Thursday, October 21, 2010

Donut Muffins

Donuts with Dad is coming up at school and I was trying to figure out what I could make to send with my son (who has multiple food allergies). I found the recipe for Donut Muffin at GFCF Frugal Abundance. I substituted almond milk for the soy milk, an egg replacer, and used a soy-free vegan butter spread. My boys and I devoured the entire first batch. And we have a winner.

I'll let you visit GFCF Frugal Abundance for the recipe, but here is a picture to drool over first. I'm going to try to make them in mini-muffin tins to make them more bite-size like a donut hole.

These are amazing as gluten-free, so I can only imagine that they would be fantastic with traditional flour - simply omit the xanthan gum. Her GLAD flour mixture is probably the best GF flour I've tried so far.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pumpkin Cake 2 - Healthier & Allergy Friendly

Last year I made a fun "pumpkin cake" that my boys have been begging me to recreate. I put my researching hat on and modified a few things to make it allergy-friendly for us and came up with a good cake that we enjoyed with friends today. We'll be making this one again this fall season.

3 eggs (or egg substitute)
1/2 c Applesauce
1/3 c White sugar
1 1/2 c Pumpkin puree (or one 15-ounce can)
1 t Cinnamon
1/8 t Nutmeg
1/8 t Ground Cloves
1/4 t Ground Ginger
1 pkg Yellow cake mix (or 2 Betty Crocker Gluten-free mixes)
Shortening & Flour

Blend together eggs, sugar, applesauce and pumpkin on medium for 1 minute. Add spices and cake mix and continue to blend for 2 more minutes. Grease and flour a bundt pan (or 9 X 13) and pour in mixture. Bake for 45 minutes (35-40 min for 9 X 13) or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for 3-5 minutes. Invert on to a wire cooling rack until completely cooled.

Slightly melt frosting (white or orange) and pour over cake on the wire rack over wax paper. Slightly bounce the cake to allow the frosting to spread evenly. Scoop up extra frosting from the wax paper - slightly reheat - and repeat process until cake is thoroghly coated to give a "pumpkin" like appearance. Frost an ice cream cake cone with green and insert into the hole of the bundt cake.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Allergy-free Hospitality - Pt 2

Here's part 2 - the next edition of learning how to love on people with food-allergies by speaking their food-love language. Think of it as allergy-free hospitality.

If you are new to cooking for friends/family/self with food allergies, you probably start thinking about expensive and exotic foods that can only be purchased at a health food store.

True, the health food store will help you find an abundance of great products that can help address almost any food restrictions. The short-cut mixes and kits can be extremely healthy.

False, the health food store is not the only place to shop for foods that are allergen-free. A less expensive place to start is on the outer ring in your grocery store. Along the exterior walls, you will usually find the produce, meat, and refrigerated sections. These departments are where you will find the majority whole foods (name given to foods that are in their natural state/not processed with other ingredients). Serving green peppers (and other fruits & veggies) to someone with a peanut allergy is a safe bet (as long as you are handling the ingredients in a safe way). Roasted meat (look for proteins that is not injected with solutions, marinaded, or processed) is a tasty and gluten-free dinner choice.

The inner isles of the store contains most of your processed foods. You can find great options there as well, but CAREFULLY read the whole label (and save the packaging for your friends to double check).

Here's a list of foods that I suggest to family/friends when they ask what to serve:
  • Grilled/roasted/baked chicken, steak, roast, pork, etc (watch seasonings)
  • Hamburgers (not served on a bun)
  • Plain white or brown rice
  • Potato
  • Veggies
  • Fruit
  • Plain potato chips (watching for oils & flavorings)
  • Tortilla chips (watching for oils & ingredients) & salsa (look for fresh)
  • Rice noodles
  • Air popped or stove popped popcorn
  • Popsicles
  • Applesauce
  • Mexican and Asian recipes are often free of allergens or easily adapted to make them safe
  • Etc
There are plenty of great options that are inexpensive and very simple to make. Summertime is the easiest season when everything can be thrown on the grill.

You can do it. In fact, you may often cook this way and never realize that it is safe for those you love with food intolerances and allergies.

Next time we'll take a look at pitfalls and things to look at - many of which you would have never guessed. It may be a bit overwhelming, or a lot. Even being well educated and fairly carefully, I still miss things and make unsafe choices for my son. Everyday is a learning process and a chance to enjoy the wonderful foods that are good for our bodies

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Flourless Peanut-free Peanut Butter Cookies

This is about as simple as it gets in allergy-free baking. It requires NO specialty flours and the finished results are very tasty. They are a bit crumbly due to the lack of flour, but have a smooth texture.

1 c firmly packed brown sugar
1 c sunbutter (or almond butter)*
1 egg (or egg replacer)
1 t baking soda
1/2 t vanilla extract
3/4 c chocolate chips (or morsels)

Stir together first five ingredients with a wooden spoon (It's sticky, you'll want a good stiff spoon. I tried a thick spatula with sad results and moved on to the wooden spoon). Stir in chocolate chips/morsels. Drop cookie dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until golden (cookies will be soft, but firm up as they cool). Cool on baking sheet 5 minutes, remove to wire rack. I just slide the parchment paper over to the counter.

*I found a similar recipe to this made with peanut butter and thought - that would be easy to tweak. If you can eat peanuts, feel free to substitute that for the sunbutter or almond butter.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Allergy-free Hospitality - Pt 1

I've been asked a LOT lately for some simple recipes that can be made as a treat for their friends/family who are gluten-free (or other food allergies). So I'll be devoting a few posts here for simple/easy/quick fixes that can allow you to entertain GLUTEN-FREE, DAIRY-FREE, and even EGG-FREE.

I know we could delve into more allergies and diet restrictions, but we'll start with these.

First of all, let me say bless you to anyone who is willing to attempt allergen-free cooking and baking for a loved one. It REALLY does give the person a feeling of belonging and being cared for when you work hard to make them included. As a mom, it speaks volumes to me that you've put the thought and care into making my son's life a little more normal.

That being said - I'll gladly bring my son his own food to get-togethers, and it is NOT an insult. It's part of our life. If you are uncomfortable/uncertain that the foods you serve are not safe, than I'd rather have your company with our own safe food.

Second of all, have packaging and recipes ready for your guests to look at, and don't be insulted if your guest with an allergy asks questions about what is in it. They are just trying to eat clean/safe. While you have done your best to make something that meets the dietary restrictions, you may not realize the entirety of your guest's food restrictions. Double checking is a must in many people's worlds.

Third, allergy-free cooking doesn't have to be just for the guest with allergies. There are great, tasty, and frugal ideas that the crowd will enjoy. Think of it as culinary exercises - you are strengthening your cooking/baking skills, which will only serve to make you stronger in the end.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Cookies - Playing With Your Food

I love sugar cookies and so do my boys... so why limit them to one holiday a year? We make sugar cookies for all kinds of holidays, occasions, and just because. Last Christmas we iced little light bulbs and strung them together with licorice strings. (The lights have a bit of frosting on the back to help hold them to the string.)

Some of my favorite ways to use cookies - footballs. Great for MNF or Super Bowl parties and takes almost no icing (just a little white for the laces). Works great with the brown sugar cookies because they are already brown.

We make hearts for Valentine's Day, Shamrocks for St Patties, flowers for spring, pumpkins in the fall, snowflakes for the first snow fall, and all sorts of shapes just because (cars, animals, planes, circles/squares/triangles, etc). What can I say? We enjoy playing with our food.

Now I just need to work on a gluten/dairy/egg/soy free version that my oldest can enjoy. That's gonna take a bit of tweaking.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Bit Of A Different Format

I've been wondering for a while on how to transform a blog of just recipes into more. It lacks the soul, art, and life in the kitchen. There is more to the love of cooking than just the recipe to produce.

So hopefully a bit of humor, struggles with food allergies stories of kitchen tragedies, and few slanted looks at life will personalize it a bit.

So what am I up to lately? I've been working in the kitchen on creating homemade sausage. I've been struggling to find a good quality sausage without gluten and dairy that doesn't cost a fortune. Can I just mention how much my boys (including the grown up one) love sausage? For breakfast, on pizza, in spaghetti/lasagna/pasta/etc... Okay, I enjoy it too.

So my frugal solution? Learn how to make my own. I picked up a lunch of pork on sale ($1 - $1.50/lb) and on clearance ($.80/lb) and we've been grinding it up (love my Kitchen Aid attachment). Texture is good, but the spice blend is still in the tweaking process.

So wish me well and pray for my boys that they can handle the concoctions being sent their way.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Freezing Green Peppers

Here's another installment in the much delayed series on "How To" process fall produce and seasonal favorites.

I found a great deal on peppers and bought way more than I could (or should) ever use by time they would go bad. Here's a great way to use them and process them. I diced them up and spread them out over top of some plastic wrap. Then "flash freeze" (spread out to freeze them individually and then store together) them for a couple of hours.

After the fast freeze, remove the peppers from the pan/plastic wrap and store them in a freezer bag. You can pull them out and use them as needed. **

Because when the thaw, the frozen peppers will be a little soft. Wouldn't recommend using these in a raw preparation, but works perfectly for spaghetti sauce, fajitas, stir fry, and anything else you could think of.

You can freeze the colored peppers separately if you want, but I like to mix them for color and flavor.

**I'm the only one in my family that enjoys peppers much, so this method is cost effective. I can grab a few peppers at a time for what I need.