Monday, January 26, 2015

Gluten Free Three Way Cake (Gluten free, dairy free option)

Here's one of those recipes that is just so versatile, I'm planning so many different ways to prepare it...well it's kind of pathetic.

I found, while researching, that a typical thing to do during the wars years was to split a recipe up when making something like cake to do multiple desserts at one time.  This also eliminated the fear of wasting something should you not eat it all in one sitting.

A typical trick was to split a cake recipe in half and make a smaller cake (like an eight inch round cake) and then use the other half to make cup cakes.  That way you had two desserts for the week instead of one.

And that's how I stumbled on the concept of the three way cake.  It is literally one bunch of batter that you then split into three parts to make three different desserts.  All at once!  Or you can be boring and make a three layer cake with the batter, but where's the fun in that?

So, what follows is the base recipe and what I did with it to work it three different ways.  A couple of notes.  If you choose to follow what I did?  Keep in mind to only fill up your cupcake tins about 1/2 the way up the sides.  This is because in ye olden days the portion sizes were smaller.  This will keep you from having a REALLY small third cake when you are done.

Gluten Free Three Way Cake (Makes 6 cupcakes and two cakes or one triple layer cake), Gluten Free with dairy free option

Base batter:
  • 1 cup sweet white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch
  • 1/2 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal (I use Honeyville)
  • 1/2 cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 1 tsp. xanthum gum
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  •  2/3 cup vegetable shortening, palm shortening, butter substitute, softened butter or a mixture
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk (or milk alternative)
  • 3 tsp. gluten free vanilla extract

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

2.  Grease three eight inch round cake pans (or, as in this case, six cupcake tins, 1 7" loaf pan and 1 1/2 quart square baking dish...or you could use another loaf pan if you don't have that).  Stir together the flours, starch, xanthum gum, baking powder and salt.

3.  Beat the shortening in a stand mixer on high speed until fluffy.  Gradually beat in sugar.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. 

4.  Add the dry ingredients, milk and vanilla and beat on medium speed (scraping bowl often) until batter is smooth.

5.  Divide batter into prepared pans (I went down the line, cupcakes, loaf pan and then 1 1/2 quart baking dish).

6.  Bake cupcakes 18 to 20 minutes, 1/2 quart baking dish 25 to 30 and 7" loaf pan 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and the edges are golden. 

7.  Let sit in pans about 5 minutes and then remove to tea towels to cool.  Only cut and prepare the cake you are planning on eating that evening and store the other two cakes in your fridge until ready to use for another night (I bet they'd freeze well too). 

And now for the fun part!  Some of the variations I did!

Variation One:  The cupcakes

Okay, this one was easy.  I just took chocolate frosting and put it on top of the cakes.  Take your favorite chocolate frosting recipe and cut it down to about 1/4 of the original and you should have enough to frost your six cupcakes.

Variation Two:  Blueberry Cake

Take 1/2 quart baking dish cake and taking a bread knife, slice it into two layers (it doesn't need to be perfect).  Fill with your favorite canned fruit, drained WELL (I used spirited blueberries from my pantry).  Top with whipped coconut cream or whipped cream and you are good to go!

Variation Three:  Jelly Roll Cake

This was by far my family's favorite way for this to be prepared.  During WWII, jam and jelly became big staples in desserts because they were on ration, so a lot of families started making their own jelly and jam when they could with their sugar ration (they'd get extra during the summer months to use specifically for canning).  So, you ended up with jelly and jam being used to sweeten different desserts.  So, I decided to test that principle here.  And it is yummy!

Slice loaf pan cake into 3 pieces horizontally with a thin bladed bread knife.  Spread jam in between layers (I used home made raspberry preserves from my pantry) and restack cake.

Top with your favorite recipe for vanilla glaze (I used this one that I tweaked to work with our allergies and such).  I cut the glaze recipe down to about 1/4 of an original recipe, seeing as how if you make a full recipe of glaze you'll have a ton left over.

Cut into slices and serve.  This one lasted us about 3 meals worth of desserts as it's pretty filling.  Store leftovers in fridge.

So, one cake recipe saw us through about five days worth of desserts.  I thought that was pretty cool, myself.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Oatmeal Drop Cookies (Gluten, dairy, nut, egg free)

So, now that the holidays are over, back to my rationing inspired recipes!

One thing you quickly notice when reading up on the days of rationing is that oats to us now a days are primarily just a breakfast option.  Well, to those on rationing during WWII, oats were a primary source of nutrition and used for a LOT.

And so, looking at recipes for oats as I was reading through my books, my brain hatched an idea for a gluten, egg and dairy free oatmeal cookie.  And so these cookies were born!

Just a note to those who probably already know.  Be sure to use certified gluten free oats in recipes if you are living gluten free.  Oats themselves are gluten free naturally, BUT are contaminated in processing with gluten unless they are certified gluten free.  I use Golden Harvest gluten free oats (I get them on Amazon) and love them.  They are grown and produced by a family of celiacs, so you know that when they say gluten free?  They mean it!

A couple of additional notes.  No, this recipe isn't refined sugar free.  I used brown sugar on this one.  Mainly to cut down on costs for those of you out there who are barely getting by and can't really afford to cook with less refined sugars all the time (trust me I relate).  Also, you can use palm shortening, butter, a butter substitute or vegetable shortening for the fat in this recipe, but don't use coconut oil...I ended up with a crunchy sheet that way.

Oatmeal Drop Cookies (Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Nut Free.  Dairy containing options)

  • 2 Cups Gluten Free Regular Rolled Oats (you can also use quick cooking oats)
  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup sweet white rice flour
  • 1/4 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 3/4 tsp. xanthum gum
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt (I used pink Himalayan for this)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable shortening, palm shortening, butter or butter substitute or a combination
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.  Combine flours, starch, oats, xanthum gum, baking soda and salt in a bowl.  Mix well to combine (a whisk, or even your hands, is a good way to do this).

3.  In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine sugar and shortening and mix well to combine.  Add boiling water and mix into the sugar and shortening mixture (be careful...boiling water and whipping setting on your mixer could lead to bad things!) until well combined.  Add vanilla extract and stir into mixture.

4.  Add dry goods to the wet all at once and beat on medium speed until combined.

5.  Drop by rounded tablespoons onto parchment lined baking sheets with about two inches between them (I get 12 cookies per half sheet pan without troubles).  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are golden.

6.  Leave on baking sheets for 10 minutes.  Once cool enough to handle, move to cooling racks to cool. 

If you can't resist you can eat these while still warm.  They are yummy!  Or, you can eat the batter.  Hey, no raw eggs involved here so why not?

Store in airtight containers.  Yield:  2 dozen cookies.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Celebration Bread/Holiday Banana Bread Fruitcake (Gluten free, peanut free, dairy free option)

Christmas, by far, was always my dad's favorite time of the year.  My dad also had a innate ability to irritate people throughout the year with his very Aspergerian type of personality.  So, inevitably, every year my dad would get a fruitcake from someone.  Unfortunately for them, my dad not only didn't get the joke, but also was uber thrilled to receive the stigmatized gift *laugh*.

My father came from a Swedish family that loved fruitcake and all it stood for.  I remember a few times during my childhood when my mom would make a fruitcake for the holidays for my dad.  He'd eat it alone.  I would always try a bite, thinking that maybe this time I would be able to choke down the noxiously sweet cake with it's nuclear colored fruit, but I just could never do it.

As I've gotten older and my tastes have changed, fruitcake has intrigued me, but I just look at the nuclear colored fruit and run the other way as fast as I can.  And honestly, I'm not big on liquor flavored pastries or chocolates.  But still, the want to try something fruitcake-like persisted.

So, missing my dad a lot this time of year, I came up with this recipe the other night when making, of all things, banana bread.  And it actually came out really good!  It's got fruity notes to it.  And chocolate (which how can you go wrong by adding chocolate chips to pretty much anything).  But still, the bread tastes enough like banana bread that you aren't going to think that you are eating too sweet fruitcake.

Serve this up with a maraschino cherry on top with a dollop of cream cheese (dairy free cream cheese works too) and this just shouts "Holiday Party"!  It really has made me feel a bit more festive (although the eggnog I tend to drink with it might be helping a bit *laugh*).

Quick note on substitutions.  I made this with Earth Balance sticks instead of the butter I normally use for my husband and the bread came out just fine.  Also, if avoiding food dyes (which I can understand), skip the maraschino cherries and go for 1/4 cup of dried cherries instead (be sure they are peanut free if you decide to go that route).  


Celebration Bread/Holiday Banana Bread Fruit Cake (Gluten free, peanut free, dairy free option)

  • 1/3 Cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 1/3 Cup Almond Meal (I use Honeyville)
  • 1/3 Cup Sorghum Flour
  • 1/3 Cup Tapioca Starch
  • 1/2 tsp. Xanthum Gum
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder 
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, or butter substitute, softened
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 medium to 3 medium bananas, crushed (3 lends a denser end result, but still tasty)
  • 1/2 a Seedless Navel Orange, peeled, segmented and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup Blue Diamond plain almonds, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped maraschino cherries
  • 1/2 cup Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees (350 degrees if you are using a glass or cast iron pan).  Grease and place a parchment sling in a 9x5 loaf pan and set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients and use a whisk to combine them well. 
  3. In the mixing bowl of your stand mixer cream together the butter (or butter substitute) and sugar until light and fluffy.  Mix in eggs and bananas and beat until everything is combined.  
  4. Dump the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and mix well on medium speed until everything is combined.  Mix in on low speed the orange, almonds, cherries and chocolate chips until JUST combined (don't overmix or you'll break up your oranges and cherries too much).
  5. Turn batter into prepared loaf pan.  Bake about 50 minutes to one hour (it really depends on the moisture content of your bananas how long it'll take...usually I'm using a couple really over ripe bananas, so it takes about an hour for me), or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the bread comes out clean.  
  6. Let loaf sit in pan for 10 minutes and then take edges of parchment sling and remove bread to a tea towel or cooling rack (which I can never find room to set up mine, so I go with the tea towel option) to cool. Let cool to at least luke warm before attempting to cut or you might end up with a crumbly mess.
Serve with cream cheese or cream cheese alternative for a special treat.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas Cocoa (gluten free, refined sugar free, peanut free, dairy free option)

During the colder months of the year a lot of people gravitate toward hot chocolate to warm them up.  Me?  I'm more of a coffee and tea drinker than a hot chocolate type of person.  But, the wind has been blowing, and for some odd reason I've just had this hankering for hot chocolate.

But, I wanted to make my hot chocolate taste...I don't know...Christmasy.  So, I came up with this recipe.  The ingredients may seem a bit odd, but trust me on this.  It tastes great!

I tried this recipe with regular sugar, palm sugar and honey.  Honey as a sweetener in this can not be beat.  I'm not sure exactly why, but it really augments the cocoa instead of making it just taste sweet.  So, do try to use honey in this if you can!

As dairy alternatives go for this, I liked this with full fat coconut milk (from the can), but that gets kinda spendy as this serves four people.  I tried almond milk and it comes out really runny that way, so if using rice or almond milk for this, I'd whisk in about 1 TBS of tapioca or arrowroot starch into the cold milk before you heat everything...that'll help to thicken the mixture up a bit.  If going with regular cow dairy for this, 2 cups of whole milk and 2 cups of half and half make a really nice combo for the hot chocolate.

So, anyway, enjoy some hot cocoa with some somewhat unusual holiday flavors to it (trust me, it is AWESOME!).

Christmas Cocoa (Gluten free, Refined sugar free, peanut free, dairy free option)
  • 4 Cups Whole milk or milk alternative or 4 cups full fat coconut milk (from the can).  A couple of other options above!
  • 1/3 Cup Unsweetened cocoa (be sure it's peanut free)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup strong leftover coffee
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • Pinch of salt
Place milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium low heat until nice and hot (make sure not to let it boil!).  Whisk in the remaining ingredients and continue to whisk until everything is well incorporated and smooth.
Serves four.  If you don't mind adding some sugar to the recipe, feel free to add some Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips to your mug and top with a few marshmallows (be sure those are peanut free too).  This stuff is great if you also use a cinnamon stick to stir it.  Yum!!!


Friday, December 19, 2014

A Gift A Day Gift Sixteen: Ballet Slippers

For my last day of gifts (thank goodness *laugh*), I made ballet slippers for my daughter to go with a video I'd gotten for her on beginning ballet (it comes highly recommended by Amazon reviews and by some bloggers I know, so I figured I'd give it a shot).  Armina is in this stage where she THINKS she wants to take dance lessons, but I figure this will be a good way to show her the basics before I spend money on a class only to find out she might or might not like it.

The tutorial that I found the most helpful, even though it was in the wrong size for my daughter, was Shabby Raggy Roses tutorial.  She really breaks the slippers down well so you can get an idea of what the pieces you need to cut out will look like, how much bigger the upper part of the slipper needs to be from the sole, etc.  I highly recommend checking it out!

Total Time to Make Gift:  Four hours.  I, once again, sewed these by hand, just to make sure that everything came together alright.  I was working with a satiny material that really was going to be a pain to work with my sewing machine, so I figured doing it by hand was going to be easier.  It was by the way *laugh*.  I'd LOVE to have put some pretty ribbon on the back of these to wrap around the ankle, as when I held some up and did a cursory run with some it was so STINKING cute, but my daughter is still learning to tie her shoes, so I figure that's going to have to be an after market improvement later on with these.

The slippers aren't as nice looking as I would have liked, but the satiny material kind of made the slippers a bit miserable to sew with the felt and such I was working with.  But, Armina loves them (she had to try them on to make sure her feet fit in them) and I figure really these are just dress up shoes, so they don't have to be perfect.

Total Cost of Project:  Nothing.  I had all the materials.  I used a  pink flowery material for the inside lining, felt for the sole and cotton batting left over from Armina's quilt for the batting.  I used a tan quilting thread I had to sew the slippers together.

And there you are folks.  The end of the gifts I made this year.  And now, onto some cool recipes starting tomorrow :).


A Gift a Day Gift Fifteen: Furry Slippers

So, last year, I made my daughter some pink furry slippers as one of her Christmas gifts.  She loves them.  Almost as much as her brother.  See, one of Alvah's newer stims is he likes to pluck things, like oh the cat or say furry slippers and watch the resulting bits of fluff he's managed to pluck float on a puff of his breath. 

After about the fifteenth time grabbing her slippers back from her brother a couple of weeks ago, my daughter looked at me and said exasperated, "Mom, could you PLEASE make Alvah some furry slippers for Christmas?  Then he can pluck his slippers."

I didn't want to tell her that even after giving in to her request...the son is probably still going to like plucking her slippers more because it annoys her so, but hey, it is worth a shot, right?

I'd love to point you to a tutorial on how to make slippers like these, but I can't find one online *scowl*.  I honestly eyeball these when I make them, but here's the gist of how I do it.

Step 1:  Get some felt, enough to fit four of each foot for the person you are making slippers for.  Or you could use two layers of felt and a layer of cotton batting instead.  This is going to be the sole of your slippers.  If you have the material you could also make the sole out of leather or some other tougher material, but considering how often my kids wear slippers?  Yeah, felt will work fine.

Step 2:  Grab the insoles out of your sneakers (I find this the easiest way to do this honestly) and use those as a template to cut out your soles.  Remember, it doesn't have to be perfect.  These are, after all, slippers we're making here.  Also, if you are me, be sure to mark "L" on your left soles and "R" on the right ones.  It will stop you from screwing that up me on this!

Step 3:  Once you have the soles of the slippers cut out (four of each foot remember, or two of each foot and one of each foot out of your batting), I used dark green felt for these with a layer of cotton batting in between.

Step 4:  Take your fake fur and cut a strip that's about, oh, three and a half inches wide or so.  You also want this strip to be long enough to wrap around the back of your foot templates.  Fold the fur in half lengthwise, so that you have a nice long strip of doubled over fur.  I go about 80% of the way around the foot with this fur strip to make the back of the slipper.  Take two layers of felt, or the layer of felt with the batting on the bottom of it.  With the felt facing up at you, sew the fur to the bottom of the foot (reserve two layers of felt or, if using batting one layer of felt, for the bottom of your slippers...this will cover up your seams and give you a nice finished look when done around the back edge of the slipper.

Step 5:  Once the back of your slipper is in place, take fur scraps big enough to fold over the top of the slipper.  You want it far enough up so that the slipper will fit the person you are trying to make the slipper for, but down far enough that the foot will fit in the opening left without incident.  Fold over the fur scrap like a dome, so that...well so that it looks like the right height for the top of a slipper.  You can be generous with how much fur you secure to the bottom of your slipper, so err on the side of the caution and don't cut the scrap down too far.  Then find a lining material for your slipper top (two layers of fur would just be too thick).  I used cuddle flannel for these.  Color doesn't really matter as it's on the inside of the upper part of the slipper. 

Step 6:  Pin the upper part of the slipper in place (with the exception of the curved toe part at the front) and sew the fur into place (I hand stitch all my slippers to make sure I can customize without issue as I go along).  When you get to the front of the slipper you're going to have like a fur tunnel staring up at you.  Cut the fur in notches where needed as you wrap the fur around the front of the slipper (I can usually get away with one seam slightly off to one side of the toes with slippers) and whip stitch the fur into place (no, trust me, you will not notice the stitches later). 

Step 7:  Turn the slipper inside out and secure the back and sides to the front of the slipper and secure anything else you need to (like I cleaned up the seams at the front of the slippers while I was there and made sure my seams to the bottom of the slippers were good and tight.

Step 8:  Turn the slipper right side out again and place your final layer of felt on the bottom where it should go (this is where the L and R thing comes in handy...I've flipped those darned things so many times.  It doesn't do anything bad to the slippers, but it looks weird when someone shows you the bottoms when wearing them *laugh*) and whip stitch the soles into place.
And voila!  You now have some custom made fur slippers for that special person in your life.

Total Time to Make Project:  Six hours.  I make sure that everything looks good before and a lot of it was making my daughter (same size shoe as my son) try on the slippers on over and over again to make sure they felt good on her feet.

Total Cost to Make Project:  Nothing.  I've had a HUGE fake fur piece in my fabric for YEARS.  I think it was given to me, but honestly I can't remember it has been around that long.  I have a huge store of felt that I got from a cousin of my husband's who was cleaning out her stores of fabric ages ago, so I had that and the thread I already had as well.  The batting I used was some scraps of batting were left over from making the daughter's quilt.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Gift a Day Gift Thirteen (and Fourteen): The Quilts

One of the big "special" gifts I wanted to make my kids this year was a quilt for each of them.  See, I made a quilt for my son last year, but it was the first really "big" quilt I'd ever made and it is kind of an odd size (cute though).  So, I wanted to do these quilts right.  I made both quilts twin sized, although I made my daughter a "tall" twin sized as I had the material, the batting and the quilt binding to pull it off, so why not?

For materials I used sheets.   Yes, sheets.  I buy three per quilt in whatever size I want to make the quilt in (and actually in the case of these quilts I'd end up with a full sized quilt in one pattern I liked and twin in another.  It worked out fine).  I just look for sheets that are in nice shape and in cool patterns and buy them for 1.00 to 2.00 a piece at the used stores. 

For Armina's quilt I used a really pretty butterfly sheet I found for 1.50 at one of the used stores that was queen sized and a pink sheet I found for free at C&D (the dump used to let you go through things people didn't want and pick up stuff) years ago.  For the backing I used a tan sheet I bought for 2.00 at the used store as well.

For Alvah's quilt I used a circular pattern sheet (full sized) I got at the used store for 1.50 and a dark blue top sheet I'd had for years that my husband and I never used on our bed (husband kicks off top sheets and they end up on the floor...gave up on top sheets a while ago because of that).  The backing I used was a twin sized super soft microfiber like sheet I got at the used store for 1.00.

The batting for both quilts I'd bought new.  Armina's quilt has all natural cotton batting that I bought on a super online sale at Jo-Ann fabric last year.  It cost 14.00 for a full sized batting, so I had that to use for hers.  Alvah's I used a medium loft hypo allergenic batting I got at JoAnn's  on some sale  (it was like 11.00 for a twin size).

So, all totaled, each quilt cost me about 20.00 for the materials I used, although a lot of it I got over time, so I didn't have to pay it all out of pocket at once.  For the out of pocket expense for the actual PROJECT I spent about 13.00 total for both quilts. 

I got thread for the actual quilting of the quilts so it'd at least somewhat match the fabric and the quilt binding...I got on sale on Joann's website on a super sale for like 1.00 and some change per package last year (same sale as the cotton batting), although I did get the last package of my son's quilt binding at the brick and mortar store for 50% off on their Black Friday sale (since it wasn't on sale I used a coupon on it) because they'd only had two available for purchase online during the sale I got all the other quilt binding on.

Total Time to Complete Project:  Boy, I'd say 14 to 18 hours per quilt.  Which, really, when you consider cutting and such, isn't that bad.  Quilt basting spray, by the way, was invented by a genius.  Just saying.

Total Cost Per Project:  About 20.00 per quilt, batting and thread the main purchases.