Peppermint Poke Cake (Gluten-free)

'Tis the season for all things PEPPERMINT!

I couldn't resist sharing this recipe because it is super easy, super tasty, and super festive.  Super!

"Why is it gluten-free?", you may ask.  Ah well, without delving into too long of a story, my oldest son was born with severe eczema and allergies.  All these years we treat the symptoms with ointments and lotions, and prescription medicines.  Recently though he started getting severe chest pains, and soon after was diagnosed with acid reflux.  That ailment I could relate to, and boy, it is no picnic.  We started cutting out all the foods you would if you have acid reflux, and saw no big improvement.  That's when I decided to try gluten-free and see if he improved.

Why did I decide to do that?

Well, I had already familiarized myself with gluten-free foods because my step-dad was "recently" diagnosed with the allergy.  I had even offered up the occasional gluten-free goodie at the farmers market.  In my research, I came across the correlation between the gluten allergy and eczema and acid reflux.  In a kind of a "no-brainer" moment, I decided that it doesn't hurt to see if it helps by cutting the gluten out!

I'm certainly NO EXPERT, and that is a disclaimer!  We've talked with our son's allergist and doctor about this diet and he has not been diagnosed with Celiac's Disease or a gluten-intolerance.  The suggestion was, try the diet, and if it helps then stick with it.

Now, while our son would never say he likes being gluten-free (because he doesn't) he will admit he feels a lot better.  No more upset stomachs and quick trips to the bathroom.  No getting up at night complaining of chest pains.  No more prescription reflux medicine.  And no more nasty, itchy red spots all over his skin.  So right now we're sticking with it.  I try to make the diet easier by making the occasional treat, like this Peppermint Poke Cake, which can easily be made Not-Gluten-Free!

Make this holiday, pepperminty, moist Poke Cake, with or without the gluten, and you'll have some happy campers either way!

Peppermint Poke Cake 
adapted from Something Swanky

-1 box Gluten-free Chocolate Cake Mix (I used King Arthur brand)

Prepare the cake mix according to directions on box.  Pour into a greased 9x13 pan, and bake as indicated.  I baked my cake for 28 minutes.

-1, 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
-1 1/4 c. peppermint mocha coffee creamer, divided (I used International Delights)
-1, 15 oz. bottle of York Peppermint Sundae Syrup
-12 oz. container Cool Whip
-6 Glutino chocolate creme sandwiches, crushed (like Oreos)
-Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips

Once you've removed the cake from the oven, let it cool on a wire rack.  When pan is cool enough to touch and it feels just slightly warm on bottom, use the back of a wooden spoon and poke holes throughout the entire top of cake.  I also like to use a serving fork to poke smaller holes around cake.

In a medium bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk and 1 cup of the peppermint mocha creamer.  Pour slowly and evenly over the cake allowing the milk mix to soak down into the holes of the cake.

In a small bowl, mix peppermint sundae syrup with 1/4 cup of the peppermint mocha creamer.  Spread evenly over the top of the cake.  

Dollop the top of the cake with the 12 oz. of Cool whip, using a spatula to spread evenly.  Sprinkle with crushed cookies and Andes peppermint chips.

Return to fridge to let the cake cool completely and soak up all the pepperminty goodness for at least 2 hours.  4-6 hours if you can manage.

Cut cake and serve to all your loved ones!  Trust me when I say, they won't notice it's gluten-free!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to ALL!  

P.S.- The blog will NOT be going gluten-free!  You may see the occasional "G-free" item.  If you are gluten-free, I'm new at this, and if you see an error and think my item is not gluten-free, please let me know!  I try hard and I read all labels and often double check myself.  Just because it's gluten-free does not make it healthy, as you can see in this recipe!  You can catch some other gluten-free recipes on my G-Free board on Pinterest!

Building a House

Building a house is a walk in the park.  That's what "they" say right?  No?  No, that's not what they say?  Okay, you're right.  It can be stressful and trying on the patience (very trying because I've never had much of it), but I feel ungrateful if I complain because I'm building a freakin' house.  I'm lucky and I admit it.  I won't even complain about the gray hair that I never had before.

We started this whole process over a year ago.  We signed our contract in April of this year and broke ground in June.  Now we are winding down (or perhaps up?) and all the minor details are being worked on.  Picking cabinet hardware, hanging lighting, painting trim, etc...

Will we be in our new house to celebrate Christmas?  Alas, no.  My parents get the pleasure of still stuffing all of us and our animals in their house a little longer.  This also means no Christmas goodies from this lady and that's a first in many years.  Even the year my dad was ill, I was a mad woman in the kitchen.  So trust me when I say I would if I could.

This also means, I appreciate all of you who still check out my blog because I haven't had anything new in a million years!  But man 'o man, will I have some new stuff when I'm in my new house because I have these beauties:

KitchenAid Architect 30-in. Convection Double Wall Oven
Hark!  I hear the angels singing!  And even better?  We've got 27 solar panels to offset the electricity I use while baking all those goodies.  Which I think makes them all the sweeter.

Okay, so the kitchen is still a work in progress but it has come a long way.  I'll show you!  This is the start of it:

This is the view from the family room.

This is the view from our mudroom/hall.

This is the view standing in my kitchen at the window, looking towards the dining room.

The kitchen looked this way for a long time.  That's because it needed electrical run, lighting, insulation and eventually drywall.  Once the drywall went up it felt like a new space.  Yes?  Much better than staring at wall studs.

This room is my PANTRY!  Yes.  A PANTRY!!!  EEK!
So this is the point that I start getting really excited because the stuff I'm interested in starts happening.  Up to that point it was 2x4's, insulation, drywall, blah, blah, blah.  Then it happened.  Paint!  Floors!  Cabinets!   

That cardboard box houses my kitchen sink.  A Blanco Cerana Fireclay 30-in. Apron Front Farmhouse Sink.

That is a tiny island you are seeing.  I'll explain.

A kitchen! A kitchen!  I can see it now!
The kitchen was painted in Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Grey.  The flooring is Vahalia Birch in wide plank and it is laminate.  With kids and dogs, this was the best option for now, and we love the way it looks!

Soon I will have countertops, and I chose Silestone Quartz in Tebas Black with a suede finish.  Which means that is not as "shiny" but more matte, and doesn't appear as dark as regular Tebas Black .  It also doesn't have a slick feeling, which will take getting used to at first.

However, my tiny island will have Carrara Marble.  Perfect for keeping dough and the butter in it, cool.

Why is the island so tiny, you may wonder.  Well, I'm a 5'1" lady and as much as I ask Santa for longer legs this Christmas, I'm going to assume that I won't be getting any taller (but most likely shorter) as the years pass.  Before, when I had to work with dough I had to stand on my tippy toes to roll and knead.  Since I have the good fortune of building a house, I wanted an island that works for me!  So if you're a tall person coming into my kitchen just watch out for your knee caps!  HA!  Okay, it's not that tiny.

What's left?  Countertops.  Obviously.  Another coat of paint.  Appliances.  And then lighting.  I'll make sure to have another (perhaps final) post on the kitchen so you can see it all together.  Then hopefully soon after that it will be back to delicious recipe posts!

Catch me on Pinterest!  Now I'm pinning on the Christmas Board.

So if you have specific questions about the build, I'd be happy to answer and give all the details I can.    And yes, this part is fun!  However, we are running into hiccups like lighting needing to be moved, and new electrical to be run that was missed, doors that need to be changed because wrong ones came in, and the fact that it's the holidays and getting people to work in a timely fashion seems difficult.  When it all seems like a lot I just look from our porch at our new back yard,

that I can call these lovely, goofy, and amazing people mine,

and I know I'm truly blessed and can handle any hurdle, big or small!