mom and dad are visiting family in North Dakota and part of me wanted to be at the family picnic last night so badly.  I have relatives that have had health issues and you just never know when the last time might be.  I took a little walk, cried a bit, and went back to the festivities.  I love my family dearly and, as I age, I realize how precious that time is.  Time to not be wasted on bitterness or frustrated or regrets or anything like that.  You gotta just savor the moments, make memories and laugh a lot.

I saw this today and it is true.  I needed this weekend, even though there were rough patches, to clear my head and move past things:

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Starting anew

While most people were spending New Year’s Eve with family and friends, I opted to stay at home.  It’s been a weird week and then when I got home from work, my cat was sick and thought it was better to cuddle with her and make sure she was ok.  When your fur baby is over 18, you never know…

I had time to think while watching a marathon of “Wings”.  I had read a blog by Ashley Castle, a world-class traveler and Arbonne consultant, earlier in the day and it got me thinking:  What are my goals and dreams?  What do I need to change to reach them?

I actually met Ashley this summer.  She was working on the Mutual of Omaha Aha! Tour.  When I came in for my interview, she spotted my Arbonne necklace and made a connection.  Once an Arbonne sister, always an Arbonne sister.  Since then I’ve followed her on Facebook and via her blog.  I won’t lie, I’m pretty jealous of her lifestyle as she is always traveling somewhere, it seems.  But she is by no means a trust fund baby, she has worked hard to make it all happen and she is a travel writer so makes a living by the sights she sees.  The point is that that was her dream and two years ago it HAPPENED.  Now, someone didn’t just give it to her…again, she worked for it, it was a GOAL.

She makes goals in four or five areas of her life every year.  She WRITES them down.  I’ve had my Arbonne consultants ask why they should write their monthly goals down.  Here is the reason:  you are 70% more likely to reach a goal if it is written down.  If you don’t write it down, the likelihood of reaching that goal drops to 7%.  (Thanks, Ashley!).  In reading that, it made me think this:  “If I don’t write a goal down, I really have no intention of doing it.  I have no DESIRE to reach that goal.  It’s just a “if I do it, then it’s cool.” kind of goal.

I will be following Ashley’s method of creating goals in my life from professional to different aspects of my personal life.  I also will be focusing on the positive.  This includes cleaning out the negative friends, acquaintances, books and so much more from my life.  I will be limiting some relationships because they are “poisonous” which may mean cleaning out my Facebook friends…the horror!  I will be downsizing because we all have too many “things” in our lives.  Things do NOT equal happiness.  I will cross one or two items off of my bucket list.  I will run more races, will take the time to FEEL better about myself which will translate into looking better, if that can happen.  Haha!  Just kidding.  I will take time for ME.  We don’t do that either.  Taking time for yourself isn’t a bad thing, being selfish with “me” time is a GOOD thing.  If we don’t take time for ourselves, we are no good for anyone.  As a social butterfly, this will be a hard one for me.  I hate missing out on things!  I will try new things because if you don’t try it, you don’t know if you like it!

This is a start to my new year.  This will be a new year, a new me and a great new time in my life.  This is the year I turn 40 and I won’t go into it kicking and screaming.  I will welcome it because it means greater things are ahead.

I hope you had a great New Year’s Eve and that you have an amazing start to 2015.

Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and also follow my friend Ashley there!

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The Danger Zone

There are times where I just don’t eat.  Yes, I know that that isn’t healthy for me but sometimes it comes down to necessity.  There are other times where I’m limited on what to eat because I KNOW what is safe and what isn’t.

What I’m referring to are the parties that are coming up for the holidays.  If you are Celiac, or gluten intolerant or have any type of food allergy, you know what I’m talking about.  You walk into a party, look at the food and just know that you can’t have any of it.  There are times, like the fundraiser I was at last night, where I don’t even bother to look at the food or ask because it just seems like a waste of time.  I’m not being negative, just realistic.

But there are options, besides starving (like I did last night because of lack of preparation, totally my fault!).  Here are a few of my tried and true tips:

1.  Eat before.  What can it hurt to at least have a snack before you go so if there isn’t anything, you at least don’t want to chew your arm off in hunger.  It nearly happened to me last night, don’t think I won’t do it.

2.  Take a snack.  Yes, you might look odd grabbing crackers out of your purse but at least you know it’s safe and you can eat with the people you are hanging out with.  If you don’t want to be “that person”, sneak away to another room and quickly eat.

3.  Suck it up and eat later.  This is what I did.  Well, not the suck it up part, I did whine a little but I waited and ate after the event.  This was bad because I was so hungry that I didn’t eat anything healthy, it was all junk.

These are things I consider when I go out to someone’s home, to a party and, sometimes, when dining out with friends.  Sometimes I know that all I can have is a plate of veggies which won’t take me far so it’s better to be safe than sorry.  So the lesson is prepare, prepare, prepare!

Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook! 

Giving Thanks

In two days it will be Thanksgiving and most people think about what they are thankful for just long enough to get to the turkey and stuffing.  Then the day is filled with football, naps and more eating.

Yes, I will be doing some of that, as well as running a race, but the last couple weeks have made me realize how thankful I really am.

You see, I have had multiple friends that have kids in the hospital, have a spouse or family member or close friend with cancer, or surgeries that were complete surprises.  At this time of the year, when we give thanks and move towards the happy holiday that Christmas is, there is so much hurt and heartbreak.

I think of three different families that I know right now that are dealing with cancer in one of their loved ones.  I know that there are more out there but there are the ones that I personally know.  There is much to be thankful for this holiday but I know that they are thinking farther ahead.  I hope that they take in each moment to treasure them in their hearts.

I think of my good friend Shawna who’s daughter is in the hospital fighting a bacteria in her lungs because she has Cystic Fibrosis and may, or may not, be out of the hospital before Thanksgiving.  Each day is precious to them as well…but Courtney is a fighter!

There are more but I’m writing to say this:  be thankful EVERY day.  There is so much to be happy about, to give thanks about on a daily basis.  Remember what they are, write them down, or at least write them on your heart.  Give thanks to God for what He’s given you, even the hard stuff because it grows you.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving, hug your friends and family and eat lots!  🙂

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.