The Best Gluten Free Sausage Balls

Sausage Balls

If you are like our family it’s an annual tradition to have sausage balls Christmas morning.  I tried several recipes after going gluten free, but most were dry and not very good.  I tweaked this Betty Crocker recipe (cause I like to add a little more meat) and I can promise you these are meaty cheesy yumminess!  These are also great reheated in a microwave if you have any leftovers.

Ingredients

3/4 cup Bisquick™ Gluten Free mix
8 oz bulk pork sausage (I prefer Jimmy Dean Sage)
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (6 ounces)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, crushed (you can use fresh for extra flavor)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Directions

Heat oven to 350ºF. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

  • In large bowl, mix all ingredients except barbecue sauce. Shape mixture into 1-inch balls. Place in pan.
  • Bake uncovered 22 to 26 minutes or until light golden brown. Immediately remove from pan. Serve warm with barbecue sauce or mustard for dipping.

Christmas Cocktails to Try

These are some fabulous cocktails I’ve found that I’m dying to try this upcoming holiday season.  Aren’t they gorgeous?

pom_spritzer-3

Pomegranate Rosemary Spritzer

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 bottle prosecco
  • 2 ounces peach schnapps
  • 4 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 ounces pom juice
  • 1 small bottle mango flavored soda water
  • 6-8 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 fresh pomegranate
  • .5 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Add 1 cup of water to a small pan with 2-3 sprigs of rosemary, bring to a boil.
  • Add sugar to boiling water and stir until sugar dissolves.
  • Remove from heat, strain rosemary leaves and set to cool.
  • Clean and de-seed pomegranate. Set seeds aside.
  • Pour Prosecco evenly into 4 cocktail glasses.
  • Add .5 ounces rosemary simple syrup, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 ounce pom juice and a splash of mango soda water to each glass and stir.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of pomegranate seeds to each glass.
  • Allow the pomegranate seeds time to float to the top of the glass and garnish with 1 sprig of rosemary.

NOTES

Best if made with chilled prosecco and peach schnapps, or with 1 – 2 ice cubes if needed.

Simple Sangria Recipe

Holiday Sangria

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 bottle white wine
  • 1 bottle sparkling cider
  • 2 clementines sliced
  • 1 granny smith apple chopped
  • 1 gala apple chopped
  • 1-2 cups fresh cranberries

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Combine wine and cider in a pitcher.
  • Add fruit to pitcher.
  • Stir well and chill until ready to serve.

Eggnog-Martini-1

Eggnog Martini

INGREDIENTS

  • 2.5 ounces egg nog
  • 1 ounce vanilla vodka
  • 3/4 ounce amaretto
  • nutmeg

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Combine a handful of ice in a shaker and add all ingredients except nutmeg.
  • Shake and then strain into chilled martini glass.
  • Sprinkle with freshly grated nutmeg.

Berry Merry Christmas Cocktail

Berry Merry Xmas2

I’ve been trying out various holiday cocktail recipes and this one was the winner in our household.  It is slightly sweet, tart and the kind of drink where you don’t really notice there is liquor in it until you’ve had a few.  I garnished mine with a few frozen cranberries and pomegranate seeds in the martini glasses.  I think when I serve them for Christmas I will rim the glasses with something green so they look really festive.  Ho! Ho! Ho!

Ingredients:

1 oz pomegranate juice

1/2 oz vodka or vanilla vodka

1/2 oz triple sec

1/2 oz peach schnapps

1 oz cranberry juice

 

Mix all ingredients in a shaker with ice and serve on the rocks or make a big pitcher.

 

 

Autumn Potato Gratin

Potato gratin

 

I continue to try out new side dishes recipes before Christmas and this one has definitely been added to the menu.  Autumn may be almost gone, but Rachel Ray’s potato dish is creamy, rich and mouthwatering.  I love using the baby potatoes and savory herbs to create this spud masterpiece.  We cleaned our plates in no time with this one…enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds mixed baby potatoes, such as Red Bliss, Peruvian Purples, and Fingerlings
  • 2 cups heavy cream, plus some to cover
  • 4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)
  • 2 sprigs each fresh thyme, sage, and rosemary
  • 2 garlic cloves, cracked
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Halve the potatoes and toss them into a large baking dish and season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, put the cream, butter, herbs, and garlic in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for about 5 minutes, to infuse the cream with flavor. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the hot cream mixture through a strainer over the potatoes, (discard the herbs and garlic), if there is not enough cream to go 3/4 of the way up the potatoes then pour some additional cream on top to make up the difference. Sprinkle the Parmesan evenly over the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through and top begins to brown. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

Sauteed Carrots with Dill

 

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!  We took a little trip to New York City so that our kids could experience the Macy’s Parade in person.  This was something I’ve had on my bucket list for a few years and I’m glad we had the opportunity to do it.  We did lots of touristy stuff while in the city, but I have to admit I did miss cooking all of the Thanksgiving goodies this year.  To make up for it I’ll be cooking up a storm for Christmas Day with ham, deep fried turkey and lots of side dishes and desserts.  I’m testing out some new side dish recipes before the big day and this one courtesy of  The Barefoot Contessa was easy and delicious so I thought I would share it with you.

Ingredients:

2 lbs of carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 coin slices

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 T unsalted butter

1 1/2 T chopped fresh dill (or you could use flat-leaf parsley also)

1/3 c water

In a large saute pan combine water, carrots, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.  Cover and cook over medium low heat for 7-8 minutes until carrots are tender.  Add the butter and saute for another minute until water has evaporated and butter has melted.  Toss in the dill and stir to combine.  Taste to see if any additional salt and pepper should be added.

 

The True Story of St. Nicholas

I’m going to be taking some time off to enjoy this Christmas season with my family, but I shall return soon with lots of good gluten-free recipes.  Before I go I thought I would leave you with the real story of St. Nicholas and what this holiday means to me.

St. Nicholas was a real man who was born in the third century to wealthy parents.  When Nicholas was very young he lost his parents in an epidemic.  He believed in the words of Jesus to give to those in need so he took his entire inheritance and gave it to the needy, sick and those who were suffering.  He was a Christian and dedicated is life to serving God and he became a bishop while still a young man.  He was known for his generosity and his love of children, but because of his faith he was exhiled and imprisoned.  The anniversay of his death, December 6th, became St. Nicholas Day and is still widely celebrated in Europe.

Many stories and legends surround St. Nicholas and he eventually turned into Santa Claus in the United States, but his spirit is alive and well all around ….. if we look for it.  There is no other time of year that brings out such generosity of spirit in those around us then right now.  While there may not be a rotund jolly man climbing down each child’s chimney, I like to think that it is pretty impressive that so many parents around the globe carry forward the spirit and wonder of St. Nicholas each Christmas. 

Remember in giving to others whether it is financially, spiritually or emotionally you will get so much back in return.

Merry Christmas!

Magic Cookie Bars

This is the time of year when everyone is making lots of holiday cookies and candies.  This is one of my Mom’s favorite treats to have around Christmas so I had to come up with a gluten-free way to make them.  The taste is just as good as the original and my Mom can’t get enough of them.

Ingredients:

Non-stick cooking spray

1 1/2 c gluten-free graham cookies or I use MI-DEL arrowroot cookies

1/2 c unsalted butter melted

14oz can of sweetened condensed milk

2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 1/3 c flaked coconut

1 c chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350F.  Coat a 9X13 pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Place cookies in food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Pour cookies into a bowl and add your melted butter and then stir to combine.  Press your cookie layer in the bottom of your pan spreading out evenly.  Pour condensed milk over cookie layer and spread evenly.  Sprinkle chocolate chips, then coconut and then top with your nuts. 

Now you are ready to bake!

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned.  Loosen sides of pan with knife while still warm and then let cool.  Cut into bars or diamond shapes.

TIP – you can also line your pan with aluminum foil sprayed with non-stick cooking spray and then lift the foil out of the pan once bars have cooled.

McKendricks Steakhouse

Let me preface this post by saying that last weekend my husband and I had a wonderful meal at Ruths Chris Steakhouse.  It was our first visit and once my husband inquired if they had a gluten-free menu the waiter was happy to oblige.  We tried the Crabtini for our appetizer which was delicate and mouthwatering.  I opted for the 8oz filet with mashed potatoes and sauteed mushrooms all served to perfection.  All of their filets are served with butter and parsley on top….YUMMO!  It was a wonderful meal.

Now, fast forward to last night when my company had their Christmas party at McKendricks in Atlanta.  I called the restaurant ahead of time to see if they offered a gluten-free menu since I could not locate one searching the internet was told by the delightful lady that answered the phone that they don’t have a menu they can send me, but the most of their food is gluten-free.  Most?  WTH?  What kind of an answer is that? 

The company ordered these appetizer towers for the table which contained lobster tempura (no), crab cakes (no) and stone crab claws (yes!).  The crab claws came with a horseradish type dipping sauce and were delicious, but not sure what was in the sauce.  I figured the escargot would be safe so I started with that and then got the 8oz filet, lobster mashed potatoes and brussel sprouts.  The escargot was submerged in garlic butter with small bits of tomato in it and was very tasty.  The filet was cooked with this great crust on it and it tasted amazing.  The brussel sprouts had bacon and parmesan cheese and I’m going to have to steal that idea and make them that way at home.

All in all the food was delicious, but I wish McKendricks would get with the gluten-free program so customers are not playing guesswork when placing an order.

McKendrick's Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Darling Clementine!

A few years ago I had no idea what a clementine was and had never experienced this wonderful citrus fruit.  I bought a few of them to try them out and ever since our family has been hooked on this variety of a mandarin orange.  They are very easy to peel and the best part is they are seedless!   These babies are juicy, sweet and have less acidity than an orange.  You can use the zest of this fruit just like you can orange zest in recipes.  You’ll see them arrive in grocery stores around mid-November through January (giving them the name Christmas oranges) usually in bags or little crates.  The Cuties brand often has coupons found in your local Sunday paper.

We look forward to getting our suppy of these Christmas oranges this time of year as they make great healthy snacks.  If you haven’t tried them yet please pick some up!

What are your favorite uses for these Christmas oranges?

Easy Peppermint Bark (or so I thought)

This little treat just tastes like Christmas.  What can go wrong with peppermint and chocolate?  I’ll tell you what can go wrong……chocolate seizing.  Apparently it is critical to make sure there is absolutely no water in the bowl you are using to melt your chocolate in the microwave.  I was golden when melting the milk chocolate, but I made the mistake of washing out the same bowl to melt my white chocolate and I guess I didn’t dry it completely so my white chocolate seized on me.  I thought I had heard that you can salvage it by adding some honey so I tried that.  Maybe I didn’t add enough, but the honey didn’t do the trick so I added a little corn syrup and it helped the consistency enough to spread on top of the milk chocolate.  Don’t make my mistake when melting your chocolate…..I sure won’t do that again!

Ingredients:

12 oz milk or semi sweet chocolate chips

12 oz white chocolate chips

8 large candy canes (crushed)

non-stick cooking spray

Cover a sheet pan with wax paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Melt your milk or semi sweet chocolate in a DRY bowl in the microwave.  Start with 25 seconds and then continue adding 20 seconds until you get the desired consistency.  Spread this chocolate on your sheet pan to 1/8 inch thickness and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Next melt your white chocolate in the microwave in the same manner and spread over your other chocolate mixture.  Add your crushed candy canes and gently press them into the white chocolate.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes more or until hardened.  Break your bark into pieces and enjoy!