Archive for Gluten-free Crafts

Sep
09

Gluten-free Play Dough

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Update September 9, 2011

When I was speaking with my daughter’s teacher last week, she told me that she likes to use play dough in the classroom. I told her that it would be a problem for my daughter, but that I’d be happy to make some gluten-free play dough for the class. For some classes in the past, I’ve purchased pre-made play dough, and my kids have just used their own personal supply of gluten-free play dough. But, I’ve also made play dough for the whole class to use. I’ve done well with the Kool Aid recipe below without problems, but I didn’t have the Kool Aid needed. And, I often had to add a lot of cornstarch to it after it cooked.

I decided to adjust the recipe to make it easier and faster to make. After one completely disastrous attempt, I came up with a recipe that was absolutely the easiest and fastest I’ve ever made. I kept Cream of Tartar in the recipe, but found that Xanthan Gum wasn’t needed. Five minutes of measuring and mixing, three minutes of cooking, and another five minutes of kneading in the color resulted in hours of fun! And, the texture was perfect – just like you would expect homemade play dough to be.

Easiest Gluten-Free Play Dough Recipe

Ingredients:

1 Cup White Rice Flour
1/2 Cup Cornstarch
1/2 Cup Salt
1 Tbsp Cream of Tartar
1-1/2 tsp vegetable oil
1 Cup Water, hot but not boiling
Food Coloring, as desired

Directions:

  1. Mix all dry ingredients together in a medium pot.
  2. Add the vegetable oil, then the water, and continue to mix until thoroughly combined.
  3. Heat the pot on the stove over low heat for about 3 minutes. I like to stir frequently with a silicone spatula.
  4. When the dough starts to pull away from the sides easily, turn out the dough onto parchment paper. Let it cool briefly until you can work it with your hands.
  5. Knead food coloring into the dough until you get the color you desire.

Additional Notes:

  • Don’t overcook the dough. It shouldn’t need more than five minutes.
  • To add food coloring, I use the method I’ve used since I was a kid: Using your thumbs, make a well in the middle of the ball of dough and drop the food coloring into the well. Close up the well with the outside dough, keeping the food coloring in the middle of the ball. Then, carefully begin kneading it until the color is evenly distributed throughout the dough.
  • You don’t have to use the parchment paper. The dough shouldn’t be sticky. I use the parchment paper to simply keep residue and food coloring off my counter top. Wax paper or a plate would work just as well.
  • If needed, adjust the texture with small amounts of water (for dry, crumbly dough) or cornstarch (for sticky dough).
  • Makes about 2 cups of play dough, or about 2 baseball-size balls of dough.
  • Store in tightly sealed plastic bags or containers.

Notable Links:

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Original Post January 28, 2009

We’re on our second snow day at home and the kids were happy to pull out the play dough for something to do. I was amazed that it was still good. It’s been a couple months since we’ve played with it, and about 9 months since we first made it! We’ve tried several recipes for play dough, but this one is our favorite. The Kool-Aid gives it a nice scent and additional color. You can use the additional cornstarch to adjust the consistency as needed. We store different colors in zip-type plastic bags and put them all together in a plastic bucket with a lid.

Gluten-Free Play Dough Recipe

Ingredients:

2/3 Cup rice flour
1/3 Cup potato starch or cornstarch
1/3 Cup salt
2 tsp Xanthan Gum
1 Tbsp Cream of Tartar
1 pkg unsweetened Kool-Aid
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Cup warm water

Additional food coloring optional
Extra potato starch or cornstarch for kneading dough – We use a lot to get a preferred consistency.


Directions:

  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the rice flour, potato starch or cornstarch, salt, xanthan gum, Cream of Tartar and Kool-Aid powder.
  2. Add the oil and the warm water to the flour mixture and mix well. (If you want to add food coloring, mix it first with the warm water.)
  3. Heat the mixture on medium heat for about one minute or until the mixture thickens and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a cornstarch-floured surface or parchment paper.
  5. Knead in enough potato starch until the dough is no longer sticky.
  6. Store in an airtight container or bag when not in use.

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Nov
24

The Kids Table at Thanksgiving

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If you have large family gatherings for Thanksgiving, you may do what many families have been doing for years: have a kids table set up separate from the adult’s table for the Thanksgiving meal. Although I would like to have the kids at the same table as the adults, it doesn’t usually work out. Some years there are just too many people to sit at the same table. Plus, the kids are usually the first to be served and the first to be done eating. They can eat, be done, and move on to playing with cousins. We adults can enjoy the meal and conversation at our own leisurely pace.

But, I don’t want the kids to miss out on the festive Thanksgiving table. So, let the kids help with these fun ideas for the kids table. These projects are so simple and adjustable, you can easily put them together last minute.

Pilgrim Hats. I found this idea at DollarTree.com and thought they were so cute. I picked up some black paper cups and plates at the dollar store, to make this a cheap but fun addition to my daughter’s kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast this year. Cut the edges off the plates so they are flat hat brims, then glue the cups upside down onto the plates. Cut buckles out of construction paper and glue them to the cups. To make these more useful, cut out the bottom of the cups and fill them with popcorn or another light snack. Or, instead of snacks, consider placing a napkin with fork and knife in it. Pick up black plastic flatware at the dollar store, too.

Pine Cone Turkeys. Have the kids gather some pine cones from the yard. If you don’t have feathers to glue into them, use colorful leaves or cut feather shapes out of construction paper. Bend a chenille stick for the wattle and glue it in the tip of the pine cone with some googly eyes. Cut a beak out of construction paper to glue on, too. Now you have a centerpiece for the kids table. And, the kids will feel so great about making it themselves. If you have some older kids who can supervise the younger ones, it makes a great activity to keep the kids busy while the adults are finishing the dinner preparation.

Turkey Treats. Here’s a treat the kids can help decorate, and then gobble up. I found a similar one at RiceKrispies.com, but I made it simpler than theirs. I used the basic recipe of 6 cups cereal, 10 oz. marshmallows, and 3 TBSP butter. (Do not use Kellogg’s Rice Krispies. They have malt flavoring in them, and are not gluten free.) I use Erewhon’s Crispy Brown Rice Cereal and Cocoa Crispy Brown Rice Cereal. I had a box of each, so I mixed them together. I think if I did it again, I would just use the Chocolate variety for a darker color. Instead of a 13×9 pan, I just pressed the mixture onto a greased baking sheet so I could make it thinner, and cut out more. I used a cookie cutter to cut out circle shapes for the tail. For a head shape, I rolled some into small balls while they were still a little warm. Instead of peanut butter, I used chocolate frosting to stick on the head and candy. I also used dot or button candy, but you could easily use any gluten-free small candy for the eyes. For the wattle, I used a dried cranberry. And for the feathers, we used candy corn.

More Thanksgiving Ideas:

  • Visit Celebrate It! for more fun Thanksgiving treat ideas the kids will love.
  • Check out Woo Jr.‘s Thanksgiving activities to keep the kids entertained before dinner.
  • How about Thanksgiving games for the kids after dinner? Check out the list at Amazing Moms.
  • You’ll find cute printable Thanksgiving decorations at Dimple Prints.
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Sep
15

Hot Wheels Birthday Cake

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It was such a busy summer that I never got around to sharing this birthday cake idea with you. My son loves Hot Wheels! His love of cars started at a very early age, and by the time he was three years old could tell me which cars were Hot Wheels as opposed to any other brand of toy car. I created a Hot Wheels monster truck cake for him when he turned 5, so I wasn’t expecting to make another Hot Wheels cake for him this year. But, two days before his birthday, he insisted on a Hot Wheels cake. And not just a Hot Wheels cake, but a Hot Wheels race track cake. Huh? Has he been watching Ace of Cakes when I wasn’t around? I loved the creative challenge, but with only two days to figure it out, I figured he’d have to accept whatever I could come up with.

I started going through his Hot Wheels tracks for ideas. I found a fun little track that I thought would be fun to incorporate with it. But, I couldn’t remove all the track pieces from the base and support structure. As I discussed the idea with my husband, he suggested that we just use the regular flexible Hot Wheels track pieces to make our own race track. Well, they seemed a little big for it, but he convinced me he could make a support structure for it. OK. But to be a Hot Wheels track it has to have a loop, right? And wouldn’t it be fun if it went through a tunnel in the cake? So, that’s how the thoughts flowed to come up with this idea. Crazy, I know. But the kids loved it!

I didn’t get pictures of the building process. I was too busy trying to figure out what to do to stop and take a picture. And, I’m really sorry I never got a video of it working. We had to enlarge the tunnel a little, and find the right, low-profile car to make it through the tunnel. The kids at the party all enjoyed giving it a try before we cut the cake. It worked most of the time, though the car got stuck in the frosting a couple times.

More specifics:

I baked two round 9″ cakes. I used Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Cake Mixes and followed the baking directions.

I made Wilton’s recipe for Chocolate Buttercream Icing, and used Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa to make it almost black (and deliciously chocolate :P).

For the bottom layer cake, I cut a path for the tunnel 3/4 of the way through the middle. (At this point, it looks almost like the letter U.) Then, I frosted the top and inside the tunnel.

For the top layer cake, I cut out another path for the tunnel. Then, I placed the cake on top of the bottom layer. I had to make some adjustments for the tunnel, by cutting a little more here and there so that the cake becomes like a ramp down the middle. After testing it with the track, I frosted the top, sides and inside the tunnel.

For the side of the cake, I tried to keep the decoration simple. I used a plastic chop stick to make indentions along the side of the frosted cake to resemble tire tread.

For the flames: I used simple icing made with powdered sugar and water. (I start with 1 cup powdered sugar and 1 Tbsp water and adjust as necessary.) Then I separated it into three small bowls and used food dye to create red, orange and yellow frosting. I used Wilton’s small round #3 decorating tip to outline the flames. Then, filled in with the different colors as shown in the picture. I used a small knife to spread the frosting to fill in the flames.

For the support of the track, my husband used a yard stick and a dowel rod secured with a nail. The track and clamp are all Hot Wheels pieces I drug out of the toy bin at home. The track had to be high enough to make the loop successfully. It also needed a little support in the middle of the track, so we used a straw taped to the underside of the track and top of the yard stick.

More Great Birthday Cake Ideas:

I’m also linking this post to Gluten-Free Wednesdays at The Gluten-Free Homemaker, where you’ll find lots of wonderful gluten-free recipes, reviews and ideas.

May
22

Brownie Pops Flower Bouquet

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My birthday this week didn’t turn out quite like I expected. I was hoping to spend the morning shopping, but instead had a sick child, and ended up keeping both of my kids home from school. But, although cleaning up vomit is not my idea of fun, it ended up being a pretty good day after all. We slept in late and spent the day in our pajamas watching movies, playing lots of games, creating mosaic art projects, and making brownie pops. Since we had the time, I decided to make the brownies into a fun flower bouquet.  I thought they turned out so cute, I might just use the idea for a teacher gift at the end of the year.

Brownie Pops Flower Bouquet

What You’ll Need:

One GF brownie recipe (Try Gluten-Free Girl’s recipe or a mix from the Gluten-Free Pantry or Betty Crocker.)

Wilton Round Brownie Pop Mold

Brownie Pop Sticks

Cupcake Paper Liners or construction paper for the petals

Directions:

  1. Mix the brownie batter according to the package or recipe instructions.
  2. Lightly spray the pan with oil. Then, fill the pan cavities 3/4 full and bake at the recipe/package recommended temperature.
  3. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until done.
  4. While the brownies are baking, prepare a vase for the brownie pops. I filled a ceramic vase with floral foam to hold the pops in place. You can cover the foam with tissue paper or wrapping paper to make it look prettier.
  5. Cut the cupcake papers to make flower petals. Fold the paper liner in half twice, and cut the bottom out. You can also do this with construction paper, but the cupcake liners are quick and easy.
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  7. When the brownies are done, gently remove them from the pan and let them cool on a rack.
  8. When the brownies have cooled slightly, slide a pop stick into each of the brownies.
  9. If desired, dip the brownies into melted chocolate or candy and let dry completely before putting on the paper petal ring.
  10. If you’re not dipping the brownies into melted candy, simply slide the paper petal ring over the brownie pop and slide a pop stick into one side of the brownies. The stick will help keep the petals in place.
  11. I made 16 brownie pops with one brownie recipe.

Additional Notes:

You can really use your imagination to come up with more ideas on this one.

  • I cut the edges of the paper liners on some of these to make more-defined flower petals. You could also cut petals out of construction paper or wrapping paper for brighter colors.
  • You can dip the brownie pops into a variety of colored candy melts, for a more vibrantly colored flower. Add sprinkles or sugar while the candy is still wet so it sticks.
  • Insert the pop sticks into the brownies at various angles, to give the bouquet some variety.
  • If you don’t have the pop sticks, try Craft Sticks or chop sticks.
  • You can also make these without the sticks. Scallop the edges of the cupcake papers to look like a flower, but don’t cut out the bottom. Then, just place the brownie bites, flat side down, into the cupcake papers. A plate of these brownie flowers would be a great way to offer a treat at a party. And thanks to the papers, no plates or napkins would be needed.
  • These would make a great gift for teacher appreciation, mother’s day, or a flower theme party.

Notable Links:

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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

Ingredients:

3 egg whites
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tarter
1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

  1. Beat egg whites until fluffy and add in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time.
  2. Mix in the other ingredients and beat until thick and stiff.

Additional Notes:

  • 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.

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Royal Icing for Gingerbread Houses

(I got this recipe from my sister, who says she got it from Better Homes and Gardens.)

Ingredients:

2 cups sifted powdered sugar
4 tsps Meringue Powder
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 Cup warm water

Directions:

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.

Additional Notes:

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:

Gingerbread House Heaven
Jenn Cuisine
Only Sometimes Clever

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.

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