Smoked Balsamic Honey BBQ Sauce

I have this deep fascination with making ingredients from scratch.

What’s the big mystery? Things didn’t start off in bottles on grocery store shelves. Someone, a long time ago, used to make these ingredients for their families. So, why can’t I? My first foray into making condiments is a BBQ Sauce recipe. Admittedly, I used store bought organic ketchup and organic mustard in the recipe. But, it’s a start, right? After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither will my condiment collection be.

Another catalyst for my foray into condiment creation is the book Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss.


Half of my friends already think I’m a bit of an extremist when it comes to my commitment to organic, local, and sustainable foods. After reading Michael Moss’s book, however, I’m about to become even more extreme. I don’t want to buy anything that comes in a box or package ever again, unless it comes from a reputable company who’s beliefs align with my own. I highly recommend everyone read this book. Consider yourself warned, though. It will change the way you see food forever.

On that note… I made BBQ Sauce!!! GF Guy was home for a few days so I pulled out all the stops and made one of his favorite dishes, Pulled Pork! I used my old stand-by recipe, but this time made my own BBQ Sauce. Next time, I will make my own ketchup and mustard first. 😉

Smoked Balsamic Honey BBQ Sauce

generously adapted from this recipe on Simply Scratch

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free)



  • 1 cup Organic Ketchup
  • 1/2 cup Aged Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Cinnamon Pear Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Organic Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Organic Honey
  • 1 Tblsp Organic Yellow Mustard
  • 1 Tblsp Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 1 clove Garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • pinch Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Liquid Smoke


  1. Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
  2. Reduce heat to low and allow to reduce for 20 minutes.
  3. Cool completely before storing in the refrigerator.

Christmas Cookie Round-up 2012

Haul out the holly! It’s time for a holly, jolly holiday!

(10 points to anyone who can guess which Broadway musical I am referencing)


Yesterday, I invited a few friends over for a Christmas party. Being the over-achiever that I am, and not wanting to put anyone out with my dietary restrictions, I decided to make all the cookies myself. I heated up my little apartment with the stove going all day as I rolled and mixed and sprinkled powdered sugar & cinnamon. It was like Christmas exploded in my kitchen!32401_10101635107712882_1324212968_n

Confession: I have an almost compulsive need to completely clean the kitchen between baking each kind of cookie. I put all of the ingredients away, wash and dry the bowls and spoons and return them to their respective cupboards, and wipe down the counters. Then, I recenter myself, pull out the needed ingredients, and start on the next cookie. Some might call it obsessive. I prefer to think of it as organized.


Anywho… I went through my cookie recipe archives and pulled out a few of my favorites. The star of the evening? Definitely the Vegan Mexican Wedding Cookies, which we discovered have about 5 other names, depending on which country you hail from. (ie Russian Tea Cookies, German Pfeffernussen…. the list goes on) Whatever you chose to call them, they are delicious!

I also found a recipe for homemade Cinnamon Ornaments. With only three ingredients, cinnamon, applesauce, and cloves, they are incredibly easy and make fun gifts for party attendees!

Now, strap on that apron, put on your Santa hat, and get baking!

(Hint: Click on the cookie name to see the recipe.)

Vegan Mexican Wedding Cookies


Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies


Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies


Mint Chocolate Fudgie Babies


Cinnamon Ornaments


image source

Homemade Taco Seasoning

GF Guy is home for the week! I am such a lucky girl!

He’s making an awkward face in this picture, but, in his defense, I did make him pose for a picture whilst trying to board the airplane.

Monday night, I asked him to run by the grocery store to pick up a few ingredients to make Pumpkin Chili. He arrived back home, an hour later (grocery shopping isn’t exactly his “thing”) slightly the worse for the wear, but with a few sacks of necessities and the requested ingredients. I began to assemble the chili only to realize that the taco seasoning mix he purchased, while gluten-free, was not dairy-free. Hmmmm…… quandary…….

Not one to be defeated by a prepackaged product, I began tossing a little of this and a little of that into a bowl. Why not try to make my own taco seasoning. I didn’t bother looking up any recipes, maybe I should have, maybe not. I just went for it. The chili was a little more “red” in color than normal, and tasted slightly different, but was still delicious.

What is your go-to taco seasoning mix? What suggestions do you have that could improve my first attempt?


Homemade Taco Seasoning

(Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegan)

image source


  • 3 tsp Cumin
  • 2 tsp Sweet Paprika
  • 1 tsp Hot Paprika
  • 2 tsp Chili Powder
  • 2 tsp Oregano
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients until well combined.

Homemade Gluten-Free Dog Treats

This recipe is not for you.
It is for your best friend!
Many of you are familiar with my baby boy, Dickens.
He took such good care of me while GF Guy was out on the Rock of Ages tour last year. He slept with me, woke me up in the mornings, cuddled with me when I was lonely. He became my boyfriend and protector while my husband was away.
Fast forward to the present. With my new job, I am rarely home, and now GF Guy is back on the road. The only solution was for him to take Dickens on tour with him. Yes, my husband left me and took my dog!
My only comfort is knowing the Dickens is keeping him company. The road can be such a lonely place. At least I get to come home to my own bed on the weekends. GF Guy, on the other hand, will be living in hotels for the foreseeable future. He probably needs our puppy more than I do.
This weekend, I put together a little care package for my baby/puppy. Included were homemade gluten-free dog treats. I used ingredients I had on hand to create a healthy treat that a human could “technically” eat if he or she wanted to. Personally, I don’t think I would be a huge fan of the beef stock/peanut butter combo… But, hey… To each his own!
The process was fairly simple
and not too time consuming.
 I will definitely make a version of these again!
All you readers out there with a case of Puppy-Love, this recipe is for you!

Homemade Gluten-Free Dog Treats
(Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)


  • 1/2 cup certified Gluten-Free Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup boiling Beef Broth, made from Bouillon Granules
  • 1 tsp Organic Sugar
  • 1 tsp Beef Bouillon Granules
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 1/4 cup Peanut Butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp Flax Meal mixed with 1 1/2 Tbsp Hot Water
  • 1 1/2 cups Brown Rice Flour, plus more for dusting


  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. (425 degrees F for high altitude)
  2. In a large glass bowl, combine the oats, olive oil, and boiling beef broth. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Add sugar, beef bouillon, water, peanut butter, and flax meal mixture to the oats and stir until thoroughly combined.
  4. Add the brown rice flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until dough comes together to form a mold-able ball.
  5.  Dust a glass cutting board with extra brown rice flour and place dough in the center of the cutting board. Lightly dust dough and rolling pin with brown rice flour.
  6. Roll out dough to about 1/4″ thickness.
  7. Using a bone shaped cookie cutter, cut out dog treats and place on a foil lined baking sheet.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.
  9. Cool completely on a cooling rack before storing in an airtight container.
This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday at SS&GF and Gluten Free Wednesdays at the Gluten Free Homemaker.

    Boiled Eggs and Blogging

    Believe it or not, until today, I had never boiled an egg. Don’t get me wrong. I love a good hard boiled egg. They make a great, protein packed snack or breakfast on the go. I just never had to boil them myself. 
    Then there is the matter of my cholesterol. Genetically, I have borderline high cholesterol. The first time I found this out, I was shocked. Are you kidding me? I eat healthier than 99% of the population, and I have borderline high cholesterol?! Thanks a lot, Dad…. That begs the question, should I even be eating hard boiled eggs in the first place? Aren’t eggs suppose to be bad for cholesterol challenged individuals like me? I thought they were “incredible”….
    Oh well…. I figure everything in moderation, right? ….Except gluten…. and dairy…. and cashews….
    Anyway, back to my hard boiled eggs. I used an unconventional method and was shocked at my success. Perfect hard boiled eggs with no cracking or leaky egg whites. I did accidentally drop one, but it ended up working out. How else would I know if the eggs were cooked properly?! Here is the method I used:
    Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs


    1. Place eggs in a single layer in the bottom of a saucepan.
    2. Add cold water until eggs are covered by at least 1 inch of water.
    3. Bring eggs and water to a boil. Once water is boiling, remove from heat for 10 seconds while you reduce the burner to low heat.
    4. Place the eggs back on the burner and cook on low for 1 minute.
    5. Remove the eggs from the heat, cover with a lid, and let sit for 12-15 minutes.
    6. Drain hot water and rinse with cold water until cooled.
    7. Place eggs in a covered bowl in the refrigerator until ready to dye or eat.

    Once the eggs are cool, my little sister and I have BIG plans to dye them for Easter! Yes, I am 27 years old going on 12. 
    I have really been enjoying experimenting with new uses for eggs. Last week for supper, I placed a Sunny Side Up Egg atop a bowl of steamed vegetables
    Once broken, the egg yolk created a rich, delicious “sauce” that gave the entire dish a luscious, decadent flavor. So simple, yet so fancy!

    What is your favorite egg dish?

    This post is linked to Gluten Free Wednesdays at the Gluten Free Homemaker.

    At Home by the Fire….

    Every Christmas, my mom makes pounds and pounds of Fireside Coffee Mix. We give them to friends, teachers, coworkers, clients… Heck, even the neighborhood back-gate guard gets a jar! It has become a family tradition, one I could not participate in, until now!

    Thanks to Vance’s DariFree Powder, Fireside Coffee Mix can now be enjoyed by those of us whose tummies don’t particularly like dairy! 

    So, put on your fuzzy slippers, slip in the dvd of The Grinch, and enjoy a cup of Christmas cheer!

    Fireside Coffee Mix
    (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Nut-Free, Vegan)



    1. Combine all ingredients, mixing well.
    2. Store in an airtight container
    3. To make 1 cup, spoon 2 Tblsp + 1 tsp of mix into 1 cup of boiling water. Stir. Enjoy!

    Linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free!

      Cheap Chocolate….

      I was looking for an economical way of making my favorite holiday beverage and ran into a major hurdle. Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate Mix is daggum expensive!
      A little research online pulled up this awesome recipe on! SCORE!!!!

      Make this recipe and stay tuned for the rest of the tutorial for Christmas Cheer in a Cup!
      Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate Mix
      (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Nut-Free, Vegan)



      1. Combine all ingredients and store in an air tight container.
      2. To make 1 cup of Hot Chocolate, combine 1 cup boiling water with 1/4 cup mix.

      Vanilla Sugar

      • 2 cups organic, unbleached Cane Sugar
      • 1 whole Vanilla Bean, cut into small pieces


      1. Place sugar and vanilla bean in a food processor and process until vanilla bean is finely minced.
      2. Store in an air tight container in a cool, dry place.

      Menu Plans….

      The holidays are upon us!

      Thursday is the big day… THANKSGIVING! It is less than a week away, and I, for one, have no clue how it got here so quickly!

      It is time to get down to business and make our menu decisions! Check out the following recipes, get inspired, and get cooking!

      Salads & Starters:

      Time to Talk Turkey:

      • Classic Herb Roasted Turkey – When good looks and flavor combine! Garnish with fresh herbs and citrus slices for a show-stopping holiday centerpiece.
      • Apple-Shallot Roast Turkey – Apples and shallots lend a delicious flavor to this recipe. Switch things up by adding Organic Pears to the mix!
      • The Perfect Turkey – Clearly, the name says it all! This is a classic approach to Thanksgiving. Be sure to follow the “brining” steps for a moist, delicious turkey.

      Meatless Menu Options:

      Sides and Such:


      • Autumn Pear Cake – Who says you must have pie for Thanksgiving?
      • Crustless Pumpkin Pie (gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free) – Using a combination of dates and stevia takes away any funny aftertaste. Your guests will never guess their dessert is good for them!
      I don’t know about you, but that was a helpful post! I think I have my Thanksgiving menu planned!

      Gluten Free Stuffing Solution….

      Ah, Stuffing….

      One of the mainstays of the Thanksgiving table, this delicious side of bread, onions, and spices has become almost as American as Apple Pie.

      For those of us with Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance, however, stuffing can prove to be a bit more complicated.

      Yesterday, I received a comment inquiring about a pre-made Gluten Free Stuffing Mix. Other than one or two specialty bakeries throughout the US, I have not seen a Gluten Free Stuffing Mix. Instead, I make my own! I know, I know… It sounds complicated, but trust me! It is remarkably simple. Follow these easy steps and you will have traditional Thanksgiving Stuffing that any “Gluten Eater” will enjoy!

      Gluten Free Stuffing Mix

      (Gluten-Free, Vegan, Nut-Free)



      1. Defrost loaf of bread and allow to sit out on the counter 36-48 hours until slightly stale.
      2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
      3. Cut stale bread into cubes and place in a large bowl.
      4. Toss with a slight drizzle of olive oil and Frontier Seasoning of choice. Start with a small amount of oil. You can always add more if needed.
      5. Place seasoned bread cubes on a baking sheet.
      6. Bake in preheated oven 10-15 minutes until lightly toasted.

      VOILA! You have now made your very own Gluten Free, Vegan Stuffing Mix!

      Now all that’s left is to make your stuffing! I recommend this recipe for Stuffin’ Muffins! Simply substitute your homemade Gluten Free Stuffing Mix for the Arrowhead Mills Savory Herb Stuffing Mix listed in the recipe and proceed as directed!

      Professor Sprout….


      Who would have thought these little shoots would cause such a stir?

      How do you sprout grains, beans, and seeds?…
      Is sprouting hard?…
      Why do people sprout grains?…
      These are among the most common questions I hear regarding sprouting.
      Sprouting is the process of soaking, draining, and rinsing seeds until they germinate, or sprout. Sprouting grains, beans, and seeds make them easier to digest for some people. Additionally, sprouts contain a variety of vitamins, enzymes, proteins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals that are more abundant while in sprout form than in a fully mature plant. When a grain, bean, or seed is soaked in water, its enzyme inhibitors are removed allowing the germination (sprouting) process to begin at a rapid pace. This releases a chain-reaction that dramatically increases the seeds’ vitamin and enzyme content and begins the break down of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats into a “pre-digested” form.
      Got it?

      Sprouting really is as easy as one, two, three. Well, that, and a little bit of trial and error.

      The Equipment:
      • Clear, Glass Jars
      • Screen, cut in a circle
      • Rubberbands
      • Seeds/Dried Beans
      • Water

      The Method: 

      1. Place seeds in your jar and completely cover with water.
      2. Soak seeds overnight, or at least 4 hours.
      3. The next day, drain and rinse.
      4. Leave jar inverted, at an angle, in your sink. This will drain the water, but still allow air to flow.
      5. Rinse sprouts 4 times a day.


      • Sprouts like a cool environment (70-75 degrees F), but will tolerate slightly warmer temperatures.
      • Use 4-6 Tblsp. of seeds, depending on the size of the jar.

      Sprouting Times:

      • Alfalfa: 4-5 days
      • Broccoli: 5-7 days
      • Garbanzos: 2-4 days
      • Lentils 4-6 days
      After seeds are finished sprouting, store in an air-tight container in your refrigerator.
      Now go out there and get sprouting!