Sunday, January 12, 2014

Make Your Own Chocolate Kit


My daughter got a Make Your Own Chocolate Kit for her birthday this past year, and we just found it in the pantry during Winter Break.  It comes with all of the ingredients the are necessary to make the chocolate, except a bowl and spoon.  The directions were easy to follow, and the kids were able to read them to me.  The ingredients included in the kit are cocoa butter, ground cocoa, powdered sugar, starter crystals, thermometer, and candy wrappers.  There was an informative instruction sheet included as well as 2 cocoa beans for your child to examine and taste while you are waiting for the chocolate to temper.  You can also add some filling to your candies.  Some of the suggestions are nuts, marshmallows, peanut butter, and dried fruit.  My children chose to put 2 mini marshmallows in each candy wrapper, and then we filled each wrapper with the tempered chocolate.  Then we had to put the chocolate in the refrigerator for 15 minutes, so the chocolate would harden.  When we chocolate was ready, we all tried a piece of candy.  It was actually delicious!  I was very impressed with this kit, and I would recommend this product.

<3 Cassidy





Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Gluten Free Macaroni and Cheese

Snow came to the Pacific Northwest on Friday, so I decided to make some comfort food.  One of my favorite comfort foods is Macaroni and Cheese.  Not the Macaroni and Cheese from the box, but homemade macaroni and cheese that is creamy in the middle and crunchy on top.  It is super easy to make, and it always makes me feel warm and cozy.  Here is my recipe.


Gluten Free Macaroni and Cheese

12 oz Barilla Gluten Free Pasta
3 tbsp butter
2 1/4 cup milk
3 tbsp gluten free flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
12 oz sharp block cheddar
1/2 tsp powdered mustard
3 slices gluten free bread ground up into crumbs (1/2 cup to 3/4 cup to sprinkle on top)

Cut the cheese into cubes.  Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box, drain, and leave in the colander.

In the same pot, melt the butter and add salt and pepper.  In a small bowl, mix together the flour with a little bit of milk.  Pour that into the melted butter, and then add the rest of the milk.  Heat this mixture up a little bit, stirring constantly.  Then add the cheese, powdered mustard, and stir until the cheese is melted.  Add the cooked pasta to the cheese mixture and then mix together.

Pour the macaroni and cheese into a greased casserole dish.  Top with bread crumbs.  Spray bread crumbs with Pam.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until the top is browned to your liking.  Turn off the oven, and then leave the macaroni and cheese in the oven with the door closed for 15 minutes to set.  Serve while it is still warm.

I hope you enjoy making this for your family or someone you love!

<3 Cassidy

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Night of Salads


Recently we had some friends over for an evening of salads.  Every family brought a different kind of salad.  One friend brought a green bean salad that was amazing.  Another friend brought a fruit salad, which is always yummy.  My husband and I made an antipasto, but it not in the traditional sense.  I decided to make a big bowl of lettuce with artichoke hearts, chopped red bell pepper, and sliced baby portobello mushrooms.  Then I set out platters with a variety of items so each person could make his/her own antipasto.  I had bowls of black olives, garlic stuffed green olives, and kalamata olives.  I had a platter of sliced cheeses: munster, cheddar, and provolone.  I had a platter of rolled deli meats:  roast beef, honey ham, and turkey.  I had a bowl of carrots and sweet gherkins for the children.  Friends brought fresh tomatoes from a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), avocado, and hard boiled eggs.  Once we all assembled our salads, our plates looked like a rainbow of deliciousness.  The food was beautiful, yummy, and healthy.  

Once we finished dinner, I brought out a different kind of salad.  It was still green, but there was nothing healthy about it.  I made a Watergate Salad.  When I was a child, a family friend made this and I fell immediately in love with it.  It is pudding with cool whip, pineapple, and marshmallows.  What could be bad?  I really should be embarrassed posting a recipe like this on here, but it is too good not to share.  Here is my recipe.  I doubled the recipe, because I wanted to have enough for a large group.  This recipe typically serves 6-8 people.

Watergate Salad Recipe

1 small box pistachio pudding mix
1 4-6oz can crushed pineapple and juice
1 8oz container cool whip
1 cup miniature marshmallows

Fold cool whip into the pudding mix.  Then add the crushed pineapple and juice.  Stir in the marshmallows.  Chill for 30 minutes, and then serve.

Next time you go to a pot luck, think about bringing this.  It is so yummy and easy to make.  Enjoy!

<3 Cassidy

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Gluten Free Bunny Cake



My daughter turned 6 last month, and she requested a bunny cake for her birthday.  The requirements were that it needed to be vanilla cake with chocolate frosting, and that she wanted only the face of the bunny instead of the whole body.  I had a basic idea of how to make it in my head, but I went online to see if there was a better way.  I ended up finding a recipe on the Betty Crocker website, and I used the pattern on there for the basis on my cake.  Then my son and I let our imaginations run wild and decorate it ourselves.

First, I used Bob's Red Mill gluten free vanilla cake mix to make 2 9-inch round cake pans.  I followed the recipe on the bag, so it was very easy.  After the cakes had cooled slightly, I removed them from the pans and placed them in the freezer to make them easier to decorate my cake.

When the cake was frozen, I took them out of the freezer.  One of the cakes I put on a cake server and spread chocolate frosting all over it.  Then I set it to the side.  This will be the face of the bunny.  Then I cut the second cake into the ears and a bow tie based on the pattern below.  (After we decorated the cake, my son and I decided that the bunny was wearing a t-shirt instead of a bow tie.  So, we made a bunny wearing a shirt.)  Once the second cake was cut, I started piecing the bunny pattern using the frosting as the glue holding the bunny together.  Then I finished icing the cake.
From the Betty Crocker website

Then my son came in to help me decorate the cake.  First, he decided that we should use sprinkles for the center part of the ears, but we could not decide whether to use pink or purple (those are my daughter's favorite colors).  So, we decided to do one of each!  My son sprinkled pink sprinkles on one ear and purple sprinkles on the other ear.  My daughter decided to use m&m's as well as jelly beans for her cake.*  We used green m&m's for the eyes since my daughter has green eyes.  We used a pink jelly bean for the nose.  Then we used gummy worms for the whiskers and the mouth.  Then we outlined the bunny's t-shirt with jelly beans, and filled it in with m&m's.

We thought the decorations turned out very well and the cake was delicious!  This was confirmed when my 6 year old was jumping around the house after seeing that we made her a bunny cake.  It was exactly what she wanted.  I am so happy that I was able to continue our family tradition.

*I have found it very hard to find gluten free jelly beans, but we recently found allergen-free jelly beans at our local store.  The company that makes them in called Gimbal's, and my children love them!  The packaging includes pictures of the different jelly beans with their flavors, and my children love to figure out which flavors they are eating.  

My son's 8th birthday is next month......I wonder what design he is going to pick?  No matter what it is, I know that I am going to have fun making it!

<3 Cassidy

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Summer BBQ


Tonight we went to our friend's house for a summer BBQ.  We were asked to bring a meat to grill and a side dish.  We chose to make brats, because our children love them.  Whenever we are with our friends, our children do not always want to sit down long enough to eat their whole meal.  They would prefer to run around and play with their friends.  However, the brats were intriguing enough that they both ate.

The side dish I chose to bring is an Apple Cole Slaw.  I have made this recipe for a couple of years, and it is always a success.  It is simple, colorful, and delicious.  Here is my recipe.

Gluten Free Apple Cole Slaw

Ingredients:
4 cups shredded cabbage
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
kosher salt
pepper
2 apples, cored and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sugar

In a large bowl, toss together the cabbage, vinegar, salt, and pepper.  Just before serving, add the apples and toss again.

Enjoy!
<3 Cassidy

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Gluten Free Cheesecake Recipe

Last week was my mother's 70th birthday!  She just moved out to Oregon in December, and my father will be moving here within the week.  My parents live 1/4 of a mile from us now, and I am extremely thankful that they have moved to be closer to us.  Since my father is not here yet, I wanted to make my mother's birthday special.  So, my husband made salmon (per my mother's and son's request) and popcorn shrimp (per my daughter's request).  And we ended the evening with this cheesecake, my mother's favorite dessert.  The kids made some birthday cards, and my son played "Happy Birthday" to her on his guitar.  It was a wonderful evening, and I was so happy to get to spend the special day with her!  Here is my recipe.


Gluten Free Cheesecake
  • 1 cup whole almonds (about 4 ounces)
  • 1 1/4 cups plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 pounds nuefchatel cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Boiling water, for baking
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 

Using a food processor, pulse the almonds and 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar until finely chopped.   Add the butter and pulse until combined.  Press the nut mixture evenly into a 9-inch springform pan.  Bake until the crust is slightly browned, about 10-15 minutes.  Take it out of the oven and lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees.  

While the crust is cooling, place the pan on a long piece of aluminum foil.  Fold the foil up the sides of the pan.  Set it in a large baking dish or roasting pan.  

Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese at low speed until it is fluffy for about 1 minute.  Gradually beat in the remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar until smooth and creamy.  It should take 1-2 minutes.  Beat in the eggs and egg yolks 1 at a time, making sure that all of the ingredients are combining well together.  Beat in the sour cream, lemon peel, and vanilla.

Pour the filling into the already baked crust.  Transfer to the oven and pour enough boiling water into the baking dish to reach halfway up the sides of the springform pan.  Bake until the edges are set and the center jiggles slightly.  In my oven, the cheesecake only took 60 minutes, but I have made this before in a different oven and it took 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Turn off the oven, prop the door open slightly and let the cake cool in the oven for 1 hour.  Remove the cake from the water bath and discard the foil.  Let the cake cool completely, then cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.  Then serve.

Cook's Notes:  Remember that this recipe calls for 2 pounds of cream cheese, which is 4- 8oz boxes.  I always seems to forget that and have to make a second trip to the grocery store!

This recipe is inspired by a recipe that was in the Rachael Ray Magazine a few years ago, and we fell in love with it.  My husband and I had never made cheesecake, but we thought we would give it a try.  This recipe is easy to follow, and I have never been disappointed the way it turns out.  It is light and fluffy, and the crushed up almonds in the crust blend well with the creamy cheesecake.  It is absolutely delicious!  I hope you enjoy it!

<3 Cassidy

Gluten Free Poke Hole Cake Recipe

Have you ever heard of a Poke Hole Cake?  This is a recipe that my family has been used many times, including for my first birthday.  It is extremely easy to make, and there are lots of opportunities for your children to help.  My kids really wanted to help make a birthday cake for their father, so I decided that this was the perfect recipe.  


Poke Hole Cake

4 cups almond flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup honey
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 packages instant pudding
1 cup confectioners' sugar
4 cups cold milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan with crisco and dust with almond flour.

In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda.  Then add the honey, eggs, and vanilla extract.  Mix all of the ingredients together until it has been combined thoroughly.  Scoop the batter into the prepared cake pan.

Bake for 30 minutes, until a knitting needle inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  While the cake is still warm, poke holes in the cake with the handle of a wooden spoon throughout the cake.  Ideally, the holes should be about 2 inches apart.  Since my children were the ones who poked the holes, I just made sure that the holes were spread out throughout the whole cake.

After poking holes, mix the pudding mix and sugar together.  Gradually add milk and stir.  Then beat at a low speed for no more than 1 minute.  Pour the pudding over the whole cake, making sure that the pudding fills all of the holes.  Chill the cake for 1 hour and then serve.

Cook's Notes:  My mother used to make this recipe with a cake mix instead of a made from scratch cake.  You could also make this using any flavor you want of cake or pudding.  We are chocolate lovers, so tend to choose chocolate over any other flavors.

So, get your kids in the kitchen and have some fun baking!  They will feel so proud when they get to share what they made.

<3 Cassidy