Gluten Free Ice Cream Cake…kinda fail..kinda not

Screen Shot 2014-01-09 at 5.40.17 PMI totally have a new respect for anyone that attempts to make an ice cream cake. I got a bright idea that for my son, who is not gluten free by the way and whose birthday happens to be today..I would make an ice cream cake with the ice cream flavors he likes and make it gluten free as a bonus. I keep wondering what we did in the days before Pinterest and google with all their helpful suggestions and recipes to share? The above “gem” (stop laughing I can hear you) is my first attempt at making an ice cream cake and decorating it..not exactly a fail..but not exactly a win…

There is a science to making an ice cream cake..I did not know this until this week. Even if you are like me and decided to construct vs actually make the cake (and by make I mean create your own ice cream vs buying whatever brand is on sale at the grocery store) there is a lot of work that needs to go into this. Things like I did not know that you cannot melt the ice cream because it will refreeze into a different consistency..so softened ice cream is good..melted not so much. I chose to use slightly softened ice cream and to mash into the pan I used to mold it. The other important piece of information is before you even begin this project..make sure you freeze the cake pan you are using for a couple of hours in the coldest part of your freezer to insure it is nice and cold. Once the pan (I used a spring form pan) is cold line it with parchment paper to make it easier to remove the molded ice cream at the end.

Each Step was all about patience..I wish I took pictures as I was doing it but it went a little something like this…freeze pan, line and put back in freezer for a few minutes..put softened ice cream into bottom layer and smooth out..cover with plastic wrap and place back in freezer for a minimum of 2.5 hours. If you want the cookie crunch you have a couple of options..1) make cookies and cool them or buy pre made. For this venture I bought a package of Glutino GF oreo like cookies and mixed them with magic shell. You can make your own the recipe is embedded in this post… http://www.kinfolk.com/cakes-ages/

after you spread the cookie crunch and cover it with plastic wrap and refreeze for about 2 hours to set you add the top layer of ice cream. My son does not enjoy many ice creams beyond vanilla or vanilla with caramel mixed in so I opted for a layer of carame swirl and a layer of vanilla. The top layer took a while to freeze but once it was done I was able to “frost” the cake with a layer of cool whip and then put it back in the freezer to set again..then came the decorating part..and here is where not only my inexperience with decorating showed but also my laziness. Did I mention the boy is a HUGE Boston Bruins fan?

Said Boy is a Bruins fan and I thought that should not be too hard..AH WRONG WRONG WRONG. To start this adventure off on the wrong foot I was terrified of the prospect of making black icing and gave into that fear and purchased pre made black icing and furthering my laziness..I bought the yellow too. Those Betty Crocker tubes look nice and convenient don’t they? Yeah they are evil little tubes of plastic that are not easy to work with and to top it off the stencil I cut out with the B was sticking to the cake and no help at all…I did not give up even after I massively screwed up and to go to plan (pun definitely not intended) …also have I mentioned that said boy has Asperger’s Syndrome? SO he sees what I am doing and looks at me with a dropped face and says “You are not buying me an ice cream cake at Friendly’S”? ..Queue the epic fail. Next time I will just make the icing myself and use a pastry bag it will at least look less like a 5 year olds creation…now to get home again and see if it tastes good

Advertisements

The Downfalls of Making Gluten Free Flour Tortillas

Yesterday I felt kind of brave and decided to attempt something I usually leave to the aisles of the grocery store…making gluten-free tortillas. I was just in San Diego and spent some time in Old Town where I was able to watch some serious tortilla making pros. These women make the whole process look incredibly easy and the portion of my brain that has an issue with knowing my limits was like yeah I can do that.

So after researching several recipes and making sure I have all the correct ingredients, I set out to make flour tortillas. Here is the thing, a product is only as good as its recipe and recipe is only as good as the person who executes it..I am not completely sure where my experience took a turn..maybe it was my over confidence? I am not sure where things went wrong, however the thing is the tortillas actually tasted pretty good. The problem was they were more of a pita bread consistency AND (this is a BIG and) I am not sure if my skills with the rolling-pin are inadequate or working with gluten-free flour was the issue. The recipe I settled on was Alton Brown’s easy tortilla recipe from food network.com http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/flour-tortillas-recipe/index.html
my tortillas looked like some kind of misshapen mess, absolutely nothing like the goodies made on the streets of san Diego.
I wish I had a photo of my attempt but I was so disappointed with my results that I never bothered to even snap a quick shot of that hot mess.
there is a first time for everything and now I need to get back in the kitchen and figure out if the problem was the lack of gluten that gives flour its elasticity, my measurements are off due to the fact that I did not weigh the flour or if it was the recipe itself.
I am now using Pinterest as a source for inspiration and came across a new gluten free tortilla recipe that I am hoping to try..IF I can find the time..

The Pillsbury Doughboy goes Gluten Free

Finally gluten free is going mainstream..for really real! Finding decent gluten free food that is ready to make is often a challenge, historically the available options included small companies that are big on price and low in taste..that was until…I found myself in my local Walmart Super Store on Thursday.

I am admitting here that my relationship with Walmart is very love/hate. I hate going to Walmart.  The store is big, bright, a pain to get to and they never have enough people working the cash registers so the wait time to check out really makes me think I am crazy for subjecting myself to this torture over and over because nothing changes ..ever.  However there are times like Thursday when I find something new in the store I have not seen elsewhere and the end totally justifies the means. So as I grabbed paper towels, cleaning supplies, snacks for school and a few other staples I wandered over to the aisle with yogurt and the cookie doughs and what caught my eye was a small tub that said Gluten Free. I looked over and it was actually a container that said Pillsbury, I nearly wet my pants with excitement. The Pillsbury Doughboy is GLUTEN FREE!!! WOOHOO!!! So of course me being me, I bought every item available to give it a whirl without even looking at the price. However the love part of Walmart kicked in when I looked and the price was $3.99 for a tub of chocolate chip cookie dough..finally reasonably priced gluten free, it was enough to restore my faith in why I venture to Walmart every now and again.

Of course, once again me being me..I got home and instantly started doubting my purchase. After all, I have managed through much trial and error to come up with a method of making gluten free chocolate chip cookies that not only look good, but they also taste really good so if this dough is good, my ego was getting a swift kick. I decided yesterday to give the cookie dough a shot and baked a small batch.  Just like regular pop n fresh dough all you do is take the container out of the fridge, preheat the oven to the recommended temperature (in this case 350 F) and spoon the dough onto a cookie sheet. I used a melon baller like I usually do to get a smaller cookie that is nice and rounded and the cookies are evenly sized. IMG_0776IMG_0773

 

Yeah I hate to admit this..but these were probably some of the best gluten free chocolate chip cookies I have ever tasted. They even passed the fussy girl’s taste test so I will be buying these again in the future.  So now that we have tried these I have a tub of their gluten free pizza crust and pie dough waiting for me to give them a whirl.  I am going to make a calzone and some pop tarts in a bit..I will let you know how they turn out in a post very soon.  In the meantime..get yourself some of these cookies..even if it means going to walmart..I kid

 

Pasta Salad GF style

I’m a lazy blogger..I think of posts in my head all the time and then when it gets right down to executing my thoughts I would rather goof off on Facebook.  Summer is coming to an end and it is back to planning of lunches and figuring out what to feed the world’s fussiest child who happens to have celiac disease. I think I have a couple of ideas that might just pass the lunchbox test.. I do not know why I never thought to attempt to make gluten free pasta salad before, but after a trip to the local market I thought why not give it a try. The truest test if this is really good happens tomorrow when I take my creation to a family party where there are family members who are new to gluten free, but for now passing the test at my house is a good indicator one of the three recipes I created is a keeper.

IMG_0747

Thinking about Donuts…MMM DONUTS

Mother Nature either has a twisted sense of humor or she figures we here in the Northeast had it a little too easy and it is high time for a reality check. It is freaking snowing again..seriously?  This weekend I am not quite so prepared for snowmageddon and did not buy out Whole Foods and my local chain…

So seeing that we have the potential for another nasty storm here tomorrow..and I find being snowed in exhausting! So the question is what to make? Tonight I tried a honey mustard pretzel chicken recipe that I originally saw on pinterest (I am admitting that I am a pinterest addict..I love the food porn people post) and then I followed the link to a site called cinnamon spice and everything nice. My chicken did not come out quite so pretty..maybe it has something to do with the gluten free pretzels not playing nice with the food processor….Imageso this was my attempt at the honey mustard chicken recipe..it actually tastes much better than it looks. The chicken is lathered in honey mustard sauce before it dipped in the pretzels and then the remaining honey mustard goes on top…next time I think a ziploc bag and a rolling pin will crumble the pretzels much better than my food processor and I will play with the honey mustard seasoning as well..this is definitely a recipe that has potential…

So moving on to tomorrow..let me start by telling you that I am not a huge fan of donuts. I worked for a few years at a local coffee shop near my house and we served about as many donuts as we did coffee. Those were the days when each store employed a baker who came in during the middle of the night and made the donuts and the worker bees like me often came in early and “finished” the donuts before the morning rush. We filled jelly, frosting, custard, lemon, and apple..put frosting, sugar, powdered sugar and glaze on others then put them in paper lined baskets into their designated spots out front. The smell of grease and frosting permeated my hair and clothes while I worked there and yeah I was no longer a fan. That was until we traveled (many years later I might add) down below the Mason-Dixon line and I had my first Krispy Kreme glazed donut right out of the oven…it was so good it was sinful. My poor kid was sitting there looking at me like JERK, you are eating that yummy look thing and I am sitting here with a juice box and an apple. SO last week on Pinterest I came across a pin of Krispy Kreme looking donuts and more importantly …a recipe here is a link to a picture of these gorgeous looking donuts

http://www.leannebakes.com/2010/05/glazed-and-cinnamon-sugar-coated-donuts.html

I am thinking these donuts are my Sunday Gluten free project…I am thinking if I am snowed in, we might as well enjoy it

Flour, Cakes, and Pie …Oh My

This morning I had plans to go into the city, see an older relative and maybe catch some lunch at one of the local joints in the neighborhood. Half way up my phone rang, it was UJ on the other end dumping me for one of his cronies..( I will tell you about UJ another time…) and to be honest I was kind of disappointed because for a moment I had no clue what to do with my time. I actually do not even recall the last time I had a moment where I was in a situation trying to figure out what to do with my free time!

It so happens I was near the shopping center where our local Whole Foods Market is located and I figured what the heck I will be semi organized for once and go get something for dinner. I also realized that I needed a birthday gift for one of my carpool kids and a new meat thermometer while I was there so off I went. I am going to admit I am really frustrated by the disorganization at our Whole Foods when it comes to Gluten Free products. They are literally all over the place and you have to look really hard to find what you are looking for. The process is not only time-consuming but also irritating. GF crackers and cookies are in separate aisles, the GF flour is mixed in with regular wheat based products, even the GF pizza is in a case away from the other GF frozen foods. Get a clue Whole Foods and organize the products and LABEL the GF sections even the local grocery chains do this…I go to Whole Foods to get better quality foods to feed my family and it ends up sucking up my time more than anything. Ok rant over..

I figured I would be nice seeing it is the second week of school and make a favorite so I bought a whole chicken. Our local chain grocery store in our town has a special that they run every Thursday called “five buck cluck”, basically it is a whole rotisserie chicken that they sell for $5. The problem is I am not sure of all the seasonings that they use and die to the high volume of birds they are cooking they do not look all the appetizing..so for a few dollars more I made my own version of “five buck cluck”…only this one cost me $9.77…

Oh and about that meat thermometer…I have one but the problem is I usually have to stick it in a glass of ice water for the darn thing to work so I decided to splurge since there is also a Williams Sonoma in the same shopping center. My big issue is I can never just GO IN to WS. You see I have to browse and once I have what I came in for then I recall about 12 more things I “need”…so I did get the thermometer, but then I recalled that I needed a scale since I did indeed find a macaron recipe that looks promising. Oh yeah and I also needed pink grapefruit hand lotion because I tried the hand soap (side note here that stuff is awesome! No matter how bad my hands smell from onions, garlic… you name it….this soap neutralizes it) and while I was waiting for Kathy the sales associate to get me a new scale from the back I decided to go and look at the cookbooks ( I am a self-professed cookbook junkie) and the baking mixes and that was when I spotted some items the piqued my interest..

This is a chocolate cake mix that is from Chef Thomas Keller’s restaurant…it looks good. M and I plan to give it a try this weekend, provided it not too hot or humid. I will be honest the darn thing better be good considering it cost $21.95 for the mix alone, you still need to add cocoa powder, eggs, oil ,milk and water …I will let you know the verdict as soon as we make it… the cake was not the only add-on in my basket I also spotted a GF pie crust mix

The last was a big surprise  Cup4Cup flour. here is a link to their site…http://cup4cup.com

I am looking for a really good GF flour. Many times I have settled for whatever is available but it has not always been the best choice.Point in case is when I make chicken pot pie, the mixture tends to immediately come out at the correct consistency but after a few minutes it is like the mixture falls apart and just thins out and does not taste as well as it did immediately after cooking. I am going to admit I am pretty excited about this since many of the online reviews are good.

I am going to admit that I did in fact try this flour out while I cooked dinner. You can not have roasted chicken without gravy and since all gravies available in the jar, the packet or the can (even the ready-made stuff at the grocery store) are all wheat flour based I have to make gravy from scratch using GF alternatives. I am going to admit I was always a bit intimidated by making gravy until I became a Food Network devotee and saw Ina Garten make gravy on the show..when she said “How easy was that?” I got the courage to tackle gravy making 101…first batch I made was a little scary but since then it has gotten much easier and tonight for the first time the gravy did not taste GF.

I think I will have to make a recipe like a coffee cake or some muffins before I am a complete convert but I am willing to give this a go…

So as a FYi here is the recipe for making gravy thanks to Ina Garten and food network.com. I gave this a try going cup for cup

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/homemade-gravy-recipe/index.html

Until next time Happy Eating

So Now What?

Image

Going home from the doctor’s appointment after my daughter was diagnosed with Celiac Disease I simply felt overwhelmed. All I could think was now what? On one hand I was feeling blessed that the “only” thing wrong with this little lady was celiac and it could be controlled with diet.On The other had I had no freaking clue what this all meant and I was frustrated and feeling guilty that I could do not more fast enough to make M all better.

Finding information online was a bit challenging at the time (this was 1998) and I was forced to rely upon people at the health food store and a few pamphlets from the doctor before our appointment with the nutritionist at Boston Children’s Hospital a few weeks out from that time. The doctor also informed me at the end of our appointment that my daughter would need to temporarily follow a dairy free diet to allow her gut to heal for at least 6 months. So for 6 months my 18 lb 15 month old child was gluten and dairy free and miserable that she could not have a cookie like her siblings or chicken nuggets. The other kids were frustrated because they were forced to eat their snacks or nuggets in stealth mode, and I was frustrated because this whole gluten free thing was so much harder than I imagined.

The simple question was …what do I feed this child? I tried all the baking mixes available in the store and most were terrible. The muffins tasted like sand, the bread was terribly complicated to make (I was a newbie) and my daughter did not want to eat any of it. There were some gems…Foods by George had pre made frozen pizza and brownies that tasted pretty good, Gorilla Munch cereal was a great replacement and the good news was the other children in the family were willing to eat it as well. We had a start, and then I realized that there was plenty of foods we eat that are naturally gluten free including popcorn and hence M’s love affair with popcorn began. We were starting to navigate the waters of eating GF and while it was still tough it was definitely getting easier.

Getting involved with the Celiac Support Group at Children’s Hospital in Boston definitely was a step int he right direction for us as a family. We learned about mail order specialty food companies that sold better foods than the ones available at retail and there were people who tried the products and gave advice.

Today theer are more options since gluten free eating seems to be a much more mainstream issue. The number of available foods has exploded and there is loads of information available on the internet. However nothing really replaces that moment when someone says I have been there and let me help you out.

Today I have to admit all of my hard work paid off. I have learned to adapt recipes using GF ingredients and really wish my darling daughter would be a bit more adventurous but I get it…there comes a point when you realize you are a master at reading food labels, you think constantly about how you can make that recipe gluten free. I have a great idea of foods that kids will eat and not eat, what brand of GF pretzels are the best, how to make breadcrumb toppings from potato chips, GF pretzels and stale GF bread. I can make a darn good pizza and even use those pizza crusts to make cinnamon sticks (like the ones advertised by big food chains) or garlic bread sticks…I can make crust out of crushed cookies and make a great pie.

By the way the picture at the top of the post is a box of French Macarons that we bought at Lauderee` patisserie inside Harrods in London earlier this year. It was AMAZING to be able to get a GF treat like this. M loved these so much that we went back to Harrods before we left for Heathrow and our flight to Dublin with little time to spare. I will post about our adventures in London another day…but in the meantime I am on the hunt to get a great macaron recipe so I can repeat that great experience…

Until next time…Happy eating