Giving Back and Easy DIY Gift Bags

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #WrapGiveRepeat #CollectiveBias 

How do you give back during the holiday season? Do you volunteer? Do you do small random acts of kindness? What do you do? While I volunteer year round I do extra during the holidays to help make sure everyone has a great holiday. Each fall I figure out and develop a plan that centers around our military members and veterans and what I can do for them.  It usually revolves on small homemade or store bought goodies of all types that let them know they are being thought about.  I learned that small stockings can be hard to find and when you do, they can get expensive but making my own DIY Gift Bags were a snap! Sure I could buy them but when you are needing a bunch it is often cost effective to make your own. Plus, I could have the sizes I need with all sorts of different patterns. They are a great way to wrap, give, and repeat during the holiday season.

Giving Back and Easy DIY Gift Bags | My Hot Southern Mess


Classic Chex Mix

On my next day of Homemade Christmas I have Classic Chex Mix

Classic Chex Mix | Country Girl Gourmet

Chex Mix was another treat that my grandma would send us at Christmas time. It is a treat that is easy to customize and everyone has their own favorite parts. My favorite is the classic that I grew up with. Chex, Pretzels and Peanuts… that is all I need. While I use to love those Rye chips in store-bought Chex Mix I have never added them to my own. The thing about Chex Mix is there is something for everybody in it. I use to be the person that ate all of the Wheat Chex. They were my favorite. If only they weren’t full of gluten now. I will miss eating them.

So, what is a gluten free girl to do when she “needs” her holiday Chex mix,she figures out how to make it gluten free! I started by cutting out the Wheat Chex. I just added equal parts of rice and corn Chex to make up the difference. Next I needed to find gluten free pretzels. This past year I have started cautiously trying out gluten free products. Pretzels were one of the foods I have tried. My favorite gluten free pretzels are made by Glutino.Well, Snyders of Hanover have some great flavored bits that would be good also. Walmart also makes their own line of pretzels that are so-so. Then I added the classic peanuts. All that was left was checking the ingredients of the seasoning mix. The only ingredient that threw up red flags for me was the Worcestershire sauce. Sometimes it is not gluten free because it is made with malt vinegar so you need to really read your labels. Then all that is left is to mix it up and cook it.  While I have used both the oven and microwave to make it, both methods being easy. The microwave method wins just because it is so quick!

I am happy to have this tradition back in our house. I just need to make sure I don’t eat my weight in Chex Mix, it is absolutely addictive!

Classic Chex Mix | Country Girl Gourmet

Check out my 12 Days of Homemade Christmas  for other great ideas!


Classic Chex Mix
  • 4½ cups Corn Chex® cereal
  • 4½ cups Rice Chex® cereal
  • 1 cup cocktail peanuts
  • 1 cup bite-size gluten free pretzels
  • 6 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1½ teaspoons seasoned salt
  • ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  1. In large microwavable bowl, mix cereals, peanuts, and pretzels; set aside. In small microwavable bowl, microwave butter uncovered on High about 40 seconds or until melted. Stir in seasonings. Pour over cereal mixture; stir until evenly coated.
  2. Microwave uncovered on High 5 to 6 minutes, thoroughly stirring every 2 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool. Store in airtight container.

 Recipe adapted from

Gluten Free Pie Crust

The other day I said I was figuring out how to make our Thanksgiving dinner this year gluten free and that I needed to figure out how to make a good gluten free pie crust. Pie is awesome and I can be a pie snob. For me pie has to have a really good crust. It has to be just right. I will tell you right now I am not a huge fan of pre made pie crust. Yes, I have used them and tried them out but I don’t like them. I have always made my own pie crust and this year I wasn’t going to stop. I took to Pinterest and started researching. I think I found about a dozen different gluten free pie crust recipes all claiming to be the best. I then took those and compared them to my tried and true (gluten) pie crust and started experimenting. Experimenting went well and I created a great gluten free pie crust that I am happy to share with you along with one of my favorite holiday pies.

Gluten Free Pie Crust | Country Girl Gourmet

Pie crust is pretty basic to make. It has simple ingredients that turn into something wonderful. We start our crust with gluten free all purpose flour blend. I use store-bought but you can use your own. The brand I use is a mix of white rice and whole-grain (brown) rice flours, tapioca starch, and potato starch. To the flour I add a bit of sugar, salt and xanthan gum.Gluten Free Pie Crust | Country Girl Gourmet

To the flour mixture I add a half cup of softened but cold butter. I press until it looks like coarse meals being careful to not over mix.

Gluten Free Pie Crust | Country Girl Gourmet

To this I then add a half cup of shortening. Yes, this is a lot of fat. You could use all butter or all shortening. I have heard lard makes wonderful pie crusts too. I have found using a combo of butter and shortening gives my pie crust the best results.

Gluten Free Pie Crust | Country Girl GourmetWhen making pies I prefer to make my crust by hand with a pastry blender. I think it helps things from getting overworked which can easily happen in a food processor. You want your dough to look like “coarse meal” It will just be coming together.

Gluten Free Pie Crust | Country Girl GourmetThis next step is where I really stray from my regular pie crust recipe. I added a beaten egg. The egg in addition to the xanthan gum act to help the structure of the pie crust. In some pie crust recipes they call for vinegar or lemon juice but in a gluten free crust it is not needed. It is added because acid interferes with the elasticity of the gluten to help make the crust more tender. We don’t have gluten so I skipped it.

Gluten Free Pie Crust | Country Girl Gourmet

Once you have mixed your egg in depending on the consistency of your dough you may need to add some cold water.

Gluten Free Pie Crust | Country Girl Gourmet


You want your dough to just come together. To much much moisture in pie crust is not a good thing. When making this crust I did not need extra water but when I lived in the reset at high altitude I always needed extra water. Have it just in case you need it.

Gluten Free Pie Crust | Country Girl Gourmet

When your dough looks crumbly but when pressed holds together it is perfect. Take your dough and split into 2 flattened balls and either wrap in plastic wrap or place in Ziploc bags and refrigerate 20 or so minutes. This helps your dough develop and gives you a  nice cold dough to work with. You want a cold dough because your warm hands will melt the fats that help produce a flaky crust.

Gluten Free Pie Crust | Country Girl Gourmet



When  the dough is ready it is time to roll out. I prefer to use either wax or parchment paper that has been sprinkled with rice flour.

Gluten Free Pie Crust | Country Girl GourmetDon’t rush, just take your time. Gluten free pie crust is more delicate than regular pie crust. Add rice flour as needed while rolling out.

Gluten Free Pie Crust | Country Girl GourmetYou  will roll out until it spread out and large enough to cover your pie dish. I use simple glass pyrex pie plates.

Gluten Free Pie Crust | Country Girl Gourmet

Once you have your crust rolled out you will then carefully place in your pie plate and carefully peel off any parchment or wax paper. Take your time but if pieces around the edge break off it is easily repairable. Just press them back using cold water if needed. Form your edge in your favorite way. I did a simple pinch edge.

 Gluten Free Pie Crust | Country Girl Gourmet

Finally before filling or blind baking refrigerate your crust. Chilling will help your crust keep it’s shape and minimize shrinking. After it is chilled it is ready for blind baking or filling.

Gluten Free Pie Crust | Country Girl Gourmet

I went with a test run of our families favorite Pumpkin Pie, Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie.

Gluten Free Pie Crust | Country Girl Gourmet

An important step when baking your pie is to cover the edges of the crust. You can use strips of foil or use pie crust protectors like these ones from Pampered Chef. Just take off the covers or strips when there is about 15 minutes of baking time left to allow the edges to brown up some.

Gluten Free Pie Crust | Country Girl Gourmet
Then there you have it a beautiful gluten free pie crust!
Gluten Free Pie Crust | Country Girl Gourmet
My children devoured their slices of pie and had no idea that it was gluten free.

Gluten Free Pie Crust | Country Girl Gourmet

I can’t wait to make this for my family on Thanksgiving and see what they think. I wonder if they are going to be able to tell the difference.

Gluten Free Pie Crust | Country Girl Gourmet

Try it for yourself and let me know what you think!

Gluten Free Pie Crust | Country Girl Gourmet

Gluten Free Pie Crust
Recipe type: Dessert
Just because you are gluten free doesn't mean you can't have pie.
  • ½ cup butter, softened but cold
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 2 cups gluten free all purpose flour blend
  • 1t xanthan gum
  • 1t salt
  • 2T sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ice cold water as needed
  1. In a large bowl mix gluten free flour blend, xanthan gum,salt and sugar.
  2. Cut in butter and shortening with a pastry blender until it looks like coarse meal/crumbly.
  3. Add in beaten egg and water ass needed until dough starts to come together and can easily form a ball.
  4. Divide dough and wrap dough "balls" in plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes.
  5. Roll out and fit into pie plate.
  6. Chill before blind baking or filling.

Johnsonville Amazing Muffin Cups

Easter is almost here! Although it is later this year how can it be that it is time for Easter already? I know many people who are having their oh crap moments and wondering what are they going to do for the day.  From putting together Easter baskets to planning Easter Brunch and dinner. This year I can say I am thankful for Johnsonville Sausage.  If you have read some of my other social media postings  then you may already know that my family loves Johnsonville Sausage. It is seriously some awesome sausage.  Well, I have discovered yet again another Johnsonville recipe that my family loves and it is perfect for Easter brunch! Johnsonville’s Amazing Muffin Cups are the perfect addition to any Easter brunch. They have a base of hash browns that are topped with sausage, cheese, red pepper, green onions and eggs. Sounds pretty good, huh?  Add some fresh fruit and you are all set to go with an amazing Easter brunch.

Amazing Muffin Cups | Country Girl Gourmet


Amazing Muffin Cups



  • 12 links Johnsonville® Original breakfast sausage
  • 3 cups frozen country style shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups shredded 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • chopped fresh chives or green onion


  1. Prepare sausage according to package directions. cool slightly and cut into 1/2-inch pieces; set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine hash browns, butter, salt and pepper; divide evenly into 12 greased muffin cups. Press mixture onto sides and bottom of muffin cups.
  3. Bake at 400F for 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven, divide sausage pieces into muffin cups.
  4. In a bowl, combine eggs, cheese and bell pepper. Spoon mixture evenly into muffin cups. Sprinkle with chives or onion. Return to oven, bake 13-15 minutes or until set. Serve.

Amazing Muffin Cups | Country Girl Gourmet

Cherry Cheesecake Brownies -Gluten Free

Cherry Cheesecake Brownies -Gluten Free | Country Girl Gourmet

Valentine’s Day, a holiday celebrating love or just a commercial holiday. How do you feel about it? Once upon a time I was the hopeless romantic and loved Valentine’s Day but then I got married. My husband is rarely home on Valentines Day. He is usually deployed or away training, it is always something. It is ok, we are used to it. I make they day special for my kids. I make heart shaped food, cupcakes and even more cupcakes for class parties and a special Valentine’s Day dessert with dinner. Simple and sweet is how we celebrate the day.

This year I have decided to try a Gluten Free diet. Not to lose weight or any nonsense like that but to see if it would help with some autoimmune issues I have. I have done pretty good so far. Just a minor blip where I had to stop for a few days. The blip showed me that yes, my body does react to gluten. I could feel the difference when I had eaten gluten and I was determined to get back to my gluten free lifestyle.

 I do get cravings for all the sweet gluten filled treats like for cookies, cupcakes and brownies from time to time and I have been determined to figure out gluten free baking. I bought some King Arthur Multi Purpose Gluten Free Flour Blend a couple weeks ago and a craving for brownies seemed like the perfect time to try it out. I didn’t make just plain regular brownies though. I kicked it up a notch and made Cherry Cheesecake Brownies.  Oh my goodness is all I could say! They were delicious! I fed them to my family and they loved them and none knew they were gluten free. We tried them warm and later after being in the fridge a few hours. They were great both ways but especially cold. I think I have our Valentine’s Day Dessert!

Cherry Cheesecake Brownies -Gluten Free | Country Girl Gourmet

Cherry Cheesecake Brownies


for the brownies-

1 cup butter

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

2t vanilla extract

2/3 cup cocoa powder

1 cup gluten free multi purpose flour

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/2t baking powder

1/4t salt

for the cherry cheesecake mix-

1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened

1 egg

1/3 cup sugar

1 21oz can of cherry pie filling


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 9×13 pan.

2. In a microwave safe bowl melt butter, once melted stir in sugar and then cocoa powder. Then mix in eggs and vanilla and then finally beat in remaining dry ingredients, flour, salt, xanthan gum and baking powder.

3. Pour and spread batter into prepared 9×13 baking pan.

4. In another bowl use an electric mixer or whisk, beat together the cream cheese, egg and sugar until smooth.

5. Dollop the cream cheese mixture on top of the brownie batter.

6. Dollop cherry pie filling (focusing on the cherries not the cherry gel) on top of cream cheese mixture.  Note- some brands are more cherry gel than cherries, you want more of the cherries than cherry gel. Leftover cherry gel is ok.

7.Swirl together using a knife.

8. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until brownies are set and pulling from the sides of the pan. If checked with a toothpick  it will come out with fudgy crumbs.

9.Cool thoroughly, then cut into bars and serve warm or cold. Store in the refrigerator.

***NOTE- These can be made with regular All Purpose Flour instead of Gluten Free Flour Blend if desired***

Cherry Cheesecake Brownies -Gluten Free | Country Girl Gourmet

Are you making something special for Valentines Day? What are you making?

Peanut Butter Blossoms

Peanut Butter Blossoms are another must have Christmas treat for my husband. They are delicious peanut butter cookies that rate rolled in sugar and when done baking they are topped with a hershey kiss. I like to add Reeses peanut butter cups also.  Peanut Butter Blossoms are the perfect addition to any Christmas cookie plate.
Peanut Butter Blossoms

Peanut Butter Blossoms



  • 1 cup shortening (butter may be used… I use butter in mine)
  • 1 cup peanut butter (remember good quality!)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup white sugar for decoration
  • 2 (9 ounce) bags milk chocolate candy kisses, unwrapped (and I like to freeze mine)


1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.

2.In a large bowl, cream together the shortening, peanut butter, brown sugar, and 1 cup white sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, and stir in the milk and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the peanut butter mixture until well blended. Shape tablespoonfuls of dough into balls, and roll in remaining white sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets.

3.Bake for 10 to12 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from oven, and immediately press a chocolate kiss into each cookie. Allow to cool completely; the kiss will harden as it cools.

Peanut Butter Blossoms

Thanksgiving Leftovers Casserole

It will be here before we know it, what you may ask? Thanksgiving! Do you have your menu planned out yet? I know I am still finalizing mine. I know turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes are a must for our turkey day menu. While the turkey day feast is delicious there is one thing that is better, the leftovers! Do you ever get a rut and not know what to do with your Thanksgiving leftovers? How about putting everything together for a Thanksgiving Leftovers Casserole? I have to thank Kraft and Allrecipes for this idea, I had never thought to put all my leftovers together this way and my husband agreed it was a great idea. Thanksgiving Leftovers Casserole can be easily modified to your own personal taste. You can bump up the flavor with your favorite holiday seasonings, swap the miracle whip or mayo for plain greek yogurt or even swapping the stovetop crust with homemade stuffing. Top your Thanksgiving Leftovers Casserole with turkey gravy and some cranberry sauce on the side.


Thanksgiving Leftovers Casserole


  • 1 (6 ounce) package STOVE TOP Stuffing Mix for Turkey
  • 4 cups chopped leftover roasted turkey
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, corn, green beans, peas), thawed
  • 3/4 cup KRAFT Mayo Real Mayonnaise or MIRACLE WHIP Dressing
  • 3 cups leftover mashed potatoes
  • 1 cup KRAFT Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika


1.Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

2.Prepare stuffing as directed on package; spread onto bottom of 13×9-inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.

3.Combine turkey, mixed vegetables and mayo; spoon over stuffing.

4.Mix potatoes and cheese; spread over turkey mixture. Sprinkle with paprika.

 5.Bake 30 to 40 min. or until heated through.