COOKIES ‘N CREAM ICEBOX CAKE

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Wanna be everyone’s favorite person at next week’s Fourth of July cookout, or any event where dessert is consumed for that matter? Then make this “cake”. According to my research, icebox cakes have been around since the 1940’s, and were popular because they are made from commercial shortcuts since “from scratch” ingredients were scarce during the war. They are whipped cream and cookies layered and set over night in the refrigerator. How easy is that? It is the perfect summer recipe because you don’t even need to turn on your oven! Something magical happens to the cookies and cream as they sit over night, it’s like they get together and have a moist, fluffy cake baby when you’re not looking! I made a keylime and honey graham icebox cake for my Dad this Father’s Day and when I gave the recipe to my step-mom she said “What part do you bake the cake?”. It’s that convincing. Plus, after I ate my piece my Dad asked me how I was able to eat it since I’m allergic to gluten now…fooled him, it’s gluten free!!! And you know I love a recipe that is customizable; you can add flavoring to the whipped cream, and change up the cookie as well! How yummy would a mint cream and chocolate cookie icebox cake be? I think I’ll make one tomorrow….

Ingredients:

2 and 1/2 cups cold heavy cream

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

28 gluten free double chocolate cookies (I prefer Enjoy Life Crunchy Double Chocolate Cookies)

In a mixer with a whisk attachment, mix heavy cream, sugar and vanilla on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Then, in a dish of your choice, layer whipped cream and cookies, starting with cream and alternating with cookies until finishing with cream. Crush one cookie and sprinkle over the top; this step is optional, I just think it looks pretty! Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in your refrigerator over night (or if you’re impatient 8 hours will do!) Enjoy!

Photo by Dan Buckley

ETON MESS

Eton Mess

Eton mess is one of my most favorite desserts!  The first time I had it was at a tea party for William and Kate’s Royal Wedding (I’m a sucker for a good fairy tale).  It is a traditional English dessert of strawberries, cream and crushed meringue cookies, and is served at Eton College’s annual cricket game against Harrow School.  It is a great summertime dessert because it’s light, fluffy and highlights the fruit of summer!  When I had it at the tea party it was served with strawberries, but I’ve made it with raspberries because I think the tartness of the berry compliments the sugary sweetness of the meringue cookie (I hope I’m not committing some sort of English faux pas!).

Ingredients:

  • Raspberry Puree

3 pints of raspberries

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 Tbsp lemon juice

In a saucepan heat 2 pints of the raspberries, sugar and lemon juice on medium-high heat until the mixture starts to boil, lower the heat and let simmer for about 10 minutes, or until it becomes syrupy.  Remove from heat, stir in the remaining pint of raspberries and refrigerate until well-chilled.

  • Whipped Cream

1 and 1/2 cups cold heavy cream

2 Tbsp granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

Add cream, sugar and vanilla into a medium bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high until stiff peaks form.  Refrigerate.

  • Meringue Cookies

Store bought is totally fine, I just couldn’t find any so I made them myself using the ‘Basic Recipe’ from theKitchn!  It made way more than I needed for this recipe but I can’t complain because I got to eat what I didn’t use all myself!

Once all of the components are done, layer whipped cream, then raspberries, then crushed meringues in an individual glass; continue layering until glass is full and end with a dollop of whipped cream (sprig of mint is optional).  Depending on the size of your glass this makes about 4 servings.  Do not assemble until your’e ready to eat, otherwise the meringues will dissolve!  Enjoy!

Photo by Dan Buckley

CUCUMBER MINT MARGARITA

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It was hot in Ohio today.  Not that I’m complaining, I complain all winter about being cold, so I don’t allow myself to complain once it gets above 65 degrees.  I was also off today, and besides getting my hair done, I didn’t have anywhere to be, no one to see, and nothing I had to get done (this never happens).  Nothing goes better with an 80+ degree lazy day than a margarita and a good book!  Right now I’m reading “Salt, Sugar, Fat” by Michael Moss and my margarita of choice was cucumber mint.  If you want something light and refreshing that isn’t overly sweet, this is the drink for you!  All I needed was some of my jalapeno poppers!  (Except that I didn’t want to turn the oven on today, so I had leftover Indian food instead.)

*Makes four drinks

Ingredients:

1/2 of a cucumber; peeled and diced

1 bunch of mint leaves

4 cups Simply Limeade; divided

4 shots of Triple Sec; divided

4 shots Tequila; divided (I prefer blanco or silver for this drink)

Muddle cucumber and mint in the bottom of four glasses.  In each glass add ice, one cup of Simply Limeade, one shot of Triple Sec and one shot of tequila; stir until combined.  Cucumber slice garnish is optional.  That’s it!  Now relax, cool off and enjoy!

*Like I said before with the Salty Chihuahua, if your stomach hasn’t had time to heal itself after recently being diagnosed with a gluten intolerance,  alcohol will be harsh on your stomach and intestines and can possibly cause inflammation and discomfort.  So take it easy at first until you know how you’re going to react!

Photo by Dan Buckley

MEAT ON THE SIDE

You might have noticed that most of my recipes are vegetarian, even though I do not consider myself one.  I am a “flexitarian”; I avoid meat whenever possible, when I do consume meat it is only to satisfy a craving and is treated as a side dish and not an entree, taking up no more than 25% of my plate.  (Side note: I do not deny myself cravings since my diet is already limited by my allergies.  I find it hard enough to go out to eat with a gluten allergy, so I’m not going to limit my options even more.  If your’e a vegetarian and have a food allergy more power to you!)  Listed below are some of the benefits on cutting down your meat consumption:

  • Individuals who follow a vegetarian diet generally weight less, consume fewer calories and fat, and are at a lower risk for certain types for cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
  • A plant-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, beans and nuts is high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
  • Research shows that avoiding meat for 15% of the week (one day), known as “Meatless Monday”, although a small daily change, makes a huge difference.
  • Most Americans consume way more protein than they need.
  • Meatless meals are great for both your health and your wallet, as animal protein tends to be less budget friendly than plant protein.
  • Less meat means better digestive health, which lowers your risk of constipation, colon cancer and irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Lower risk for food-borne illnesses such as salmonella and e.coli.

These are just a few of the positive effects on your body and wallet when you eat less meat.  Of course, if you replace the meat with things like Fritos and peanut butter sandwiches, you might as well just keep eating animal protein every day.  Whenever possible I replace animal protein in recipes with beans, grains and vegetables; you would be really surprised how little you miss the beef in a lentil sloppy joe!

What is your favorite meatless dish?

IT’S GOOD LUCK TO….

…step on glass and cut your foot open on your wedding day! (That is the saying isn’t it?)  I had taken my shoes off for FIVE MINUTES, I am not even kidding, and my bare feet found a piece of glass to step on.  Luckily, I had been drinking for about four hours already so I didn’t feel it, it just looked REALLY bad.  At first I actually thought I had stepped on a bug because of the ‘crunch’ it made.  So gross!  But these pictures are actually some of my favorite ones from my wedding day because they capture mine and Tyler’s relationship so perfectly; he’s the knight in shining armor to my clumsy princess.  I remember how quickly he sprung into action, along with my mom (always prepared with a first aid kit) and got me bandaged up and back on the dance floor!  After I put my shoes back on of course….

Photos by David Maki

TIME TO CUT THE CAKE!

I got married before I found out about my gluten intolerance, so there wasn’t anything different about the cake.  The bottom tier was white cake with a raspberry filling, and the top tier was yellow cake with chocolate ganache filling; both topped with buttercream frosting. We didn’t save the top for our one year anniversary (which is good because I wouldn’t have been able to eat it anyway), I’m pretty sure we ate it in our cabin later that night, haha.

Photos by David Maki

I Do!

We had a very short ceremony because I knew I couldn’t get through anything longer without a lot of tears.  It was a very emotional day not only because I was so incredibly happy to be getting married, but also because I was missing my Grandma and Pappaw who had just passed away, both within six months of the wedding.  My uncle, who is a minister preformed the ceremony, and the only thing extra we added was a short piece where our mothers placed letters to us, along with letters we had written to each other and a bottle of wine, in a box to be opened on our one year anniversary.

Photos by David Maki

Pre Wedding Gallery

Click on thumbnails for larger view.

Photos by David Maki

UNSTUFFED PEPPERS

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I love Mexican food!  My mom says when she was pregnant with me all she ate was Taco Bell, so I think that’s where my love of any combination of beans and red sauce comes from.  I’ve also discovered that it is incredibly gluten free friendly!  It’s usually the only kind of restaurant I can go to without asking the waitress a million questions or having having to totally alter menu items to fit my needs.  I can even eat the free chips at the beginning (as long as they’re corn tortilla) instead of just staring at the bread basket like I do at other restaurants!  It’s the little things in life like that when you have a food allergy, haha!  I love stuffed peppers but I always find myself eating the “stuff” and leaving the pepper shell, even though I’m a huge fan of peppers.  So one day, after trying to find a use for some leftover quinoa and satisfy my mexican food craving, I came up with this recipe.   It’s almost like a southwestern casserole, but in my house it has come to be lovingly referred to as unstuffed peppers.

*Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Ingredients:

1 cup cooked quinoa

1 diced red onion

1 diced bell pepper

1 eight oz can of black beans; drained and rinsed

1 cup corn; either canned or frozen

1 eight oz can of diced fire roasted tomatoes

1 diced jalapeno; optional

2 cups pepper jack cheese

Spray a baking dish with gluten free, non-stick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl mix all of the ingredients, except for the pepper jack cheese, until well combined.  Add mixture to baking dish and bake for 25 minutes.  Top with cheese and bake an additional 10 minutes; or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

I love to eat this topped with fresh, diced avocado, a squeeze of lime juice, and a side of blue corn tortilla chips.  Enjoy!