Archive for February 9th, 2011

Okay, after a month of pushing the low sugar diet, I’m finally pulling out the dessert recipes for Valentines Day.  Whether you’re looking for homemade goodies to give as gifts or a special dessert for you and your valentine, you’ve come to the right place.  Every recipe is gluten free (with the option to use wheat flour) and guaranteed to please – they don’t call me the “dessert queen” for nothing!  Just click on the links below to find the recipes for these yummy goodies that are sure to bring a smile to your valentine.

Gifts from the Kitchen:

  • Earlier, I posted the recipe for kettle corn.  However, I’ve added another variation at the bottom for Chocolate Drizzled Kettle Corn.  Packaged in a decorative tin or treat sack with a few valentine M&Ms thrown in, this looks fancy but is very easy to throw together.  I especially like making this for kids parties (a nice change of pace from sugary cupcakes and cookies) since it’s inexpensive and naturally gluten free.
  • Another great treat for kids parties or potlucks that is also inexpensive and naturally gluten free are the Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies & Bars.  You can push Hershey’s Kisses into the cookies for a special valentine touch, or press valentine M&Ms into the bars for a dessert that tastes great with ice cream and is ready to eat in less than 30 minutes.
  • Sometimes you just have to make sugar cookies, and this gluten free adaptation of my grandmother’s soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies recipe tastes just like the original.  (Of course, you can use regular all-purpose flour for these if gluten is not an issue for you.)  Since I hate trying to store and transport frosted cookies, these are my favorite because they only need a sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar or colored sugar sprinkles for a more festive look.

Saying, “I Love You,” with Chocolate:

  • In case you missed my Decadent Brownies recipe in my last post, it’s worth repeating that these are the best brownies ever!  I originally made them with self-rising flour, but modified them to be gluten free.  Either way you make them, these blow away anything from a box.  (Typically, after eating a few bites of these brownies, my husband will look up at me and say, “Have I told you today that I love you?”)
  • Everything tastes better dipped in chocolate, so wow your valentine with a fabulous Chocolate Fondue.  I prefer the easy milk chocolate sauce, but I’ve included a dark chocolate variation, and even a dairy free fondue (the peanut butter bars and most of the items for dipping are also dairy free).  All the dipping items are gluten free, and I promise you won’t miss the pound cake!

I’ll have lots more recipes to share over the coming months, so keep checking back.  (To automatically receive each yummy recipe and post in your email inbox, just click on the “subscribe” button beneath the calendar.)  In the meantime, I hope you have a wonderful Valentines Day!

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Chocolate Fondue

Everything tastes better dipped in chocolate, so let your imagination run wild when it comes to deciding what to dip in this amazing chocolate sauce.  If you prefer dark chocolate fondue, try Hershey’s Special Dark chips.  To make dairy free chocolate fondue, use Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips and substitute almond milk (I used Silk Original almond milk) for the light cream.

Milk Chocolate Sauce (serves about 4 people):
6 oz. Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips (half a package)
¼ cup half-and-half or light cream
½ tsp. vanilla extract

In a heavy 1-quart saucepan or fondue pot, melt chocolate with half-and-half over low heat until mixture is smooth, stirring frequently.  Stir in vanilla; keep sauce warm.  If you don’t have a fondue pot, you may need to occasionally return the sauce to the stove to reheat.  Optionally, you can divide the sauce into small glass bowls – which works well for kids – and reheat individual bowls in the microwave as needed.  (We use an electric fondue pot, which works well for fondue and frying small items in oil.)

Gluten Free Items for Dipping:

  • Strawberries
  • Sliced banana
  • Apple or caramel coated apple (cut in ½ inch chunks)
  • Caramels (I sneak these from my kids’ Halloween stash)
  • Marshmallows
  • Peppermint Patties
  • Pretzels (we like Glutino GF pretzels)
  • Kinnickinnick Smorables GF graham-style crackers (dip with fingers)
    OR Homemade cheesecake made with a Smorables crumb crust, frozen in cubes
  • Rice crispy treat squares made with Nature’s Path GF crisped rice cereal
    OR cut up a few Envirokids GF/DF peanut butter crispy rice bars
  • ¾-in. day-old brownie chunks (GF Betty Crocker mix or homemade brownies)
  • Freshly baked flourless peanut butter bars (cut into ¾-inch pieces)
    OR Peanut Butter Balls (recipe below – these are the best!)

Crushed nuts for rolling dipped items in (optional)

If you don’t have to worry about gluten, feel free to use traditional items like pound cake.  But if you’re sharing the sauce, have a separate container for gluten free folks so the chocolate doesn’t get contaminated by crumbs.

Peanut Butter Balls (make ahead and freeze):
1/4 c. + 2 T. peanut butter
2 T. butter or margarine, softened
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1 c. powdered sugar

In an electric mixer, cream peanut butter and butter.  Stir in vanilla.  Mix in powdered sugar, a little at a time.  Roll into 1/2-in. balls and place on a wax-paper lined baking sheet or jellyroll pan.  Freeze.  Use frozen balls for fondue.

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Yes, gluten free sugar cookies can taste delicious and every bit as good as the wheat version!  (Of course, you can make these with wheat flour by replacing the first 5 ingredients with 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour.)  I modified my grandmother’s sour cream sugar cookie recipe to be gluten free, and after trying one she said it tasted exactly like hers.  The great thing about these cookies is that they can stand alone without frosting.  My grandma made them year-round with a sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar, but colored sugar sprinkles work great for the holidays.

1-1/3 c. *Brenda’s cheap & awesome flour blend (below)
1/2 c. tapioca flour/starch
1/2 c. potato starch (NOT potato flour)
1 T. sweet rice flour (also called sticky rice flour)
2 rounded tsp. xanthan gum (omit if using wheat flour)
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 c. sugar
6 T. shortening (I use butter flavor Crisco)
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla (flavoring, NOT extract)
1/2 c. sour cream
Extra flour blend for dusting counter
Colored sugar sprinkles or cinnamon and sugar for topping

In a large bowl, mix together thoroughly the flours, xanthan gum, salt, soda, and baking powder.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together sugar and shortening.  Add egg and vanilla; mix well.  Mix in half of flour mixture.  Add sour cream.  Add remaining flour and mix well.

Divide dough into halves or thirds and place one portion on a lightly floured counter top.  Dust rolling pin with a little flour and roll out dough to desired thickness (these puff up quite a bit, so I roll it somewhere between a 1/4-in. and 1/8-in. thickness).  Cut out into desired shapes and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with colored sugar or cinnamon and sugar (or you can bake these plain and frost them later).

Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.  Remove to a wire rack to cool.  These stay soft and last for weeks when sealed tight and stored in a cool place.

*I have only tried this recipe with my flour blend, so if you use a different flour blend I can’t guarantee the same results.
Brenda’s Cheap & Awesome Flour Blend:

  • 1 c. white rice flour
  • 1 c. brown rice flour
  • 1/3 c. tapioca flour/starch (it’s the same thing)
  • 1/3 c. potato starch (not the same as potato flour)
  • 1/3 c. corn starch
  • 1 T. potato flour
  • 1 T. sweet rice (also called sticky rice) flour

You could stop short of the last two ingredients and get by in most basic cooking, but if you want to have the best texture and be able to swap this for wheat flour in any recipe with confidence, I strongly suggest you add the last 2 ingredients.  You can store these flours in the freezer and they’ll last a long time.

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These 5-ingredient cookies are naturally gluten free, and taste wonderful as cookies or bars.  I love making the bars with chocolate chips and serving them with ice cream for a quick, easy dessert.  Using seasonal colored M&Ms for the cookies or bars adds a festive touch during the holidays.

1 c. peanut butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
24 Hershey Kisses or whatever chocolate chips you have on hand

Directions for Hershey Kiss Method:
Cream peanut butter and sugar in mixing bowl.  Add the egg and vanilla; beat until blended.  Roll into 2 dozen balls and place 2-in. apart on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until tops are slightly cracked.  Immediately press one chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie.  Cool for 5 minutes before removing to wire racks.

Chocolate Chip Variation:
Follow directions above, except stir in chocolate chips before rolling into balls.  Flatten balls with your hand, as these cookies won’t spread.  Bake according to directions above.

Bar Variation:
Instead of rolling into balls, press dough into an ungreased 9”x13” pan.  Press chocolate chips, M&Ms, Reece’s Pieces or Peanut Butter Cups – or a combination – into dough.  (For a dairy free dessert, use Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate chips.)  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until lightly browned on the edges.

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