Why you should NEVER attempt a new recipe at Christmas

I hope that you & yours had a sweet celebration of Christmas and New Year’s.

Even though I enjoy the season of Christmas I always find myself gleeful come January, when it’s time to put away all those Christmas trappings. I’m a bit of a minimalist and limit how much decor we put up each December, but it still seems to take over the house. I am secretly thrilled when everything is boxed back up for another 11 months.


This Christmas & New Year’s season I learned a vital lesson, that I’m really hoping I will remember in future years…

Don’t attempt a recipe for the first time at Christmas {or Thanksgiving or New Year’s}

Why is it, that we put all this pressure on ourselves {or maybe you are smarter than me and don’t do this to yourself!} to have an immaculately decorated house, perfectly selected gifts, and oh yes, amazing meals each time you find yourself at the table between December 24 & 25.

I could go on & on about my food failures over the last 4 weeks.

It all started when my husband came in from hunting the morning of Christmas Eve, took one look at my face and said “Did one of your recipes not work out?”

I lied.
I said, no, it’s all good.

In reality, the yet another failed attempt at gluten free cinnamon buns were already in the trash.
I should just give up trying to make them.
Every year I tell myself This Is The Year.
But really, I don’t think GOOD GF cinnamon buns exist.

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Then there were the gluten free pigs n’ a blanket I was planning for Christmas Eve.
I had already talked myself into being okay with barely edible gluten free crescent rolls.
I just needed GF lil’ sausages.
Unfortunately, I didn’t realize until Christmas Eve that only Wal-Mart carries them.
At least I made the wise decision to not go to Wal-Mart the day before Christmas.


Then there were the the scalloped potatoes my husband requested for our Christmas lunch.
That couldn’t be too difficult, could it??
Well, when you don’t read the whole recipe until 30 minutes before Christmas lunch, you realize too late it will take an hour and a half to get them on the table.
And at that point, you are simply done. Mashed potatoes will do just fine.


But the real cooking failure was…

The Christmas Ham literally tasted like mush.

I’m actually not being dramatic at all!

And if I had just read the recipe well beforehand, I would have realized one major hiccup.

The recipe was for an UNCOOKED ham.
Uncooked requires quite a different recipe than a Cooked Ham.
Mostly, that an already cooked ham only needs heated up.
Nope, not thinking here on my part.

So what did I do??? Followed that recipe to the T!

Marinated that COOKED ham for 8 hours in pineapple juice {which breaks down the fibers in UNCOOKED ham} then I preceded to cook the COOKED ham for 2 hours.

Once again, it literally tasted like MUSH!

It was so bad, that my father in law drove back to their house to get their Christmas Eve ham leftovers.


And yes, I know I may tend a bit towards the dramatic.
No one else cares that they didn’t have homemade cinnamon buns or had to eat mashed potatoes or eat leftover ham. But me, I care.

So next year, I’m going to go the route my friends suggests….
doughnuts {not homemade!!} and coffee for Christmas breakfast and a grocery store catered dinner.

But if you happen to have a cinnamon bun recipe that is GF, I’d love to have it.
Because as much as I’d like to say I won’t ever attempt them again, I’m simply a gluten for punishment.

I hope your cooking adventures fared much better than mine!

Happy New Year’s,



Cooking Tip #2: How to Easily Cut Open a Winter Squash

I’ll never forget the first Thanksgiving meal we hosted at our house. Newly married and ferociously excited to entertain, I encountered a problem of epic proportions.

No, it wasn’t the stress of a turkey taking an hour and a half longer than planned, to cook in that deep fryer vat of oil. And it wasn’t worrying over in-laws and parents spending time together.

No, my biggest worry was how to cut open a rutabaga without losing a thumb or slicing my wrist artery. Winter squash are one of the hardest things to cut open without damaging yourself in the process.

I survived the experience without a trip to the ER and have since perfected the method.

All you need is a crinkle cutter {they can be found for less than $10} and a meat tenderizer mallet.


It’s so safe, you can actually let your children help.
Which I would never recommend if you are cutting winter squash the old fashioned way.

You’ll basically hammer the mallet on top of the crinkle cutter, so choose a cutter that can withstand a lot of pounding. Mine is from Pampered Chef {remember all those PC parties you attended back in the early 2000’s?} and even with a plastic handle – it has held up well.

Position the cutter on the side/middle of the squash and wedge in as much as you can. Then start whacking the top of the cutter with your meat mallet. The cutter will slowly begin to edge through the squash. 

The more dense the squash, the more pounding that is required. So a spaghetti squash isn’t as hard to cut through as a rutabaga. Once the squash is cut in half, you can more easily peel the squash and then begin cutting {with a real butcher’s knife} into the desired size.

You can even use this method to cut the top off of pumpkins!


I hope this tip helps save your thumbs this fall & winter season!




Gluten Free Lemon Blueberry Scones

Lately I’ve been craving carb loaded breakfasts. Belgium Waffles. Buttermilk Pancakes. And now… scones.

I wanted to have a basic recipe that I could use for either blueberries or orange & cranberry scones. We spent last weekend perfecting this scrumptious crumbly delight and will probably be trying them out again this Saturday.

The texture on these are just right.

A tad crumbly with a bit of sugar crunch in each delectable bite.

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Gluten Free Blueberry Lemon Scones

  • 2 cups ATK Gluten Free Flour Mix {or similar all purpose GF flour mix}
  • 1 1/2 tsp xanthum gum {omit if your flour mix already contains}
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup sugar + 1 TBSP for sprinkling
  • 5 TBSP unsalted butter, cubed & very chilled
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup - 3/4 cup buttermilk {start with 2/3 cup but continue to add until dough pulls together but isn't overly sticky/wet}
  • 2/3 cup blueberries {frozen or fresh}
  • You can sub in 2/3 cup cranberries and zest from 1-2 oranges {depending upon size} in lieu of the lemon & blueberries.

Mix dry ingredients {flour through sugar} together in mixing ball.

Using a fork or pastry blender, 'cut in' the cubed butter into the flour mixture until coarse crumbs, roughly the size of peas, appear.

Add blueberries to mixture and stir gently.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, vanilla, & buttermilk.

Make a well in the bottom of your flour mixture and pour in the liquid ingredients.

Gently stir with a wooden spoon until just barely mixed. If a few dry flour spots remain, that is great.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat liner and sprinkle lightly with GF flour mix.

Dump your scone dough onto the floured parchment paper.

Gently press your dough into a circular shape, roughly 1" in height.

Using a knife, cut the dough into 8 triangular pieces. Separate the pieces until a few inches apart and sprinkle sugar on top of each piece.

Place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 18-20 minutes, rotating half way through.

*Quick Tip – Placing them in the fridge prior to baking firms up the butter that may have begun to melt. And the extra rest time helps eliminate the grittiness often associated with GF baked goods. However, if you are in a rush – the 30 minutes in fridge isn’t absolutely necessary.

I hope you enjoy these as much as we do!



April is Eat Local Month

Looking to do something new with the family this month or a fun event centered around really fresh food? Then check out Lowcountry Local First’s Eat Local Month. From farm tours to an all you should eat breakfast, there is something for everyone. Take the kids to visit a farm and see a chicken up close and personal or enjoy a date with your significant other at the Chef’s Potluck. All of these events promise lots of fun, a bit of education, and perhaps – even some dirt on your toes.

I volunteer with Lowcountry Local First and simply love all the work they do. They obviously keep it all local!

If you plan to be at any of these events, please let me know. I know I definitely will be at Chef’s Potluck ~ Jessica