A Little Break

As you can tell, I’ve taken a little break from writing.  Some of it because I’ve, honestly, not felt like writing because I felt like everything I would write would be not overly positive.  Not because everything is horrible but because that’s when I feel like writing the most.  The other part is that I’ve been busy and putting my brain to writing seems to exhaust me.

That brings me to this.  I’ve been tired.  Like sleep 10 hours a night tired.  And thankfully I’ve had this weekend off so I’ve been going to bed at 9 after struggling to stay awake.  I mean, six o’ clock and I could go to bed tired.  Then I sleep until 7 or 8.  I’ve  been tired for a while but the last couple of months it has started to really bother me.  I went to the doctor and they did a complete blood panel and everything came back normal.  My T3 (thanks to my hypothyroidism) is a little off but nothing to be overly concerned about.  Nothing to explain this feeling of exhaustion.  Unless it’s mono, then all I can do is sleep it off.  I go back to the doc in a couple of week to see if the new meds for the T3 are working and will have them do the mono test at that time.

Also, I know this is the time for people to go out to eat with their families and it can be a struggle.  No matter how many times you ask if a meal is gluten free, ask the server to mark it on their order, mistakes can happen as can cross contamination.  This happened last week, I went to a restaurant with a friend.  I made sure the server knew it had to be gluten free (asked about each item on the list and requested it three times) and then when it was served I asked several times again.  It wasn’t gluten free, my tummy told me that, and I spent most of the night with a tummy that tried to get rid of the food as quickly as possible.

Now, I know I take a chance when eating out.  This is the first time in over four years that this has happened, people around here tend to get it right, to understand how important it is.  But this was one time when care wasn’t taken no matter how careful I was.

I’m sure some of this contributed to my lack of energy this weekend.  I did have an amazing Thanksgiving and had the energy to prepare the meal with the help of my mom and dad.  I did have the energy to finish decorating the exterior of the house and it took all day on Friday to do the interior of the house.

So I’m taking little steps with the little energy I have.  Thank you for your patience as I took some time off the radar.  I will be better in the future.

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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 give thanks…

Today is Thanksgiving.  For some people it means a days of stuffing your face full of food or prepping for Black Friday (which has turned into Black Thanksgiving Day but I digress), but for me it means what I think it should mean:  a day with family and friends.  

You see, I’ve always thought “what if you take away the food, football, shopping, etc…what do you have?”  It’s the people around you!  As a Celiac, so much emphasis is put on food.  Don’t get me wrong, I love stuffing as much (or more) than the next person but if I couldn’t have it but was surrounded by people I love…Thanksgiving is perfect.  

I’m so incredibly thankful for so many people in my life.  My parents are amazing people who jump in to whatever adventure I start on.  My brother and sister in law support me from afar and my niece and nephew are amazing little wide eyed children.  I have a fantastic group of friends who make me laugh and have hearts of gold and a bestie who is always there for me.  What more could I need?  

This Thanksgiving, count your blessings.  I bet the list is longer than you think.  

Happy Thanksgiving!   

 

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!  🙂

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.