January Resolutions?

December 31st isn’t the only time to set resolutions.  I actually find it is usually the worst time for me to set resolutions, because I am putting so much pressure on starting the New Year right that I blow it and can’t mentally recover for months. So this year, I have eased into resolutions.

In early January I created a road map for my business with goals for each month, so I could focus each month of doing something better or different instead of making a list of all the things I wanted to fix instantly. Similarly, Nick and I broke our year up into quadrants for personal development, allowing each quarter of the year to be focused on something specifically, including books, learning, and actions.

So, even though I was behind in reading my various newsletters, I pulled up the December issue of Celebrate Gluten-Free Magazine and noticed an article titled Gluten-Free Resolutions. The author’s three resolutions, in summary, are 1) convert a family recipe to gluten-free at each holiday, 2) get involved with the gluten-free community, and 3) cook more.

It got me to thinking how much those resolutions jived with my goals, both personal and business. One of my BTN big picture goals is to create a community of people centered around both gluten-free education and food.  Food in-general is known to bring people together, but specifically allowing gluten-free food to do the same in our community, north of Pittsburgh… and HERE in this little virtual space I’ve created.

So maybe it’s cheating to steal other people’s resolutions, but I also really liked the first one about converting family recipes and it has inspired me. Just being honest… we don’t have very many “family recipes”, and even less family recipes that are baked goods.  One of those was the peanut butter chocolate kiss cookie… which I did end up making gluten-free for this Christmas! Then in anticipation of Valentines day and spring, I have remade the sugar cookie, and I suppose every family has some tried and true sugar cookie recipe.

So be on the look out for future holidays where I reveal some family or simply traditional recipes that we have remade, gluten-freedom style. What old family recipes can you add your own twist too this year? Comment below and share with the community! I’ll try not to steal any of your ideas!

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Have a cookie,

Lauren Marts

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Passions and …Other Things

I love to bake and experiment. When people ask me for things, I get excited to go home and produce! Some options I produce are more trial run, but it’s a great leaning experience anyway.

This week I got an order for decorated shaped cookies. I almost said no.

Regardless of my great passion for baking and creating… I am still learning to be detailed in decorative creativity. I have mentioned this before in my posts on my cake journey. I want to get better at it! I am going to be taking a cake decorating class in the near future and hope to be able to do some stretch projects on my own.  But alas…

I almost said no.  I asked my good friend if she would be able to help me decorate and she was just unavailable in the time frame.  So, after discussing with the customer that all she needed was a simple pink frosted cross-shaped cookie for her daughter’s first communion, I decided to take on the task.

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My shout-out today will be to Cake It Easy Cakes in Bellevue, PA. I had met the owner, Tamra, in her shop late last year when I discovered her good variety of cookie cutter shapes.  She was so helpful and even stayed open a bit later to work with my schedule, while helping me find what I needed.  Above is the beautiful iridescent pink glitter she pointed me to in order to add some fun to the cookies (and if anyone has a pink glitter baked need in the near future… I can accommodate).

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As can be expected, I did a few rounds of cookies and a few rounds of frosting to make sure the end product was great.  Sugar cookie dough is pretty straight forward, but the balance seems to be in the temperature of the dough and making sure it doesn’t spread while baking… changing the originally intended shape. Think sacred cross turned melted snowman. Not great.

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Also, the icing can’t be as runny as I used to do for Christmas cookies as a kid… or it would be a quick mess. But it also can’t be so stiff that you can’t spread it on the cookie well. Baking is a science, but baking shaped/decorated cookies is a science of itself.

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Overall, I am writing today, post delivery and post communion event and it has been confirmed that these were good for her event needs.

I almost said no… but I’m so glad I did not. Don’t you all run and contact me today about how many dozen cross and bunny shaped cookies you want to pre-order for Easter. But… stay tuned and I’ll see if I can’t work out some really beautiful ones by then and I’ll let you know if they are up for order. As always… thanks for pushing me to grow and helping me have a lot of fun while doing it.

And CONGRATS, little lady, on your first communion!
Stay delicious,

Lauren

Time Off and Cakes

Hi friends! I took a bit of time off in December from my usual blogs to get some things in order and really focus on my business… but I’m back! Consistency is key and so you’ll be hearing from me a lot more if you want to.

December marked a first of a kind for Baked True North as I did my first 3 cakes for various Christmas events.  I am convinced that I am good at cookies.  I know I am good at doughnuts.  Now I am pretty sure I am going to be good at cakes.  But I have to turn my weakness of attention to detail around in the decorating area.

Here is the first cake I made for Revelation Health‘s Christmas party:

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I took my Spiced Red Wine Yum-Bread and turned it into a chocolate red wine cake with red wine frosting.

I also did 2 cakes for Redeemer North Borough‘s Christmas Eve service.

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The first was a chocolate cake with peanut butter cream frosting and the second was a white cake with buttercream frosting, dyed red and green between each layer. I have to say… my white cake with buttercream was awesome.  I begrudgingly make “desserts” that do not contain chocolate. I think I get this disdain from my dad who is known to get the chocolate syrup out and smother cakes, ice creams, pies, and anything trying to pass as a dessert that doesn’t already contain chocolate.  Don’t even get him started on carrot “cake!”

With all that said, I actually PREFERRED the white cake because it was so good. But the peanut butter cream frosting was a hit and that cake disappeared immediately.

Another recent adventure was the first week in January we spent in Arizona with Nick’s mom. Arizona in winter … meets vacationing while everyone else goes back to work … equals AMAZING. And of course I took the opportunity to bake for my mother-in-law.  I made her a batch of my signature chocolate chip cookies and as a special request for her birthday I made my first full cheesecake!

I wanted to make something elaborate like salted caramel chocolate chip cheesecake or red velvet cheesecake (ya know, something with CHOCOLATE), but seeing as it was my first ever… I decided to honor the cheesecake and go original. I think I know how to make it better next time, but it was GOOD, if you ask me.  No added chocolate either.

And we just overall had a great time in the desert, goofing off, finding cactus species and I ended the week as a red headed trail runner…

LAST, but certainly not least tomorrow (Wednesday, January 11th), Baked True North will have cookies on the shelves of Good L’Oven Cookies new shop! It’s their grand opening and the shop is gorgeous! So check it out… and support your favorite local gluten-free baker (psst, that’s me).

Stay Delicious,

Lauren

Holiday Baking is HERE!!!

I’ve been getting questions like… what are you offering for the holidays… AS IF my signature chocolate chip cookies weren’t the holiday food of choice! 🙂

SO… I decided to take requests (which I am still doing by the way).  The two things that I’ve heard back about so far was pumpkin rolls for Thanksgiving, and chocolate kiss cookies for Christmas.  So I went to work and they are HERE!!!!! And yes, they are as good as they look below. To order, click on the contact link and we’ll work this thing out.

Note – please plan on ordering by Sunday night if you want either item for Thanksgiving (locally to Pittsburgh)… and order NOW if I need to ship.

Gluten-free Pumpkin Rolls….. $10/each

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Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies… $12/dozen

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I can do the kiss cookies with milk chocolate or dark chocolate… for those of you that have a STRONG preference. These are definitely NOT sugar free, by the way.  Can you see them glisten? Pure sugar.  Sorry.  Some things just can’t be altered.

I will have more details on Christmas deadlines after Thanksgiving.  Let me know if you have an idea of something you would like to see and I’ll see what I can do. Thanks to everyone’s yummy feedback (and thanks for my sister and brother-in-law for the hardship they suffered tasting my kiss cookie testers last weekend).

ENJOY! and Stay Delicious!

Lauren

The Gluten-Free Lady

Saturday was the Bellevue House Tour here in the North Boroughs, and I was blessed enough to have the right acquaintances that I could be one of the featured foods at the final reception. The house tour is set up so you travel along a map through Bellevue and visit the most beautiful homes in our area, all decorated for Halloween and fall.  Then the final house, which is actually a gorgeous mansion, hosted a reception where local fooderies brought in some hors d’oeuvres.  1029161605_hdr

I made pumpkin chocolate chip minis, Signature Chocolate Chip minis, and my newest cookie mini: The OKTOBERFEST! This was inspired by the German Chocolate Cake I wrote about at the beginning of the month. It is packed with dark chocolate and enough coconut and pecans that you will definitely remember the last German Chocolate Cake you had. These will probably only be a seasonal cookie, but I have added them to my Options until Christmas.

During the house tour I realized I was affectionately beginning to be known as The Gluten-Free Lady around our town.  That’s kind of awesome.  And you can always tell it’s someone that understands gluten-freedom when they call you that… because a lot of people have said over the past few months, “so, these are the gluten ones?” in reference to my cookies.  Um… no.  No gluten. But what that means is that I get to spread the word about something I am passionate about!

One more thing I wanted to add into this short and random post is that another event is coming up on November 6th.  I’ll be at the 2nd Annual Simply Chic Craft Boutique in Monaca, PA from 10am to 4pm.  It will be a lot of fun and I will have another 2 or 3 items I am going to be rolling out for the event.

  • Cocoa Spiced Wine YUM-Bread: It is as amazing as it sounds.  I had a bunch of friends taste test this one and I got some good feedback and decided to roll it out.  I’ll have some pictures after the event.
  • PALEO Pumpkin Waffle Cookies!!: Paleo mostly means unprocessed, natural, and accessible to primal ancestors (in lay man/Lauren terms). I tested it out at a fellow health-enthusiast’s house last week (picture below) and it was a hit, so  I have added it to my Options as well. I’ll probably write more about paleo eating in the new year, for those interested.
  • SURPRISE – you’ll have to wait and see for this one.
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Paleo Pumpkin Waffle Cookies

So check out the event if you can as I will have a basket or two in a drawing and coupons for all my visitors at the table!

Stay delicious,

Lauren