Happy Christmas in July


We did our Christmas in July celebration last weekend.  It was a nice little get-together.  It was very simple because I just don’t have the energy right now to do anything more than simple but next year I’m going to do it up right.  A summer tree / beach theme / decorations / etc.

We do Mexican food for our Christmas so I stayed with the same theme for July Christmas.  I didn’t take a lot of pics but here’s part of my plate…

Enchilada casserole.  Pintos.  Cheesy jalapeño rice.  We also had 5 layer dip and queso.

I used this new flavor pack for the guacamole.  It’s really good.

The directions say to use the whole pack with just 2 avocados.  I only use one big heaping tbsp per avocado plus one tbsp sour cream per avocado.  My version is getting rave reviews here from everyone who tries it.

I also used my new toy to make some sugar free Watermelon Sherbet for a take on the lime / ginger-ale punch.  I made the ginger-ale with my Sodastream (sugar free).

It didn’t get the same rave reviews as the new guac mix…but I really enjoyed it.  Lime is better but I wanted to try something more ‘summery’.

For desert I made a sugar free Dr. Pepper cake.  I used my tried and true recipe just subbing various sugar free sweeteners.

I couldn’t believe I was able to create something that moist using gluten free flour and sugar free subs.

Boiling alternative sugar to make…

…a sugar free syrup to use in…

…homemade sugar free marshmallow fluff.  (This was ridiculously good.  I used it in place of the real marshmallows called for in the recipe).

I made the sugar free ‘Dr Pepper’ with the Sodastream and I couldn’t have been happier with the way the cake came together.

I think I’ve finally found my alternative sugar blend and I’ll share it here next month when I start experimenting with it a little bit more.  Up to now I’ve only experimented with ice cream and this cake.

I had an anemia blood work profile done yesterday to get a better look at what’s going on with that and I’m getting a massage this weekend.

Hope y’all’ve had a great week and have a safe / cool weekend. 🙂

Happy 4th of July


Hope y’all have a great day that’s as carefree as your childhood. 🙂     Ya gotta love the 70’s.  Cig hanging out of mouth.  4 year old running around with a fire stick.   Every time I see this picture I don’t have a clue how I was able to hold the sparkler.  To this day I’m scared to death of matches and lighters.  The only way I’m able to light a fire is with one of those long stick like lighter things. 

I still have plans for an alternative sugar treat today.  Fingers crossed it turns out well enough to share next week. 🙂

Have a fun and safe weekend. 🙂

Weekend Eats ~ Pic Dump

How was y’all’s long weekend?

I’m just going to do this pic dump style. 🙂

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Memorial Day here was a rain out.  We had over 5 inches of rain.

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My kitchen cactus, Albuquerque.  She’s not quite sure what to make of all the wet stuff. 😉

Some eats from the weekend…

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Potato salad.

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Homemade banana puddin’ with homemade vanilla waffers.  This was amazing.  Last summer I wrote about how sad it was making banana pudding for everyone else and none for me.  In some circles I’m kinda known for my banana pudding.  One of my uncles used to walk in the door for family get-togethers and ask ‘Where’s the banana pudding?’.

No banana pudding tears from me this year. 🙂

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Chopped bbq on a bun.  Potato salad and pintos.

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Fresh ground hamburger meat.

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Brisket, pintos, potato salad, corn and strawberry Crush.

If y’all wonder why all the Crush around here in the summertime…it’s just something we do as a throwback to summer as a kid.

Papa L’s side fam had a house on the water in a little town an a bay.  That’s where Alto – Janylvia gets her name.  I’ve written about Mema and her 3 sisters before.  Well 2 of them plus their Mom also had homes on the bay too…all right next to each other.  Mema always used to say we were just like the Kennedy’s.  Not quite in grandeur, Mema but they had nothin’ on us in the soul level attachment to the summer home on the water. 😉

From birth to 10-ish a large part of my summer was spent there.  Not only with Papa L’s side of the fam but also with Mama L’s side.  Mema and Pappy would let Meme use the house too and every summer Mama L would work her beauty shop for her and she would take me and sister L…and our cousins on that side of the family down there for summertime vacay with her too.

So very many of my childhood summer memories…with all three grandparents…are tied to that place.

I’m sure y’all are thinking “That’s lovely Jennifer but what the heck does that have to do with Crush?”

I’m gettin’ there. 🙂

The very first thing we’d do when we got to the bay was…hug the grandparents of course…but then reach into this huge red ice chest that sat right by the door.  It was full of iced down cans of orange / strawberry / grape Crush.  That’s the only time we ever drank those.  At the bay.  Never at home.  So they are quintessentially summer to me.  Around here now we pretty much only have them in the summertime too. 🙂  Although I have to tell y’all… the orange Sodastream flavor is really good.

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Pina Colada. 🙂

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Mama L’s homemade ice cream.  Plus my addition…Fruity Pebbs of course.

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And last but not least…this cake…which will have its own post here the next time we meet. 🙂





Happy St. Patrick’s Day

OK, y’all so with the exception of Ballykissangelwhich I just binged watched the entire series for probably the twentieth time… I’m not really that into Irish stuff…or foods or drink.

I’d found a few Irish recipes and thought about trying them for the blog but I just couldn’t get inspired…SO this really isn’t anything Irish…but it is green. 😉

It is one of my favorite party punches.  It’s nice for spring too.  You can add fruit / alcohol or both.

This weekend we had it plain.

Lime Sherbet.  Sprite (or Ginger Ale).  Pour Sprite over sherbet.  Let soften.  Add any fruit / alcohol you like.  Rum for ‘nice’ punch?  Tequila for a ‘wild’? 😉

There isn’t a specific amount of liquid.  It’s up to you.  Use more for a thinner drink and less for a thicker consistency.  But as a guide…

1 liter of Sprite / Ginger Ale per gallon of sherbet.


We had ours with BBQ sandwiches.

It was brisket so let’s just play like it was Texas corned beef. 😉

Speaking of Ginger Ale…cheap / lazy ‘soda stream’. 🙂  Club Soda and Soda Stream mix.

I wanted to try out the Soda Stream flavors before investing in the whole contraption.  This works so well I’m just going to keep using the flavors without the machine.

Hope y’all had a nice weekend. 🙂


Panettone and Candied Orange

Happy New Year.  Hope y’all had a safe New Year’s Eve. 🙂

I know a lot of bloggers are doing resolution posts today but I’m not a resolutions kind of girl.  If I want to do something…I just do it rather than waiting for a date on the calendar.

I do have a few goal type things…like to keep creating the gluten-free foods I CAN eat instead of being sad over those I can’t eat.  I’m going to work on my book plus…one other thing that I’m not ready to share yet but will likely take a good chunk of the year to finish and that I’ll blog about as it takes shape.

None of those are resolutions in the New Year sense though…so on with todays post. 🙂

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First…the gratuitous / requisite blogg-y winter boot shot. 😉 For a day or two at least…the temp here in rural route Tejas made them actually functional in addition to fashionable. 🙂

panettone 1

Do you say the end of panettone as TONE or tone-eh?  Usually I defer to Cristina on most things Italian.  She says ‘tone-eh’.   But I’ve heard Giada and Fabio Viviani (who was born and raised in Italy)  both call it panetTONE.   Rachael Ray does TONE too but I don’t defer to her for anything. 😉

I love love love it either way.  It wasn’t always available in South Texas and definitely not in rural route but over the last few years Walmart has been carrying it at Christmas and Easter.  Of course it’s a no-no from the store now with the whole no gluten thing.

SO…for the first time I had to attempt making my own.  I used the recipe from the bread book but instead of currants I used raisins and candied orange.

My favorite panettone has always been one with candied orange.  A few days before I planned to make the dough I also made candied orange for the first time.

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Boiling the peel to soften.  Drained.

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Made a simple sugar syrup.  Added orange peel and reduced to simmer.

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Simmered for an hour.

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Sugaring ‘station’.  Dropped the orange in sugar.  Coated it and placed on drying rack overnight.

It was unbelievably good.  I can’t wait to make some candied lime when the seasons change to spring / summer.

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Overnight rise.  The book doesn’t say to do this but I wasn’t ready to bake it right away so I threw it in the icebox and baked the next day.

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Glorious glorious dough. 🙂

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panettone 1 panettone 2

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Baked. Rested.  And sliced into fourths for French toast sticks the next day.

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Devoured. 🙂

The New Year’s Day meal is the one family meal that I don’t cook.  I do make the bread but Mama Lupiac always fries pork chops.  Plus the usual fixin’s…mashed potatoes…gravy…black-eyed peas…some kind of green for everyone else…etc.  So that’s how I’ll be spending New Years Day.  Hope yours is off to a great start. 🙂


Christmas Eats + Fav GF Recreation

How are y’all?  I missed you. 🙂  Hope your holiday was happy and sane. 🙂

First…some of our eats from the day

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We do a Tex-Mex Christmas.  Big surprise I’m sure. 😉 And this year every single drop of the meal was gluten-free. 🙂

Homemade Enchilada Sauce.

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My Meme’s Cheese-y Jalapeño Rice recipe.

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Seven Layer Dip.

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Refrieds.  The missing picture should be the Tamales.  The ‘star’ of the meal.

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Peppermint Hot Chocolate.  The best Egg Nog…like ever. 🙂

And now…the very best food of the day and the gluten-free recreation I’m most proud of to date. 🙂

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My annual holiday Kolaches.  Prune and sausage…plus one lone fig.  My Mema would always make me a small pan of figs on the side.  Y’all know that since I only get one batch a year in the summer I treat my fig preserves like gold.  There’s still 7 months before I can replenish my stash so I  didn’t want to waste a bunch in case these didn’t turn out. 🙂   

I’ve written about this before but I made my first batch of kolaches in elementary school for a heritage day presentation.  Bread doughs and especially kolache dough is in my blood.  When I got my celiac results I mourned the loss of plenty of stuff…but nothing more than Christmas kolaches.  Thankfully that one turned out to be a total waste of tears. 🙂

I took my regular kolache recipe (my Mema’s) and just subbed the bread book flour plus a little water roux.  I kept everything else exactly the same.  They were delicious.  The fam thought that no one would know they were gluten-free unless they were told.  I considered that pretty high praise coming from people who can still eat gluten. 🙂

What kinds of amazing stuff did y’all recreate this holiday?  Link it if you feel like sharing. 🙂 

My Earliest Christmas Memory

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I think I can speak for Sister Lupiac here when I say that in the grand parental lottery of life we are so very thankful to have drawn two of the best. Of course WE think they’re the absolute best. 🙂

Mama Lupiac is salt of the earth / mother earth personified. Papa L was an Eagle Scout…former Navy and is the most honest / hard working / respectable-to-the-core man I’ve ever known.

They raised us in a home where we were taught that ‘stuff’ and keeping up appearances aren’t even in the top 100 most important things in life. They were also very much of the ‘live it / mean it…don’t scream it’ type when it came to religion. Meaning show me with your actions…because lip service when it’s convenient means absolutely nothing.

Given that upbringing it’s not surprising that my earliest Christmas memory isn’t a toy. It’s a moment and a life lesson …that of course also involved cooking. 🙂

Our grandparents on both sides of the family lived within walking distance of their churches.

We always spent Christmas Eve with Papa L’s side of the fam and Christmas Day with Mama L’s.

So this particular Christmas Eve…Mama L let us help her make a cake. A plain white box cake with simple icing. Then she let us ‘decorate’ it with those little ‘red hot’ cinnamon dots.

Mama L was also the unofficial family photographer. She literally has thousands and thousands of childhood / holiday / random Tuesday 😉 pics. I know the pic of this cake is in there somewhere and so very badly want to find it.  I’ll update this post when I do.

Instead of eating this ‘masterpiece’ for Christmas Eve dessert the three of us walked down the street to the church and gave it to baby Jesus for his birthday. 🙂  She talked to the Father and he let us leave it at the altar.

No doubt he moved it as soon as we left but I have NEVER forgotten it.

Now granted I can’t think of one Christmas or birthday when I didn’t receive exactly whatever ‘stuff’ I wanted…but the real meaning of Christmas (and the most important things in life in general) were taught from the cradle and big props to Mama L for doing it in such an unforgettable way. 🙂

It was a tradition I’d always planned to continue with my own children but sadly my defective body has other plans. 😦   If I’d been able to have them though I think we would have made our cake like this.  Recipe at the end of the post.

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It’s cute and Christmas-y…and well this is me we’re talking about and I think we all know how much I love me some red food dye. 😉 I tried to find some of those little red hot candies for nostalgic decor but I couldn’t find ’em here in rural route.  Do they still make those?   And why oh why do some of my pics have a yellow (or brown) tint like on the left?  The actual icing is as white as it can be…like on the right.

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What’s your earliest Christmas memory?

This is going to be my last post til next Monday.

Merry Christmas to those of you who observe and good week wishes to those of you who don’t.

Y’all (and the blog in general) have been one of my greatest gifts this year. 🙂

Thank you…have a great week…be safe on the roads…and see you next week. 🙂

Vanilla Cake

1 cup Flour (125g…I used Cup4Cup but have also used my own blend)
1 tsp Baking Powder
pinch Salt
5 tbsp soft Butter
1/2 cup Sugar
1 Egg
1 tsp Vanilla
1/3 cup Milk

Preheat oven the 350 degrees

Mix flour, baking powder and salt.

Cream butter and sugar.

Add eggs and vanilla.

Add flour and milk.

For this particular cake I then divided the batter in thirds…dyed 1/3 green and 2/3 red.

Pour into pan(s) and bake 10 – 20 minutes depending on pan size and oven.  Know your oven.  🙂

**This amount makes one single layer cake (one round…or one square…or 3 of the little 4 inch mini rounds I used for this cake) and can easily be doubled or tripled.

One of My Favorite Days of the Year

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Backseat full of gifts.

Mama Lupiac and I have an annual tradition of going shopping for ‘Angel Tree’ little ones (and now they also include the elderly.)

When I got my lupus diagnosis…and along with it the news that I couldn’t have children…my heart broke into a million little pieces. It was the day before Thanksgiving so right at the start of the Christmas holidays. One day while walking through the mall on a Christmas shopping trip Mama L said let’s do the angel tree (to channel some of the sadness into a positive). It helped and we’ve done it every single year since.

It’s one of my most favorite days of the year and I wanted to share this today because while I’m in no way shape or form associated with the Salvation Army…I wanted to let y’all know that some Angel Tree locations are taking donations through Saturday.  The last week before Christmas is always important because most people pick the girl and /or little angels…leaving the older kids and especially boys on the tree.  😦

If you’re interested but not sure where to go…contact your local chapter for tree locations. They’re usually located in the mall and Walmart.

Hope y’all are having a great day too.  🙂

Praline Monday

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I tried a recipe from the bread book using Cup4Cup as the all purpose base for the bread flour blend.  It didn’t work well at all.  Definitely stick with one of the two blends recommended.  She recommends a simple blend and a more complex blend.  I’ve had the very best results with the simple blend.

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Mama Lupiac’s annual Christmas ‘trash’.  Look how I’ve got her trained to ‘stage’ food for my pics. I came through the kitchen and she’d put the green jalapeño things to the top for a pop of color.  🙂   I’m so happy she was able to make a completely gluten-free mix for me.  🙂  I don’t feel even a little bit deprived of this annual tradition.  This bowl has various types of Cheetos / Funions – regular and spicy / Pecans / Gluten – Free Goldfish and something else I’m forgetting.  We’re going on a shopping trip to a larger town this week and I hope to find some Glutino pretzels for the next batch.

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Made some Chicken Fried with oven baked potatoes.  I’m guilty of usually just throwing potatoes in the microwave.  Every now and then I get a reminder of why I shouldn’t do that.   They’re so much better straight out of an oven.

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Christmas Pralines.  As always…recipe is at the bottom of the post.  🙂

Do you say PRAY-lean or Praw-LINE?  You’re wrong if you choose the latter…but we can still be friends.  😉

My Meme used to make pralines year round but I save them for Christmas.  She also made them old school from scratch.  I ‘cheat’ and use pudding.  Butterscotch is delectable.  They practically melt in your mouth and I’ll probably end up making 3 or 4 batches by next week.

I have some more cookies on tap this week.  A hair appointment. A pedicure.  A shopping trip.  Some more bread.  Hopefully some present wrapping.  And a special cake.

What’s on the menu (food or otherwise) in your world this week?     

Pudding Pralines


1 small package COOKING type Vanilla or Butterscotch Pudding
1 1/2 cups Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Evaporated Milk
1 tbsp Butter
1 cup chopped Pecans


Line baking sheet with nonstick foil, wax paper or parchment paper.  The key here is to use something you don’t need to grease or spray.

Mix pudding, sugar, evaporated milk, and butter in a saucepan over medium heat.

Heat until the sugar and butter melt.

Insert a candy thermometer and cook without stirring until the thermometer reaches softball stage or 240*.  No matter how badly you want to stir it…don’t do it.  It’ll make your pralines grainy.

Immediately remove from the heat and add the pecans.

Stir with a heavy spoon until it starts to thicken and look less glossy.  Most recipes say to keep stirring until the mixture looks opaque.  I start scooping mine while it’s still a little bit glossy and just this side of opaque.

Quickly and I mean super quick 😉  scoop the pralines onto the baking sheet.  Don’t worry about any little stray strings or drops.  They break right off once they set up…leaving you with rounds.  Seriously don’t get caught up trying to make perfect drops.  The mix in the pan will harden if you take too much time.

Let the Pralines ‘set’ up for about 15 minutes.

Hodgepodge Hundredth + Giveaway

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Pretty new poinsettia.  🙂

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Pizza I wrote about in the last post.   Delish.

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Annual Christmas Toffee.   Cutest little ‘fire place’ heater.  No it doesn’t normally sit in the middle of the floor.  I moved it take a clear picture.  

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Ridiculously good butter cookie ‘tree’.  🙂  This is a scaled down version of gfandme’s family recipe.  I don’t know if I can share it or not.  I’ll update when I make sure.  If you read my butter cookie recipe plea let me tell y’all…my search is over.  These are better than the canned ones.  They were light and airy and almost melted in the mouth.


Happy Birthday this weekend to Sister Lupiac…love you and hope you have the best weekend.  🙂  Mama L picked this pic to scan.  🙂


This is my 100th post.

When I started the blog I really didn’t know a thing about blogging. I’d read blogs for a while but I wasn’t sure exactly what form I wanted my own to take.

I knew I’d share my eats but I also wanted it to be more than just pics and recipes.

For the most part it is pics and recipes but I also started writing a little bit too.

Along the way the blog took on a shape of its own. Not only a gluten-free food share but also a love letter to the ladies who taught me to cook…my Meme and Mema.  Plus Cristina and Martha of course. 😉

I wanna take a second to add this here too.  I’m sure you’ve guessed this but Mama Lupiac doesn’t like to cook.  Even though I learned to cook from the hands of the best…I wouldn’t be an 1/8 of the cook I am if not for Mama L’s encouragement.  From the second I showed an interest in cooking she handed me the bowls and spoons and said ‘have it’.  She’s the very best and no love letter here would ever be complete without an homage to her.  🙂

Thank you so very much to each and every one of you who has taken the time to look…read…comment…email…and / or share. There are millions of blogs to choose from and from the bottom of my heart I thank you for making mine a stop in your day.  🙂

To celebrate 100 I’m going to do a little giveaway.

The Kindle version of this bread book I’ve been raving about for weeks.

Book 1

Giveaway details are at the end of the post.

Hope y’all have a great weekend.  Stay warm and sane if you’re hittin’ the stores for some shopping.  🙂

Me too, Kenny.  Me too.  😉

All the important giveaway mumbo jumbo…

To enter..leave a comment telling me what you like about the blog. Or your favorite post. Or just anything you’d like to share about the blog. The comments from this post will be combined with every comment from the first 99 posts and I will use a random number generator to pick the winner.

I’ll have to approve each comment before it shows up. I don’t usually check the blog before 5pm (sometimes later) each day so don’t worry if your comment isn’t showing up right away.

I’ll email the winner the gift code from Amazon. If you don’t have a Kindle you can download the PC version for free. I can’t speak to any tablet other than my own but I don’t own a Kindle. I downloaded the free Kindle ap for my Samsung tablet and it works perfectly.  So does the one for PC.

The giveaway will close at 11:59 pm Tuesday night December 17th.

I’ll notify the winner via email.

This giveaway is mine and mine alone and is not sponsored in any way.

Thanks again for reading.  🙂