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

 

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.

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In Search of Gluten Free at the NE Food Show 2013

Thanks to good friends, today I attended the New England Food Show in Boston. Gotta love friends with connections who can get you into a great exhibition such as this one. The place was a foodie’s wet dream (sorry for being so crude) there were samples of absolutely every type of food and drink you can imagine all ready to be looked at, asked about and tasted. I think I ate my way up and down the aisles stopping for a moment or 2 to peep at some great commercial style appliances and serving options. The show is geared for those individuals who are in the restaurant business and looking to connect with vendors of all kinds but I was lucky to tag along with my friends who operate a catering business here in New England.

It is absolutely amazing to me how many big name brands are served under house labels in your favorite restaurants and delis. While my friends were seeking out ways to expand their growing business, I was a woman on a mission seeking out the best of the best in gluten free offerings. 

Finding gluten free options took a few minutes, there were pasta vendors, and a few bakers as well. One vendor had samples of gluten free lemon drop cookies available and lets just say I felt like I was tasting a piece of cardboard with lemon oil on it. All I thought was come on you think this stuff actually tastes good? There have been so many advances in making people aware of eating gluten free and like a few of these food vendors just did not get the message. The pasta vendor was excellent..in light of my recent discoveries of how to make tortillas at home I was quite excited to bend the ear of a natural tortilla maker who sold a gluten free option. The chef’s pitch was rather disheartened and his attitude was yeah we make them..but they are gluten free. Translation is they do not taste good but ours are the best available on the market that look white like your typical flour tortilla. If you ask me, being white and looking like a traditional tortilla is simply not enough. Just because individuals with celiac disease have no other choice than to eat a gluten free diet does automatically mean they have to sacrifice eating foods that are tasty and healthy as well. The secret to these particular gluten free tortillas was to hit them with steam vs dry heat to keep them pliable and not a hard brittle mess. Yeah so if steamed flour for effect and not taste is what you are going for these are the tortillas for you otherwise..there has to be another option.

Many of the chefs at the show were perfectly aware of what components of their foods did or did not contain gluten but most were not too keen on how the products taste or way too aware of cross contamination. I was surprised to see that Gillians breads are produced by a bread company that also produces many breads containing gluten. I will be interested to research to see if the gluten free breads are produced in a separate facility.

The other shocker for me was to walk up and down the aisles seeing all the very best in products available not only for lunch, dinner and breakfast but also for desert. The amount of cakes, cookies and ice creams available to supply to restaurants and catering companies is unreal. I sampled delicious lemon mousse cheese cake, chocolate cakes and frozen yogurt and then started seeing sprinkles and confections to decorate cakes with.  Once again I ran into the same issue I am finding with all of these types of confections, manufacturers are processing them on equipment that also processes nuts, gluten and any other type allergen out there. For as much awareness as there is about nut allergies and gluten intolerance why are there not more companies committed or smart enough to start processing their items like sprinkles, decorative sugars and sugar confections on dedicated machinery to prevent cross contamination? These items are fairly easy to make just incredibly time consuming. I do not know, it seems like there is a huge section of the population that they are neglecting and could be tapping for profits.

So I am hoping my friends hook me up again next year to tag along with them to the Food Show. I really enjoyed being the safety officer for Chef’s Cove for a day

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

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