Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Is Food Dye Just a Colorful Killer?

Great article from Slashfood today about the possible dangers of food dyes. And we aren't just talking about the kind that is in candy. In general, I try to avoid chemical food dyes if I can help it and have stopped making/consuming red velvet cake for this reason. The alarming news is that many foods that you would never expect contain dyes, like matzo balls. Just another thing to keep me up at night!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Stung by a Bee

Yesterday, Ella was stung by her first bee. A wasp, to be exact. Since her father is very allergic to bee stings and she is incredibly allergic to so many things, we thought that is was possible that she might also be allergic to their stings. She was playing in the backyard and started screaming like crazy. She was hysterical. "A bee, a bee! A bee stung me!" It was terrifying, I must admit. There was no stinger in her skin but there was a small red dot and the skin around it began to swell a bit. Not having any clue what I should do, I made a paste out of baking soda. This is something that I had seen a friend do for her daughter at a party recently. And it seemed to help her. Ella was uncomfortable. But she seemed more afraid of the situation than she was actually experiencing pain. There was very little swelling, thankfully. Thank God, actually. It seems that she is NOT allergic to wasp stings. I gave her some Benadryl and what little swelling there was went away as soon as the drugs kicked in. Still, this event did manage to rattle my nerves. Especially because I realized how unprepared I was. If ever you are stung by a wasp, here are some cleaver ways to treat the injury...

Hopefully, you will not need to use these tips, but good to know just in case.

Summer Camp Update: We're In!

Well it seems that the good folks running the art camp are willing to take on Ella's limitations. She was accepted for all curriculum, including the cooking classes. I love it when stuff like this happens. She will be starting on July 19 and is over the moon about it. The best part is that all of her close friends from school will also be doing this camp. Music to any five year old's ear.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summer Camp: To be or not to be?

Well, today I submitted an application for Ella to do an art camp in late July. Part of the application involved a medical questionnaire. Naturally, I wrote my usual novel explaining in detail all of the things that she is allergic to. Enough to scare even the most secure camp counselor. Several of her friends are doing the same camp session and I will admit that I am a bit behind sending in our application. When I visited the camp office this morning they told me that they have room. So it will be interesting to see if Ella can go. Fingers are crossed!

Wheat/Gluten Free Lemon Cupcakes

When someone give you a basket full of lemons from their tree, make Lemon Cupcakes! Sometimes it seems like all I do is post photos of the baked goodies that I have created. This one, a Gluten/Wheat Free Cupcake was crazy good. I only made 12 of them to take along to a party for Ella to have (and maybe a couple extra for me). I used the same recipe as I did for one of her birthday cakes (from the Annalise Roberts cookbook, "Baking Classics"). They were just as moist and every bit delicious. Next time, I am going to swirl some raspberry puree into the mix before I cook them. The raspberry works so well with the tartness of the lemon. Sadly, they didn't last long. Looks like I will be making them again soon and spending more time at the gym!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Gluten & Wheat Free Ice Cream Pie

I first posted this last September and since Summer is right around the corner I thought it was worth reposting. I made this again this past weekend. Instead of the semi-sweet chocolate chips I used Valrhona chocolate (66% cacao) and melted that for the crust. I also made two sauces, one being a caramel and the other a homemade sweetened condensed milk. I drizzled both all over the plate, place a slice on top and then topped it with homemade whipped cream. Talk about a crowd pleaser! Even people who normally do not eat dessert, gobbled this one up. And it is almost criminal how easy this pie is to make. The best part is, no one will ever know. Shhhhhhh!

July's issue of Real Simple had this fabulous recipe for Mint Chip Ice Cream Pie. It features a crust that is made, simply, with chocolate and rice crispies. They suggested filling the prepared crust with mint chip ice cream, which I am sure is delicious. But I have been making my own versions, all summer. The first one that I made was for my dad's birthday. He LOVES dulce de leche ice cream so I filled the shell with that. And then I made a homemade caramel sauce, a la, as well as a batch of whipped cream. I served the pie with the sauce drizzled on top and a dollop of cream.

My family is still debating which is better, the dulce de leche version or the chocolate raspberry pie (pictured above.) The second time I made it, I filled the shell with vanilla bean ice cream. And then I made a raspberry sauce using raspberries, sugar and framboise liqueur. Then I strained out the seeds and chilled the sauce. When I served the pie, I drizzled the sauce on top and garnished with some fresh raspberries. Out-of-this-world-delicious! The best part is that it couldn't get any easier!

I am telling you, save the above recipe for the basic chocolate crust and you will not be sorry. The possibilities are endless. I cannot wait for peppermint stick ice cream to come out during the holidays. The saliva is already filling my mouth!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Still Afraid to Eat Shrimp, in spite of this report

Shrimp Allergies May Wane with Age

Even though my allergist told me that I am no longer allergic to shrimp last August, I have yet to try it. Last weekend Ella and I were at Whole Foods ordering salmon from the fish counter. She expressed interest in bay shrimp, which she had never tried. The guy working the counter offered her some as a sample and she loved it. So she begged me to get some to take home. Traditionally, shrimp is supposed to be eaten cold, a la cocktail style. But she wanted hers warmed up. I put them into a water bath in a fry pan on the stove. Knowing that they are already cooked, I knew that it would not take much heat to get the job done. But as I was cooking them my throat began to get itchy. Maybe it was pyschosomatic, maybe it was my histamine response or maybe I was just experiencing some other allergy reaction. The fact of the matter is that I have no interest in eating them. Even though I do miss eating shrimp cocktail.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tres Leches Cake (Wheat/Gluten Free)

I was inspired to make this after I saw this month's issue of Everyday Food (June 2010). The recipe in the magazine is for a wheat based cake, so I substituted my favorite wheat/gluten free cake, instead. If you are in a hurry, you could also use the Better Crocker GF Yellow Cake mix. It is moist and delicious, the perfect dessert for any summer gathering. And nobody has to know that it is completely wheat/gluten free!

Tres Leches Cake (Wheat/Gluten Free)

For the cake...
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups brown rice flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
3/4 cup milk (I prefer whole but you can use lowfat)
2 tsp. fine quality vanilla extract

For the tres leches...
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
1 cup whole milk

For the whipped cream topping...
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. fine quality vanilla

2 pints of mixed berries (slice strawberries if using) or other fruits of your choice

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Position rack in the center of the oven. Very lightly grease a 9x12" glass baking dish. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl of an electric mixer, until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time until incorporated. Scrape sides of bowl. Add flours, salt, xanthan gum, milk and vanilla. Beat at medium speed for 1 minute.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for approx. 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

In a medium bowl whisk together three milks. Poke warm cake all over with a wooden skewer or toothpick, then pour milk mixture over the top. Let it cool at room temperature for about 1 hour.

Whip cream in a cold metal bowl (if possible) until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Continue mixing until medium peaks form. Spread over cake evenly over cooled cake. Add fruit of your choice. Cool in the fridge until ready to serve. Serve cold. Enjoy!

How Does Your Sunscreen Rate?

There has been a lot in the news lately about sunscreens and how many of them actually can increase your risk of skin cancer. Take a look at the Environmental Working Group's 2010 guide on the best/worst sunscreens out there. You will be surprised at who are the worst offenders. Recently, this point has been driven home for us because we discovered that Milo (our youngest) is allergic to most sunscreens. His doctor prescribed Vanicream SPF 60 and thankfully, that is on the good list. Worth taking a look before the summer gets under way.