Sugar Cookie: Classic and Gluten Free Inspiration. See Recipe(s) below.

The classic sugar cookie recipe included in this post is one that has been passed down from my grandmother to my mother, then from my mom to me and the grandchildren. The gluten free recipe options have been recent finds as I have had to changes to my diet and actually began to miss some of the cookies from my childhood.

My mom has always loved sugar cookies but they have always been my least favorite cookie. So at first when my diet changed I did not miss them. The biggest reason this has been my least favorite cookie was the after taste baking powder can leave behind when you finish the sugar cookie.

As I got older sugar cookies were more trouble than they were worth. I could never get the sugar cookies to retain their shape from the cookie cutter until I started pre-coating the cookie cutters with something like PAM. It didn’t seem to matter if I made the sugar cookie as a drop cookie or shaped, I was upset of the sugar cookie didn’t come out buttery. My family recipe calls for Crisco. When I tried using butter the cookies came out harder than a rock until I figured out that if I used butter helps but refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes prior to baking to retain softness. The final straw was that no matter how hard I tried I always burnt the edges of my sugar cookies. I felt like a sugar cookie failure because my mom and dad always made the best sugar cookies.

When I eat a sugar cookie I want it to turn out like all the gourmet cookies do: plump, buttery, a little crunchy on the outside but melt in your mouth when you get to the center. I could never get my sugar cookies to be like this. That is until this year when I tried two gluten free store-bought boxed batters.

During the years in which I was the business manager for a choir I never had enough time during the holiday season to make all the cookies from my youth. I started to keep cake and brownie mixes on the shelf that I could turn into gourmet style soft batch cookies. My favorite was Duncan Hines yellow cake batter. With the recipe on that box I could transform the cake mix into snicker doodles which were always a hit at the annual holiday party my church held.

This year I missed the annual church party because of family crisis. I also missed those drop cookies because I am trying to live gluten free (makes my life less painful). To cheer me up we decided to take the kids in our lives out to look at holiday lights. As per our holiday light tradition we take cookies and hot coco to enjoy in the car while driving.

I didn’t have any drop cookies I could easily make. So I took a gluten free cake batter and made a few adjustments to make sugar cookies. This was the best sugar cookies I had ever made! They ticked off every box on what I think makes a good sugar cookie: plump, buttery, a little crunchy on the outside but melt in your mouth when you get to the center!! Success!

Then I found out that Pillsbury had an actual boxed mix for gluten free sugar cookies. So I tried that boxed mix. Those were also quite delightful but I found my original batch to be more my taste. So below you have the option to take a gluten free cake mix and turn it into sugar cookies or to just buy the gluten free sugar cookie mix. Either way if your sugar cookie taste is like mine you can’t go wrong. Now if you really want to make a rolled sugar cookie dough then sadly I have yet to find the perfect gluten free recipe.

This year when I made the gluten free sugar cookies I found out something I didn’t know, my mom and dad always looked forward to my slightly burned sugar cookies. While I like my edges crisp they liked their edges slightly burnt but felt they always over baked their cookies when they tried to go for this option where as mine always ended up with burnt edges but perfect centers. Life is funny sometimes with the different perspectives we each have of the same memories.

 

 

Classic Sugar Cookie Recipe

Before starting grease your cookie pans (or line with parchment paper). Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

 

Ingredients:

2/3 cups Crisco (if using butter refrigerate the batter to retain softness and flavor)

¾  cups of granulated sugar

1 teaspoon Vanilla

1 egg

4 teaspoons of milk

1 ½ cup of all purpose flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

¼ teaspoon of salt.

 

Directions:

Thoroughly cream together the shortening, sugar and vanilla. Add egg and beat until light and fluffy. Stir in milk. Set aside.

Sift together all the dry ingredients. Once sifted blend the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until thoroughly mixed.

Baking Instructions 1:  If doing as a drop cookie, by the teaspoonful drop the dough onto greased cookie/baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

Baking Instructions 2:  If making as a rolled out shaped sugar cookie then wrap the dough in saran wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour up to 24 hours. On a lightly floured surface place the refrigerated dough and roll to about ¼ of an inch thick. Remember to slightly grease all sugar cookie shapes so the dough does not stick to the cookie cutter. Use a cookie spatula to move the unbaked cookies from to the baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

 

 

Grammy Knauss’s Note: This is a great basic recipe. You have the plain sugar cookie you can sprinkle with sprinkles from store or you can make the recipe a bit different by adding raisins or orange rind shavings (or teaspoon of  orange juice) or lemon rind shavings (or teaspoon of lemon juice) or broken up peppermint pieces or anything you think might appeal to you. You can add a tablespoon of peanut butter to the mixture. You can frost them after they are cooked and make cookie “sandwiches from them”.

 

Gluten Free Sugar Cookie Inspiration

 

Before starting line your cookie sheets with parchment paper. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

 

Ingredients*:

1 box of Pilsbury Gluten Free Funfetti cake mix

½ cup of vegetable oil

2 eggs

 

Optional Ingredients for Frosting:

1 cup of powdered sugar

2 tablespoons of milk

2 to 3 drops of food color of choice

Icing bag for decorating

 

Directions:

Combine the cake mix with the oil and eggs until the mixture is moistened. The mixture will seem a little more wet then expected for cookies. Use a cookie scoop to have the cookies be uniform. Roll the dough in your hands before placing on the parchment lined cookie sheets.

Bake in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are set. Allow to cool for about 2 minutes before placing on a cookie rack. When cookies are thoroughly cool they can be decorated or eaten as is. Our family enjoys a coating of royal icing on sugar cookies. Right now deep blue in honor of Frozen seems to be the color of choice. Enjoy!

* I believe this recipe is just slightly richer than the gluten free boxed sugar cookie mix. However, if strapped for time, I still quite enjoyed the Pillsbury Funfetti Gluten Free sugar cookie mix.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins. See Recipe Below

Ever since I was a kid I was crazy for pumpkin this and pumpkin that. From the moment I started really baking on my own I was adding pumpkin to every recipe I could think of starting with pancakes. As an adult my affinity for pumpkin has not really waned much. I even have my nephew hooked on pumpkin flavored things. Last year I shared several of my most favorite pumpkin recipes adapted for a gluten free diet. The chocolate chip pumpkin muffin recipe shared below is a slightly adapted version of the already shared gingerbread muffin recipe.

Although I love to watch Food Network in all of its glory I have my favorite cooks and chefs. In the past couple of years I have narrowed down my cooking shows to Dinners, Drive-Ins & Dives; Halloween Wars; and the baking championships. My other favorite cooking show is from across the pond, the BBC’s The Great British Bake-Off.

The reason why these shows call to me while others don’t is familiarity and comfortability. Like those TV shows, while I love cooking, baking and trying new recipes I also have my favorite recipes. This is the comfort food that I can make without really thinking about it. Since our Stinkerbell started eating solid foods, my gingerbread muffin recipe has become one of those items.

This year I hit a rough patch. At first I didn’t want to bake because of the exceptionally warm fall weather and then because of the forest fires in our area. Once the weather returned to normal (ish) and the fires were under-control my household was turned upside down with illness. My mom developed shingles and I had a bad sinus infection. My mom’s condition is certainly more serious and meant a lot of doctor visits to specialists.

In all the crazy scheduling and upheaval I needed some portable breakfast food that I wanted to eat on a daily basis. Not only did I need something quickly that I could grab but something that wouldn’t upset my stomach in the morning when I took my antibiotics.

My initial go to was my gingerbread muffins but my nephew and niece were visiting. While they both like pumpkin they don’t like raisins. However… they love chocolate! So I had this brilliant idea to change my go-to recipe with lessening some of the spices and adding milk chocolate chips. The change was a success! Since then I have made three batches of chocolate chip pumpkin muffins! This pumpkin muffin recipe has been a real life saver for me this past month.

These pumpkin muffins make a great breakfast item as well as a mid-day snack. Because this is a homemade item you can control how much spices and sugar goes into the batter. Play with the recipe to suite your taste buds and needs!

 

 

GF Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

 

Dry Ingredients

1 ½ cups Gluten Free Flour (this is a 1 to 1 ratio so regular flour can be substituted)

½ tsp of salt

½ tsp baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon*

½ teaspoons ginger*

½ teaspoon nutmeg*

½ teaspoon allspice*

½ teaspoon coriander*

¼ teaspoon clove*

 

Wet Ingredients

2 eggs

1 cup (packed) brown sugar

1 cup of pumpkin

1/3 cup of melted margarine

¼ cup of water (as needed) **

 

Other Ingredients

1 cup of milk chocolate chips (semi-sweet tends to leave a bitter aftertaste)

 

Preheat Oven 350°

Melt the margarine in a microwave safe container for 20 to 30 seconds and set aside.

Combine all the dry ingredients and stir until all the spices are evenly dispersed.

In a separate mixing bowl combine the eggs and brown sugar and blend using a hand mixer. Add in the pumpkin and melted margarine. Slowly add in the dry ingredients until thoroughly mixed together then fold in the optional ingredients.

Spray the muffin tins with Bakers Joy or use cupcake paper cups in the muffin tin to easily remove the cooked muffins. Use a ¼ measuring cup to fill each individual muffin tins 2/3 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick once inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Makes 16 to 20 muffins

*If fresh pumpkin (rather then canned) is being used then you will want to increase spices according to your palate. Fresh pumpkin can often be a little bland and therefore additional spices are needed for a rich flavor.

** There is often more water in freshly cooked down pumpkin (if boiled and not roasted) then in the canned pumpkin. If fresh pumpkin (boiled) is being used then only 1/8 cup of water may be all that is needed.

Pineapple Cream Cheese Jello Salad

See Recipe Below

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This fall has been very different from the ones I am used to. Not only was I even busier than normal but the weather was far to warm for me to consider baking or cooking. Sadly as the weather began to cool off in early November our area was experiencing wildfire after wildfire. This meant my serious baking and cooking hiatus continued. A little bit of rain last week not only made the air more breathable but put me in the right mood to bring out my cookbook.

The dessert below only involves a little bit of cooking but is a favorite recipe enjoyed at some of our special family gatherings from Thanksgiving to the 4th of July. When this dessert is made it is with the knowledge that we need to make enough to feed a small hoard since it disappears quickly. Since the amount is more important than decoration our version of this yummy dessert has a tendency of looking a little plain. If made using a decorative fruit mold, this dish can be that special dessert to showcase at a church picnic!

This is a special dish that my paternal grandmother would make when she visited. Most years we only saw my paternal grandparents about three or four times during holidays or other special occasions. So this is a dessert that we all looked forward to at every visit.

When my grandmother passed away my biggest regret was that I did not inherit her cookbook. I am thankful though that about ten years before she passed that I asked for several of her special recipes like this one. My dad said that my request brought tears of joy to her eyes as she is not my biological grandmother but that I accepted her as such.

Any words (and photos) that I share can not properly express how yummy this dish is. As a child I was a very picky eater. Two things generally deterred me from trying lots of foods: appearance and texture. If I could get past the appearance of a dish generally the texture would put me off. My one exception to the odd appearance and texture rule was my grandmother’s pineapple salad. Once I tasted it I could never get enough. It certainly didn’t hurt that one of my favorite fruits has always been pineapple.

In this post I have included two versions of this recipe. I have the original as my grandmother made it (as taken from her hand written note card) and an adaptation that I make. My adaptation came around as I had to deal with several challenges from time and space to make the dish to dealing with how the ingredients were packaged at my store. In both recipes we opt to use lemon jello but lime jello or a combination of lemon and lime can be used. I hope my pictures of this dish do not discourage you and that you enjoy this recipe as much as our family has!

 

Pinaepple Cream Cheese Jello Salad

Ingredients:

1 can (16 to 20 ounces) of Crushed Pineapple

1 cup sugar

2 (3oz) pkgs. Lemon jello

1 ½ cups of hot tap water

1 ½ packages of cream cheese (about 12 ounces) softened

1 (10ounce) container of true whip (made without highfructose corn syrup)

 

Directions:

  1. Over mediume heat, in a saucepan, heat the crushed pineapple and sugar for about 5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.
  2. Mix together the jello and hot water. Stir thuroughly until the jello has disolved.
  3. Cube the cream cheese and add to the the jello & water. Using a hand mixer, thruoughly mix until the cream cheese is broken into very small pieces or is creamed.
  4. Add cool whip into the jello mixture one spoonful at a time.
  5. Fold in the pineapple mixture.
  6. Use a 8×12 inch pan to set the mixture in. Refrigerate until set.

 

Grandmam’s Pineapple Cream Cheese Salad

Ingredients:
1 #2 can (16 oz) Crushed Pineapple
1 cup sugar
2 pkgs lemon (or lime) jello
2 cups hot water
2 small pkgs of cream cheese
1 pt whipping cream or 1 large container of Cool Whip

Directions:
1. Heat together crushed pineapple & sugar for 5 minutes. Let cool completely.
2. Mix together jello and hot water. Stir thoroughly. Let cool but do not chill.
3. Using cooled jello cream your cream cheese. Do this slowly.
4. Add cool whip spoonful at a time.
5. Now fold in your pineapple.
6. Chill to set. Serve Cold

If you aspire to create a fancy jello salad check out the picture and recipe found on this page: Fruit Salad. The jello salad on the shared link is prepared with a jello mold and reminds me of the salads that used to grace some of the fronts of my grandmother’s cookbooks and food related magazines.

French Apple Pie

Posted by Nicci | Recipes

French Apple Pie

See Recipe Below

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One of my favorite pies of all time has been a French apple pie. This was not a pie my family had at any holidays. Rather it was one my dad would order from a local bakery for a concession stand he ran for our bingo night at the church. Even though I helped my dad cut and set out the pie it was only once in a while that my dad would buy me a slice for us to split. This was also one of my dad’s most favorite pies as well.

What is it about this pie that we loved so much? Why, the layer of royal icing topping off the pie, of course.

One would think that this extra bit of sugar might make the pie a bit on the sweet side but it never was. It was always just the right combination. In so many ways it was like having the best part of a cake with the best pie on the planet.

Sadly the bakery that made the French apple pie went out of business decades ago. My dad never found another bakery in our area that made pies quite like that one. Even though our family made homemade apple pie for some reason we never made French apple pie. My dad and I would talk about how much we missed that pie. Over the years my mom would buy other kinds of apple pies to see if we liked them as much. Truthfully my family loves most types of pies but I would always compare them to that French apple pie.

This Thanksgiving, instead of making a regular apple pie or purchasing a pre-made pie, I decided to make a French apple pie. Rent-a-Dad, never having ever tried a French apple pie but loving my dad’s royal icing recipe, was totally on board to try this “new” pie recipe.

Using my own spiced apple pie filling recipe, a store bought pie crust (gluten free) and my dad’s recipe for royal icing, I set out to recreate a childhood memory. So how did it turn out? Well within the first 48 hours only a ¼ of the pie remained. While the filling was a little spicier than the one from my memory it was still everything I ever loved about this particular pie. The pie crust recipe included is not the one I used, as I am trying to stay true to the FODMAPS diet as much as I can, but is a family recipe that I never want to loose.

If you love to try new types of pie and have never had French apple pie before I hope you give this recipe a try!

 

Grammie K’s Pie Crust Recipe

The recipe is for a standard 8” or 9” pie plate.

Ingredients: for 1 pie shell or open pie

  • 1½ cups SIFTED all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup shortening (like Crisco solid) or butter
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons of COLD water

Ingredients: for 2 pie shells or a covered pie

  1. 2 cups SIFTED all-purpose flour
  2. 1 teaspoon salt
  3. 2/3 cup shortening (like Crisco solid) or butter
  4. 5 to 7 tablespoons of COLD water

Directions:

  1. If using butter freeze until stiff but not hard. About 15 minutes.
  2. Sift flour and salt together
  3. When using butter use a grater to make the butter pieces small enough to cut into the flour with minimal manipulate. If using shortening cut in with pastry a blender until pieces are the size peas. (For extra tender pastry, cut in half the shortening till like cornmeal, then cut in the remaining shortening till like small peas).
  4. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon water over part of the mixture.
  5. Gently toss with fork
  6. Push this to side of bowl.
  7. Repeat steps 3, 4 and 5 until all is moistened.
  8. Form into a ball (for double crust or 2 rolls divide dough in half forming 2 balls)
  9. Flatten on lightly floured surface by pressing with edge of hand 3 times across in both directions.
  10. Roll dough from center out to edge until 1/8 inch thick.

 

**DO NOT OVERWORK DOUGH AS IT WILL NOT BE USEABLE IF YOU DO**

 

To Bake Shell Plain Shell (no filling):

Used for pudding pies and lemon meringue pie, pumpkin and sweet potato pies.

  1. Set oven to 450 degrees
  2. Fit rolled pastry into pie plate
  3. Trim ½ to 1 inch beyond the edge of pie plate.
  4. Fold under and flute (pinch) edges – you need both hands for this- using index finger of the right hand push the pie edge into wedge made by index finger and thumb of the left hand. Do this all the way around the pie.
  5. Prick bottom and sides well with fork.
  6. Bake at 450 degrees fro 10 to 12 minutes or until golden.

 

To Bake Double Crust Pie:

Used for fruit pies such as apple, cherry, blueberry, etc. Use one shell for the top and one shell for the bottom.

**DO NOT PRICK THE BOTTOM OR SIDES OF THE BOTTOM PIE SHELL WHEN BAKING A FILLED PIE AS JUICES WILL RUN OUT AND SCORCH.**

  1. Fit rolled pastry into pie plate.
  2. Trim the pie shell even with rim of pie plate.
  3. Fill the shell with enough fruit filling to either be level with edges (pre-cooked or canned filling) or slightly domed if fruit filling is fresh/raw.
  4. Cut slits into the top crust (for venting)
  5. Lift the top crust by rolling it gently over a rolling pin.
  6. Then unroll it loosely over the well-filled pie.
  7. Trim top crust to ½ to ¾ inch beyond the edge.
  8. Tuck top crust under edge of lower crust.
  9. Flute the edge as for a single crust.
  10. If you use a canned filling use baking directions they suggest.
  11. For from scratch pies follow the directions below.

 

**TO HELP KEEP EDGE OF PIE FROM BURNING: FOLD STRIP OF ALUMINUM FOIL AROUND RIM OF CRUST, COVERING THE FLUTED EDGE.**

 

French Apple Pie

Pie Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of granny smith apples
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of brown sugar*
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons powdered cinnamon*
  • 1 teaspoons nutmeg*
  • 1 teaspoon ginger*
  • ½ teaspoon powdered clove*
  • ½ teaspoon coriander*
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (if needed)
  • 3 tablespoons of butter (2 to 3 more tablespoons if needed)
  • ¼ cup of raisins
  • ¼ cup of dried cranberries

 

*My family loves the full spice profile that the brown sugar and this amount of spice adds to the pie. If your family likes a more traditional apple pie flavor then use 2 to 3 tablespoons of white sugar and half the amount of spice in the ingredient list.

 

Pie Filling Directions:

  1. Peel and dice apples.
  2. Place the diced apples in a mixing bowl.
  3. Add the brown sugar, sugar and all of the spices to the apples and toss. The apples should provide enough natural juices to let the sugar and spices coat the apple pieces. If the apples won’t easily coat with the sugar and spice mixture then add lemon juice.
  4. In a large skillet melt the 3 tablespoons of butter over medium hear. Add the apple mixture, dried cranberries and raisins.
  5. Continue to stir the mixture around in the skillet letting the sugar melt and the apples begin to break down (sweat). Check the crispness of the apples every few minutes. You want the apples to be slightly tender and the dried fruit to be plump/slightly re-hydrated.
  6. If the syrup forming from the sugar begins to burn add more butter to the pan, one tablespoon at a time.
  7. Once the apples are to your desired tenderness turn off the burner and remove the frying pan from the heat.
  8. Add the mixture to the pie shell until slightly over filled. Cover with second pie crust.
  9. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until crust is golden brown.
  10. Store any of the remaining pie filling in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

 

Icing Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of milk

Icing Directions:

When the pie is fully cooled, mix milk and powdered sugar. Pour over the crust starting in the center of the pie and working outwards.

Nutty Corny Cereal Treats

See Recipe Below

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A few years back a couple of friends convinced Rent-a-Dad and I to try making our own candy corn trail mix. The reasoning was that the mix tasted so much like a Payday candy bar that we couldn’t refuse.

Since I am not a huge Payday candy bar fan I was a bit skeptical. Rent-a-Dad and my mom immediately jumped on the idea so we bought a canister of unsalted peanuts and candy corn. I had to admit that it was quite yummy and in quite a few ways better than the candy bar. We even tried other peanut/candy corn combinations and found that we really liked the honey roasted version.

At some point this past spring when I was making my special Reese crispy treats, Rent-a-Dad was thinking of all the flavor combinations I could make with crispy cereal and candy. That was when he had an “ahah!” moment and begged that once fall rolled around that I try the below recipe.

I was skeptical about this flavor combination so I did not make a HUGE pan of the treats. Once again I have to admit my skepticism was ill placed.  Rent-a-Dad is a HUGE fan of this recipe! Since candy corn is an acquired taste I would suggest making this flavored cereal treat dish in the batch size I have measured out below… At least until you know if your family is a fan or not.

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Nutty Corny Cereal Treats

Ingredients

2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

21 regular sized marshmallows

3 cups of Crispy Rice Cereal

½ cup roasted peanuts (my family prefers honey roasted)

½ cup candy corn (we always use Brachs)

9 x 9 Square baking pan (buttered/greased)

 

With margarine, grease your baking pan and a large wooden spoon. Set aside. I use spray butter as it’s a nice flavor and easy to apply.

In a large microwave safe bowl (I use a ceramic mixing bowl) measure out 21 regular sized marshmallows and 2 tablespoons of creamy peanut butter. Heat in the microwave for about 1 to 1 ½ minutes until the peanut butter looks shiny and is sinking into the now extra fluffy melty marshmallows. Stir the marshmallow and peanut butter together.

Add in the 3 cups of crispy rice cereal. If the spoon proves difficult get your hands dirty and mix the ingredients together. Once the marshmallow mixture is evenly dispersed through the cereal add in the peanuts and the candy corns. When evenly mixed spoon and spread the mixture into greased baking pan.

Wait 5 to 10 minutes until the mixture is cool and set. Cut and enjoy! Honestly… who can wait that long? Dig in and enjoy!!!!!!

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See Recipe Below

When my husband asked me to make this treat up for our annual church picnic last weekend I knew instantly that I wanted to share the recipe on our blog. What I have been unsure of is what story I wanted to share. Finally two thoughts came to mind. A quick lesson on the diet I am following and the origins of this recipe for my family.

All of the recipes I have shared so far on our blog have been gluten free. Why? The no brainier is that I have been following the FODMAPS diet and one of the requirements of that diet is to go gluten free, at least at first. So yes the recipes I am sharing are of meals or treats that I can currently eat. I feel it is important to share recipes that I use regularly and not something I tried maybe once just for my blog. Each recipe I share is meaningful to me for a variety of reasons from knowing what it is like to struggle with a diet to having a recipe that has been passed down for several generations. I am in no way telling anyone else how to run their life and what they should eat. I do hope that the recipes I share help others struggle less with the diet that they might not want to be on or even find a yummy treat to share with their family.

I do want readers to understand one very important thing: A lot of what we already eat on a daily basis is already gluten free, from oatmeal with blueberries and walnuts to steak and potatoes.

So when I hear that my diet is denying me of much needed nutrients I just have to chuckle. It’s a hard diet to follow but more because I am someone of French and Italian decent who loves her pasta and bread. So cutting out gluten is hard but it won’t kill me. I still get to eat carbs just not wheat based carbs and that might not be permanent. As far as I know I do not have Celiac disease. I had to eliminate a lot of different food items on the FODMAPS diet that are hard on the digestive system. I get to slowly add these food items back into my diet to see what does and does not work for me but that doesn’t mean I have stopped eating veggies and fruit.

As for that origin story…

Anyone who has gone to college and lived on the meal plan offered understands the difficulties of finding a balanced meal. That doesn’t mean the food service doesn’t try but it is hard to find something everyone likes. We all come from different backgrounds with very different likes and dislikes.

What I witnessed as successes was the steak night for us meat eaters (until the grade of meat declined), the cereal bar was always a staple and in my last year the quesadilla bar where we got to make our own quesadilla’s that were hot and fresh as opposed to being room temp and dried out. I found that even when the food service tried to be consistent that items varied from week to week. One week a very yummy mushroom soup would be replaced by a very salty version the following week. The pasta was generally mushy and I am more an al dente pasta eater. The salad bar always had the basics but I am not a salad person, well not a “basic” salad person. Overall the food service was hit or miss for me. Mostly miss.

The one item that always seemed to be a great hit was the rare day when the dessert bar had O’Henry Bars. Sometimes it was advertised on the weekly menu and sometimes it wasn’t. On days where it was advertised, if you forgot all you had to do was see the students lined up all ready for the food hall doors to open. Students would first make sure to get the yummy treat before their main course. On the days where it wasn’t advertised you knew by the students leaving the food hall with disposable plates piled high with this confection.

It always amused me to see fellow student’s hording their favorite treats. One would thing the food service would get the clue and fix that treat more often but no. It was like they saved it up for the last day of that block (term) or when they knew one subject had a particularly hard test coming up, essentially something to cheer the students up with.

When that final day came and I graduated college the one food item I would come to crave and miss the most were those O’Henry Bars. My husband and I would talk about somehow getting that recipe but never did anything about it other then looking it up on the internet. The recipes we saw never sounded quite right. Then one day when swapping favorite recipes with a friend I found an O’Henry Bar recipe that sounded very familiar to the basic treat we loved so much.

The recipe I had found had some negative comments from the flavor was off to the bars never really set quite right. It took four or five tries making the recipe before finding a combination that worked well for us from taste to how the bars set. A lot of cooking is like that though. One tried and true recipe for me may be wrong for someone else. Some of that is varying tastes but also cooking styles. I am one of those people who can “wing” some recipes while my dad always stuck to following a recipe word for word.

The recipe below is similar enough to what our memory holds of those famous yummy treats from our college days. Much like those days back in college, my husband looks forward to when I bake up this treat and he still hates to share it.

Gluten Free O’Henry Bars

Ingredients

2/3 cup margarine (or butter)

1 cup brown sugar

4 ¼ quick cooking oats

½ cup of light corn syrup

1 tablespoon of molasses

3 teaspoons of vanilla

1/8 to ¼ teaspoon of salt

1- 12 ounce package of chocolate chips

2/3 cup of peanut butter

 

Pre-heat oven to 375°. Grease a 9×13” baking pan and set aside.

Cream the margarine and sugar. Add the oats, corn syrup, molasses, vanilla and salt. Stir together until oats are completely covered. Press oat mixture firmly into the greased pan.

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Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the top of the oats are golden. While the oats are still hot take a butter knife and gently fold the top edges of the baked oat bars slightly back. This will help release the bars from the pan when you are ready to cut them and serve them later.

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Let the baked oats cool about 10 to 15 minutes before beginning the next step.

Put the chocolate chips and peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for a minute, and then stir. If the chocolate chips are not completely melted return to the microwave for an additional minute. Stir to make sure all the chocolate chips are thoroughly melted and mixed with the peanut butter. Spread the melted topping over the cooling baked oats.

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Let the entire pan of oats and chocolate air dry for fifteen minutes before scoring the bars into the desired serving size. Let the bars completely cool an additional fifteen to twenty minutes before serving. If you are in a rush put the pan in the refrigerator for five to ten minutes before scoring then an additional five to ten before serving. If try to serve this dessert up right after it is assembled you will have a hot gooey mess.