Foods That Mean Love

By Rachel Sircy 

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I never try to blend together my own flour mixtures. I am a working mother of a four-year-old, and I simply don’t have the money or the time to hunt down and combine all those little bags of flour to make a baking mix that might make perfect doughnuts but can’t be used to dredge a pork chop. Actually, I don’t make doughnuts or porkchops, but that’s beside the point. What I use instead are gluten free all-purpose flour blends. There are quite a few of these on the market these days, but I recommend purchasing those that can be used as a cup for cup substitute for regular wheat-based flours. Normally, these all-purpose flour blends will advertise somewhere on the package that they are cup for cup substitutes. Pamela’s Artisan Blend happens to be my favorite at the moment (You can see the little yellow dot on the front of the package advertises a 1:1 substitution with regular flour):


The real value of these 1:1 substitutions is that you can pull out old recipes and use them again without having to have an advanced degree in food science to figure out how to make them gluten free. Some recipes are really worth making time and time again. This is my grandmother’s recipe for shortbread cookies. The title of the recipe is “Holiday Cookies” because without fail, these cookies were a part of every single holiday on the yearly calendar. My grandmother had a cookie cutter with a shape to match each holiday in question: a pumpkin for the fall holidays, Christmas Trees, hearts for Valentine’s, eggs for Easter and so on.

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My daughter and I made these cookies with my grandmother over Christmas just the way that I used to make them with her when I was little. Just the other day, HRH (my daughter) and I made some for Valentine’s day.


They turned out to be beautifully imperfect. HRH was really excited about the sprinkles, so she added most of them to the first four cookies. With all the cookies together, it makes a nice ombre effect.

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The best part is being able to pull out this old recipe and reminiscing about learning to make these cookies as a child while teaching my daughter how to make them. Someday, I hope she makes these cookies with her children. Sometimes love looks like a cookie…


And it tastes like one too…

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Fun In The Kitchen

By: Shannon Shull

As one of our fun Easter activities together this year, my li’l angels and I had some sugary fun in the kitchen! We brought out a cookbook that I had bought years ago, which inspired us to want to get creative with some sweets. If you ever get the chance to check out this particular recipe book by Karen Tack & Alan Richardson, you will see why it’s called “Cupcakes, Cookies & Pie, Oh, My!” This book of super cool baking creations is from the creators of the New York Times bestseller “Hello, Cupcake!” I think the pictures alone in this book are enough to spark anyone’s interest and capture your imagination! Leading up to our special baking “date,” the kids and I scoured over the cookbook choosing our favorite recipes that we wanted to try out. My daughter made a list of each of our favorites and we voted in order to decide what we wanted to create on our day of baking and making artistic desserts.

The super cool cook book and the creation we attempted...

I also came across a really cute creation on and had saved a picture of this Kit Kat dessert creation called Redneck Piggy Pool. My 7 yr old son, Sawyer, absolutely loves Kit Kats! So, I saved the picture on my desktop for a couple of months knowing I eventually wanted to attempt this one. A recipe with Kit Kats was  the main enticement that helped me to get my son to actually participate and join us in the kitchen! When it was time for the Kit Kat dessert making, my son was in the kitchen in a flash ready to play and, of course, sample along the way! And now, because I couldn’t get my hands on any fondant (much less had a clue at first what it was!), instead of making little piggies to go in our mud bath, we put pink Peeps in our chocolate puddin’, Kit Kat fenced in, mud bath! We all thought our little ‘Peep show’ creation was very appropriate here at Easter time! 😉

The Kit Kat lover and his Peeps Mud Bath...

Naturally, my creative 9-year-old girl, Mina, loved every bit of the baking and creating. In fact, the child is quite the artist in her own right, and I must admit, her creations were WAY better than mine! She’s got quite the knack, so we will certainly make sure to do more of this kitchen fun in the future so she can really tap into her artistic baking talents.

The creative, artistic process...

A  big thanks goes to my mother, my babies’ grandmother, a.k.a. “MamaMe,” who opened up her kitchen and aided us in our fun quest to produce some of these neat treats. We  destroyed her newly remodeled, lovely kitchen! Cupcake and brownie crumbs, chocolate, loads of different colored sprinkles, M & M’s, and several different flavors and colors of icing were not only all over the counter tops, but were spilled and splattered on the floor and cabinets! Fortunately, my precious Mama was so excited to have us there playing with her for the day that she didn’t mind the mess one bit! Thankfully, we escaped with only one kitchen injury (I burned my finger from accidentally touching an incredibly hot cupcake pan), and we made out pretty darn well, had a blast, and ended up very proud of our artistic baked creations.

The Fun in the Kitchen!

I of course, was overly ambitious in my plans to make lots of cool, culinary creations and discovered that baking – especially baking with children – takes more time than you ever plan for. So we ended up accomplishing only two of the many recipes we’d chosen, but that’s ok! As you’ll see, our edible art did not come out quite as professional and fancy as the pictures in the book, but we learned several lessons and discovered the importance of specific ingredients and baking tools! And for a first go at it, I’d say our artistic sweet treats turned out pretty darn cool lookin’!