rainbow monkey [recipe: GF chocolate ganache cake]

My birthday was last week.  I made my own cake.  I know that’s not traditional, but I’ve become snotty about my GF baked goods.  Even the fanciest items at the GF specialty bakeries doesn’t taste as good to me as what I make myself–and forget about mixes.  I used pretty much the same recipe for my cake as I did for my daughter’s 2nd birthday last month–hers was just 50% bigger.  You want the secret?  I used an entire pound of chocolate (for hers–this one only has 10 oz).  Hey, I said it was gluten-free, I didn’t say it was health food.  😀

A note about flours: I’m still using my version of the Gluten-Free Girl blend.  I mix 200 g white rice flour, 200 g brown rice flour, 150 g corn flour, 150 g millet, 200 g potato starch and 100 g tapioca in a big Rubbermaid and use this for everything.  Sometimes I sub ~ 50 g soy flour for some of the rice, which adds a little protein and gives a nice texture to the finished goods–but for me, even that small amount makes the batter too beany to snack on.  Which might not be a terrible thing, come to think of it. 

Here’s the recipe:

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six months later

I’m still cooking and thinking and raising picky, gluten-free toddlers–but apparently it’s been half a year since I bothered to write about it. Can I blame my children? 🙂

I have a good recipe post coming as soon as I get a picture, but in the meantime, catching up, a few random thoughts:

1) McDonald’s has now disclosed that their fries have wheat. That leaves zero major fast-food chains in this area where we can get fries. This doesn’t seem like much, but sometimes we’re out and about longer than expected and need a little treat. So I’m starting to learn all the places where they cut their own fries, don’t coat them, and fry nothing but potatoes.  That’s GF enough for me.

2) Subway restaurants are using the entire state of Oregon as their test market for their gluten-free menu. I hope it’s selling well and gets up here soon.

3) Living Social keeps running deals for glutenfreely.com. In my first order, I got a few mixes. I’ve only tried one, a yellow cake mix from Better Batter, but it wasn’t as good as the cupcakes I’ll tell you about tomorrow. Seems like a lot of those mixes use too much xanthan gum.

4) I failed to tell you about these cookies, but they weren’t that good. However, the dudes absolutely loved the gingerbread house.

Coming up this week: easy, awesome vanilla cupcakes and banana caramel cake. For real.

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something for everyone [recipe: gluten-free vegan chocolate cupcakes]

I'll share these vanilla cupcakes with blueberry frosting as soon as I'm sure they're good. 🙂

It’s not surprising that my kids aren’t the only ones in their preschool who have food sensitivities. We’ve been asked not to send peanut butter any more. There are kids who are allergic to eggs and dairy, and another whose family is vegan. So when my dudes’ birthday came a couple of weeks ago, I was determined to bring in a treat that all the kids could enjoy. I suppose I could have cut watermelon into cutesy shapes, but really? sometimes you just want some junk food. Cupcakes, say. With my Babycakes book in one hand and the internet in the other, I dove in.

I didn’t think that first round of cupcakes were that great–the cake itself was just passable, and the frosting was weird. Plus, they weren’t particularly pretty. But the kids liked them and the teachers were impressed. They passed my name on to the family of one of the other food allergy kids, someone whose birthday is this week. And that mom asked me to make the cupcakes for her kid’s birthday. You know, for pay, like I fantasize about doing when the politics of public education are dragging me down. Whee! My latest round of gluten-free, vegan cupcakes was much better. I didn’t make enough vanilla to try a whole one myself, but I’ll try again soon. On principle I don’t want to bake without butter if I don’t have a reason to, but if I can figure out how to make a really satisfactory vegan GF cupcake then a few more experiments will be well worth the time.

Here’s the chocolate cupcake recipe: Continue reading

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it’s supposed to hit 80 today [recipe: gluten-free brownies for ice cream and eating]

If I’m being honest, I’ll admit that we eat ice cream in every week of every season.  Now that summer has finally arrived in Seattle, though, ice cream seems even more necessary.   And while I’ll claim that ice cream is a staple partly because it’s naturally gluten-free, I also have to say: my favorite flavors are the ones that contain gluten.  Who doesn’t love a nice chocolate-chip cookie dough ice cream?  Or a Girl Scout cookie ice cream?  Or an ice cream sandwich made with cookies? 

So I’ve decided that one of my summer projects is to make gluten-free versions of all the gluteny ice creams that my boys can’t have.  It’s a project that’s fun, easy, and good for them to “help” with.  We started yesterday with a gluten-free chocolate fudge brownie ice cream.  I probably thought too hard about what kind of  brownies to make.  Anything too buttery might lose its flavor in the cold; anything too cakey would get soggy in the batter.  Right?  Surely I’m not the first person to contemplate this important issue, but Google was surprisingly unhelpful.  I decided on a middle-of-the-road approach.  I made the brownies the day before the ice cream so they could cool and get a little stale.  Fortunately?  Unfortuanately? They were so good that we ate 3/4 of the pan that night, no ice cream required.  That meant the brownie ice cream wasn’t quite brownie-y enough; next time I’ll know to be more vigilant.

Then I made chocolate ice cream base (I won’t share that part until I get it right), froze it in the KitchenAid attachment, and had the boys throw in the chunks of brownie at the very end.  It was pretty good.

Anyway, here’s the brownie recipe, adapted from Cooks Illustrated:*

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dinner of champions

There are only a few meals that are guaranteed to be enjoyed by everyone in our family:

I keep not taking pictures of the scones, so here's a gratuitous pie picture. Stay tuned for more on that.

  1. sandwiches/burgers
  2. pizza
  3. chicken nuggets
  4. breakfast

Chicken nuggets are too much work to make every week (maybe once school ends, but right now work is kicking my ^&%).  But those other three, we usually have every week–sometimes more often.  You know about the pizza; sandwiches are easy; burgers just get little circles of bread instead of buns because the GF buns we can get aren’t worth the $1,000.  Breakfast consists of a meat–chicken breakfast sausage or bacon– eggs, fruit and waffles, muffins or scones.

Here’s my favorite GF scone recipe:

  • 2 cups GF flour mix*
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup cold milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • extra granulated sugar and milk for topping
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment or grease likely.
  2. Blend together flour mix, sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt
  3. Cut in cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse sand, with a few larger (pea-sized)pieces
  4. Mix milk, eggs and vanilla, then stir into butter/flour mixture.
  5. Scoop out about 1/4 cup of dough at a time and place on baking sheet at least 1 inch apart.  Brush tops with milk and sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar. 
  6. Bake 15 minutes or until lightly brown.

* I trade off baking by weight and by volume, but I almost always use Gluten Free Girl’s all-purpose flour mix (this link also has a great basic muffin recipe, by the way).  My current mix is more rice than anything else, but also has amaranth, oat, sorghum, millet, tapioca and potato flour.

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forgive the cute toddler story

We have plans to meet friends tomorrow morning at a restaurant that has gluten-free pancakes.  I told the boys about it at bedtime: “Tomorrow we’re going to go meet Timmy at a restaurant that has pancakes that are good for our tummies.   They both sat up, cheered and applauded.  Here’s hoping the pancakes are actually good, right? 

But then B turned back to me and said, “Good for my tummy means gluten-free.”

“Wow, that’s right, little man,  I didn’t even know you knew the phrase ‘gluten-free.'”

“Why not gluten four?”

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more treats that are good for our tummies

Before my boys were born, I used to go to Great Harvest Bread Company almost every week for a loaf of their honey whole wheat bread.  It makes the best peanut butter and jelly, great grilled cheese, even decent rustic French toast.  But of course, children change everything (is it too cliche to actually type that?).  Once they came along we started getting most of our groceries delivered.  And now, naturally, we have even less use for a big chewy loaf of honey whole wheat.  Great Harvest fell off my radar.

This weekend, though, a friend and I took the kids to the West Seattle Farmers Market.  After we’d purchased our tomato plants and cheese and spring greens, we wandered off around the neighborhood.  And in the window of the Great Harvest there, we saw a big sign: GLUTEN-FREE.  We went in.  There were 17 different options for things the boys could eat!  Turns out, the owner of that particular franchise and her daughter both have to eat gluten-free, so they started baking GF products in addition to the world’s best honey whole wheat.  I’m sure I should be a little suspicious since they make the wheaty stuff and the GF stuff in the same facility, but they seem to do pretty well at keeping it segregated.

Plus, they have nice normal, kid-friendly treats like chocolate cupcakes and raspberry scones.

Plus, they’re good.

Plus, they have decent chai for Mama.

Plus, they have an abundant toy box and book bin in the corner.

I can bake all kinds of GF treats, but it sure is nice to have a new place to head on a dreary, rainy Saturday afternoon.

Great Harvest Bread Co.
4709 California Ave. S.W.
Seattle, WA 98116

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the holy grail [recipe: gluten-free chicken nuggets]

I’ll admit it: sometimes my kids eat at McDonald’s when we’re out and about.  They like McNuggets, I like calm children, peace prevails in the minivan.  Our celiac diagnosis has forced us to plan ahead more for weekend lunches.  We have to tote our own PB & J and grapes and magic pouches of fruit and veggie puree; we can’t just stop in for a quick Happy Meal.   Even at home, I had a big bag of frozen chicken nuggets to make things easy for the babysitters.  Gluten-free chicken nuggets do exist, but they come in an 8-ounce box for about $6.00 and they aren’t that great.  I decided it was worthwhile to try making my own.* 

Finding a toddler-friendly method turned out to be quite a process.

At first I thought I could get away with a baked chicken tenders technique.  I dipped little chunks of chicken breast in egg and then in crushed, seasoned Corn Chex, then baked it.  Rejected.

I baked chicken chunks that hand been dipped in egg and then in seasoned corn meal.  Rejected.

I baked chicken chunks that had been dipped in egg and then in seasoned GF flour, then sprayed with cooking spray.  Considered, but rejected.

I gave up on the baking.  Frying is not my strongest area of cooking expertise, but I tried it.  I fried chicken chunks that had been dipped in egg and then seasoned GF flour.  Considered, nibbled, but rejected.

Finally, I gave in and did something I’d said I wouldn’t do: I put the chicken in the food processor.  And that made all the difference.  It’s gross and messy, but in our house I think it’s worth it.  Plus, really, once you get going it’s not a big deal.  Next time I’ll double the recipe and freeze some for future lunches. [Recipe follows cut]

Little man ate six.

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if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem

Even for twins, our boys have always been pretty tiny.  They’ve been riding the first or 0.5th percentile for quite a while now, sometimes even lower.  With less than two months to go before their third birthday, they’re still well below 25 pounds.  They eat pats of butter while we’re cooking, and I encourage it.

At our first visit, the gastroenterologist suggested that we start giving Carnation Instant Breakfast  Breakfast Essentials to pack in some extra calories and protein.  We bought some on the way home from that very appointment.  It’s an understatement to say it was a hit.  They started requesting it several times per day.   We upgraded from the convenient packets to the more economical canister.  We made up new rules and procedures for how their “chocolate milk” would be measured and mixed (anyone who’s ever had a toddler knows exactly what I’m talking about).

Last Thursday, mere hours after our latest weigh-in, I was cleaning up the kitchen and happened to notice that the last ingredient listed on the Instant Breakfast canister … was wheat starch.

Wheat starch!  Could the thing we’re giving them to help one issue be causing others?

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pizza, improved

My brother sent me a new GF pizza crust recipe a few weeks ago.  We liked it so well, I’ve made it three times already.  Forget the Bob’s, all hail the Chebe!  You start with a Chebe bread mix, add rice flour, eggs, oil and baking powder, and wind up with something that just might make you forget about wheat.  For starters, it’s a dough that you can knead and stretch. 

Then after you cook it up?


Not only did the toddlers eat 2-3 slices each, but the husband gave it his Official Seal of Approval too.  It was as chewy as my old wheat crust, it re-heated well, and it tasted good.  Their secret is a modified tapioca starch, which is almost impossible for home cooks to find.  That’s OK, I’ve stopped worrying and learned to love the mix.

I didn’t change anything from this Serious Eats recipe, but making it three times has given me some wisdom to pass on. Continue reading

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