Chicken and Dumplings

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We finally made it down to Nashua, a little over an hour from where we live. What’s so exciting about Nashua? Well… the town we live in has a population of 6,000 and Nashua has a population of 87,000. Which means of course, they also have some decent shopping. (Keep in mind, we moved from a city of 500,000.)

We were in search of a barbecue grill, which translated, means my husband was in search of a BBQ grill. I was in search of a Barnes & Noble where I could stock up on books (heaven forbid I run out!) and a Trader Joe’s where I could stock up on buffalo mozzarella, organic chicken, and organic olive oil, and a Red Robin where we could stuff ourselves with a gluten-free burger, a mountain of gluten-free fries, and tartar sauce.

I love Trader Joe’s whole organic, free range, chickens. Organic meats really do taste better. I think they have more flavor and knowing we’re not consuming an animal that’s been treated improperly, shot full of hormones and antibiotics, and fed genetically modified food and who knows what else…makes it even better. Do some research on what our country does to non-organic chickens and I dare you to ever eat one comfortably again. We could talk for days I’m sure, on the sad state of what the FDA thinks is appropriate, so we’ll save that topic for another time.

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I like to keep single serving home-made chicken soup containers in the freezer. It’s great to have on chilly days, when we’re feeling under the weather, or when I don’t feel like cooking when Tony is traveling. I’ve also been thinking about chicken and dumplings. Must be because we’re stuck in winter. Every week is like a skipping record (snow, cold, sun, wind, and…repeat) and I guess my body isn’t ready to get out of comfort food mode until it sees some kind of true sign that spring is on its way.

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So as I was making a big pot of home made chicken soup yesterday, I thought, why not use some of it to make chicken and dumplings? 90% of the work has already been done and then I can have the best of both worlds. Chicken and dumplings for dinner and enough home made soup leftover to store a few servings in the freezer.

I used the artisanal flour mix again for this recipe. I would highly, HIGHLY, recommend their cookbook, Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking by Kelli and Peter Bronski. Tony bought it for me while on a guys ski trip in Utah last month. I already have 22 recipes earmarked that I can’t wait to try. Including puff pastry and home made pasta!

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Chicken & Dumplings

1 Batch of Home Made Chicken Soup (I added carrots and broccoli during the final process)

1/4 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk

About 1 1/2 to 2 Tablespoons Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour (for thickening broth)

Kosher Salt

For the dumplings:

1 1/2 Cups Artisanal Flour Blend (I use arrowroot instead of cornstarch)

1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1 teaspoon Kosher Salt

1 1/2 Tablespoons Fresh Thyme, minced

1 1/2 Tablespoons Dairy Free Butter, melted

1/2 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk

1 Large Egg

In a medium stock pot or dutch oven, add about 2 heaping cups of strained solids from the chicken soup (chicken, carrots, etc.). Add about 2 1/2 cups of the chicken broth, just enough to almost reach the top of the chicken and vegetables. Add the 1/4 cup almond milk and stir. Salt to taste. Set aside.

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In a medium bowl, whisk the artisanal flour blend, baking powder, salt, and thyme. In a measuring cup, add the almond milk and egg and whisk with a fork until combined. Melt the butter. Add the egg mixture and butter to the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Don’t over mix, or the dumplings will be too dense when cooked.

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Bring the chicken mixture to a boil. Add the two tablespoons of flour to a small cup, add enough broth to make it liquid, stir the lumps out with a fork and add to the chicken mixture. Boil for 2-3 minutes and reduce to a low simmer.

Spoon heaping Tablespoons of the dumpling dough over the simmering mixture.

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Cover and allow to steam on simmer for 23 minutes. No peeking!! They will expand while cooking. You will want them to be done on the inside, but somewhat soft and moist on the outside.

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Peanut Butter & Shaved Chocolate Pancakes

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You are only allowed to have thoughts of pure bliss when you eat this breakfast.

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Pure. Comfort. Food.

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If you’re concerned…

Tomorrow, you can take the stairs.

Or do a few extra sit ups, or amp up the elliptical.

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But for today, just enjoy your breakfast with no strings attached.

Peanut Butter & Shaved Chocolate Pancakes

*This recipe is adapted from the Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking Cookbook

1 Cup Artisan GF Flour Blend

(I made a 12 cup batch, substituted the corn starch with arrowroot, and did 4 cups of brown rice flour and 1 cup of white rice flour because I ran out of brown.)

1 Tablespoon Sugar

2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt

1 egg

1 Cup Almond Milk

1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

2 Tablespoons Dairy Free Butter, melted

Organic Crunchy Peanut Butter

Dairy Free Chocolate, shaved (about 1 ounce)

Pure Maple Syrup

Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the egg, milk, and vanilla and mix gently. Add the melted butter and mix just until ingredients are combined.

Grease a medium hot skillet with non-dairy butter. Cook on the first side until bubbles have formed on the surface and gently flip.

Top with peanut butter, shaved chocolate, and drizzle with pure maple syrup.

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My Corner Of The World ~ Is It Spring Yet?

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Good news!

I spotted the first Robin of the season this morning. I’m hoping that means spring is on its way.

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However…a couple of days ago, we had six more inches of snow added to the foot and a half that was still on the ground from the last storm.

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Storms on the east coast are pretty wild. They come in hard and windy and very fast. So far, we’ve been very lucky not to lose power.

I’ve been told our weather is a bit more extreme because we’re so close to Mount Monadnock. It’s not unusual to have very heavy snowfall, rain, ice, wind, and bright sun, all in one day.

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Since we moved here in December, we’ve seen several storms, one of which was a little unnerving. Now they say to be prepared for another one that will hit sometime probably in the middle of the night tonight with heavy snow and ice.  The heavy part is what causes problems, so we’ll just pray that it doesn’t cause any power issues because Tony is out of town…of course. Throughout a 24 hour period we could get 11 inches of new snow. I have yet to learn how to use the snow blower. For some reason it’s obnoxious noise and smell irritate me, and I also think somewhat chauvinistically…that snow blowing is a man’s job. But, I may be singing a different tune if I’m outside shoveling our very long driveway in 11 inches of snow tomorrow.

This is what all of our windows looked like after Winter Storm Nemo.

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Does that look like spring is near to you?

Luckily it’s gorgeous when it’s falling out of the sky and blanketing the trees. The sun is never far behind, thankfully. We get a lot more winter sun here than we did in Washington.

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And I always have the birds and of course the dogs to keep me company if I’m stuck here for a day or two.

Abigail says hello.

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Mourning Dove couples.

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Treats for everyone, and so far they all share nicely.

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The internet told me that Blue Jays enjoy oranges and apples so I put a few out this morning. So far they haven’t been touched. That will be a no-no when bear season arrives.

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In between storms Tony showed me a gorgeous area where I can finally get out and walk the dogs. It’s just around the corner from our house. There are snow mobile trails and snow mobile riders all over around here. They are amazingly courteous and always slow down for the dogs, give us a wave, and Tony said they have even stopped to chat with him on occasion.

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It was definitely a beautiful walk. Once the weather calms down we can even walk a couple of miles through the trees to a beautiful pond. But for now, if I go by myself with the dogs, I’m sticking to the well used path. Wouldn’t want to get myself lost out there and run into a bear that decided to wake up early!

Me: “Makes you wonder if these are edible.”

Tony: “Try one and see.”

Me: “Ha! Very funny, you first.”

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These looked like pussy willows in seed to me, but I don’t think they are. They are very tall, probably taller than my 64 inches.

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Can’t believe this made it through Winter Storm Nemo. The wind was incredible. Very crafty birds here on the east coast evidently.

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We spotted this on a drive the other day.

More ice pond crazies.

Not only do they drive little houses on it, and fish on it…they also snow blow it.

Tony tried to get me to walk on it.

“No thank you.”

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One last Blue Jay for you before I go. Have a wonderful evening! ~ April

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Glazed Pumpkin Scones with Cinnamon Maple Butter

9 Comments

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~This recipe was adapted from The Gluten Free Baker Cookbook~

For The Scones:

1 15 oz. can of Organic Pumpkin

3 Tablespoons Pure Maple Syrup

2 Tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract

2 1/2 Cups Mama’s All Purpose Gluten Free Flour

1/2 Cup White Rice Flour

1/2 Cup Gluten Free Oat Flour

3 teaspoons Baking Powder

1 teaspoon Xanthan Gum

1 Tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice

1/2 Cup Dairy Free Butter

1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar

For The Glaze:

About 3 Tablespoons Pure Maple Syrup

About 1 Tablespoon Dairy Free Butter

About 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar

About 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

For The Butter:

About 3/4 Cup Dairy Free Butter

About 1 1/2 Tablespoons Pure Maple Syrup

About 1 teaspoon Cinnamon

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Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Scoop the pumpkin into a medium bowl and add the maple syrup and vanilla. Stir until fully combined and smooth, set aside.

Measure the flours, baking powder, xanthan gum, pumpkin pie spice, and sugar into a large bowl and whisk to combine. Cut in the butter, just like you would for a biscuit recipe. Add half the puree and mix in. Gradually add in the remaining puree a little at a time until you have a soft dough, do not over mix.

On a piece of lightly floured parchment, roll the dough out to about a 1 1/4 inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutter or biscuit cutter of choice and arrange on a parchment covered baking sheet. Bake for about 20-23 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned.

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For the glaze: Place the maple syrup, sugar, vanilla and butter in a small bowl and microwave for 1 minute on high. Stir until sugar is dissolved and lightly brush over scones.

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For the Cinnamon Maple Butter: Whip butter in a small bowl with fork until fluffy. Add the maple syrup and cinnamon and stir until fully combined and fluffy. Scoop into a small serving dish.

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Serve while warm.

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Back To The Drawing Board

17 Comments

I had high hopes of presenting you with a wonderful gluten-free and dairy free eclair recipe today. As I scraped it all into the garbage in a very expensive heap…I cringed.

Mentally doing the count.

Two vanilla beans, a dozen organic eggs, three cans of full fat coconut milk, two and a half bars of high quality dark chocolate…

Ouch.

Not to mention the un-gawdly mess I made while trying to bring everything all together at once.

Do any of you dislike cleaning piping bags as much as I do?

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Here’s what went wrong:

I made the filling first so it could chill. Nice and thick, right?

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And full of those gorgeous and very expensive vanilla bean seeds.

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I put it in the fridge while I made the pastry dough.

My first clue that something was wrong with the pastry dough was when I added the flour to the hot mixture, it completely seized. To the point that my arm was not strong enough to beat it with a wooden spoon. Hmmm…I worried the dough would be too dry and airy when cooked because it didn’t seem like it had enough moisture to even mix it properly. It’s a similar recipe to my Scandinavian Kringler recipe, but didn’t react the same at all. But, I put it in the mixer and added the eggs one at a time and things calmed down. They even looked gorgeous after being piped onto the cookie sheet.

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I piped them and then did an egg wash. Popped them in the oven and watched them carefully.

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Hmm…a bit deformed. I quickly realized I should have piped them higher and watched the build up on the ends. I ate one plain and knew immediately they were not going to work well. Eclairs are supposed to be airy (think cream puffs) but these were too airy and the egg wash had given them a weird texture on top. I also thought, why did I even use an egg wash? They’re going to be dipped in chocolate anyway.

I made the chocolate ganache while I waited for them to cool…which also seized almost immediately, but I was able to save it with a bit of warmed coconut milk. Then I poked holes in the eclairs and took the filling out of the fridge.

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The filling had completely liquefied. Remember how thick it was?  The only thing I can think that happened to change things was the stirring in of the butter after it was thickened. So I did a complete no-no and put it back on the heat and thickened it again. Cooled it on ice, and then filled another dreaded piping bag.

I already knew the recipe was a fail but I had to see it through.

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Looks edible. And I could have fibbed and told everyone they were delicious.

But you KNOW I would never do that to you. 

We’re in this together.

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They were not good.

The ganache was too thick and the chocolate I used was too dark. The pastry itself was too crisp and too airy in the middle. Kind of reminded me of a popover. There really wasn’t much to it. And the filling, that was the worst. Too much vanilla, and too thick and gelatinous.

So I did a bit of research and came to the realization that I think I had the word eclair stuck in my head, but what I was really hoping for was something more like a Boston cream doughnut.

Or at least something in between.

(photo courtesy of halfthesugarbowl.com)

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So there you have it. The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

A lot of work goes into changing recipes to gluten-free and dairy free. A lot of trial and error, and sometimes, most of the time, those recipe failures can be quite pricey.

I’ll revisit the chocolate eclair recipe trial again someday.

But for now, I’m going to clean the eclair bomb that went off in my kitchen and drown my sorrows with a homemade pizza and my last gluten-free beer I brought with me from Washington state.

Pretty In Pink ~ Lemon Lime Cakes with Coconut Frosting

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Yep, that day is here.

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Love it or dread it, it’s pretty much a national holiday.

For those of you who dread it, this is for you, courtesy of my friend Julie on Facebook. Ha!

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Thankfully, I’ve never had reason to dread it. Tony and I have been together for 24 years and who really cares about Valentine’s Day prior to those years? It’s the 24 that count and he’s made all of them special in his own way.

This morning he surprised me with three gorgeous, pink Lillies. I oohed and ahhed over them; I love to get flowers!

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Then he said, “Wait!” and he ran down to the basement.

He came up the stairs with a huge, beautiful, white lily plant. He knew I was sad because I had to leave all of my beautiful plants behind when we moved to New Hampshire. They wouldn’t have survived the moving company and it was too cramped in the trailer.

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He asked the florist to put it in a pretty basket because he knows I love baskets.

He’s thoughtful like that.

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Aren’t I lucky?

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Then, he ran off to Brooklyn. Thankful he has a job in today’s world, I’m certainly not complaining.

He’ll be back tomorrow and we’ll celebrate again this weekend. Having him for 23 other Valentine’s Days makes it easier to just appreciate what we have right now. There’s no heart break if it isn’t a perfect day where we spend every moment together, because we can make any day, Valentine’s Day.

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Happy Valentine’s Day (or Vodka day) whatever suits you.

A little love from me to YOU.

I made you special little cakes to say Thank You.

I’m thankful for you and thankful that you like my little blog. I’m thankful that you’re willing to consider looking at recipes that are gluten free and dairy free. And very thankful that you don’t mind when I veer off every now and then and turn it into a travel blog, a birding blog, or a “this is what I’m doing today” blog.

I’m almost to 68,000 views. That couldn’t have happened without YOU.

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I’m not much of a frosting girl, it’s the cake that interests me. And as you can see, I’m not much of a froster, either.

So please, if  you choose to make these, get creative and frost however you like, and don’t watch an hour of YouTube videos trying to learn how to frost a cupcake to look like a rose or the form of cupid or a ridiculous circus animal. Those people who can do that have special powers that normal people aren’t privy to. Just do it any way you like it, or any way it comes out of the tip like I did, or dip it or spread it with a spoon… and don’t fret.

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” ~ Mother Theresa

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Lemon Lime Cakes with Coconut Frosting

*This recipe was adapted from Gluten Free Mama’s White Cake recipe.

1 1/2 Cups Mama’s Gluten Free Almond Flour Blend

2 teaspoons Baking Powder

3/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt

3/4 teaspoon Xanthan gum

1/2 Cup Earth Balance Soy Free Butter

1 Cup Sugar

1 teaspoon Pure Lemon Extract

1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

4 Egg Whites

2/3 Cup Buttermilk (Almond milk with 1/4 lemon & 1/4 lime juice)

2 Lemons (zested)

1 Lime (zested)

Frosting:

Dairy Free Butter

Powdered Sugar

Coconut Extract

Food Coloring

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Pur the almond milk into a measuring cup and cut 1 lemon and lime (after zesting) into quarters. Squeeze a quarter of each into the almond milk and set aside. Fill muffin pan with liners or use cupcake cups and place on baking sheet. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum and whisk together. Set aside

Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer until light and fluffy. Running on low speed add 1 egg white at a time. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat on high for 30 seconds. Add the zest from both lemons and the lime. Add the lemon extract and vanilla extract. On low, alternate adding flour and buttermilk until both are mixed into batter.

Fill liners 1/4 inch from top. Bake for 25-29 minutes (I use convection), or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Scandinavian Kringler

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My Grandma was an amazing cook and baker.

Home cooking, comfort food, and loving you with food were her specialties.

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Now before we go any further and I upset my Scandinavian friends…I can’t swear that this is really Scandinavian. It’s my Grandmother’s recipe and that’s what she called it, so I’m sticking to it.

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My Grandma had the best lap to sit on in the world and I always fit, even well into my teens. Just being around her gave me a sense of comfort that I really can’t explain with words. I have pictures of her on our stairwell and every now and then I stop and look really hard trying to will myself back to a time when life certainly was simpler and sweeter with a grandma around.

Grandma’s, if they’re doing it right, are the best listeners in the world. They give the best advice because they have all those years of experience and learning under their belt. Not much is a big deal to them and that in itself surrounds them in an aura of peace. They have fantastic responses to things you tell them like, “Well! I’ve never heard such a thing in my life!” or “Stop rushing! Life goes by so fast!” or my favorite, “Pish posh, there’s no need to worry!”

They love you deeply and truly like only a grandma can, and there’s something to be said for that kind of true love.

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Time does somewhat help to heal that deep ache within when you lose someone who had such a significant place in your life. They are only as far away as your best memories and I have found that cooking and baking the foods she loved helps to heal that ache. I love to remember the times I sat with her in her kitchen and all of the great family gatherings we shared at her house. We had a crazy, eclectic, somewhat volatile family at times, but I tell you, there wasn’t anywhere else in the world that I wanted to be. Her house was the comfort zone, even my friends wanted to be there!

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Crisp and flaky crust with a pastry middle.

Grandma always used apricot preserves on her Kringler. That’s another thing we could always count on. Sameness. Isn’t that true of most grandmas from my mom’s generation and mine? The sticky old hard candy in bowls? The smell of their perfume? The traditional Thanksgiving dinners? Tinsel on the tree? The perfect potato salad? Pancakes with chocolate smiles? Cinnamon and sugared left over pie crust pieces?

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I guess that means that I’m kind of “next generation (make that two)” because I do switch things up a bit when I’m baking and cooking. I’m going to have to remember that when I have grand kids of my own. I’ll make traditions and sameness that I can share with them, that they can count on every time they visit me. They’ll have that same comfort zone that I had growing up.

The role of Grandma is a very important one. And someday, when I’m given the privilege of being called Grandma, I’m going to relish in it and soak up every sweet second.

Scandinavian Kringler – Grandma Style

For the bottom layer:

1 Cup Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour

1/2 Cup Earth Balance Soy Free Butter

1/4 teaspoon Xanthan Gum

2 Tablespoons Cold Water

Measure the flour, xanthan gum, and butter into a medium bowl. Blend with fingers or pastry blender until mixture is combined and broken up into small pieces but not mixed into dough.

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Sprinkle with the water and stir with a fork until the mixture comes together.

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Divide the dough in half and pat out into 2 –  3×10 inch strips on a parchment covered baking sheet and set aside.

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For the middle layer:

1 Cup Water

1/2 Cup Earth Balance Soy Free Butter

1 Cup Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour

1/8 teaspoon Xanthan Gum

3 Eggs, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon Pure Almond Extract

Cherry Preserves or Preserves of Your Choice

Bring the water and butter to boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat and immediately stir in flour and xanthan gum until smooth.

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Add the eggs one  at a time and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon.

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But maybe not so vigorously that you end up with this on the front of you and on the floor.

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You will panic at first because when you add the eggs, each time it feels like it’s separating. Just keep stirring quickly, and eventually it will look like this.

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Stir in the almond extract and spoon it onto the bottom layer. It will be sticky.

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Smooth it with the back of a spoon.

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Bake it at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. It will puff up beautifully during the baking process.

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Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for just a few minutes. It will settle a bit, but no worries, you’ll still have plenty of fluff. Spread the preserves on with a spoon. Not too much, not too little.

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Allow to cool while you’re making the topping.

For the topping:

About 1 Cup Powdered Sugar

1 1/2 Tablespoons Earth Balance Soy Free Butter

1 teaspoon Almond Extract

About 2 Tablespoons Almond Milk

Sliced Almonds

Melt the butter in a small bowl. Add the powdered sugar, almond extract, and almond milk. Stir until smooth and of a thicker drizzling consistency.

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Drizzle over the Kringler.

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Sprinkle with sliced almonds and allow to cool completely before serving.

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