Archive for Holidays
This winter, our family went to the movie theater to watch Disney’s latest animated film “The Princess and the Frog.” We loved the movie. And, although I haven’t spent a lot of time in New Orleans, I was reminded of the fun times and good food I’ve had there in the past. In the movie, there were scenes where Tiana (“the princess”) makes or powders beignets (pronounced ben-YAYs), a kind of doughnut that was made famous by Cafe du Monde in New Orleans. While watching the scenes, I wondered about making these gluten free. Of course, I couldn’t find a gluten-free recipe, so I had to come up with my own.
I am so excited to share this recipe with you. I’ve never actually eaten a lot of beignets – only when I’ve been at the French Quarter in New Orleans. They really are a delicious treat. If you’re not familiar with them, I would describe them as a square doughnut, or bread dough deep fried into little square pillows, and topped with powdered sugar. They are so yummy! If you aren’t celebrating Mardi Gras with a Gluten-Free King Cake this year, then you should definitely indulge in these little gems.
Gluten-Free Beignet Recipe
1/2 Cup warm water
1/4 Cup sugar
2 tsp yeast
3/4 Cup almond milk (Regular milk should work, too.)
1/2 Cup butter, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Cups brown rice flour (I use Authentic Foods finely ground.)
1 Cup potato starch
1/2 Cup sweet rice flour
1 Tbsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1 liter vegetable oil for frying beignets
powdered sugar for dusting the beignets after cooking
- You’ll need a large pot of vegetable oil to fry the beignets. Electric deep fryers are great for keeping the temperature consistent. However, you can use a pot of oil on the stove top, but you’ll need to watch the temperature closely. You should fry the beignets between 360° - 380° F.
- Start by combining the yeast with the sugar and the warm water (110° - 115° F is recommended but I don’t usually check the temperature.) in a small bowl. Set it aside.
- In a large bowl, mix together the brown rice flour, potato starch, sweet rice flour, xanthan gum, and salt. Add in the melted butter, milk, and eggs and mix thoroughly.
- Now stir the yeast mixture into the flour mixture. The dough should start to pull together into a soft ball.
- Turn the dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper and top with plastic wrap. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it’s about 1/8″ thick.
- Using a pizza cutter, cut the beignets into 2-1/2″ squares. You should be able to make 24 – 30 beignets.
- Fry the dough in the heated oil 1 – 3 beignets at a time. Don’t fry too many at once, as it can lower the temperature of the oil too fast. Thus, inhibiting the beignets to puff up like they should. Once the beignets start to brown, flip them over using a slotted spoon or tongs. Once the beignets have been lightly browned on both sides, carefully remove them from the oil and place on paper towels to absorb extra oil. The beignets should only take one or two minutes to brown on each side.
- Generously top each beignet with powdered sugar and serve while warm.
- These aren’t terribly sweet. Most of the sweetness comes from the powdered sugar, so you can easily adjust it to your liking. You can even drizzle a little honey on it, like my husband did, if you have a sweet tooth.
- In case you’re wondering: I didn’t find it necessary to wait and allow the dough to rise. I simply cut them out and fried them up.
- This dough wasn’t very sticky, so you might be able to roll out the dough without using the parchment paper and plastic wrap, but I find it convenient. A little dusting of potato starch on the counter and rolling pin should work fine.
- Just roll out the dough once. I tried to re-roll the dough (balled it up and rolled it out again) to cut perfect squares. As a result, the dough fried up flat and a little tougher.
- Watch the temperature of the oil while frying. If it’s too low, the beignets won’t puff up. If it’s too high, the center won’t cook through and will be a little gummy. If you’re having trouble, try putting two pieces of dough into the oil at a time when it’s at 380° F.
- Although I don’t believe it’s traditional, I think these would be nice with a little cinnamon mixed into the dough. I might try that next time.
- In order to save time for breakfast, the traditional meal time to eat these, make up the dough the night before and keep the dough in the refrigerator. In the morning, roll it out, cut it and fry.
- I did eventually find another recipe for gluten-free beignets. This one by Teri Gruss at About.com uses a cake mix for the flour.
- There are more tips for cooking beignets at Cafe Du Monde .
- I’m linking this to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays because I only used 1/4 Cup sugar in the dough and I reduced the lactose content by using almond milk.
- For more gluten-free recipes, visit The Gluten-Free Homemaker at this week’s edition of “What Can I Eat That’s Gluten Free?“
- Know a fan of Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog”? Here are some coloring/activity pages my daughter has enjoyed.
This month I’ve been experimenting with chocolate-covered macadamia nuts. I made three different versions: Easy, Delicious, and Addictive! Plus, some heart-shaped ones for Valentine’s Day. Let me start with the easy recipe:
Easy Chocolate-Covered Macadamia Nuts
Whole Raw Macadamia Nuts
Dark Cocoa Candy Melts
You’ll also need a Truffles Candy Mold.
- Melt chocolate candy melts in the microwave. Start by melting at half power for about two minutes. Then, put in for another minute at a time to finish melting.
- Fill about a third of each candy truffle mold with the melted chocolate. Push a nut into the melted chocolate in the mold. Then, finish filling the candy mold with more melted chocolate. Tap the mold on the counter to release any air bubbles.
- Place the mold in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Then, pull it out of the refrigerator, turn it upside down and pop the candies out.
- The candy melts are so easy to work with, and they make very pretty, shiny candies. However, it isn’t as tasty as using good chocolate. (That doesn’t mean they didn’t disappear as quickly as I made them.)
- For melting the candy melt discs, I used a plastic squeeze bottle. It made it easy to melt the candy and fill the candy mold. You can keep the bottle in a bowl of warm water to keep the chocolate warm while you’re filling the candy molds with nuts. Or, just pop it back into the microwave for a minute or two, if necessary.
- You can, of course, melt the chocolate on the stove with a double boiler. Just be careful not to get any water into the chocolate, as it can make the chocolate seize.
Delicious Chocolate-Covered Macadamia Nuts
For an even better tasting candy, instead of raw macadamia nuts, I used Elana’s recipe for candied macadamia nuts at Elana’s Pantry. It’s a pretty quick and easy recipe, and is a very tasty treat by itself. But, the sweetness of the agave nectar combined with the salt, and then roasted in the oven gives this chocolate candy another tasty layer which is delicious!
Best Tasting, Addictive Chocolate-Covered Macadamia Nuts
For the best tasting chocolate covered macadamia nuts, use the candied macadamia nuts and use real dark chocolate! Using real chocolate just makes these even better. In order to get the best looking results, too, you’ll have to temper your chocolate. I’m still trying to perfect the tempering process, but even if it doesn’t work for you it will be delicious! It just may not be as pretty. Un-tempered chocolate also has a tendency to bloom at room temperature. So, if you don’t temper your chocolate, eat them right away or store in the refrigerator.
Valentine’s Day Treats
So, for Valentine’s Day, I made some of these with heart-shaped molds. I couldn’t find any candy molds that were deep enough to accommodate the macadamia nuts, so I used these silicone gelatin/ice cube molds I found at the dollar store.
- Elana’s Pantry Candied Macadamia Nuts recipe and directions.
- Diane made Chocolate Macadamia Nuts without using candy molds at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang.
- Detailed directions of Tempering Chocolate is at Cooking For Engineers.
- The Giver’s Log has great tips for buying chocolate and melting and tempering chocolate.
- For more gluten-free recipes, visit The Gluten-Free Homemaker for What Can I Eat That’s Gluten Free?
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.
When I first read that Amy at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free was hosting Cocktails, Mocktails and Appetizers for the Holiday Food Fest, I immediately thought of our Chocolate Martinis. It’s a recipe that my husband and I worked at creating several years ago. OK. My husband actually did the work, measuring, shaking, etc. I sat on the couch, tasted them and gave them a thumbs up or thumbs down. We tried several brands and types of alcohol to arrive at this recipe. I must warn you: Though they are deliciously chocolate, this is a martini and very strong! I’m a light-weight when it comes to alcohol, and one is usually all I can handle in one night.
Magic Shell (optional for decorating the glass)
Dark Chocolate ice cream (The darker, richer chocolate ice creams are best for this.)
1.5 oz. Kahlua
1.5 oz.Creme de Cacao (You can use dark or clear varieties, we used the dark.)
1.5 oz. Vodka (Any will do, but we used a chocolate infused vodka for even more chocolate flavor.)
- My husband begins the martini making process by preparing the Martini Glasses. Place the glasses in the freezer (for about 30 minutes) to get them nice and frosty. Then slowly drizzle Magic Shell along the edge of the glass, so that it starts to run down the inside of the glass. It adds a little flavor to the drink, but mainly just makes it look nice. Then, place the glass back into the freezer.
- Next, place 3 or 4 ice cubes into a Cocktail Shaker and one scoop of ice cream. Pour in equal parts Creme de Cacao, Kahlua, and Vodka and shake vigorously. Continue shaking until the ice cream is broken up.
- Straining out the ice, pour the martini into the prepared glass.
- Serve quickly, while still icy cold.
- Magic shell is our favorite way to decorate the glass. However, you may want to experiment with others: Cocoa powder on the rim can be a little bitter but could be cut with powdered sugar; Chocolate syrup drizzled can get messy and doesn’t stay along the sides, but it does add a little sweetness to the drink; Powdered sugar on the rim makes a nice snowy look, but can get sticky. How about cinnamon, or cinnamon sugar? Be creative and have fun!
- We usually serve it without any other garnish. However, crushed peppermint candy sprinkled on top and a whole candy stuck on the side, as in the photo, gives it a fun holiday flavor. Try hanging a small candy cane on the side. Or, a fresh mint leaf for a summer day. None of these add much flavor to the drink. But, it does add a nice aroma to the drink.
- If you’re a real fan of peppermint, put crushed peppermint candy on the rim. And, maybe even a splash of Peppermint Schnapps.
I am also linking this to “What Can I Eat That’s Gluten-Free?” at The Gluten-Free Homemaker. So, be sure to check out all of the gluten-free recipes and ideas shared at this round-up, too.
Something I usually make during the holiday season is Poppy Seed Bread. Although the poppy seed bread is cooked in a small loaf pan, it is really a cake. In my mind it’s too sweet and fine-textured to be considered a bread. But, we slice it like bread, and tradition says we call it bread.
Every year, my mom makes Poppy Seed Bread to give to friends and co-workers for the holidays. I, too, have continued this tradition. This year, rather than making it from scratch, I decided to take the easy way and use Betty Crocker’s Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Mix. I was a little concerned about the amounts, but was pleasantly surprised at how well it turned out. I added some flavorings and poppy seeds to the mix, as well as eggs, milk and oil. It made a very nice poppy seed cake that I then covered with a thin, sweet glaze.
These cakes can be made up in advance and frozen until time to give them away for the holidays. Once I’ve made the cakes and let them cool completely, I wrap each one individually with plastic wrap. Then, I place them in a zip-style plastic bag. Sealed like this, you can keep them in the refrigerator for at least a week, or in the freezer for several weeks. They will defrost quite quickly at room temperature. Or, defrost them in the refrigerator overnight.
Poppy Seed Bread Made With Betty Crocker’s Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix
For the Cake:
1 box Betty Crocker Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix
2/3 Cup milk
1/2 Cup vegetable oil
1 TBSP poppy seeds
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp butter flavoring
1 tsp almond flavoring
For the Glaze:
1/2 Cup powdered sugar
1/4 Cup granulated sugar
1/4 Cup orange juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp butter flavoring
1 tsp almond flavoring
- In a medium mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Then add in the remaining cake ingredients (cake mix, milk, oil, poppy seeds, vanilla extract, butter flavoring and almond flavoring). Mix until thoroughly blended.
- Pour into greased, small/mini loaf pans. (I use an oil spray, but you can use butter or shortening.)
- Bake for 40-50 minutes at 350° F.
- Once baked, remove from the oven and cool in the pans on a cooling rack for 5 minutes.
- While the cakes are cooling, make the glaze. Combine all the glaze ingredients and mix well.
- Pour the glaze over each cake (still warm in the pan). Let it sit for 5 minutes, then remove and let it cool completely on racks.
- I made three small loaves with this recipe, but probably could’ve made two slightly larger loaves. This recipe will also make one full-size loaf.
- I used the small, or sometimes called mini, aluminum foil loaf pans (about 3.5″ x 6″ x 2″h) you find in the grocery stores. I’ve used them over and over, washing each time in the dishwasher. If you’re wanting a more permanent solution, try these Mini Loaf Pans.
- For presenting these as gifts, I usually keep the bread wrapped in plastic wrap and then tie it with a nice festive ribbon. For more color, you can use colored plastic wrap that is easy to find during the holidays. Sometimes I will also put the bread in a clear plastic gift bag, or treat bag and then tie with a nice ribbon. You can also use colored cellophane to wrap it, and tie with ribbon at both ends. It all just depends on how and when you want to present it.
- If not giving these away as gifts, put them in the freezer. Then the night before Thanksgiving or Christmas, put them into the refrigerator to defrost overnight. By morning it will be a nice treat to eat for breakfast, or maybe a snack while opening stockings, with a cup of tea.
For more edible gift ideas, be sure to visit Cents To Get Debt Free. I’m a little late to the blog carnival, so there are already plenty of other great ideas for edible gifts. Please be aware that some of the contributions at the carnival may not be gluten-free, but there are still plenty that are GF and other good ideas that could be modified to be GF.