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

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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

 

Cake Pops …the Sequel..

ImageRemember last year when I called called cake pops evil? Well pretty much my opinion of them has not differed, I just have a better understanding of how much time and effort those deceptively ratchet balls of cake require..

So once again, my daughter is in charge of bringing in treats for the entire class to celebrate a classmate’s birthday, but this time there was a wrench thrown in ..this kid is loaded with allergies. Easy for someone like me used to doing GF? AH no. See I had a theme in mind..pink, black and white for a sweet sixteen. I bought out the Wilton section at the craft store, I mean how can colored sugar pose a threat to anyone but diabetics? Yeah…about that..WRONG again. Wilton products in small print on the sides of their products states “processed on equipment that handles nuts, tree nuts and wheat products”…ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? 

Time for plan B or maybe even plan C…

Even the food coloring was not deemed safe so what to do? Luckily there is a specialty cake decorating shop 2 towns over from where I live and I figured what the heck it would not hurt to check them out. I have not been in this store in years and wondering with all the baking and decorating I do why haven’t I been there? I was in luck that the place was very quiet and the manager was able to chat, the store actually has its own line of sugar, sprinkles and melting chocolate that is packaged in house and nut/gluten free..my rear end saved once again. Like all good things there was always a catch..the color choices are limited, but not so much that I was forced to abandon my color scheme. Really was a swift kick in the pocketbook to buy all the same items again just nut free. 

The thing with cake pops is they are easy enough to whip up..I made the cake batter, put some of the batter into a mini whoopie pie pan, put the rest into a ziploc bag, snipped a little hole on the end..voila instant squeeze bottle for the cake pop maker and cook your cakes. Once they cool down you really must pop them into the freezer. Today I tried both frosting and chocolate melts …and the chocolate melts are much easier to work.

And while I have all 3 of you who read this held captive I want to ask..what is wrong with me that I am stuck making cake pops for other people’s kids on “holidays”? Last year it was mother’s day..this year it is valentine’s day ..and I still need to go home and make cookies ( I am waiting for this daughter to be done with her 2.5 hour dance class as I type ..) 

Here a few of the pops that got created today..my inspiration was something I saw on pinterest..looked easy enough..AH YEAH ..No….please ignore the dirty stove , there was a whole lotta cooking going onImageJust ignore the

Crackers

ImageYou know things in life we take for granted? Oh come on you know what I am talking about…simple things like family, home and yeah food. There are things we have all eaten or had that we cherish or just do not enjoy, like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for example. We have all had a PBJ on white bread with the crusts cut off and most people think of it as a fond childhood memory..me not so much since I am not a fan of peanut butter, never have been probably never will be..but I have downed my fair share of PBJ, with grape jelly or better yet with Fluff. Well if I happened to have a peanut allergy that PBJ would be something I never experienced…well same thing goes for kids who are Gluten Free. My younger daughter has never really experienced a diet with gluten since she was diagnosed very young.  There are a lot of things my daughter has missed out on as a result of her celiac disease…things I have taken for granted as part of my diet (many in limited quantities) from my earliest memories..things like Oreos and Pepperidge Farms Goldfish. I am a huge fan of goldfish, those little crackers can make me happy in small quantities , are an easy snack to toss in the lunch box..ok let’s face it they are just yummy in any flavor. My daughter, she has never had them and until recently it never occurred to me that maybe some soul out there created a recipe for someone like me.

I scoped out the gluten free blogs and found a few new ones. There is one called gluten free on a shoestring that really looked promising. In order to get the recipe for the author’s gluten free version of goldfish crackers I got suckered into buying her cookbook. That is $9.99 I really did not want to waste…so I got the recipe, and with my food processor and silicone baking mat set out to make goldfish..or something small enough to be a cheese cracker. Let me just say that using velveeta and salt in a recipe together is not something I recommend..WAY too salty. Going to admit the first batch was nothing shy of nasty..I even used the flour blend the site author uses and the result was not great…so back tot he drawing board I went..I found a recipe for homemade goldfish crackers that uses traditional flour and decided to combine the gluten free recipe and this one. This time I used real shredded cheddar cheese and butter vs shortening and velveeta  as well as Cup4CUp flour, and the first batch tasted way better..but they were not exactly crispy in the middle. This was actually the same issue I had with the first batch. So what to do to remedy this?

Real cheese and butter helped to improve the taste, I am not 100% positive that the true CUP4CUP flour was a factor, but I am not sure it hurt the recipe either. The key was to refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes and to roll it out as thinly as possible before cutting the shapes out. as soon as I get the recipe absolutely perfect I will post it here. I do not have a little goldfish cookie cutter so I used little stars that are actually fondant cutters and baked until nice and crisp about 14 minutes.

I have a way to go with my recipe, every batch is getting better and my daughter and her friends are willing victims..i mean taste testers..

New Ideas Brewing

ImageI  to confess that I am of a mindset that change is good..so why is it that I am terrified of making changes in my own life? Well here is it is.. I am going to confess that I getting ready to catch my breath and make a big change. For years, I have been tinkering in my kitchen, making gluten free goodies, adapting recipes and finding ways to make sure my daughters experience every culinary delight  despite their gluten free necessity. I am always willing to share what I know with newbies and moms who hear put your child on a gluten free diet and think well now what. So now I am considering taking it a step further.

I am thinking about making a little business out of this venture..making crackers, bagels, and other goodies that are gluten free..taste pretty good and easy enough to create out of my kitchen for now. My services will also be available in the greater Boston and Providence areas to help anyone new to this get started..I just have to remember what the heck the password is for verizon so I can set up a new email address and get things rolling..I look forward to starting a new chapter in life even if means jumping off the high dive…

 

Oh and a little edit here..the picture above is from an experiment I tried via Pinterest..I found a recipe on a friend’s board for pepperoni and sausage pizza bites and thought I can do this..in the end these turned out to be a savory cupcake with chicken and cheese and turned into more of an alfredo/savory cupcake that passed the adult taste test but was an epic fail in the kid department..here is the non gluten free recipe link http://www.plainchicken.com/2011/02/sausage-pepperoni-pizza-puffs.html

I substituted cup4cup flour

Getting Started

GF Baked Mac and Cheese

Getting Started

You have been told by your doctor that you should try a Gluten Free dietto help with migraines or digestive problems, your child may have been diagnosed with autism or you or someone close to you was diagnosed with Celiac disease and you walk away from your appointment thinking now what? Well now what starts here in this little blog.First of all I want to say I am NOT a registered dietitian and do not claim to be in any capacity. Who I am is  a mom who has been feeding a child diagnosed with celiac disease for fourteen years and now a second child who is following a Gluten Free diet after conventional medicine failed to help her alleviate migraine headaches. I am sure I should be on the diet as well as I have  digestive problems including bloating and bouts of diarrhea, lactose intolerance and headaches. When I was a child my mother always claimed that I had a “nervous stomach” and had to take some awful green liquid medication. Chances are that my issues are gluten related, but I am too lazy and too old to make changes, more lazy than old if I am being completely honest here.Our family’s journey into the world of Gluten Free eating began when my youngest child was diagnosed with Celiac Diseaseat the age of 15 months. This child suffered from frequent bouts of diarrhea, vomiting, slow weight gain, reflux, and was diagnosed as failure to thrive. I breast fed this baby and so anything I consumed was passed right on to my daughter. Our pediatrician  advised at different times that I eliminate foods from my diet such as onions, broccoli and other “gassy” foods as well as dairy and yes this helped a little but the digestive problems persisted. Eventually we were referred to a pediatric gastroenterologist specialist who was a God send. I all children have a 50% chance of developing reflux, add in the fact that this child was born 11 weeks premature and their risk increased and finally if we took into account the medications I received to help stop and slow down my labor the baby was at high risk for developing reflux. Reflux explained some of my baby’s symptoms but not all and so we went in for further testing. My baby was tested for everything and anything you can think of including cystic fibrosis. I was impressed when the GI doctor asks about our Irish heritage and explained that he suspected my child has Celiac Disease. 1 blood test and a small bowel biopsy later the answer was clear my child has Celiac Disease. The doctor explained to me there is no cure  and the only way to help is to put the child on a Gluten Free diet. I had NO freaking clue where to start in my quest to feed my child. I searched online, read anything I could get my hands on, consulted a nutrtionist and joined a support group. It was in the support group where I was able to connect with other parents coping with the same issues as I was. In those days Gluten Free foods were available primarily by mail order and the selections were far and few between.Eating Gluten free has been a 14  year learning experience and I feel like I am still learning as I go along. SO here we are and you have been told to try out the GF diet the question is still…Now what..you will get advice from a variety of people but here are a few basics…

Well the first thing you need to do is educate yourself. You need to learn how to read food labels because gluten can be found in sneaky ways in a multitude of ingredients. As I develop this blog a bit more I will add links to this information

Next after you have some idea you need to clean out your refrigerator. The biggest setback to a GF diet is cross contamination. Cross contamination happens when people use the same toaster or share condiments with non GF  eaters. A rule to remember is 1 crumb of gluten causes six weeks of damage. If I were to cook in 2 separate pots a serving of gluten-free and non gluten-free pastas and strained them , if I drop 1 single piece of regular pasta into the gluten-free batch,that whole batch is contaminated and is unable to be eaten by the person(s) on the GF diet. SO…a sharpie and labels will become your friends at the start of your journey. Get a fresh jar of mayonnaise, mustard, jelly,peanut butter etc..whatever you use and label them as GF and if you need to only use clean utensils.

My family has a dedicated toaster for GF breads and items that we use. i would advise using a toaster oven as this will allow you to toast your bread on a piece of tin foil if need be.

Cleanliness and constant attention to what you are eating are very important,avoiding cross contamination is the key here. Make sure that you clean your dishes and pots and pans in a dishwasher if at all possible. The dishwasher sanitizes your eating and cooking dishes, pots and utensils so there are no traces of gluten.

Now it is time to go shoping..what do you eat? Here is a simplified version of what you need to cut out, WHEAT, oats (there is debate about oats as by themselves they do not contain gluten, but most oats in the USA are processed with wheat and hence they are contaminated with gluten) barley,rye. what this translates to you in the beginning is no bread,pasta or pizza…well none of those products that are available at pizza shops or in most aisles at the grocery store.

the good news is this…going GF is not a death sentence and it does not mean that you can not eat flavorful foods. You can eat pizza (GF of course) and bread, pretzels and even pasta. There are meals that you probably already make now that are GF. Things like baked chicken (no bread crumbs or stuffing) or grilled steak or pork chops with sweet potatoes or regular potatoes, rice or salad. The key to eating GF is all about flavor.

So for now I am ending this, I will add  grocery items that we use often list as I attempt to find to time to write this. I will also start adding recipes. I can convert almost any recipe in any cookbook into a GF version including my favorite cook Ina Garten from The Food Network’s Barefoot Contessa(love love love Ina) Along the way I have developed my own secrets and shortcuts to cooking, eating and living Gluten Free..I hope to share this all with you

Until Next Time Happy Eating