The leaves have all fallen from the tall oak trees in the yard. They find themselves in large crispy heaps by the pond where they will begin their next journey, commingling in the compost heap with eggshells, coffee grinds, and earthworms. The forecast tells of snow. Another season is almost upon us. These visible signs urging me to believe that the holidays have arrived. I contemplate the meal that we shall share with our loved ones next Thursday (at our home with my mother and father-in-law) and Friday (at the family farm with my whole family). Two days to celebrate with thanksgiving.

Tradition. Golda’s homemade egg noodles – always tinted a deeper maize with a touch of yellow food coloring, ’cause that’s what Golda did. A relish plate in a cut glass dish- always with canned black olives. Dad’s Thanksgiving prayer- always blessing the hands that prepared the meal and remembering those that have gone before us. A spicy pumpkin pie – with freshly whipped sweetened cream.  A three tiered carrot cake with cream cheese frosting – because Aunt Barb got us hooked on the tradition. We are a family whose count has fluctuated through the years with marriage, children, divorce, and marriage again. But the core family remains. Certainly the best tradition of them all is that we return home to give thanks. The five of us that lived together on a farm in rural central Ohio are still blessed to share tradition together here. inside barn

Golda was my father’s mother. A fine cook who we lost when I was still quite young. Her perfectly tender yeasted dinner roll recipe and homemade egg noodles, perhaps her biggest legacy. If I’m most remembered for a few delightful dishes after I’m gone, I should be as lucky. My father has carried his mother’s Thanksgiving noodle making tradition on and it is perhaps my favorite part of the meal. A large pile of creamy mashed potatoes are topped with slippery egg-rich noodles that have been cooked in chicken stock. Someone get me a hankie, I’m drooling. Dad has since enlisted the help of his granddaughters to make the noodles, a tradition my daughter looks forward to every year. Nine batches of “regular” noodles and 4 batches of gluten free noodles are drying in my parents farmhouse kitchen as we speak.

Thanksgiving Noodle Collage>

Although a proper Thanksgiving always includes the obligatory relishes of carrot sticks, celery, and black olives, I gave it a little twist last year when we celebrated Thanksgiving with my husband’s family at our home. Isn’t Tom cute?

turkey relish plate

Thanksgiving is the time I bring out my fine china. That lovely gold rimmed china with the silver accents by Philippe Deshoulieres I had to have when we got married. I still love it, but I wonder now how practical it is. Do couples still register for fine china these days before their wedding? With the trending tiny house movement, I’m not so sure.

fine china place setting

So why are there some dishes that seem to only make an appearance at Thanksgiving? Take pumpkin pie, for example. Our spread wouldn’t be complete without it, but I have to admit that I don’t crave it, or yearn to bake it, or look to order it on a restaurant menu any other time of the year. How about you? I know that when I have a hankering for something sweet, I generally like something with some different textures and flavors. Pumpkin pie is squashy, custardy, and rather one dimensional in flavor. I decided to throw tradition to the wind just this once, and created a light, creamy, moussy, layered dessert with a spicy flavorful crust with great texture from a gingersnap cookie. The combination turned out to be quite successful.

I found that Mi-Del has a delicious gluten free gingersnap that works perfectly in this gluten free cookie crust. I used one whole bag with a bit of butter, some cinnamon, sugar, and a pinch of salt. The crust was so tasty that I’m sure I’ll keep this recipe in my apron pocket to use with a banana cream pie, a lemon cheesecake, or a key lime pie.

gingersnap crust collage

pumpkin layer


Gluten Free Creamy Pumpkin Mousse with Gingersnap Crust and Toffee Crumble
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
  • 8 ounce bag of Mi-Del Gluten Free Gingersnaps
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 7 T butter, melted
Whipped Cream
  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cream Cheese Layer
  • 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
Pumpkin Layer
  • 2½ cups milk
  • 3-3.5 oz packages white chocolate or vanilla instant pudding
  • 1 (15oz) can pure pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ cup toasted pecans or Heath bar, chopped (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, combine cookies (roughly 2 cups), sugar, cinnamon and salt and mix until combined. Add melted butter and pulse until crumbs are evenly moistened. Pour into a 13x9” baking pan and press gently. Bake 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
Whipped Cream
  1. Into the bowl of a Kitchen Aid mixer or with a handheld mixer, pour the heavy whipping cream, and whip, using the wire whip attachment, on high until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Transfer the whipped cream to another bowl and store in the refrigerator until needed. This whipped cream will be divided equally into thirds and used in each of the next three layers.
Cream Cheese Layer
  1. In the bowl of a Kitchen Aid mixer or with a handheld mixer (no need to wash the bowl from the previous step), whip cream cheese and powdered sugar until light and evenly mixed. Add ⅓ of the just whipped cream and fold in gently until combined. Spread on top of cooled crust.
Pumpkin layer
  1. In a large bowl, mix milk, pudding, pumpkin puree, and spices with a hand wisk until thoroughly blended. Fold in ⅓ of the whipped cream. Spread on top of cream cheese layer in the 13"x9" pan.
  1. Spread remaining ⅓ of the whipped cream on top of the pumpkin layer, smoothing top. Sprinkle with toasted pecans or toffee pieces. Chill at least 3 hours or overnight.

creamy pumpkin mousse with gingersnap crust

I’m curious if you’ll share what your favorite Thanksgiving dessert is. If you decide to make this delicious gluten free creamy pumpkin mousse with gingersnap crust and toffee crumble, please let me know. I’d be tickled pink.

creamy pumpkin mousse with gingersnap crust and toffee crumble


Rock your World Gluten Free Cheddar N’ Bacon Buttermilk Waffle and Fried Chicken Sammiches

by Donna Hann November 12, 2015
Thumbnail image for Rock your World Gluten Free Cheddar N’ Bacon Buttermilk Waffle and Fried Chicken Sammiches

  One of the best things about this year has been establishing and nurturing friendships with some “in-the-neighborhood” women. It has felt effortless and fulfilling, like that bite of rich bittersweet chocolate after a salty snack (don’t deny it, you know what I’m talking about). Prior to my horseback riding accident two years ago, I […]

Read the full article →

Inspiration: A Beautiful Rustic Chic Farm Wedding

by Donna Hann October 5, 2015
Thumbnail image for Inspiration: A Beautiful Rustic Chic Farm Wedding

  Overlooking the soybean field between the house and barn on my parent’s 100 acre farm was a lovely choice for my brother’s recent rustic chic wedding. The sky was clear, the day was warm (but not unbearably so), and two families came together to celebrate a new beginning.

Read the full article →

A Backyard Camping Birthday Party

by Donna Hann August 3, 2015
Campout Cake

Now that I’m busy planning my daughter’s 11th birthday celebration that will be upon us this month, I’ve realized I never shared with you what I planned for her 10th birthday. She requested an overnight campout party with her girlfriends and as a lover of camping myself, I was happy to oblige. Once the girls […]

Read the full article →

Homemade Minty Strawberry Raspberry Lemonade

by Donna Hann June 9, 2015
Thumbnail image for Homemade Minty Strawberry Raspberry Lemonade

Homemade Minty Strawberry Raspberry Lemonade   Save Print A simple syrup is typically a mixture of equal parts sugar and water that has been heated to dissolve the sugar. It is great for sweetening iced tea, lemonade, and cocktails, eliminating that gritty sugary texture reminiscent of county fair style lemonade. Author: The Culinary Artist Recipe […]

Read the full article →

Amazing Gluten Free Glazed Buttermilk Doughnuts

by Donna Hann May 28, 2015
Thumbnail image for Amazing Gluten Free Glazed Buttermilk Doughnuts

Today is the last day of school for my chillins’ before summer vacation begins. I can hardly believe another school year has come and gone. I know most parents lament this, but post accident I have significant difficulty tracking the passing of time. My Nicholas is finishing up seventh grade, while my Aubrey is completing […]

Read the full article →

Rhubarb Crunch, Gluten & Dairy Free

by Donna Hann April 10, 2015
Thumbnail image for Rhubarb Crunch, Gluten & Dairy Free

For nearly two years this blog has had no voice, due in large part to an accident that I recently shared with you here. Your responses to that blog post were surprising, overwhelming, heart-warming, and encouraging to me. I feel your supportive and prayerful messages in my heart. I reread them often. I surely didn’t […]

Read the full article →

Discovering My New Normal

by Donna Hann March 22, 2015
Thumbnail image for Discovering My New Normal

Discovering my new normal… I’m easing back in. I’m finding my way. I’m searching to find a friend in gratefulness for all that has happened to me since I last shared with you here. I’m scrounging up my confidence and my courage. I am tip toeing up to the keyboard afraid to read what might […]

Read the full article →

The Immokalee Produce Market and a Guacamole Recipe

by Donna Hann April 9, 2013

Last week was spring break and my family and I were fortunate to travel to southwest Florida to visit my “snowbird” parents who were on an extended vacation of their own there.  This was a special trip as my Dad was diagnosed with lymphoma, underwent chemotherapy, and entered remission all since August.  It has been […]

Read the full article →

Devil’s Food Cake: moist, delicious, and gluten & dairy free

by Donna Hann March 3, 2013
Thumbnail image for Devil’s Food Cake: moist, delicious, and gluten & dairy free

Is there any American food more iconic to celebrations than cake?  Some make cakes from scratch, others use boxed mixes, while others order them from their local grocery or favorite bakery.  All to celebrate those we love on their special day.  There is something very exciting about being presented with a cake, all moist and […]

Read the full article →