Gluten-Free Picnic Recipes for Labor Day Weekend

My newest picnic fave- quinoa salad with pears and pecans.

Labor Day is almost upon us. Summer's last bash. To inspire you to dine al fresco I've gathered my favorite gluten-free  picnic recipes, salads, and pot luck supper ideas- in one handy reference. Take advantage of the warm weather and get out of the kitchen. Spread a blanket under a tree or tote a basket to the beach.

Life is short.

We need more picnics.

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Pea Pod Petits Fours

You are attending a baby shower right this very minute.  A VIRTUAL baby shower for the adorable Maria and Josh of Two Peas & Their Pod

You probably already know this couple and their blog for yummy treats like: Golden Grahams S'Mores Bars, Soft Pretzel Bites, and Cinnamon Streusel Pancakes.  Their latest creation...

...a new pea for their pod...a baby boy, who is almost here!!!

I'll tell you more about the cake part of these petits fours in another post, but let me show you how to make the pea pods.

You'll need:
  • fondant (I used homemade)

  • leaf green food coloring

  • large and small pastry tips

  • royal icing (optional)

Tint the fondant.  Roll out on a surface dusted with corn starch to about 1/8 inch.

{Use the bottom of the small tip to cut fondant for the peas.}

Place on the petits fours.  Add vine detail with green royal icing, if desired.

Maria & Josh....we are all so happy for you...and your new little sweet pea!

Can't get enough sweet peas?  Click on over for some Sweet Pea cookies! :)

Be sure to visit the rest of the shower "hosts."  And...pop by the giveaway going on right now.  Hint: it's a lean, green, mixing machine! ;)

Simple Bites - Lemon Balm infused Lemonade
Ingredients, Inc. - Healthy Fruit Punch
Food for My Family - Lemongrass Soda
Heather's Dish - Mixed Fruit Punch
She Wears Many Hats - Mini Pistachio Smoothies
Georgia Pellegrini - Watermelon Agua Fresca & a New Pea

Appetizers/Savory Bites
With Style and Grace - Truffle Popcorn
Family Fresh Cooking - Baby Peas & Cheese Frittata
Barbara Bakes - Creamy Orange Fruit Dip and Fruit
Aggie’s Kitchen - Pasta Salad with Balsamic Basil Vinaigrette
Reluctant Entertainer - Nutella Berry Bruschetta

TidyMom - Blue and Chocolate Cake Balls
i am baker - Baby Pea Baby Shower Cake
Brown Eyed Baker - Pavlova
Picky Palate - Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Sandwich
What’s Gaby Cooking - Coconut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing
Cookin’ Canuck - Nutella & Cream Cheese Swirled Blondies
Kevin and Amanda - Baby Blue Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Cups
Sweetopia - Decorated Sugar Cookies
Mountain Mama Cooks - Lavender Shortbread Cookies
Sweetapolita - Decorated Sugar Cookies
RecipeGirl - Baby Button Cookies
RecipeBoy - Mud Cups with Gummy Worms
Add a Pinch - Blackberry Tartlets
Dine and Dish - Oven Baked Cinnamon Apples
Vintage Mixer - Mint Chocolate Pudding Shots
Dorie Greespan - French Lemon Cream Tart 

Wenderly - Handmade Sweet Pea Cards
Our Best Bites - How To: Make a Diaper Cake Centerpiece

KitchenAid, Reality TV and Exercise. Yes, exercise.

{Hang on, hang on...we're going to get to this little beauty in a minute.}

Let's talk first about exercise.  You might be surprised to learn that I have a piece of exercise equipment that I actually use.  It's this: a mini stair-stepper.  Yes, I owe this body to that mini stair-stepper.

{Makes you want to run right out and buy one, right?}

The key to using it is to DVR TV shows that make you forget that you might be breaking a sweat.  Hard-hitting, serious, current events-type programming, like What Not to Wear, Barefoot Contessa, and most recently, to my shame, Real Housewives of New Jersey. (It's better than you think, people.)

Anyway...I have a new show to watch now...Top Chef Just Desserts on Bravo.  A show about DESSERTS!  It's really riveting.  I watched the first episode while on the stair-stepper last week and almost forgot I was exercising.

Here's a little clip, so you can get an idea of the show...
{Those are REAL pastry chefs, my friends. I already have a few favorite contenders picked out...and they don't include that guy with the creepy laugh. ;)} what does this have to do with this lovely KitchenAid mixer?  Well, the folks at Bravo thought we might like to celebrate this new season of Top Chef Just Desserts. One of you is going to win this mixer!!!  Woot!
You know how I feel about KitchenAid...I couldn't live without mine...and this one is a beauty.

To enter:
     *leave a comment on this post answering this question:
"If you were in a dessert competition, what would you make?"

Giveaway closed! Congrats to Jessica!!!

PLEASE, PLEASE make sure your comment includes an email address or links to one.  It would be really,  really sad if your name was chosen and I couldn't contact you. 
*Random winner will be chosen Monday, September 5th at 8am CST.  US residents only. Good luck!*

{{psst...the second episode of Just Desserts airs Wednesday, August 31st and 10/9c.}}

{disclaimer: This prize was provided by the BRAVO Network but BRAVO is not a sponsor, administrator, or involved in any other way with this giveaway. All opinions expressed in the post are my own and not those of BRAVO. Although, I'm pretty sure they'd approve of my exercise regimen.}


Interior designer Gwynn Griffith lived in a room above a metalworking factory.  The factory was an 18th-century brick building, and when the building went up for sale, Griffith bought it.

Griffith filled her new first floor home with art and furnishings from around the world.  The beautiful hand painted mural, clay busts, plaster pieces, painting from many periods and her extensive collection of furniture pieces meld together to create a bold and stunning palette.  Griffith’s two sons live in the two floors above her.  ENJOY!

Elle Décor September 2011


An hour away from beautiful Paris sits Chateau de Fleury, a historic French Chateau.  The 16th-century castle was commissioned by Come Clausse, King Henry II’s secretary of state.  The home has been passed down for generations and has been occupied by Charles de Ganay since 1961.

The Butter, the Wranglers, the Ranch. . . oh my!

 {from top: Flavia, me (hi!), Nina, Amanda, Karen, Sandi, Kristen}
We had a little Pioneer Woman watch party at the Bake at 350 house on Saturday.  You DO know about Ree's new show on Food Network, right?  Right?

What can I say about Ree?  I've been smitten with her blog since the first day I discovered it.  A friend sent me a link, and I started reading, and reading and reading.  Four hours later, I was packing up Mr. E and the kiddo and heading to Oklahoma.  {As Mr. E's job is here in Texas, we decided to stay put.}

So, Ree's show debuted on Saturday and I invited a few friends (and fellow PW fans) over to watch, eat, and cheer Ree on!

It started with it always does around here.

Yes, I got a picture of the menu and not the food.  (psst...those "diet killers" are here.) 
Except for the Nutella Scones...

{More on these later.}

...and a bowl of, how exciting!

What I loved about the Pioneer Woman show was not only the food...chicken fried steak, decadent mashed potatoes...but the glimpse into ranch life. It looks like a lot of work, but also, a lot of fun....especially if Ree is doing the cooking!

We watched...

And dreamed...

And ate... (did I mention the Nutella?)

Nutella Scones
{slightly modified from the magnificent Baked Explorations}

about 1 cup hazelnuts
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup dutch-process cocoa powder (such as Hershey's Special Dark)
1 TBSP baking powder
1/2 tsp. coarse salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 large egg
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup Nutella, divided

Preheat oven to 350.  Place the hazelnuts on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or until the papery skins begin to crack and loosen. Rub the hazelnuts with a dish towel to remove most of the skin.  Let cool.  Coarsely chop and set aside.

Increase the oven temp. to 375 and place the rack in the center. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt until combined. Add the butter. Use a pastry cutter (or your fingers) to cut the butter into the mixture until the butter is pea size and the mixture is coarse.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and cream. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until the dough just comes together. Gently and briefly knead the dough with your hands. Add the 3/4 cup toasted hazelnuts and knead gently to incorporate.

Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Flatten the dough into a rectangle approximately 6 by 12" (it does not need to be precise) and spread 1/4 cup of the Nutella on top. Roll the dough up and make a cylinder about 6 inches long, turn it on its end, and gently flatten it into a disk about 1 and 3/4 inches high. Do not overwork the dough.

Use a bench scraper to cut the dough into 8 wedges and place them on the prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake the scones for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a scone comes out clean.

Transfer the scones to a wire rack to cool completely. Place the baking sheet with the parchment still underneath the rack.

For the topping:
Heat the remaining 1/4 cup Nutella (or add a little more) in a microwave until pourable, about 10-20 seconds on high. Transfer the Nutella to a pastry bag, cut off the tip and drip the warm Nutella in a zigzag pattern over the tops of the scones. The scones are best eaten the day they are made.

 {from top: Flavia, me, Molly (my sister), Nina, Amanda, Sandi, Kristen}

Watch parties with friends?  Highly recommended!
Pioneer Woman's new Food Network show?  My new favorite! I'll be tuning in EVERY week! 

{And I'm pretty sure Mr. E is getting a pair of Wranglers for Christmas.}


When Lisa Story and her interior designer sister, Sara decided to makeover Lisa and her family's home, things got done.  Lisa, husband Phi, and their two children moved to this Connecticut home, but it had a 70s look.  This especially bothered sister Sara.

Sara and Lisa replaced cabinetry, appliances, curtains, flooring, wallpaper, woodwork, furniture, and painted and wallpapered furniture.  What resulted was a lovely home for Lisa and her family.  ENJOY!

Country Living September 2011