Holiday Recipes part 2 {Gluten Free Baking continued}

Some might call it a hobby, while others might call it an obsession. Either way, I love baking and I am totally OK with classifying it in any way that normalizes baking multiple times a week at all hours of the day, or night. There’s just something about a house smelling of deliciousness that soothes the soul and comforts the mind.

This post is going to combine some Holiday baking and some post-Holiday baking but really, does it matter? No. The recipes are simple and delicious and Gluten Free which makes them a huge winner around here.

Both of the following recipes were adapted from recipes that I found on the ever-so-wonderful Pinterest. I changed them up a bit and made them Gluten Free – but the recipes them-self were not created by me.

This first recipe I found here. I call mine a “loaf” because it’s definitely much denser than bread and from the non-gluten-free version (which I have made, also.) Their bread looks WAY better and lighter and fluffier. But regardless of all of that, this was still yummy and gluten-free which is the best part.


Peanut Butter butterscotch Banana Loaf

1 1/2 Cups Gluten-Free baking flour (I used Bobs Redmill 1-to-1 baking flour)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking power
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 slightly beaten egg whites
4 overripe bananas – mashed
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup Coconut Oil
3.4 ounces (1 package) butterscotch pudding mix (dry)
3/4 cup bitter-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips

For the Peanut-Butter Ganache:

2 cups butterscotch chips
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Start with the Loaf:
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. I used the convection setting on mine.
Mash the bananas until mostly smooth. In a separate bowl I mixed the egg whites, sugar, vanilla, pudding mix, and oil, mix well.  Add in the bananas. Then, stir in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Only mix until the batter forms. Fold in the chocolate chips and butterscotch chips just until incorporated. Pour batter into a greased and parchment lined loaf pan. The original recipe says to bake about 45 minutes. I found that mine needed to bake for about 60 minutes. A toothpick should come out clean before the removing the bread from the oven. Place on wire rack and let cool for about 20 minutes before removing from the pan. Let it sit (out of the pan) on the wire rack for another 10 minutes.
For the Ganache:
Over low heat in a medium sauce pan, mix together the butterscotch chips and peanut butter until smooth and melted. Spread over the loaf then sprinkle with chocolate chips and let cool to set.
This loaf was really yummy. It had great flavor and was a fun treat. It was definitely dense and in the center almost slightly under-done. The problem is the edges were getting a bit toasty so I had to remove it from the oven. Some times when converting recipes to Gluten-Free the temperature and cooking-time changes, also, and until tested multiple times, it is hard to perfect.
When trying this recipe again I would probably swap out the silicone loaf pan and use a non-stick metal pan lined with parchment. I think the silicone pan also effects the cooking time… maybe.
The 2nd recipe for a Dark Chocolate Raspberry Pie was AMAZING. I made it twice. I may or may not have eaten like HALF of an entire pie by myself. Like, I could.not.stop. I changed mine ever so slightly, but again, I made it gluten-free which was the crucial alteration. Also, I hate jell-o. I know, how am I an American 80’s kid and hate Jell-O… but I do. Also, I cannot make Jell-O. Now, maybe they go hand-in-hand, but whatever. So I almost completely eliminated that from the recipe.

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Pie (no bake & gluten-free)

Pie Crust:
1 package of gluten-free shortbread cookies (I bought mine at Safeway)
6 tablespoons butter (I prefer salted to cut the sweetness)
1/3 cup coarse Turbinado Sugar

Finely chop the shortbread cookies in a processor. Add the sugar. I like this sugar because it adds a wonderful and very subtle toffee-like flavor. Add melted butter and mix with a rubber spatula until fully incorporated. Press into a pie pan, slightly up the sides. Bake at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes. Remove, let cool completely.



10 oz dark chocolate (I used Ghiradelli)
1-8 oz. pkg. cream cheese; softened
¾ cup coarse Turbinado Sugar
3 cups fresh raspberries
1-3 oz. pkg. raspberry jello
1 cup water
1 tbsp. cornstarch

Melt the chocolate until smooth – in whatever method you prefer. I microwave in 20 second increments stirring in-between each session. I have never been successful at a double-boiler method. In your stand mixer, blend softened (room temp) cream cheese and sugar and slowly add in the melted chocolate. Scrape the sides periodically to ensure it is all mixed in. Once it is fully incorporated pour the mixture into the prepared shortbread crust. Very carefully cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 2 hours. Scatter the raspberries over the pie once it is set. Boil one cup of water and carefully whisk in the cornstarch until it is a bit pastey. Pour that into a bowl with the J mix. Whisk until smooth. It is very important to not over-whisk or this will create a lot of air-bubbles and they will be noticeable on your pie. I poured half of the mixture over the raspberries to help bind them all together & then discarded the remaining J mixture. I refrigerated over-night. Remove from the fridge and let the pie sit-out for about 30 minutes prior to serving. Using the turbinado sugar makes the chocolate part of the tart a bit grainy. I like it. A lot. But if you’d like a smoother, silkier texture, use regular granulated sugar.


Oh, heavenly goodness. This pie is so, so good. I don’t know that the Jell-O part is even necessary, really. I think if the raspberries are pressed down into the chocolate firmly before it sets-up, that would be a great alternative, also. Having said that, I will likely try that method very, very soon!






Holland’s Pink Lemonade Stand {1st Birthday Party!}

Holland Waverly Rugala - Pink Lemonade Stand 1st Birthday

You know that moment when your baby turns 1 and you instantly have anxiety and think she’s going to be headed to college like tomorrow? Yeah. It’s a parent-thing. I swear that her first birthday sent me into complete hysterics. Not because I am super emotional or sentimental but because it hit me that this was the last time I’d be celebrating a FIRST birthday. My last baby was turning 1. I’d never experience this momentous occasion again. Sure, I have 3 kids who will all celebrate many special birthdays ahead, but this special moment also marked my last baby no longer being a baby… Excuse me while I go grab a tissue, I think there’s something in my eye…


To celebrate my final baby turning 1 I went with a bright, fun, cheerful theme that would be great for a nice Summer day; Pink Lemonade Stand. And because without fail, the weather system hates me and what should have been a sunny warm day turned into a cloudy, overcast, RAINY day, it made for a slightly less-outdoor party than I had imagined. Having said that, the weather did clear up a bit shortly after the party started and people were able to enjoy being outside — even when there was a slight sprinkle in the air at times. Mother Nature… her and I don’t love each other sometimes, moody bitch. Ha.


So for Holli’s party, I stuck with shades of pink & yellow and decorated with lemons, pinwheels, galvanized buckets, and mason jars. It all just seemed to go.

IMG_6458I made some things myself but I also paid to have a lot of other things made for me because sometimes, it is just easier. I made the super cute Lemonade & Bake Sale stands myself which was the biggest project but also really easy and cheap, too. I found a bunch of wooden crates on Craigslist and bought a dozen of them. We laid them out on tarps on the driveway and painted them white with leftover ceiling paint we had than I went back and painted some yellow stripes onto them. I used left-over wood my dad had to make the signs & the supporting pieces on the side. Then I just screwed the crates together in various configurations and nail-gunned the sides and sign on. For the signs, I wanted them to look simple and like a kid painted them – so I didn’t worry about handwriting or being perfect. I did a few different sizes so that some could be used for actual display and others could be used for the photo-op area. I gathered a bunch of leftover fabrics in the appropriate colors and made some quick banners to hang on them for added decor, also.


With decorating being the easy part and the food being the aspect that people always stress over, I opted to not do any cooking! There is a local hot-dog-cart vendor that I love and we use their services for any bigger more casual party. Everyone loves a hot dog! And theirs are delicious!
For desserts, I wanted a whole bake-sale feel. I had a mix of cookies, cakepops, Holland’s little cake, and a bunch of fruit bars. As usual, the desserts were delicious and a huge hit! I also made a little sign with the “prices” of the various bake sale items that we had out — it was Holli’s menu!

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Everyone enjoyed the desserts – especially these handsome guys!



Holland wasn’t a huge fan of eating cake, but she sure did like the cookies!

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At the big 1st birthdays, we include our childless friends, too, so we like to make sure that they can make it through a kids party without wanting to run for the hills. We do this by supplying them with alcohol! haha! But seriously, though. Some parties just need some beer & wine… don’t judge me. Of course this is not a focal point. But, my point in showing this is that it is really simple and easy to incorporate a small serve-yourself-bar at any party. I just used a whole bunch of mason jars for the wine/champagne to make it a little more casual.


Despite the weather being a bit unpleasant at times, we had some outdoor activities for the kids like a whole bubble station which was a huge hit for Holland!


For me, parties are so much fun. It might be a little stressful leading up to it or decorating the day-of, but then when it all comes together and you can sit back and have fun with friends and be silly in a photobooth — that’s when it is worth it. Holland’s party was no exception; we had a blast with the photobooth! I found the cutest photobooth props on etsy and just printed them out, cut them out, and glued them to dowels that I found at Joanns. We had a blast with them!


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We are always surrounded by the best of friends. We are so lucky to have so many wonderful people are us but more importantly, around our children. Each and every one of them is special to us in some way. Holland is so lucky to have so many people love and support her and who will be around to watch her grow up into the woman she is to become.


Happy Birthday, Holland Waverly! You are so strong, stubborn, and super feisty! You have been the perfect addition to this family and every day with you brings smiles to our faces!IMG_6446