Crowd-pleasing Pumpkin Muffins

Normally, I get these puppies made as soon as all the pumpkin spiced… well, everything, hits the market.  I’ve made these milk, egg, and nut free pumpkin muffins for several years now and they are always a hit with my non-food allergic nieces and nephews.  That’s my litmus test, if you will.  If kids without allergies love it, it’s must be good!  My recipe is adapted from a pumpkin bread recipe of Alton Brown’s.  I made mini-muffins instead of bread because they are easier to serve to a crowd and a great bite-sized snack for kids.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 & 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1& 1/2 tbsp Ener-G egg replacer plus 6 tbsp warm water mixed until blended and frothy (=substitute for 3 large eggs)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • one 15 oz can of pumpkin

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325F and spray each section of your mini-muffin pan with oil. Sift the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in one bowl.  I don’t own a sifter, so I just use a fork to get the lumps out.  In a separate bowl, mix sugar, vegetable oil, vanilla, and blended egg replacement together.  Combine both mixtures, then fold in the can of pumpkin until uniformly mixed.  Spoon a heaping teaspoonful into each portion of the mini-muffin pan.  Bake for 15-17 mins, or until toothpick comes out clean, then invert pan and plop onto a clean dish towel to allow to cool while you bake the next batch.  Makes about 48 mini-muffins.

Enjoy!

pumpkin-muffin

Reindeer Poop (or yummy fried dough)

Pardon the name.  I won’t admit to taking part in the naming of this yummy treat, but when you have boys in your home, well, potty humor happens.  Last year, we decided to do a family activity every evening of Advent.  This activity, making fried dough, is an easy crowd pleaser.  The kids even get to help with the dough unrolling, careful slicing, and sugar shakin’.

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You will need:

1 can of Pillsbury French Loaf.

1 large bottle of vegetable oil.

1& 1/2 cups of sugar and 1 tbsp of cinnamon, mixed well

cutting board, pizza cutter, plastic container with tight lid

I start by pouring the whole bottle of oil into a large corning-type crock or other safe for frying (high walled, appropriate material) pot.   Heat the oil over medium heat for about five minutes.  Open the can of french bread and unroll it lengthwise onto a clean cutting board.  It’s sometimes tough to get started, but don’t give up, it will unroll.  You should end up with a flat, rectangle of dough.  After that, I use a pizza cutter to slice the dough into several small 1-2 inch rectangles.  You can roll it into whatever… um… shape you want, but I like easy so I just leave it as is.  Gently place 5-6 pieces at a time into the hot oil.  Careful to avoid splashes because they hurt!  You will know your oil is hot enough when they float right up after you drop them in.  It takes just a minute or two on each side and I flip them with a metal, slotted spatula.  Once they are golden brown on both sides, remove from pot and place on a paper towel-lined plate.  Then, I use tongs to move them from the plate to a lidded plastic storage container holding the cinnamon and sugar mixture.  Put the fried dough into the container, place the lid on tight, and shake!  Remove the “Poo” carefully and voila, delish!

Ice Cream Dreams

cherry ice cream

Currently available dairy free ice creams are hard to find and a tad pricey. I was thrilled to discover the blog speedbumpkitchen.com.  I was even more thrilled to discover that they have recipes that avoid similar allergens to ours *aaaannd* they have ice cream recipes!!!  Be sure to stop by and check out her amazing creations.

Today I made a basic vanilla ice cream base using her recipes as inspiration. I have high hopes of using this vanilla base as a springboard to the wide world of ice cream flavor possibilities!

Note: If you want to make chocolate flavored any other way than adding Hershey’s syrup, you have to add the cocoa powder to a hot mixture, before chilling and before putting it in the machine.  See more details on my chocolate ice cream process below.

Ingredients:
40 large marshmallows (the whole bag was too much!)
6 cups of Silk brand Vanilla Soy Creamer
4 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup of sugar

Place the marshmallows in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for about 1 minute, or until soft throughout. Whisk in 1/2 cup of soy creamer. Add sugar, oil, vanilla, and remaining creamer and stir well.

For chocolate: Warm all ingredients except marshmallows over medium heat. Bring to boil then immediately remove from heat. Whisk in 1& 1/3 cup of cocoa powder until cool. I use Hershey’s brand. Now incorporate the melted marshmallows.

Here is another recipe for a creamier, chocolate pudding based variety:

1 Qt container of Silk French Vanilla Soy Creamer
2- 3.9 oz boxes of Jello instant pudding mix, chocolate flavor
1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract

I know how bad you want this ice cream, but it’s important to pause here and place in refrigerator or freezer for a bit to chill the mixture.

Place mixture into ice cream maker. I use the KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment and run it for about 30 minutes.  The mixture will come out with a soft serve consistency.  Freeze for an additional 2-3 hours to harden to ice cream consistency.

Next, add mix-ins! Here are some of our ideas:
Crushed Oreo cookies
Safe candies
Graham crackers. We use HoneyMaid brand Honey Grahams.
Safe homemade brownies.  We use Cherrybrook Kitchen mixes.
Chocolate or strawberry syrup. We use Hershey’s brand.
Maple Syrup. We use Cary’s brand.
Honey
Cinnamon
Raisins
Maraschino cherries.
Safe chocolate chips. We use Enjoy Life or Divvies brand.
Sprinkles. Be sure to check for allergens. (Like you always do, right?).
Pretzels. We use Rold Gold brand.
Mini marshmallows (We use Publix or Kraft) or marshmallow topping (we use Smucker’s Toppings Marshmallow flavored)
Biscoff spread, Sunbutter, Wow butter, etc.
Fresh fruit
Storebought or homemade fruit preserves like blueberry or strawberry.
Peppermint extract.
Fun colors with food coloring.

After adding mix-ins, freeze for an additional 2 hours, or until desired consistency. You may need to stir once more after about an hour or so in the freezer if you have mix-ins that may have fallen to the bottom before the mixture fully solidifies.

Birthday Cakes: Bring on the Magic!

I wasn’t born a baker. Nope. I’m sorry kids, when you read this, but birthday cakes are something I dread having to make the most. Just know that I do it, and try hard to do it right, because I love you.  The pressure of coming up with a new idea, topping last year’s cake, or just meeting the expectation of your birthday cake hopes and dreams is stressful! Oh how I’ve longed to be one of those Mom’s who just order from the grocery store bakery.  Don’t get me wrong.  I know plenty of Mom’s who bake birthday cakes because they want to, but I am not one of them.  I’ve had so many cakes fall apart, only to be patched back together with icing, crumbs peaking out here, there, and everywhere. Challenges aside, I can proudly say I don’t think I’ve ever disappointed them. In fact, just today, I was given a high five to “Mom Power” and told that no matter what, they would like it… unless it was disgusting. (LOL)  So with that awesome accolade, I will share with you a compilation of my past cakes, as well as this year’s Minecraft Creeper cake adventure.

For my first child’s first birthday, I tried to make a cake from scratch, using a baking powder version of an egg substitute.  The end result…was only slightly taller than a pancake.   Fail.  But hey, she was 1, she only wanted to squash it anyway!

Then I discovered the amazing miracle of Cherrybrook Kitchen boxed cake mixes.  I love, love, LOVE Cherrybrook Kitchen products!  I am so grateful for the food allergy pioneers that came before me who decided to share their fabulous creations with the world.

If you don’t have any Cherrybrook Kitchen mix on hand, you can also try making Wacky cake or a Divvies recipe based cake.

Learn from my mistakes.  (please!) Here are some tips I’ve had to learn the hard way over the years.

  •  Always (always) grease AND flour your pan to prevent your cake from getting stuck in the pan.  I use Crisco brand shortening.
  • Crumb coats are your friend.  I’m not the one to teach you what a crumb coat is, but Google can. 🙂
  • Invest in some good tools.  I am the cheapest person I know, and I try to get by without making extra purchases.  But I will tell you, my KitchenAid standmixer and my various Wilton cake tools are lifesavers.
  • Make your life easy and do cupcakes once in a while.  Let’s face it, they’re easier and you can even buy little plastic pegs to decorate them with your favorite characters.  Jazz it up with a cupcake stand display if you want to be fancy.
  • Plan ahead for unexpected birthdays by always having pre-baked frozen cupcakes available.  I freeze mine without the icing and then freeze separate single-serving sandwich baggies of icing so I can just cut the corner off, pipe it on, and go.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to bake, cool, frost, and decorate.  I always seem to end up rushing out of the house on party day, having just put the finishing touches on the cake… and still wearing some of it.

For icing, I use Pillsbury brand Chocolate Fudge and Vanilla flavors.  I’ve also made it from scratch using a mixture of shortening, dairy-free butter and powdered sugar, although the kids prefer Pillsbury’s product over homemade.  (Can’t win ’em all!)

This year I’m trying marshmallow fondant, because I don’t think icing will create the perfect squared-off Minecraft Creeper features I’m going for.  In the past, I’ve used storebought fondant, although I had a really hard time with it and that particular brand’s labeling no longer reads safe for us.  There are lots of marshmallow fondant recipes out there.  Mine is based on trial and error. I mixed about a bag and a half , or about 16 ounces, of melted mini marshmallows (we use Kraft or Publix brand) with enough (about 3/4) of a 2 pound bag of powdered sugar until I liked the consistency.  I added 2 Tbsp water, 2 Tsp vanilla, and some gel coloring to the melted marshmallows *before* I started adding in the powdered sugar .  I used my KitchenAid dough hook (grease bowl and hook well) to save myself some elbow grease and then I hand-kneaded the finished product with Crisco and powdered sugar on my hands and the counter to keep things from getting too sticky.

I used Americolor brand gel to make my “creeper” cake green.  I used to use Wilton, but was sad to see their labels now say there is a risk of cross-contamination with our allergens.  Bye-bye Wilton.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my run through birthday cake memory lane as much as I have.  Now, go celebrate!

Cake montage_edited-2

Wacky Cake

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This cake is quick, easy, delicious, and requires very few ingredients.  I’ve run across the term “wacky cake” on a few different allergy boards and have been meaning to try it.  I found the recipe I used at: http://southernfood.about.com/od/chocolatecakes/r/bl01018c.htm.

The wacky part is that my daughter, who normally dislikes anything chocolate- LOVES it.  Her non-allergic friends do too.  In fact, I got three requests for this to be someone’s birthday cake the first time I made it!

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I use Publix brand)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa (I use Hershey’s brand)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup cold water

In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, cocoa, soda and salt. Then, make three wells in the dry mixture.  Put the vanilla in one of the wells, the vinegar in one, and the oil in the third.  Pour the water into the bowl, then stir until everything is incorporated.  I used a greased 9 inch round pan to bake in at 350F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until center springs back when touched.

For icing, I made a powdered sugar and water mixture to use as a drizzle/glaze.  Fill a small cup with powdered sugar and slowly add small amounts of water until desired thickness.  Then pour or drizzle over the cooled cake.

Quick Blondie Cookie Cake

I am so happy that another blogger shared this recipe!  The original blondie recipe can be found here: http://ellasurreau.wordpress.com/2014/02/22/our-favorite-blonde-brownie-recipe/

Friends of ours were having an impromptu birthday gathering and wanted to get a cookie cake.  On the inside, I was hoping they wouldn’t because the only thing I had ready was the standard frozen cupcake.  Then I thought of the perfect recipe I’d been meaning to try and accepted the challenge!

I made a few substitutions, to use what I had on hand and to make a half batch.  I also added about 1/2 cup of Enjoy Life brand Mega Chunks of chocolate and piped chocolate frosting (Pillsbury brand) along the edge to make it look just like a store bought cookie cake.  I only have the picture from my cell phone, but it was so yummy.  Full disclosure- my children did not like it.  But the other, non-allergy kids and parents at the party loved it and said it was reminiscent of the blondies that Ruby Tuesday’s restaurant use to serve.

cookie cake

In a small bowl, mix together 1 cup all purpose flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp baking soda, and a dash of salt.

In a large bowl, mix together 1/3 cup of melted dairy free butter (I use Earth Balance), 1 cup packed of dark brown sugar, 1/4 cup of soy sour cream (I use Toffutti brand), and 1 tsp of vanilla.

Mix wet and dry ingredients together until well combined, then spread into greased 8×8 inch pan or similar small sized baking pan or dish.

Bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes, until center sets up and toothpick comes out clean.

Vanilla Cupcakes

I bake cupcakes at least three times a year and freeze them so I can send them with the kids to school or birthday parties and I’m never caught by surprise or up ’til midnight baking cupcakes.  (Ain’t nobody got time for that!)  I freeze them without the icing because I have one chocolate fan and one vanilla fan.  I use Pillsbury brand chocolate or vanilla frosting.  You can freeze the icing too.  Spoon cupcake-sized portions of icing into sandwich baggies, freeze, then thaw when needed and cut the corner off to use it like a quick piping bag.

I’m so grateful for the folks who make milk, egg, and peanut-free product lines, like Divvies and Cherrybrook Kitchen, that make my life so much easier.   My go-to favorite is the milk, egg, and peanut-free boxed cake mix made by Cherrybrook Kitchen.  But if I don’t have any boxes left, I will bake from scratch using this recipe.

This recipe was adapted from the original Divvies recipe, which can be found here: http://allergicliving.com/index.php/2010/09/14/divvies-vanilla-cupcakes/

Ingredients:

  • 2 & 1/2 cups of cake flour
  • 2 & 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp Ener-G egg replacer plus 2 tbsp warm water
  • 1/2 cup dairy-free margarine.  We use Earth Balance brand.
  • 1 & 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup vanilla soy milk.  We use Publix Greenwise brand.
  • sprinkles or safe chocolate chips/chunks (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cupcake pan with paper liners then spritz the inside of each liner with dairy-free cooking spray.  I use Publix brand Canola Cooking Spray.

Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.  With a hand mixer, in a separate bowl, blend together margarine, sugar, vanilla, and egg replacer mixture.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients about a cup at a time, stirring by hand to avoid over mixing.   Here you can fold in sprinkles or safe chocolate chips if desired.  I use Betty Crocker brand Rainbow Mix sprinkles and Divvies brand or Enjoy Life brand chocolate chips.  Fill each cupcake cup about 2/3 to 3/4 full and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely before frosting or freezing.   Makes 18 cupcakes.

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