Sunday, May 31, 2009

Gluten Free Peach & Blackberry Cobbler

Summer is almost here! Time to find ways to eat all of the glorious fruit that is out there. Cobbler is one of my favorite desserts, year round. Here is a recipe that I came up. I chose peaches and blackberries, but you could use almost anything that your heart desires. It is best when served warm with ice cream or whipped cream... or both. But it is also great just on its own...

Gluten-Free Peach & Blackberry Cobbler

4 cups sliced peaches (about 4-5 peaches)
2 cups of blackberries
juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
3 tablespoons Gluten-Free Flour Mix of your choice
1 teaspoon vanilla (I prefer Madagascar)
1 teaspoon of lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
fresh nutmeg, to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon)

Crumb Topping

1 cup Gluten-Free Flour Mix of your choice
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter or margarine, melted

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter/grease a casserole dish.

In a large bowl, mix together fruit with lemon juice. Add flour, vanilla, zest, cinnamon and nutmeg and fold together until the fruit is well covered. Pour into greased dish.

In a small bowl, make the crumb topping by combining flour, sugar, cinnamon, xanthan gum and salt. Stir well. Drizzle butter into bowl and stir until all dry ingredients are moistened. Create crumbs with the mixture, of similar size. Pour the crumbs evenly over the fruit in the casserole dish.

Bake on center rack for 35 minutes, until the crumbs are browning and the fruit is bubbly. Remove. Let cool on a rack for 5 minutes. Serve warm.

6 servings

Oh, French Bread!

When I decided to completely pull wheat from Ella's diet I researched several cookbooks on gluten-free baking. Knowing that she was used to the glories of wheat flour and would be able to tell if I was trying to pass off cardboard as bread, I wanted to find a way to make the best possible oven treats as possible. The main reason that I decided to buy GF Baking Classics by Annalise G. Roberts, was because I had read a review that went on and on about her French-Italian Bread recipe. It wasn't long before this became my favorite GF baking cookbook. There are so many recipes that I could sing songs about in her book (pumpkin muffins! vanilla cake! gingersnaps!) But the French-Italian bread really does hold a special place in my heart. It is simple to make and NEVER disappoints. It is the only bread that I make that disappears faster than it took for me to make it. The texture of the bread, inside and out, is so close to a "regular" loaf that you would never know that it does not contain wheat. Get the book. Make the bread!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Marinating & Grilling Chicken

Costco had a great deal on organic skinless and boneless chicken breasts($5.99/lb.) and I just got a new grill pan that I am dying to use. So I made a simple marinade with lemon juice, garlic, parsley, olive oil and salt & pepper. And we shall see how it all turns out tonight. But I realized that I do not have many marinade recipes and would love it if you folks sent me some. Summer is going to be here before we know it! I am also looking for tofu marinades, so if you have something that you love pass it along!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Caramel Filled Cupcakes

There was yet another party at Ella's school this week. Rather than sending along another boring vanilla cupcake, I decided to jazz it up a bit and create something that she would be dying to sink her teeth into. I made a batch of homemade caramel sauce (not the best thing for a gal who is trying to avoid dairy). But I made it as a gift for one of her teachers who LOVES the stuff. Anyway, I had a little left over so I took a melon-baller and scooped out the top and center of a wheat-free vanilla cupcake. I poured about 2 teaspoons of the gooey confection into the hole, and filled it back up again with the cake that had been removed. And then I frosted it with vanilla butter cream and sprinkled white chocolate chips and Valrhona chocolate sprinkles over the top. She loved it. And yes, I broke my diet by also making one for myself. Not too big to admit it. And guess what? No regrets!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Budget Friendly Meal #6: Pineapple Chicken with rice and rabe

I found this recipe on I was looking for an interesting way to bake chicken with pineapple. After reading all of the positive reviews, I decided it was worth a try. And it was delicious! So much so that I wanted to share it, here. The meal is complete when served with brown rice (kashi would also be great) and steamed broccoli rabe. I also plated it with the chicken pan juices drizzled on top of the rice. It is a simple dinner to make and sure to please almost everyone!

4 chicken breasts
2 tablespoons butter or margarine melted or olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper


3/4 cup Crushed pineapple drained, from 8-3/4 oz can
1 cup brown sugar firmly packed
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons brown mustard
1 teaspoon soy sauce (wheat free if desired)
Preheat oven to 375. In an ungreased 9-inch square baking pan, place chicken breasts in a single layer. Brush with melted butter; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare glaze by combining all the ingredients together and mixing well. Pour over chicken. Return to oven and continue baking 30 to 40 minutes, basting occasionally until deep golden brown and tender.

To prepare with:
Thighs: After glazing bake 20 to 30 minutes.
Drumsticks: After glazing bake 20 to 30 minutes
Wings: After glazing bake 10 to 20 minutes

Gluten-free diet not friendly to gut bacteria

This was an interesting article that one of my Twitter buddies referenced today. It actually makes a lot of sense. Thankfully there are so many probiotics on the market these days. Worth a read, to be sure... Gluten-free diet not friendly to gut bacteria

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Central Coast Surprise

This weekend we were visiting my home town when we came across the most wonderful surprise; a local market that stocks a large selection of Gluten-Free items. And this store is within blocks of my Mom's house, so close that we often walk there. It is called J.J.'s Market and it is located in the city of Arroyo Grande. It is quite close to the Oceano Dunes, but off the beaten path. They often are BBQing meat out front and the place smells irresistible. We ran in to pick up some organic milk for Milo and as I glanced around, I saw two full racks full of Gluten-Free items. There was more stuff than some of the Whole Foods stores that I frequent in LA (not mentioning any names, Coldwater Canyon store!) And as I expressed my extreme delight to the cashier, he told me that they even had more in the freezer section. Woo-hoo! As it turns out, the wife of the owner is Celiac, and she wanted to have a lot of options for those like herself. So we are going to keep giving them our business. If you have friends in the area or if you are passing through, stop on by!

Restaurants that we LOVE: Big Sky Cafe

If you happen to be in San Luis Obispo, California, I highly recommend stopping at one of my favorite all-time restaurants; Big Sky Cafe. I have been a loyal fan ever since they first opened their doors, in the early 90's. The atmosphere is casual and friendly. And the food is fantastic, healthy AND delicious. Lines go out the door at breakfast time and it is for a reason. I have eaten practically everything on their menu and enjoyed every bite. We visited them, yet again this past weekend. We are a troublesome table, to be sure; a child that is allergic to almost everything, a toddler who refuses to sit still, a mom who is on a weird diet, and a Dad who just wants to get in and out as fast as possible. Thankfully we had an efficient and very understanding waiter. Ella feasted on a side of smoked salmon, fruit, cranberry juice, roasted potatoes and bacon. Milo was sedated by their signature corn muffins, as I gobbled down huevos rancheros (hold the cheese, please). Gabe noshed on coffee bread and threw back as much of his eggs and bacon breakfast as Milo's ticking clock allowed. We all left full; content. It really is worth a try if you are in the area. Their lunches and dinners are also stellar. Daily specials are worth considering. Big Sky Cafe is located in the heart of downtown San Luis Obispo just a block from the Mission Plaza. Its brick and weathered steel facade is easy to spot on Broad Street.

Big Sky Cafe
1121 Broad Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401-3506
(805) 545-5401

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Nearly 96,000 pounds of ground beef products recalled

From CNN: -- An Illinois meat producer recalled nearly 96,000 pounds of potentially contaminated beef, the federal government announced Thursday.

The Department of Agriculture designated as "Class One" the recall of 95,898 pounds of ground beef products from Valley Meats LLC of Coal Valley, Illinois, meaning the health risk associated with eating the meat is high.

The Ohio Department of Health first reported an outbreak of illness linked to the potentially deadly bacterium E. coli 0157:H7 to federal authorities on May 13, and clusters of illnesses have also been reported in Pennsylvania and Illinois, the department said in a news release.
The bacterium can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and kidney failure. Those most vulnerable include the very young, the aged and people with weak immune systems, according to
USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service.

A list of the recalled products -- all of which were produced on March 10 and packaged under a variety of labels -- is posted at


I have been eating a ton of arugula this week and I wanted to share a couple of recipes that are wonderful.

Arugula Salad with Lemon Parmesan Dressing

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
4 cups (packed) baby arugula
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Blend first 3 ingredients in processor. Season dressing with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl. Cover; chill up to 3 days.

Combine arugula and Parmesan in large bowl. Toss with enough dressing to coat.

*See link above for the original recipe from Epicurious. Instead of blending the cheese with the dressing, like they suggest, I decided to toss it with the arugula. I like the texture better. I also omitted their suggestion of cherry tomatoes, because I did not have any and the salad was perfect without them. Feel free to add them or anything else to this basic salad. Just be sure to include the lemon zest, it is essential. I cannot get enough of this! It is crazy good.

Pasta with Arugula and Goat Cheese

course salt and ground pepper
1 bag of rice pasta, I used fussili
1 15 oz. can white beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup herbed goat cheese, crumbled (3 oz.)
3 tablespoons Olive Oil (good quality)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 bunch arugula (8 oz.) torn or chopped
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

Cook the pasta until just ready (al dente). Drain and rinse with cold water (essential for rice pasta). In a large bowl, toss pasta with beans and goat cheese.

Mix oil, vinegar, and mustard in a small bowl. Drizzle over pasta. Toss in arugula and red onion. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm.

* I got this recipe from this month's Everyday Food. Their recipe was for a pasta salad. My opinion is that rice pasta does not work so well in a salad because it becomes tough as it cools. I also used herbed goat cheese, instead of plain as I love the extra taste. It is a delicious pasta dish and makes for even better left overs. It would also benefit with the addition of roasted pine nuts, if you are able to eat that sort of thing :)

Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts

This is a wonderful dish that everyone in the family can enjoy. Ella got to customize her "roll", omitting the cheese and spinach. It is most delicious when served with tomato sauce, but can also be eaten without. The original recipe can be found here. You know me, I cannot simply make a recipe without first altering it!

Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
5 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Nonstick olive oil cooking spray
1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
4 slices thinly sliced proscuiutto
1 cup white wine
1 batch of homemade marinara sauce of your choice or 1 jar of store bought
1 bag of rice pasta

Trim fat any from chicken; discard. Place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of plastic wrap or in a zip lock bag. Pound with meat mallet until chicken is about 1/4 inch thick.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Pat spinach dry with paper towels. Combine spinach, Parmesan, lemon peel and black pepper in large bowl. Spray small nonstick skillet with cooking spray; add mushrooms. Cook and stir over medium heat 3 to 4 minutes or until tender.

Arrange 1 slice of prosciutto over each chicken breast. Spread each with one-fourth of spinach mixture. Top each with mushrooms. Beginning with longer side, roll chicken tightly. Tie with kitchen string or hold together with toothpicks.

Place stuffed chicken breasts, seam side down, in 9-inch square baking pan. Lightly spray chicken with cooking spray. Pour white wine over top. Cover and Bake 30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Turn broiler to high and lightly crispen the tops of the chicken, approx. 3 minutes.

While chicken cooks, prepare pasta and drain, being sure to rinse with cold water. Heat the pasta sauce as the noodles cook. Leave sauce on low, warming it until everything is ready.

Remove chicken and remove string or toothpicks. Serve alongside pasta. Drizzle the sauce over the pasta and chicken. Garnish with parmesan.

* Serve with Arugula Salad (see recipe above). For Ella, who hates all things saucy, I sliced up her chicken to form pinwheels. She loved eating them this way.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rice Pasta, how I love thee!

Not sure who invented it... or when, for that matter. But my life would be so much more challenging without rice pasta. It saves me on a daily basis. The kids won't eat? I give them rice pasta. Ella frequently melts down because she cannot have regular noodles (she still remembers the wheat version and tries to gobble it down whenever she can) so I am beyond happy to have an alternate to offer her. And one that doesn't feel like a sacrifice! We love the Tinkyada brand but I am also completely in love with the Trader Joe's product line. Their penne, spaghetti and fussili is basically the same price as other pastas and just as good. And now that I am doing the Blood Type diet, I am also enjoying the flexibility that rice pasta offers. I was just really feeling the love tonight and wanted to share it! Here's to rice pasta!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Trying something new

Eat Right 4 Your Bloodtype

I have heard a lot about this book for the past several years and I actually previously owned a copy which I misplaced. Overall, I am fairly happy with my weight even though there are about 10 remaining pounds of baby weight that seem impossible to shake. I am fairly active and do my best to work out a few times a week. But there are a bunch of issues that have plagued me, like chronic sinusitis and I am slowing becoming convinced that my diet affects my overall immune system. So I thought I would revisit this book and see if a few tweaks to my diet would help me. I bought a new copy and did some additional research. The basic concept is that each person's body chemistry metabolizes food differently, based on their blood type. For some people, eating meat, dairy and wheat can be problematic. Other people have a much easier time digesting these things. My blood is type A. As it turns out, a vegetarian diet with the addition of some lean proteins, is the way to go for my body. Most of the things that I love the most... dairy, pickles, breads, cured meats, etc. are the worst things for me to consume (of course!) The book suggests a diet rich in fruits and vegetables with lots of soy protein. An Asian diet would be ideal.

What is most fascinating for me is that Ella is also a type A and MANY of the things that the book advises us to avoid are things that she is highly allergic to. Pistachios and wheat are on that list. Also interesting is that several things that she has always turned her nose up at, like bananas and tomatoes, are also on the list. Maybe there is something to all of this and her instincts are razor sharp? I am not restricting her to this diet, but if there is something that she is not into and it is on the "avoid" list, I will not push her. There is no doubt that I will cheat, but I am going to make a concerted effort to at least incorporate more of the desired foods in my diet. Last night I made stuffed chicken breasts with spinach and mushrooms. I served it with a delicious arugula salad and brown rice penne. (Look for these recipes soon on this blog). I am eating oatmeal for breakfast each day. And lunch today is kashi with broccoli rabe and peanut sauce, miso soup and fruit. This might be a hard diet to stick to with my schedule but I am giving it a shot. I will let you know how it goes!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Budget Friendly Meal #5: Beef Noodle Bake

This is one of my mom's classic recipes. I have been eating this dish for close to 20 years and just updated it as a wheat (gluten) free dish. The kids were crazy about this. Served with a green salad, it is a complete meal for the entire family.

1 pound ground beef (organic or grass fed, if possible)
2 (2 oz) cans sliced mushrooms, drained
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons sugar (optional)
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
bag of noodles of your choice (brown rice fusili works well)
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup lowfat sour cream
1/2 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese
6 green onions, chopped

Cook & stir ground beef in a skillet until lightly browned. Add mushrooms, garlic, salt, pepper, sugar (optional), and tomato sauce. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Cook noodles and drain. (With rice noodles, I like to cook them until just al dente, as they will soften up when baked; approx. 1-2 minutes shy of suggested cooking time). Combine 3/4 of the green onions with cream cheese and sour cream. Blend well. In a greased 2 qt. casserole, evenly spread 1/3 of the noodles; top with 1/3 of beef mixture. Spread 1/3 of the cream cheese mixture over the top. (I drop small spoon fulls across the top and then lightly spread as much as possible. The heat from the noodles will help this process)> Repeat 2 times; top with the cheddar cheese and remaining green onions. Bake at 350 degrees until bubbling hot in the center, about 50 minutes if chilled or 35 minutes if not chilled.

Serve with a green salad and fruit. 6-8 servings. Source: Cici Wynn

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Blogging Continues...

Believe it or not, I am not simply all about allergen free blogging. I have always been into hosting parties, cooking and baking. And since this is also a pretty big part of my life I decided to create an additional blog called "Buttercream Buzz". The focus is baking, but I am also going to be doing lots of crafting, promoting and bragging about all of my talented friends who amaze me with their sweet culinary delights. It has taken me more time than I would like to get the new blog up and running but if you are interested in checking it out, please do. I am also eager for people to send me photos of their parties, baking triumphs or favorite tips. Contact me and send me your stuff!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Gluten-Free, Wheat-Free, Nut-Free Granola Bars

One of our favorite afternoon snacks are granola bars. But we are unable to eat standard granola bars because they contain "trace amounts of nuts". Thankfully, I discovered a company called Nonuttin' from Canada who has a variety of granola bars. Flavors include raisin, apple-cinnamon, chocolate chip and chocolate chunk. They cost $20 (American dollars) for 16 bars. I usually order one of each flavor and it takes us several months to get through them all. There is nothing that I have found at Whole Foods or other places that rivals these bars. So it is worth the added effort to have them shipped to us. They arrive quickly, usually within a week, The company's costumer service is also outstanding! Worth a peek if you are looking for snacks to have on hand...

Friday, May 8, 2009

Label Daddy

Since I am not shy about plugging businesses that I am fond of, I would be remiss if I did not mention one of my favorites... Label Daddy. I was originally introduced to this local company through a fundraiser at Ella's school. They offer a variety of labels that can be applied to all kinds of surfaces, from clothing to sippy cups. They are super quick... I received my order within a week. And the product is high quality. These labels are also really good gifts... Check them out...

Lots of Anxiety, Very Few Answers

We visited Ella's allergist today because she was due for her yearly check in. She has been having a ton of allergic flare ups, and not because she has been eating known allergens. Her eczema is as bad as ever and I am almost certain that she is also allergic to latex. We put a band-aid on her after she got a boo-boo at school and she broke out in tiny hives all around the bandage. There are several other "hot spots" on her body all working hard to ensure that I have sleepless nights.

And I am stressing about the fact that she is due for her second MMR shot. When she had the first shot, at 15 months, she had a horrific reaction. At the time, we were told that she was amongst the 1% of the population who react negatively to the highly controversial vaccine. She had a high fever (103 degrees, for about 3 days) and broke out into a measles like rash that started about a week after the inoculation and lasted another week. It was freaky. And this was all before we became aware of her allergies. As a mother who is always looking for answers, I cannot help but wonder if the MMR contributed to her long list of allergies. Of course, I am not a doctor and there is no research to support my irrational thought, but maybe there is a link? And maybe (most likely) I am just crazy. In any case, it is pretty hard for me to consider possibly subjecting Ella to this madness again. So I asked our allergist to consult on this issue. She was very careful about how she responded to me, but it was clear that she did not think that giving her the 2nd MMR is a good idea. She suggested that we try and get the shots separated, omitting the Measles portion. And if that cannot happen she said that no one would think of me as a bad parent if I decided to pass on the whole enchilada. So now I will have this conversation with her pediatrician and we shall see.

Adding to all of the stress is the fact that Milo is now 18 months and has not yet had his first MMR shot. I am so unsure about how to proceed. Normally, I am the most decisive person you would ever want to meet. But on this matter, I am completely at a loss. What to do? What to do?

Normally, we do a blood test at our yearly allergist visit. Not today. Her doctor would like us to come back in a month or two so that we can do a full allergy scratch test. DREAD! I can tell you from personal experience that this will not be easy. One might even call it, hell. But I am also curious about my current allergic situation so I will also be doing the scratch test with Ella. I will go first and hopefully Ella will not see me flinch and will march ahead, the brave little soldier that she is. And maybe we will find out what is really going on with her. I am praying that there are no new allergies... like to dairy or rice. And maybe there will be a bright light if we find out that she can indeed eat things that are currently on the forbidden list.

For now, her meds have been upped... Zyrtec in the evening, Singulair in the morning. Topical creams for the rashes and eczema. Oh how I love my little girl. I am so sorry that she has to endure life like this. But her determination and strength is truly inspiring. She stands tall and marches on! She is my hero!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

FAAN's First Annual Online Auction: Bidding For A Cure!

The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network’s First Annual Online Auction, Bidding For A Cure, is now open! The auction is open from May 3, 2009 through May 17, 2009, and funds raised will go toward FAAN’s mission to raise public awareness, to provide advocacy and education, and to advance research on behalf of all those affected by food allergies and anaphylaxis.

If you are interested in checking it out, making a donation or learning more about FAAN, click on the link above. This is a very worthy cause and the auction has lots of great items to bid on.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Deli Tray Leftovers?

After Ella's party on Friday we were left with a ton of leftovers from several deli trays. What can a family of four do with a veggie tray, a bunch of condiments and a pound of cold cuts? I decided to make a supper using as many of the ingredients as possible. The end result was Pasta Primavera with an Italian Salad and bread pudding for dessert. Here's a rough breakdown of what I cooked...

Pasta Primavera

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
leftover assortment of veggies, chopped
- we used zucchini, yellow squash, red and green bell peppers, carrots, asparagus
3 cups of chopped tomatoes (there were about 8 sliced tomatoes on the condiment tray)
15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon chopped basil (2 teaspoons, if fresh)
1 teaspoon chopped parsley (2 teaspoons, if fresh)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 box pasta of your choice, we used brown rice spaghetti

Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven or large pot. Add onions and garlic and cook until the begin to soften, about 4-5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 1 minute. Add the
assortment of vegetables and cook until they soften, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and sauce. Stir. Add spices. Bring to a boil and cook for about 25 minutes, or longer for better flavor. Make pasta according to instructions. Serve with Parmesan and crushed red pepper.

Italian Cold Cut Salad

Chopped Lettuce
Chopped tomatoes
Salami, sliced into 1/2" pieces or strips
Ham, sliced into 1/2" pieces or strips
Turkey, sliced into 1/2" pieces or strips
Cheeses, sliced into 1/2" pieces or strips
Chopped Cucumber
Pepperocinis, sliced
Can of garbanzo beans
Can of sliced black olives
Can of artichoke hearts or hearts of palm, optional

Cover the bottom of a serving platter with lettuce. Pile the meats and cheeses in the center. Place the remaining ingredients around the perimeter, in whichever fashion suits you. Serve with Italian dressing.

Bread Pudding (Shhhh, don't tell Ella! This one contains wheat, but could easily be made with wheat free bread or rolls.)

1 bag of leftover dinner rolls, cubed into 1" cubes
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup raisins
1 sliced banana

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a glass dish. Put the bread into a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Drizzle mixture over the bread and toss. Add the raisins and toss again. Let rest on the counter for about 15 minutes, tossing frequently. Pour into the greased pan and top with the sliced bananas. Bake for 35 minutes or until the egg mixture is set. Let cool on a rack for 5 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

This is also good as leftovers for breakfast. Serve it with maple syrup.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Cake #2: Classic Cherry Chip

Ella wanted to have another cake at her big birthday party, and who am I to say "no". One of the cakes that I remember fondly from my childhood was cherry chip with cherry butter cream frosting. And since Ella has recently discovered the Maraschino cherry, I thought it would be fun to recreate my nostalgic favorite into a wheat-free cake. Once again, I used the Vanilla (Butter) Layer Cake recipe from the Annalise Roberts cookbook. After making the mix, according to instructions, I folded in 1/2 cup of well drained, finely sliced Maraschino cherries and 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips. I frosted the layers with cherry butter cream and topped the cake with rolled fondant butterflies, that I colored to match the theme colors of the party.

Along with the cake, I made 2 different types of cupcakes for our guests to choose from: Dark Chocolate with Orange Cream Cheese Butter cream and Cherry Chip Yogurt and Buttermilk cupcakes with Cherry Butter cream, both with wheat flour. Several people tried both the cake and the cupcakes and each told me that while liking the cupcakes, they found the cake to be even better. Two of my Mommy friends are either Celiac or allergic to wheat and they were thrilled to have a chance to try the cake.

Needless to say, I will be making this one again. Now I had better get myself some of the leftovers!

Cake #1: Abby Cadabby

Ella has been celebrating her birthday in high fashion this year. She has had three parties to commemorate turning 4, each a little different from the other. On Tuesday, we celebrated with family and friends at Disneyland. On Thursday, she had an ice cream party at school with her classmates. And on Friday, we had a bigger birthday party that included everyone. She has recently rediscovered Sesame Street and is very into Abby Cadabby. One of her birthday wishes was to have an Abby Cadabby cake. No cupcakes, Mom. Just an Abby Cadabby cake. So I visited a local bakery who is known for making wheat- free/gluten-free cakes. And after looking through many books, I decided that I could make a cake that would be better than anything that I was seeing. So I went online and found a great mold from Wilton and took on the task of making Ella's cake.

I was not sure how the wheat-free cake recipe I had would do using a cake mold, but it actually was no different that traditional cake ingredients. I greased the pan REALLY well and then lightly dusted it with rice flour. Once the cake came out in one piece and I sighed a giant sigh of relief, I went buttercream crazy. It was actually a lot of fun. The directions that came with the mold were fairly easy to follow. Naturally, being a perfectionist, I had my issues. I had tried to save money by using food colorings that I already had rather than the suggested ones made by Wilton. And the pink ended up looking a lot like Madonna Inn pink, rather than Abby Cadabby pink. (You can take the girl out of San Luis Obispo, but you cannot take the Madonna Inn out of the girl!) And I was not happy with how the eyes turned out. Like I said, I am a perfectionist.

We took the cake with us down to Disneyland and enjoyed it with everyone at the hotel. The cake was delicious. I used the Vanilla (Butter) Layer Cake recipe from Annalise Roberts' Baking Classics cookbook. The frosting was traditional buttercream. The best part was that I served it and no one knew that the cake was wheat-free until I told them! Actually, the BEST part was seeing how happy the cake made her. It was all worth it!

Birthday Season Madness

This is the time of year that we fondly refer to as "Birthday Season". When all of Ella's friends have birthdays. Almost all of the kids that we know were born in March-May. And since most of them have parties to celebrate, we spend an astounding amount of our weekends criss-crossing the greater LA area. This year has been especially crazy and I feel like we have been to every kind of party venue imaginable. Since it is hard to predict what the hosts will be serving at their events, we go hoping to find something that Ella might be able to eat. Fruit and veggies trays are always a welcome sight. I also bring along a bag full of snacks to supplement. The other thing that I do is take along a cupcake for Ella to enjoy when the cake is passed out. I bake a batch of cupcakes, wrap them up individually and store them in the freezer. That way, I have them on hand anytime. When we are getting ready to leave for the party, I pull one out and by the time we have reached our destination the cupcake is defrosted. I used to frost them at home and then I came up with the brilliant idea of taking the frosting off of the birthday child's cake and using it on Ella's cupcake. We often get some crazy looks, but this really helps Ella feel like she is a part of the party. And she doesn't complain about not being able to have the cake that everyone else gets to have.

We have been having lots of fun, but between you and I, I am ready to get my weekends back!