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Pecans and Christmas just seem to go hand and hand! Last week I was brainstorming how I could make a tasty but easy treat with some pecans I picked up at the store.
After a fail of one recipe, I attempted to make a simple cake topped with buttery pecan goodness. 
And what a buttery sweet goodness it was.

When I made this I topped the cake with the buttered pecans on the wet batter. While it still did cook well, I would suggest waiting to top the cake till 15 minutes left of baking, to get the cake time to cook and puff up. 

I topped this with some So Delicious whip cream over the weekend and it's PERFECT! 




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Southern Pecan Cake
A simple, sweet, and southern pecan cake. Perfect for the holidays or just because ;)
Ingredients
  • 1 and 1/3 cup of All Purpose GF Flour with Xanthum Gum
  • 1/2 cup Sugar (cane or coconut)
  • 2 teaspoons GF Baking Powder
  • 1/3 Cup Califia Regular Almond milk
  • 1/3 Cup Califia Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 1/4 cup Dairy Free Butter Softened
  • 1 large Egg
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9in cake pan and set it asideIn a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and baking powderNext, add the almond milk, butter, and egg. Beat all the ingredients together until well blendedPour into pan and place in the oven for 25 minutes. Here is where you can use your discretion. I originally placed the pecan topping (recipe for that below) on top at the very beginning. However, it took longer to cook. My suggestion now is to let the cake cook the 25 minutes then add the pecan topping and let it cook another 5-10minutes. Pecan Topping - melt another 1/4 cup of dairy free butter in a small saucepan or in the microwave. Once melted add 1/3 of sugar and 2 cups of chopped (roughly) pecans.Once you can insert a toothpick and it comes out clean, pull the cake out and let cool on a wire rack. Store at room temperature as long as possible in a safe cake dish. It will stay softer this way.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 1 9inch cake


The flour I used
The butter I used
You can use any kind of Almond milk - I personally just LOVE Califia

*Discloser - I was selected to review Califia Milk from Mom's Meet. Opinions are 100% my own
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Do you have a desert recipe you've perfected so much that it's the only recipe you make every christmas/holiday??

*raises hand*  
Me! That's me! 

I've said in the past. I am NOT a baker. Whatever I make has to be gluten free is just a recipe for disaster(haha, see what I did there)! So when I found this recipe for GLUTEN and DAIRY FREE peanut butter truffles with only 4 ingredients! I about fell out of my computer chair.
I've made them every year since I found the recipe and they are such a crowd pleaser.


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4 Ingredient Peanut Butter Truffles
Super easy and tasty Peanut Butter Truffles - Gluten and Dairy Free
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cups Crushed Gluten Free Pretzles
  • 1/4 cup Powder Sugar (more as needed)
  • 1/2 cup Peanut Butter
  • 1/2 bag Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips
Instructions
In a bowl, mix crushed pretzels, powder sugar, peanut butterForm into balls and place on cookie sheets with parchment paperIf the batter is too sticky to form into balls, add more powder sugarPlace the cookie sheets in a freezer for 20 minutes.Right before you pull the peanut butter balls out of the freezer. Melt the chocolate any way you'd like. I personally melt the chocolate chips in a microwavable bowl in 30-second increments, mixing till smooth. Dip the peanut butter in chocolate till fully covered and place back on the parchment paperOnce all of the peanut butter balls are covered, place them in the freezer again, on the cookie sheets, till the chocolate is hardenedOnce hardened. Keep in the refrigerator so they don't harden too much. They become hard to eat when in the freezer for too long.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 1 dozen
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I must have a subconscious SnickerDoodle craving because that is definitely been the trend in my baking recipes lately.

This recipe is super simple if you have a measure for measure GF flour on hand. I stocked up on my personal favorite (King Arthur) right before the holidays. Makes baking this holiday season a lot easier.

I also have learned pressing down on the dough before baking makes them a tad thinner and less dense. If you want to make the ball/dome shaped like mine just be prepared to have them be a bit dense.



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SnickerDoodles - Gluten Free and Dairy Free
The easiest gluten free and dairy free snickerdoodles you'll ever make
Ingredients
  • 1 cup, softened Dairy Free Butter*
  • 1 and 1/2 cup sugar (regular white/cane)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups Gluten Free Flour blend (with xanthan gum)*
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
Instructions
Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Also, prepare two baking sheets with parchment paperIn a bowl that you can either use a hand mixer in or is attached to an electric mixer, place butter and sugar. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute till smoothAdd in eggs and vanilla and continue mixing In a different bowl, combine flour, starch, baking powder, salt, and cinnamonSlowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture. Mix till everything is blended together. Once mixed, form dough into small balls. Once formed, roll in a cinnamon sugar mixture (1/4 cup of sugar and 2 tsp of cinnamon) in a separate bow. Then place on cookie sheet.Space evenly on cookie sheet and press down if you don't want them in the dome shapeBake for 12 minutes until cookies are cooked through. Let them fully cool and enjoy! (they taste better cooled)*Butter - I used Earth Balance Butter Sticks *GF Flour Blend - I used King Arthur Flour Measure for Measure with xantham gum
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 24 cookies


Happy Baking Friends!
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Life has been pretty crazy around here! I always falsely assume the end of the year will mean a slow down for the Riley's. Nope. It's the opposite.

However, I am going to TRY my best to knock out some recipes for you guys in the next couple weeks. The holidays always make me more inclined to bake and cook so I can't wait to do some of that and share what I make with y'all.

Until then. I thought I would share with your some of my favorite holiday recipes. Some aren't very festive but would make a great dish for that holiday party you are attending! 

My go-to holiday dessert. It's simple and easy to make. And oh so TASTY! You bet these will be made as soon as possible - RECIPE 


I made this for a holiday party last year and it was a huge hit! Those that typically have dairy LOVED it!It'ss a great party pleaser - RECIPE


Another great little recipe I created a while back! You could easily sub peanut butter for the almond butter but regardless it would make a tasty holiday treat - RECIPE 


I love a good Chines Christmas Eve! Years ago we used to do it every Christmas Eve. People would bring their favorite Chines food and we'd create a Chines Buffet. While we haven't done it in years, I could see this being a big hit!  - RECIPE 

SnickerDoodle Cupcakes - Gluten Free + Dairy Free
While these were fall inspired, you could easily christmas-fy these for the holidays! Maybe a little green and red icing? - RECIPE 


Have any holiday recipes you are ready to make for the season?

Have a great Thanksgiving Friends! 

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Christmas will soon be upon us friends!
It's time to get those wish list's written for not only yourself but for others too! 
These are just a few of my favorite things I think would be perfect to add to your own Christmas list or to add to a loved ones!  


For the Daily Snackers in your life - Love with Food is the snack food subscription service that brings unique, all- natural and organic snacks that are free of artificial coloring, flavoring, and MSG (they even offer a gluten-free version!). This month they have partnered with blind contestant and MasterChef Winner, Christine Ha for its Holiday Snack Box! The box is filled with SO MANY GOODIES. A subscription from Love with Food would make a great gift and With every purchase of Christine’s box Love With Food will donate at least one meal to Houston Food Bank! How cool is that!
You can save $10 for 6 months(or longer) plan + Earn up to $30 in free snacks! Use the code JOLLY by 1/1!
I was sent a Love with Food box in exchange for review - opinions are 100% my own


For the Eco-Friendly Friend - LifeFactory -  I love this company and their products. I have 3 of their water bottles sitting in my kitchen cabinet right now as I type this. They make great gifts that will last forever. They are just so cute while also beig Eco-Friendly!
Image result for lifefactory

For the Old School Friend - Mason Jar Accessories - Have someone that's obsessed with Mason Jars? They are going to love the crazy amounts of accessories that Ball has for their jars. I'm a personal fan of the sip and straw lids. Perfect for drinking out of any mason jar

For the Fixer Upper -  Hearth and Hand - I think any Fixer Upper fan is going to have this on their gift list. You can't go wrong with a little Joanna Gains in your life. I'm so impressed with this collection when I went to go check it out last week. High-quality products for great prices. Her christmas stuff is to die for! The mugs are also super cute for any home!

For the pet lover - Burts Bee's Pet Products - I love these products. They've helped Bruno get through the horrible summer allergies. They are made with simple and natural ingredients that work.
Image result for burt's bees pet care
For my amateur Chef - Air Fryer - These have intrigued me so much. Mostly because in the summer I HATE running my oven but I love baked fries or fried food. I feel like this would solve so many issues! Has anyone else used one? I also think the Ninja blenders need to be one peoples list as well. I can only imagine how smoother my cashew sour cream would be if I had one! :o

Avalon Bay Air Fryer, For Healthy Fried Food, 3.7 Quart Capacity, Includes Airfryer Baking Set and Recipe Book, AB-Airfryer100B
For the book lover- Amazon Kindle - For YEARS I've said I would never ask for one because I love a good physical book. But I've found it harder and harder to read because I don't have the time or room to carry books around. Well, I think along with it being a great gift idea, I may ask for a Kindle myself. It's time for a change friends! 

That's all I got for now friends! I may keep updating this list as time goes on! 

Do you have any gadgets or healthy products on your list this year?? I'd love to hear!


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The blogger writing block was real this week my friends. I'm going to blame the cold weather and allergies attacking my forehead.
I get asked a lot of questions about my lifestyle, from healthy living, to food, and even clothing that I wear.
I thought a question and answer post would be fitting for this week and maybe I'll answer one of the questions you've always had for me!


1. What is Simply Samantha?
Simply Samantha is exactly what it says. It is simply me. I consider myself a very simple person. I enjoy the very simple things in life. I hope that is reflective in my recipes and posts. I feel life is just better when it's simpler.

2. What made you start blogging?
I first started blogging about 5 or 6 years ago. I love the online community that comes with blogging. Back then I used to blog more lifestyle and random posts. Such as my Hunger Games fandom phase back in Spring of 2012. Starting in 2014 I started documenting my recipes that I made in my first year of marriage as I tried to balance being a newlywed and living/eating healthy. That turned into what the blog is now. I like to mix in a lifestyle post here and there, but recipe creating is something I just love to do.

3. Does your husband eat how you eat?
Yes. Right before we got married I had everyone telling me he was going to eat me out of and house and home (my husband is 6ft 5in - Captian American built). But that was not the case. We knew from the get-go that it was just going to be easier for us to eat the same (gluten-free) dinners. When we eat at home, he eats whatever I make. I try to make meals that I know he will eat. I wrote a post about this here. When we eat out though, he eats whatever he wants.

4. So what are your dietary restrictions?
Gluten - I CAN NOT have gluten. I am not Celiac (I have never been tested). If a piece of regular bread touches my salad it will not kill me. However, I cannot ingest any gluten. I've been gluten-free ever since April 2013 when I went to the ER with severe stomach pains that caused me to pass out. I took gluten out of my diet to see if it would help with some of the symptoms I was having daily. It helped and I feel better ever since.
Dairy - This is the newest one. I'm still trying to figure out where I am at with it. After our trip to Ireland where I had all the dairy daily (note: most of their dairy in Ireland is pasture raised and local), I came back and became sick after a weekend of heavy American dairy intake. I don't know if have a problem with raw dairy (like milk, yogurt) or just dairy in general. I'll keep you posted ;). I figured it's just best to avoid it for right now.
Pork and Beef - this is more of a preference but I do not eat pork and rarely eat any beef.

5. Some of your recipes are vegan... are you vegan?
No. I like the challenge of cooking vegan and sometimes vegan meals are easier, cheaper, and tastier. However, I am a big believer and supporting brands that ethically take care of animals (like Stonyfield, Applegate, Pete and Gerrys). I don't like to support companies that treat their animals unethically. No animal should be tortured just so we can have food.

6. Is Bruno vegan? Gluten Free?
Vegan. No.
He is pretty much a gluten-free dog. He doesn't eat beef or pork either (except for his monthly heart-guard which is beef flavored). He eats a grain free dog food with salmon and potatoes. His treats are typically grain/gluten free as well.

7. Any simple tips for gluten-free?
Always keep the house stocked with options. I always have salad in the fridge and some type of fruit. Healthy nuts and snacks are in the pantry at all times. My go-to snack is popcorn. And I always keep a box of gluten-free + vegan mac and cheese in my pantry.

8. You aren't vegan but do you have any favorite vegan brands that you love to support?
YES! I love Beyond Meat. Great products that are great for substituting for meat from time to time.
Follow Your Heart has the best sliced vegan cheese out there.
Silk and So Delcious are staples in our fridge for almond milk and coffee creamer.

9. Favorite recipe?
I'm always a fan of an Asian noodle recipe. Right now its a tie between Sticky Garlic Noodles or Pad Thai.

10. Any tips for traveling Ireland?
Oh dear Ireland. Take tons of pictures. The whole country is beautiful! Don't be afraid of eating over there. I have never been to a place where my dietary restrictions were never a problem.
Oh and don't spend more than a day in Dublin. And spend more than one day in Galway.

11. Where did you get that shirt!? 
I get this a lot since my instastories are shot mostly from the hips up ;). My favorite places to shop for clothes are TJ Maxx, H&M, and Old Navy. From time to time I find cute stuff at Target but I don't go there for clothes often. I live in Forever 21 $3 leggings on a daily basis.

12. Who's your Spirit animal?
OH, hands down Joanna Gains. My husband and I are literally her and Chip in a nutshell. Similar personalities. My husbands very much the goofy one and I am the quiet but sensible one ;).

13. A song you are loving at the moment? 
While I'm a country girl at heart, I love a good pop song - Havana by Camila Cabello is my jam right now.




I leave it at lucky number 13 friends!

 If you have any other question for me, comment below! I'd love to answer them! 



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I feel I've made Tuna every which way. From Chickpea to StoveTop. I felt it was time to update this from a couple years ago. It's a family recipe that I grew up on and my husband has come to love.  
The main ingredient is canned tuna. My favorite is Wild Selections Tuna. It's Non-GMO, Certified MSC Sustainable, and sustainably caught.  The way nature intended for tuna to be!
This recipe could also be made vegan if you want to use vegan tuna. I know the products are out there I just have never tried them myself.


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Tuna Burgers - Gluten and Dairy Free
A quick and tasty burger for those busy weeknights. Gluten + Dairy Free too
Ingredients
  • 3 5oz cans Tuna
  • 1/2 cup Gluten Free Bread Crumbs*
  • 1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 cup Mayonaise*
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • Diced Small Onion
  • 4 Gluten Free Hamburger Buns*
  • *Optional Old Bay
Instructions
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. If you feel like the mixture is too wet, add more breadcrumbs If you feel the mixture is too dry, add more mayonnaiseForm into patties. You can do this ahead of time but I wouldn't do it more than a couple hours before (I did mine in the morning to cook at night)Cook patties till brown on each side. Make sure the middle is cooked through. I say the cooking time varies depending on the size of your pattiesServe on your favorite GF/DF Bun and enjoy!
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 patties

*GF Breadcrumbs are a must. I would assume you could use Panko breadcrumbs too if you had them on hand.
*I used Just Mayo - but feel free to use whatever Mayonaise you'd like
*My favorite buns in the entire world are BFree. If you can find them near you, get them. They will change your life. 

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Let's be real. I hated photographing this meal. Not because it didn't taste good, because it tasted amazing, just because gluten free pasta doesn't hold after a day and looks like mush.

So.
Don't let this icky looking photo job persuade you from making this meal because it's good. I promise!

My husband took the leftovers to work and as he was eating lunch his boss came by and told him that his wife needs to make enough for everyone. Nothing says proud wife moment like you husbands dinner leftovers being the envy of his work office. ;)





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CrockPot Chili Mac - Gluten & Dairy Free - Vegan
Set and forget this Gluten and Dairy Free Vegan Chili Mac!
Ingredients
  • 1 small/medium diced Onion
  • 1 chopped Bell Pepper (red or green)
  • 15oz can, drained Pinto Beans
  • 15oz can, drained Kidney Beans
  • 28oz canned Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 and 1/2 Tablespoon Chili Powder
  • 2 teaspoons Cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 2 cups Vegetable Broth
  • 8oz Gluten Free Elbow Pasta
  • 1 package Dairy Free Cheddar Cheese
Instructions
Throw all the ingredients in the crockpot EXCEPT the pasta and cheese Cover and cook 4 hours on high OR 6-8hours on low. At the end of the cooking cycle. turn up the crockpot to high (if not already there) and add pasta. Stir and cover till pasta is soft.When pasta has absorbed the liquid, add cheese to desired taste (the more the creamier). Save a little to top the pasta and beans. Cover and let it sit for 5 minutes to let the cheese melt
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6 - 8 Serving




Happy Cooking Friends!
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A couple weeks ago I got to try Color Garden plant-based food coloring a couple weeks ago over on my Instagram. I shared a quick recipe for a super easy boxed SnickerDoodle cupcake.

I am not a baker.

I will always be the first to tell you that. I love a good boxed cupcake/muffin/cake mix that I can doctor up and make special. It's just much easier for me to do that then try to mix 5 different flours to make a dozen gluten-free cupcakes. 

That's where these SnickerDoodle cupcakes came about.
1. I wanted to top the cupcakes with some colored icing. 2.I wanted to have fall inspired cupcakes without the hard work (i know, I'm lazy).

You can use other colored dye if you aren't particular. However, I highly HIGHLY recommend spending the couple more dollars to buy the color garden brand.




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Snickerdoodle Cupcakes - Gluten free + Vegan
Super easy boxed snickerdoodle cupcakes
Ingredients
  • 1 box Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix*
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • Cinnamon Sugar
  • Icing*
  • Optional Colored Dye
Instructions
Make cupcakes according to box (including baking temperature and time)After making the batter - add cinnamon and nutmeg* and mixPour batter into cupcake liners- Bake according to box instructions.Sprinkle Cinnamon Sugar on topAfter the cupcakes are baked in cooled, top with your colored icing (or plain icing if you don't want colored icing)
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 10-12 cupcakes




*I used Cherry Brook Gluten Free Yellow cake mix with Earth Balance Butter
* I also used simple mills frosting/icing 
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I'm not one for casual drinking. But coming from a strong Irish heritage, I would be lying if I didn't say I enjoy a good whiskey.
A good Irish Whiskey. 
Whiskey is just so versatile how could you not love it! I love this sweet Whiskey Sour inspired by Skinny Pop because it pairs PERFECTLY with their cheddar popcorn.

I'm a huge fan of Skinny Pop...

Especially their Skinny Pop Cheddar popcorn. It's VEGAN and GLUTEN FREE, two of my favorite things! Their popcorn is also
No Artificial Ingredients
Non GMO
Peanut Free
Tree Nut Free
No Artificial Flavors
Zero Transfat

This drink is a perfect pairing with the cheddar popcorn, a lovely fall candle, as you lay on the couch surrounded by decor pumpkins. Because who doesn't love a good decor pumpkin to display in the fall!
If you didn't know Jameson is gluten-free from what I've read and seen (I toured the Dublin Jameson Factory). Their distillation process takes out the gluten component making it safe for those living a gluten-free lifestyle.
However, I know everyone is different in their gluten free/celiac life so please take what I say with a grain of salt. I know I am able to drink Jameson but other may not. So just be careful. 

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