Archive for December, 2009
This month has been pretty hectic at our house, as I’m sure it is at most homes this time of year. There are so many different holiday activities, there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to do them all. In order to make time for as many as possible, I’ve found that I skimp on the everyday chores. The meals become simpler, the laundry goes a few extra days before getting washed, the house cleaning…well, let’s just say there are some parts of the house that just get ignored.
I really wanted to make gingerbread houses this year. I had a lot of leftover Halloween candy that I thought would be great to use on them. I thought about buying a gluten-free kit (A & J Bakery or Cherry Blossom Cakes), but I had already bought Jules special flour mix for making graham crackers and gingerbread. So, I didn’t buy the kit and I haven’t even opened the gluten-free graham flour. There are only a couple days left until Christmas and I’m thinking about finishing my shopping, wrapping presents and sending out the last of the Christmas cards.
So, I’ve decided to do what I did last year: use pre-made gluten-free graham crackers (Josef or Kinnikinnick) to make two small houses, one for each of my kids to decorate. It really worked out well last year. It was nice for each of my kids to have their own house to decorate. And, the small size was perfect for their attention span (then ages 3 and 5). Now that I’ve made that decision, I just have to make the gluey frosting to stick the graham crackers together. I have two different recipes for the frosting listed below: one that uses egg-whites, and one that uses meringue powder. Both work well, but I used the egg-white recipe last year. I put the icing in a pastry bag with plain decorating tips, but you could just put the icing into a zip-style bag and clip the corner with scissors. Last year, we used gum drops, M&Ms, candy-canes, and some holiday-shaped marshmallows. Of course, you can use whatever gluten-free candy you have on-hand.
This would be a great project for a support group for celiac kids (R.O.C.K. or Cel-Kids). The project is quick enough to be done in a reasonable amount of time, takes little preparation for the organizer, and the houses are small enough for each kid to take home.
Royal Icing using Egg Whites
3 egg whites
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tarter
1 tsp vanilla
- Beat egg whites until fluffy and add in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time.
- Mix in the other ingredients and beat until thick and stiff.
- Once you’ve made up the icing, be sure to keep it covered in the bowl so it doesn’t dry out.
- This makes a large batch of icing. It’s probably enough to make 6 small (cracker-size) houses.
Royal Icing for Gingerbread Houses
(I got this recipe from my sister, who says she got it from Better Homes and Gardens.)
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
4 tsps Meringue Powder
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 Cup warm water
Combine sifted powdered sugar, meringue powder, and cream of tartar. Add warm water. Beat with electric mixer on low speed until combined, then on high speed for 7 to 10 minutes or until very stiff.
Add 1 to 4 Tbsp of water, 1 tsp at a time to make glaze of desired consistency.
Want to make your own gluten-free gingerbread cookies or houses from scratch? Try one of these recipes:
For more gluten-free holiday treats, check out this week’s edition of “What Can I Eat That’s Gluten-Free?” at The Gluten-Free Homemaker.
Still doing some Christmas shopping? I have most of mine done, but I still have a few I need to get. If you are snowed in this weekend like I am, you can still order gifts online and have gifts arrive before Christmas! Just be sure to order on Amazon no later than Tuesday. (Although, Amazon’s Christmas Ordering Deadlines Page indicates that they will ship Wednesday orders overnight, and in some cities will even deliver items ordered Christmas eve for same-day delivery!) So, here’s a list of ten last-minute gift ideas that I think anyone on a gluten-free diet would appreciate.
1. Happy Tiffin – Have you seen these yet? My sister sent me one for my birthday this year. She said she thought it would be perfect for us to take our own gluten-free foods with us to food events: potlucks, school events, dinner parties, picnics, etc. She was right. We’ve used it while touring museums, to potlucks, and school events. She bought me the large one, which really holds a lot of food. If you are someone who likes to take food with you to parties so that you know it’s safe, you need to get one of these. Of course, it would be great to take lunch to work, too. Amazon carries similar containers with 2 and 3 tiers. Choose from a variety of shapes and sizes of To-Go Ware. For one like I have, go to Happy Tiffin where they also have new insulated bags to keep your Tiffin (and food) hot or cold.
2. Breadmaker with a gluten-free setting – I’ve considered getting this for myself, but haven’t quite committed to it, yet. I certainly think it would be nice to have. They can be expensive, but what really concerns me is the amount of counter space it would take up. I found three on Amazon that have gluten-free settings: Breadman 2-Pound Convection Breadmaker (on sale for $89); Cuisinart 2-Pound Convection Bread Maker (on sale for $129); Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme Bread Machine
(on sale for $190). Do you have a bread maker? What are your thoughts about them?
3. The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook – Written by Elana Amsterdam of Elana’s Pantry, this is one of the newest gluten-free cookbooks out this year. As the title suggests, it focuses on using almond flour instead of grain flours in the recipes. As a result, the recipes are low glycemic, low in cholesterol and dairy, and high in protein and fiber. If you are buying this for a friend, be aware that almond flour is not readily available in stores. Most people order almond flour online (Honeyville or Nuts.com).
4. Make It Fast, Cook It Slow – Another new cookbook out this fall was written by blog author Stephanie O’dea all about cooking using a slow-cooker, or Crock Pot. To get a sample of the recipes in this book, check out her website full of gluten-free slow-cooker meals. And, did I mention that all the recipes are gluten-free? New to the gluten-free diet? This book shows you that you can cook gluten-free for the whole family, even with a busy schedule!
5. Gluten Free Every Day – This cookbook came out earlier this year. Author and chef, Robert Landolphi, learned to cook gluten-free meals when his wife was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Just like the title says, these are foods to cook and eat everyday. Many of the recipes are familiar foods with a new twist. I’ve enjoyed all the recipes I’ve tried. Some of the recipes took more time than I have every night to cook, but the results were delicious.
6. BabyCakes – This is a fun cookbook of cupcakes and treats from Erin McKenna’s New York bakery where she produces all the goodies in her cookbook. The cookbook is not exclusively gluten-free, but a lot of the recipes are gluten free, as well as vegan and sugar-free. This book is also new out this year.
7. Gluten-Free Baking Classics – I originally bought this book because a friend recommended it for its pie crust recipe. The pie crust is amazingly wonderful, but it’s just the beginning. Author Annalise Roberts shares her great recipes for muffins, sweet breads, cookies, cakes, pies, bread, pizza crust, and more in this cookbook. I use the flour mix suggested in the book, and love to use it as an all-purpose gluten-free flour.
8. Bette Hagman’s The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Comfort Foods – Bette Hagman is well-respected for her many gluten-free cookbooks. She was one of the first to publish gluten-free cookbooks, and an inspiration for many other gluten-free cooks out there. The book has many great recipes, and tips for cooking with gluten-free flours.
9. Ratio – This is not a cook book. It doesn’t have recipes and doesn’t focus on gluten-free foods and flours either. Instead it tells you how to combine ingredients in the right ratios to end up with a good food product. It gives you the confidence to experiment and create your own recipes.
10. The G-Free Diet– The book written by Elisabeth Hasselbeck. It’s new this year, so your celiac friends may not have it yet. This is not a cookbook. It is a personal book written about living gluten-free, with personal experiences and tips on how to make your gf lifestyle easier to maintain.