KitchenAid DIY

Recently I broke, yet ANOTHER glass KitchenAid measuring bowl. Those things aren’t cheap! I considered giving up and just sticking with the silver metal bowls that come with the mixer, but I leave my KitchenAid out in the counter and I really love the sparkle of the glass.

I started hunting around online hoping for a sale….. and that’s when things went bad. First I found these gorgeous white, textured mixing bowls. *gasp* Sure, they were even more expensive than the glass bowls that I’ve been breaking…… but I just had to have one! So I stared searching for where I could buy the white bowl.

That’s when I found the white hobnail bowl was a special edition sold only with a special edition KitchenAid mixer. Of course! Oh, but that mixer… it was such a lovely shade of slate blue…. and I wanted it. BAD

I tried to convince my husband that I needed this blue mixer, but he reminded me that I actually had not one, but TWO KitchenAid mixers already. The fact that they were red and not slate blue didn’t sway him in the least. I pouted half heartedly for a bit and then turned to Pinterest. I wondered if I could paint one of my red mixers.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who wanted to change the color of her KitchenAid mixer. Pinterest assured me that it could be done…. easy peasy.

Pinterest has led me wrong a time or two in the past, but I read several DIYs and really thought it was manageable. So…..

I started tearing my mixer apart. Eeewww! I thought I kept it really clean, but apparently gook can get into places you wouldn’t have expected. I used Dawn dish soap to clean the gook and Goo Gone to remove the adhesive after I took the warning sticker off the back of the stand.

There really aren’t a lot of pieces to remove and it all came apart quite easily.

Using a piece of 220 grit sandpaper, I gently sanded the ‘shine’ off the mixer.

Next I wiped the mixer down and cleaned off all the paint dust. Then I taped all the bits that I didn’t want painted. This was one of the most challenging parts of the project! I tore small pieces of Frog Tape and covered the screw heads. Then I used a utility knife to trim the tape to fit.

Some of the DIYs that I read suggested using a primer and others said that they didn’t use primer and it turned out fine. I figured that I should error on the side of overkill, since I use my mixer frequently and it is red and might be a hard color to cover.

The two coats of primer went on beautifully and dried smooth.

I chose Rustoleum 2X Slate Blue spray paint to mimic the color of the special edition mixer that started this whole project.

I was not as thrilled with the finished texture of the blue, so between coat one and two, I sanded it lightly. The third coat covered beautifully, but still had a slightly rough texture. I’m not sure what caused the slight texture, but honestly, I didn’t hate it. It was a consistent, slight texture. Almost like a ‘hammered’ texture. I was planning to paint the top coat with a clear satin coat, so I wasn’t too worried about the texture. If I’d been using a high gloss I think it might have been more of a concern… the shine might have been odd.

Ta Da! I am SO in love with the color and I just adore the white bowl. I’ll update this post in the future and let you know how the paint holds up.

Caffe Andiamo

For a while Thursdays were Date Night… then work got super busy (yay!) and by the time we’d stumble home in the evenings we’d be exhausted and dirty and not really interested in going to all the effort of getting cleaned up AND presentable and then going back out into public. Netflix and delivery became too tempting.

We made it one of our 2020 goals to get out and try more new things. Having food allergies/intolerances can make trying new restaurants unnerving, but it does certainly force us off the beaten track of chain restaurants and fast food.

Usually I find new restaurants on the Find Me Gluten Free app. I love being able to read others’ reviews before I put my own tummy on the line. There are lots of gluten free options where we live, but we have this one area that doesn’t have many places that I’m wild about. I started scrolling through Google Maps searching for ‘ gluten free’ and Caffe Andiamo popped up in one comment. I contacted the restaurant and they replied right away that they did have plenty of gluten free options. Woo hoo!

First 2020 date night! Caffe Andiamo

They didn’t have a separate Gluten Free menu, but the hostess said to talk to our server and they’d be able to direct us.

Our server said that any of the pastas could be made gluten free (spaghetti or penne noodles). He was quick to pop back to the kitchen to check that certain dishes were gf, but I had to keep reminding him that we were gluten free. At one point he offered us bread, again, and I had to tell him ‘no, it’s a serious gluten issue.’ ‘So, no bread,’ he asked. Yeah, no bread. Ugh. I felt pretty confident in the kitchen, but our server needed a lot of reminding. He asked Brian if he wanted to add meatballs to his spaghetti. I asked if they were gluten free. ‘Oh no, they have bread crumbs.’ Aaarrrg! I get that a lot of things are just routine like the bread and adding meatballs, but… BUT… I shouldn’t have to ask and remind every single time! By dessert he had gotten better. When he brought the dessert menu he’d checked that there were actually gluten free options. So, I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt that he was just having an off evening since he was good about checking with the kitchen and did at least seem to understand.)

Dinner was excellent. I ordered the special Vodka ummm… oh, crud. I’ve forgotten the name… Vodka something or the other with seafood and Brian ordered the Spaghetti Bolognese.

Dessert was actually really impressive. Many places only offer sorbet for gluten free desserts, but there were three options!

Brian chose the Chocolate Creme Brûlée (they also had a regular Creme brûlée)

I ordered the Bomba. Absolutely delicious! It’s a cherry, wrapped in vanilla and chocolate cinnamon ice cream and dipped in chocolate ganache. Absolute heaven! I’m going back just for this!

There were plenty of pasta dishes to choose from and honestly, I’d be happy just going for the desserts and a glass of wine.

I’m looking forward to taking Mom back for lunch and hopefully catching a server that I can grill about the menu a bit more. There appeared to be several other dishes that looked like they should be gluten free too. I’ll keep you posted!

Take a hike

When we moved to Florida almost three years ago everything was new. New restaurants, new places, new adventures….. then we started to fall into a routine of ‘favorites.’ (Netflix and delivery also took a toll on our adventuring and trying new things…). So for 2020 we set a goal to get out and try more new things. Woo hoo! (A nice vague goal, huh?)

For our first 2020 adventure we took our new pup, Winnie, to Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens.

Dogs (on leashes) are allowed on the trials, but not in some areas of the gardens. We meandered around on the trails for a couple of hours and I never ran into an area where dogs weren’t allowed. So there’s plenty to do/see/sniff with your pup.

Most of the trials are fairly ‘rustic,’ meaning bumpy and filled with tree roots and such. I saw people running, but they must have way better balance than I because I’d have been on my face. I’d say these trials are great for most ages that have decent balance and footing. There are some small climbs (this IS Florida, we don’t really have ‘hills’) and plenty of boardwalks. Mom enjoyed checking out the labels on the various trees and native plants along the trails.

There was a nice picnic area with several tables nestled under a stand of Live Oaks. Next time we’ll bring our lunch and plan a whole afternoon.

There were restrooms, but they looked ‘rustic’ as well. I didn’t go in to check them out so I can’t say for certain, but there were restrooms. And according to the website they’re handicapped accessible.

This will definitely be on our list of places to visit again soon!

The Hawks Nest Grill – Daytona

Last week Brian and I got the chance to visit Daytona for a few days and… of course… we went hunting for new restaurants.  We turned to our favorite app, Find Me Gluten Free, to help us find something tasty that wouldn’t kill us and immediately noticed one restaurant that had received 30+ positive reviews. Thirty GF people ate there, liked it, survived AND wrote a review?! Decision made!

I’m gonna admit, I was a little surprised by the restaurant itself.  From the reviews I’d been expecting a fancy Italian restaurant.  Instead, we pulled up to a somewhat rundown strip of stores far off the main roads.  The shop next door advertised ‘Cremation & Urns’. Awesome.  I supposed that if the restaurant wasn’t gluten friendly that Brian could just drag me next door and leave me for them to package up in a nice urn.  IMG_9716 I suppose this just proves that you should never judge a book by its cover (except, that you totally judge a book by its cover, that’s why there’s all that cover art and the description and recommendations by other authors… but whatever… you know what I mean.)

The Hawk’s Nest Grill looked like your regular bar and grill on the inside.  Vintage signs decorated the walls and the color scheme ran towards browns and black.  Still not the fancy Italian eatery I’d been expecting, but it was clean and looked nice.  The waitress hurried over, smiling and I started in straightaway that I had a gluten intolerance and I’d read about them online, then paused for her reaction.  I like to start out with the fact that I’m trouble and give us both the chance to give up before the drinks are even served.  She never even batted an eye.  Apparently several of the owner’s family have celiac so they know the drill.  Our waitress was super helpful… to the point where we ordered way too much, but everything she described sounded so good.


We started out with the fried mozzarella triangles.  I haven’t had fried mozzarella since I went GF 6+ years ago.  And yes… yes those melty, gooey triangles of cheese were just as delicious as I remembered.  The marinara sauce was rich and flavorful too.

The four triangles disappeared entirely too fast and were followed by a plate of salad. I shouldn’t have ordered the salad, even though it was included with the meal.  Why waste valuable tummy space on rabbit food, right?

Unfortunately, the salad was pretty tasty too and even though I’d planned to just pick out the olives I ended up eating most of it before I realized.


I really should have skipped the salad, even though it was tasty, because I was already starting to feel a bit full when our entrees arrived.


I ordered the Lobster Ravioli.  Oh. My. Gods.  Seriously.  I had ravioli once since I went GF and it was nothing compared to this ravioli…. I’m not even sure pre-GF ravioli compares to this ravioli.  The pasta was so tender and perfect and the lobster was sweet and plentiful.  Absolute heaven.


Brian ordered the Chicken Carbonara with Basil/Parsley Fettuccini.  Did I mention that all the pasta is house made?  Yeah….. fresh, delicious, gluten free pasta. Heaven!

You can order the pasta from Amazon… dried, of course, but still…. You should absolutely try it!


There was bread too, because you can’t have all that amazing pasta sauce without bread to soak up every last bit.  It was just a toasted hamburger bun, but it was still buttery, garlicky and tasty.

And, as if we hadn’t had quite enough food to last us the next week…. the chef’s wife makes homemade GF cheesecake.  Yes, we ordered a slice of that too.  We did at least have some sense left and managed to box up some of our pasta and bread before we stuffed ourselves too silly to drive home.  We ordered the cheesecake to go too….. with blueberry sauce.

Considering that the location was rather unassuming, the bill, was not.  I’m not complaining.  Just offering you a warning not to be shocked when your $75 bill arrives.

The food was house-made fresh, gluten free and absolutely delicious.  Our waitress was friendly and super knowledgeable and the chef checked in on us from the open kitchen.  If you are even in the Daytona area, I would strongly suggest that you hunt down the Hawk’s Nest Grill.

5251 South Nova Rd.  Port Orange, Florida 32127


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Gluten Free in Charleston, SC – Day 3

We started day three in Charleston with a fairly long list of must see/do’s to accomplish. I also had a secret shopping list in my head that I didn’t bother to mention to Brian… why worry him, after all.

For breakfast I’d been voting on this cute sounding place with cinnamon pancakes, but Brian saw that it was also vegan and he wasn’t having anything to do with fake bacon. Instead we chose Breizh Pan Crepes. It sounded like a great choice since all of their savory crepes are already gluten free and any of their sweet crepes could be made gf easily. (Its such a relief when everything starts out basically gf.)

The crepes were delicious… the restaurant was microscopic. Like… really, really tiny….. 20 seats in the whole place, MAX…. and we were all pretty snuggly. The food was good, but the service was slow. (That’s not an actual complaint. I like sitting around over coffee and chatting…. it’s just a warning not to expect a quick bite and then be back on the road.) While guarding a recently abandoned, dirty table, I commented to one of staff that they were having a busy morning. He said it was like that every day as I sat down and glared at the family of four that had been eyeballing my table for two.

We found a farmer’s market where I knocked one item off the Secret Shopping list…. something for Mom – Plantation Peach Tea. It seemed to be one of those Charleston souvenirs that’s available everywhere until you decide that you should probably get it and then it’s no where to be found.

We had lunch at the Palmetto Cafe. I wasn’t quite hungry yet, but Brian was and I was more than happy to sit in the air conditioning for a bit.

Lunch was crazy expensive. There was a tiny note at the bottom of the menu that said there is a $20 minimum per guest….. we had NO trouble hitting that number.

The Palmetto Cafe is inside one of the fancy downtown Hotels, so I really shouldn’t have been surprised at the prices. Also, Brian picked this one….. I tend to pick weird/eclectic… Brian picks expensive…. or pizza.

Lunch was fabulous. Brian and I both ordered the Seafood Club….. at $30 it was the most expensive club sandwich I’ve ever eaten, but absolutely worth every penny. Three slices of gluten free bread were loaded with smoked salmon, shrimp, crab, tomatoes and cheese. It was insanely good. I will dream about this sandwich.

I also had a drink called a Chantilly…. ’cause it’s hot out…. and because Brian ordered the French fries which were not technically gf because they are cooked in a shared fryer….. and I needed a ‘side’ too. (Don’t laugh, my reasoning is perfectly valid!)

After lunch we visited the Charleston City Market. It is a series of several long, mostly open air building that go on for several blocks. Vendors line either side of the building with a walkway down the center for shoppers to shuffle along.

It’s not quite what I’d expected. I’d been expecting something more along the lines of the City Market in New Orleans…. admittedly though…. I’m probably still pining for the New Orleans Market from 15 – 20 years ago….. everything feels so commercial and mass produced anymore. I miss the actual hand crafted, one of a kind stuff that you used to be able to find. Many of the paintings and artwork are reprints. And the jewelry looks like the same stuff you get at just about any other market. (Great, now I feel old and jaded.)

The one thing that did interest me were the sweet grass baskets and roses that vendors were making. I’d been thinking about getting one for Mom, but even the small ones were $40-50. Brian pointed out she couldn’t fit a cat in one of those and a cat sized basket was a few hundred. The baskets were beautiful and I’m not doubting the price/value…. I’m just saying that the first time I saw Vickie (the cat) gnaw on a $200 basket I might have a coronary. It was better for everyone that I just got Mom tea.

We took a carriage ride through the city and learned tons about the city, the architecture and our horse, Gary.

For dinner we were just looking for something easy and casual. Once again Charleston had left us both sweaty, tired and not pretty enough for fine dining.

Taco Boy got good reviews on the Find Me Gluten Free app and tacos are always good.

The restaurant was noisy, but our waitress was great. She said we’d be safe with anything that wasn’t fried and just to choose corn tortillas instead of flour. There were several different kinds of tacos to choose from and only a few had anything fried in them that we had to avoid. Brian and I each chose three tacos and loved every bite of them all.

We also ordered a starter of Mexican Street Corn that was crazy good! I’m going to have to find the recipe. Normally I am NOT a fan of corn on the cob…. I pretty much hate it. (Why eat food that is just going to get stuck in your teeth and make you insane when you can buy it already sliced and in a can?!?) By some strange coincidence I’ve gotten corn of the cob twice this weekend and suddenly I’ve decide I love it. Yep, I’m weird like that.

We found the pretty houses on Rainbow Row. They’re pretty and all….. but they look a lot better on the postcards.

We also found the Pineapple Fountain in Waterfront Park.

We had a wonderful time in Charleston and we’ll definitely be back!

Gluten Free in Charleston, SC – Day 2

I did a ton of research skimmed Pinterest and decided to wing our trip to Charleston, SC. Pinterest led me to believe that I would need to visit a plantation, the beach, the City Market, take a carriage tour, visit the rainbow colored houses and see that pineapple-y fountain to conquer Charleston. I suppose I could have asked my friends who have actually been to Charleston, but when has Pinterest ever led me wrong? (Right?)

Day two and so far we’re doing good following our Pinterest itinerary. Pinterest points of interest are sprinkled liberally with Find Me Gluten Free recommendations.

First stop: Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts. The reviews were kinda iffy, but… doughnuts! Apparently, Glazed only offers GF doughnuts on Fridays and they don’t make a ton. Brian and I arrived around 9:30 and they still had enough to give us sugar shock. We ordered two Mocha and one PB & Banana (because Brian doesn’t like peanut butter…. weirdo!) I had to share my Mocha with Brian since I got the whole PB & Banana…. it was good, but I’d rather have had the whole Mocha.

OMG! They were fantastic! They’re not fried (boy, I miss fried doughnuts!) they are a very moist, cake-like doughnut. Super flavorful and delicious.

I was nervous about GF doughnuts from a ‘regular’ bakery, but the staff was great. I overheard the cashier reminding the doughnut kid to change his gloves, but he was already changing them. (Bonus points!)

After a nutritious breakfast we headed out to check off the first ‘Must See’ on our list – Visit a Plantation.

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens came highly recommended by Pinterest, Instagram and the hostess at our hotel. A number of movies (that I’ve never seen) have been filmed at the plantation… if that matters.

Admission to the Plantation was $20/ person and then and additional $5 (August special, normally $8) for each of the tours. We planned to spend most of the day and had brought enough cameras and equipment to shoot everything in sight, so we decided to take almost all of the tours.

Brian and I agree that the Tram Ride was our favorite tour. If you only take one, take the tram (you really should take more though!) The Tram Ride covered a lot of information about the Plantation, it’s history and the family. It also hit the highlights of most of the rest of the Plantation & Gardens. (The House Tour was very good too.)

Since we planned to spend all day we figured we could find something to eat at the Peacock Cafe on the property. Surely there would be a salad or a sandwich we could order without bread…. right? Wrong! The food is all catered in so everything is already assembled (and encased in bread) and no one had any clue about allergy info. I made do with a Sprite and a bag of Lays potato chips. Brian ordered the wrap and ate the insides, which turned out to be one slice of turkey, a piece of cheese and a bunch of lettuce. I realize that I’m the one with the health issue and the world doesn’t have to accommodate me and all that…. but there’s a lot of us GF people out there…. I’d have figured there’d be something that would work. (p.s. Vegetarians, you’re out of luck here too.).

We spent the majority of the day at the plantation so by the time we left we were sweaty, tired and hungry. Now we completely understand why early Charlestonians left and the city and headed north in the summer! If I’d had to wear a hoop skirt or petticoat I would be a little puddle of sweat.

I found Swig & Swine on the Find Me GF app. BBQ sounded tasty and it’s usually gluten safe….. and we were both too sticky to go to a ‘nice’ restaurant.

The BBQ was delish and our waitress was really great about pointing out what was safe and what to avoid. Actually there were only a few items that weren’t gf. I ordered the Three Meat Platter because I was starving and I figured that since I’d only had chips for lunch that I absolutely needed that huge plate of food. (I DID NOT!) Whew! That was a crazy amount of food. Brian and I could totally have shared that plate. It was all delicious…. I did my best…. but I ended up taking most of it back to the hotel.

The Baked Potato Salad was awesome! (I really have to find my own recipe for that so I can make it at home.) The recipes for the bbq sauces were posted on chalkboards in the restaurant. The Sweet Red was gf, but the Mustard had Worcestershire sauce which is generally not gf, so I avoided that one.

After dinner we stopped for cupcakes where I got distracted by the neighboring shops and completely forgot that I’d left my bbq leftovers in the car. Oops! I did find an absolutely adorable hat, so…. it was kinda worth it.

Cupcake Down South only had one kind of GF cupcake that day – Red Velvet. Red Velvet isn’t my favorite cupcake in the whole world….. but it’s still a cupcake.

And, of course, if you bought 5 you got the sixth one free. I did not need six cupcakes! That did not stop me from buying six cupcakes though.

At least we did go straight back to the hotel this time and we stuck them straight into the fridge.

Another delicious, not exactly relaxing….. (but definitely enjoyable!) day in Charleston!

Gluten Free in Charleston, SC – Day 1

I cannot believe that I haven’t posted anything since December! Of course, I haven’t had much free time since December either. My hubby and I run a renovation/design business and we’ve been crazy busy…. which is awesome…. and crazy. Last month I noticed that we had four, whole unscheduled days in the calendar…. in – a – row!! I blocked them off and refused to let Brian schedule anything over them. We were taking a vacation… whether he liked it or not!

Charleston, SC is only five hours from where we live and I’ve heard my friend rave about the city forever. Brian and I’ve never been to Charleston so we decided that it would be a great place to spend a few days walking around, eating and spending quality time together.

Food, of course, being a top priority, we planned for the drive north to land us at Tybee Island’s Crab Shack right at lunch time.

Low Country Boil & Crab Legs

We’ve eaten at the Crab Shack twice before and loved it. There is a huge patio/deck area under these gorgeous trees. It’s beautiful…. and swampy and just fun.

Brian and I ordered the Low County Boil for one and added a pound of crab legs. We told our waitress that we were gluten free and asked her to help steer us away from anything that would make us sick. She didn’t seem super GF knowledgeable, but we’d eaten there twice before and we just ordered the same thing. She did mention that someone had told her that the sausage in the Boil might not be GF (so go check! Ugh!) but I don’t eat it anyway and Brian was willing to risk it. She rattled off the ingredients in the house-made cocktail sauce and included worcestershire sauce which is generally not gluten free. (There are some out there though, so it’s not necessarily not gf, but I wasn’t willing to risk it.).

By evening we’d made our way to Charleston and we were ready to do a little bit of exploring and hunt down more food.

The Find Me Gluten Free app had good-ish reviews for The Obstinate Daughter… and honestly, I just liked the name.

I called ahead to make sure they still had a gf menu and tried to make reservations, but they were already booked for the night. They suggested that we could eat at the bar or patio if we didn’t want to go on the waitlist. (So make reservations if you plan to go!)

The staff were all great, knowledgeable and polite, and the food was delish! There were some GF ‘small plate’ options, but honestly, I was already focused on the pasta dishes and don’t remember any of them.

Brian ordered the Cavatelli (fennel and sausage ragu, parmesan) and I ordered the Bavette (lobster, shrimp, tomato, onion, garlic, parsley, chili flake).

The person that brought our food to the table wasn’t our server, which always makes me nervous, but before I even had a chance to ask he named each dish as he sat it down and said that gluten free pasta had been substituted for the regular pasta.

After dinner we walked a few blocks to the beach to burn off all the delicious pasta that we’d just narffed. The beach was beautiful with its white sand dunes and tufts of sea oats, but I’m relieved to say that I like my beach at home better. (Brian was super relieved too because he doesn’t want to have to move again for a while!) I’ll admit that I am jealous that they seem to have sand dollars. I’ve collected a lot of sea shells and other bits from our home beach, but I still haven’t found a whole sand dollar. I found pieces of sand dollar on the Charleston beach, but still not a whole one.

After all that walking (haha) we went in search of dessert. I’d read reviews for Republic Ice Cream which was located just a few blocks back from the beach. I didn’t even take a picture, I was so disappointed with the whole place. Yes, the lady knew about celiac and she said that the ice cream was GF, but that the cross contamination from the cookies and cream (the ONLY non-gf ice cream) was super high. I might have taken the chance, (I mean, what are they doing? Throwing ice cream around the freezer?!) but I got the impression that she really didn’t want me to eat the ice cream. She kept suggesting the soft serve ‘to be safe.’ Brian ordered a soft serve (blech!) sundae and I just skipped the whole thing. I wasn’t wasting calories on soft serve.

Day one of vacation and half a ton of food consumed and already we feel a bit more rested and like ourselves. We have more adventures planned and more foods to sample tomorrow!

Butter Pecan Turtle Cookies


You know how your favorite cookie (or whatever) that Grandma used to make just doesn’t taste the same when you make it? You’ve tried and tried… followed her recipe to the T…. and it still isn’t ‘quite’ the same.  Yeah… it’s because Gramma lies!

You’re skeptical, I can tell…. but I have proof!  See the recipe below?  The typed portion is the recipe that Grandma told me…. I made it several times… but it was just never right.  The handwritten part was added after I badgered Grandma until she gave me the real recipe.  That’s her handwriting……. sneaky, sneaky Gramma.  (I hope I’m just like her when I get older.)

I didn’t realize until Grandma passed away that she used a different sized pan for these cookies.  I’d been using a regular 13x9in baking pan.  After she passed away Grandpa let me have a bunch of her baking supplies…. and that’s when I realized that she’d been using an AirBake jelly-roll pan.  It’s bigger… not by a huge amount, but it does make a difference in the crust layer.  It’s not so bad for the chocolate and caramel layers, but it’s noticeable in the crust layer.  I’d vote that you just get a jelly roll pan… bonus, you can make jelly rolls now! I think it makes enough of a difference. (I use one like this.) 

When I went gluten free I really missed Grandma’s Turtle Cookies.  It wasn’t until I discovered King Arthur’s Measure for Measure and Cup4Cup’s gluten free flours that I had any clue how to de-gluten my favorite cookies.  I’ve used both GF flours and had great results both times.

Butter Pecan Turtle Cookies


  • 2 c. King Arthur Gluten Free Flour
  • 1/2 c. Butter, cold
  • 1 c. Brown Sugar, firmly packed

Caramel Layer

  • 1 lb. Caramels
  • 1/2 c. Evaporated Milk
  • 1/2 c. Butter

Chocolate Layer

  • 12 oz. Chocolate Chips

In a food processor, combine GF flour, butter and brown sugar. Process mixture until fine, sand-like particles form.  Do not over process. Pat crust into an un-greased jelly roll pan (I use one like this). Sprinkle pecans evenly over crust layer.

Prepare caramel layer: Combine caramels, evaporated milk and butter in a small sauce pan.  Allow caramel come to a low boil, being sure that all caramels are melted and smooth.  Pour caramel over pecans.

Bake at 350° for 18-22 minutes or until caramel is bubbly and crust is golden brown.

Remove from oven, immediately sprinkle chocolate chips over caramel. Allow chocolates to melt slightly and spread evenly with a butter knife.

Allow to cool.  (Seriously… leave them alone.  I know this is torture, but leave ’em alone until they cool…. this may take a few hours.  Putting them in the fridge to cool makes the chocolate harden odd.  Just leave em alone.. it’s worth the wait.)   

Valley Smoke BBQ

Considering that Brian and I work and, of course, live together you wouldn’t think we’d need (or want) any more time with one another.  Strangely enough, even after a long day of renovation and shoveling dirt, we still kinda like each other.  We’ve recently started a weekly ‘date night’ and it’s been a nice change for the two of us.  Since our job renovating houses allows a pretty casual dress code (hello, sweats and ponytails!) its been nice to have a reason to get dressed up (by dressed up, I mean clothes that don’t have paint or dirt on them) and go out together.

Last week we decided to try Valley Smoke BBQ which had just opened in October.  BBQ is generally a pretty safe Gluten Free choice and I’d had a GF friend that had visited and said that there were plenty of GF options.  Since she survived… and even said it was pretty yummy, we decided to give it a taste.

I wasn’t quite sure how to dress for the evening.  Valley Smoke BBQ, who bills themselves as a ‘upscale smokehouse’ is located on the Intercostal Waterway in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL.  We needed reservations, they valet your car, but we’d also be eating BBQ… possibly with our fingers…. Upscale Smokehouse, huh?  I shouldn’t have been worried though.  As with most of the places we’ve discovered in Ponte Vedra Beach, the dress is a comfy mix of jeans, shorts, dresses, polo shirts and sandals.  Our construction dress probably wouldn’t have blended so well, but jeans and a cute top were fine.  For the BBQed fingers, they provided denim-like napkins that were perfectly suited for upscale BBQ.

I asked for a GF menu before we were seated and the hostess supplied me with the ‘hostess copy.’  So, yes, they have a printed GF menu, but it’s just a paper copy.  (+ points for having a GF menu, – points for not having a ‘real’ menu.) The hostess did say if there was something on the regular menu that interested me, I could ask my server and the kitchen could probably make GF alterations.  (+ points for adaptability.)  Hopefully, they’ll add a real GF menu in the future, or maybe GF designations on the regular menu.  It’s not a deal breaker, but it does make me feel more valued and a bit safer, like they’re taking their GF customers seriously.  Luckily our waitress was GF too (Bonus Points!) and she was able to offer recommendations and attest to having eaten and survived.

Our waitress suggested the cornbread as a starter, but we noticed that it wasn’t on the GF menu at all, which was strange because most items were on the menu with the designation ‘Gluten Free’ ‘NO’ or the alterations necessary to make it GF (ie, remove croutons).  She said she ate the cornbread and my GF friend had even mentioned eating the cornbread, so I asked that she just check in with the kitchen, but we figured that it had just been forgotten on the GF menu.  I’m glad we tried it… the cornbread was delish!  It was more on the savory side than I normally like but I smothered my slices with all the honey-butter and I thought it was perfect.  Brian apparently prefers savory cornbread, so I actually had to share. One order was just the perfect amount for the two of us with enough left over to take home for lunch the next day.


For the entrée we decided to share the Que for Two, which was more than enough for both of us.  We ordered the ribs, brisket and pork.  For the sides we got Bacon Garlic Green Beans, Whipped Potatoes, and German Potatoes.  I was disappointed to see that the kitchen sent out our order with the Garlic Toast on the side even though we were a GF order… It was on the side and not actually touching anything, but still…. (- points).

The food was fabulous!  Forgive my picture, it doesn’t do justice to the deliciousness that filled our table… the early evening light, reflecting off the nearby waterway, filtered through the palm leaves was absolutely perfect for the ambiance… but crap for food photography.


After stuffing ourselves silly on BBQ and potatoes Brian rolled his eyes at the suggestion of dessert, but I’d thought ahead and saved a bit of tummy space.  We packed up some of the ribs, brisket and German Potatoes for lunch the next day and happily ordered dessert.  There were a couple of different GF dessert options, but I’ll admit that I got completely distracted once our waitress mentioned the Apple Crisp with Bourbon Ice Cream and quit listening. The Apple Crisp was piping hot and absolutely delicious.  I would highly recommend it!

IMG_1649 Valley Smoke will probably become one of our top choices in local restaurants.  Like with the other restaurants we’ve discovered along the Intercostal Waterway/Roscoe Blvd, the location is small and the parking insanely limited.  Reservations are necessary, but fortunately you can use the Open Table app.  (+ points!)

I adore the decor… even the deer-head above the fireplace… which I know would normally have bothered me, but the deer seemed so serene as he stared at me over Brian’s head.  Maybe it was the cotton blossoms in a vase beside him… I don’t know, I just liked the deer.  The decor is a mix of… rustic industrial?  Rich woods and stone mixed with wrought iron and glass.  It definitely feels upscale, but I didn’t feel like a heathen eating BBQ in the beautiful surroundings…. a very interesting combination to pull off.  Brian and I spent a silly amount of time discussing how they’d gotten the curtains hung from the galvanized pipe rods and how they would ever get them back down.  Brian says it’s probably a safety feature to keep people like me from trying to steal the curtains.  (I did really like the curtains…. )

Have you tried Valley Smoke BBQ yet?  What did you think?

Perfect Gluten Free Pie Crust


Last October I wrote a blog post about the perfect flaky gluten free pie crust.  We were living in the RV and traveling around the North East at the time and the photos that I took to accompany the recipe were terrible.  The inside of RV’s just don’t have the best lighting and backgrounds for nice food photos.  I’d planned to remake the recipe and add some nice photos when we got moved into our new house, but it slipped my mind until a few days ago when I looked the recipe up for a peach pie I was planning.  The photos made me cringe.  I could just shoot new photos and replace the old ones…. but they kinda fit the story….. so I just had to make another pie (gee, darn) and shoot new photos! IMG_8104

I have a confession…. I stink at making pie crust.  My Grandmother made the most fantastic pie crust and she swore that I could learn to make them too.  (Actually she swore a lot when I tried to make pie crust.)  I could stand right beside her, mimicking her every move and still screw it up.  Grandma would have this tender, flaky, perfectly ruffle edged pie crust and I would create frisbees.  It was bad.  (I did learn new swear words, though, so it was still educational.)  Fortunately you can buy some very nice, pre-made, frozen pie crusts.


It wasn’t until I went Gluten Free a few years ago and I had to find pie crusts alternatives that I decided to try my hand at making pie crust again.  The frozen GF crust are often more expensive than I like to spend … though there are some nice ones (I like theses).  I found a great recipe from Wicked Kitchen for a gluten free (make your own gf flour) pie crust.  But I am lazy…. (not so lazy that I just buy the frozen GF crust, but too lazy to make my own GF flour).   I don’t like messing around with making my own flour…. King Arthur’s Measure for Measure and Cup4Cup are too good and so much easier.  So I just followed Wicked Kitchen’s non-GF recipe and used King Arthur’s Measure for Measure in place of the regular flour.


This is a pretty straight forward recipe.  Dump the ingredients in your stand mixer in the right order… make sure the cream cheese and butter are COLD, and be sure to let the crust chill for the full hour before rolling.  Wicked Kitchen has some great tips and information about pre-baking and blind baking and such, so you might enjoy checking out her post too.


I have also used this recipe to make Grandma’s Turkey Pot Pie.  I omitted the vanilla, but left the sugar… I know it sounds strange, but this isn’t an overly sweet pie crust and the slight (tiny) bit of sweet goes nicely with the savory flavors of the Pot Pie.


Gluten Free Flaky Pie Crust


  • 2½ c  King Arthur’s Measure for Measure GF Flour
  • 1 c (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, chilled
  • 1 (8-ounce pkg)  Cream Cheese, chilled
  • 1 TBLS Sugar
  • 1 tsp  Vanilla
  • ½ tsp Salt


Measure flour and set aside. Using an electric stand mixer, cream together butter and cream cheese. Add in sugar, vanilla and salt; mix until well combined. Add flour in two batches beating just until incorporated. Scoop dough into a ball and flatten slightly.   Wrap dough in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

Allow dough to thaw a few minutes before rolling. Using a rolling pin, roll out dough between two sheets of lightly floured plastic wrap.

For Prebaked Pie Shells: Preheat oven to 425° F.  Place in preheated oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes.


I used 1/2 the pie crust recipe to make 3 small pies.  I used these dishes.

Peach Filling

  • 4 Peaches, diced
  • 3 TBLS Brown Sugar
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Cloves
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
  • 3 TBLS Brandy

Combine ingredients in a mixing bowl and set aside while you prepare the pie crusts. Once the pie crusts are prepared, spoon the peach mixture into the unbaked pie crust.  I made a lattice top, but you could probably make a double crust using this size of pan. (Really though… lattice is SO much cuter for these peach pies!) Brush the top of your crust with an egg wash (1 egg whisked with a bit of water) then sprinkle a bit of sugar over the wet egg wash.

Bake at 350° F for 35 – 40 minutes.  Watch the top of your crust that it doesn’t get too dark. Pie filling should be bubbling.