Archive for Kid-friendly

Earlier this year, while visiting family in Omaha, we celebrated three different birthdays. Both my mom and sister bought gluten-free cakes at the Cupcake Island so we could enjoy their birthday cakes with them. The gluten-free cakes and cupcakes were delicious and decorated perfectly for the occasions. I hadn’t really investigated getting gluten-free cakes from local bakeries in Virginia. But when I came home, I thought I’d see if a local bakery could make a gluten-free cake for my daughter’s birthday. Surprise! Cakes by Happy Eatery in northern Virginia makes gluten-free cakes. Unfortunately, my daughter was having a lot of friends at her party, and the cake large enough to accommodate was going to cost $85-100. I just didn’t think that would fit into my budget. So, I made the cake myself.

I enjoy decorating cakes, but I was short on time this year. Rather than make the cake from scratch, I took the short cuts: Betty Crocker gluten-free cake mixes and frosting. I used four cake mixes. For the bottom layer, I combined two yellow cake mixes and baked them for about 50 minutes in a 9″x 13″ pan. For the top layer I did the same thing with two chocolate cake mixes. I used chocolate frosting between the layers, and vanilla frosting tinted green to cover the top and sides.

Now to decorate. My daughter wanted a Princess and the Frog birthday cake because Tiana is her new favorite princess. I bought the little Princess Tiana dress-up doll set that came with the frogs and firefly to help decorate the cake. That way I could quickly create a swamp and lily pads for the frogs. My daughter was pleased, and I got it done without too much time and drama.

Some of the tools I used to decorate the cake:

Want to purchase a gluten-free cake or cupcakes, instead?
Give these bakeries in the DC/MD/NOVA area a try:

More Notable Links:

  • Don’t forget to visit The Gluten-Free Homemaker this week for the Cake Challenge. Lots of great gluten-free cake recipes are linked up.
  • Celebrate It! is hosting this week’s All Things Family blog carnival with a roundup of summer party and craft ideas.
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Chocolate Eggs in a Cookie Basket

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img_1995xThis is one of my favorite Easter treats to make for the kids. OK, it’s really a treat for me, but don’t tell them that. :o) Chocolate eggs in a “basket” made of chocolate chip cookie dough — what could be better? You will need an Individual Tart Baking Pan (also known as a tartlette pan). You may also be able to use a Mini Muffin Pan or muffin-top pan, but I’ve always used my non-stick tart baking pan. I think it makes just the right shape for the basket.


Chocolate Eggs in a Cookie Basket


Chocolate Chip Cookie dough (I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix.)
Candy-coated chocolate eggs (I used Cadbury Mini Eggs, but you can use M&M’s Chocolate Eggs, too.)


  1. img_1985xxMix up chocolate chip cookie dough according to directions, and drop a large mounded tablespoon of dough into each tart impression in the pan.
  2. Bake cookies in the tart pan according to the recipe directions.
  3. When cooking is done, remove pan of cookies from the oven and press chocolate eggs into the center of each cookie tart. Leave in the pan for 5 minutes.
  4. After 5 minutes, gently remove the cookies from the pan by grabbing the edges of the cookies and pulling out with a slight twisting motion. The pan will still be hot, so be careful not to touch it with your fingers!

Additional Notes:

  • If the cookies start to come apart while trying to remove, they are probably too soft and warm. Let them cool down for a few more minutes. If the cookies won’t move at all, they are probably too cool. Set them back in the oven for a couple minutes to warm them up. They should now release easily from the pan. (I’ve never had to spray my non-stick pan, but if yours isn’t a non-stick type, you may want to use a non-stick spray before dropping the cookie dough onto the pan.)
  • If you can’t get the chocolate eggs, or want to make these for another occasion, try using a different chocolate candy. These are really good with Reese’s Miniature Peanut Butter Cups or Hershey’s Kisses, too!
  • One batch makes about 24.

Notable Links:


Party Dogs!?

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Pigs in a blanket, or hot dogs wrapped in dough: Whatever you call it, they are sure to please taste buds of all ages. This idea came about as an afterthought. I was trying out Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix. I followed the directions on the package for making the crust. The recipe says it makes two 12″ pizzas or one 16″ pizza. Well, my 16″ pizza turned out to be more like 14″. So, I had dough leftover. Since my daughter doesn’t like pizza, I decided to use the dough for hot dog buns. I cut the remaining dough into four rectangles and wrapped them around uncooked hot dogs. Then, I put them onto a lightly greased baking sheet and baked them for about 15 minutes. (No pre-baking was necessary.) They turned out great. And, how did my daughter like it? Well, let’s just say she’s used to eating hot dogs without buns. :) My husband and I thought they were delicious. We’ll definitely make them again. I think next time I’ll try some with a slice of cheese in them, too.

I wanted to share this because I thought it would be a great idea for a kid’s (or grown-up’s) gluten-free birthday party. Make the dough in advance, and have the hot dogs wrapped with the dough, covered on a baking sheet and waiting in the refrigerator until the guests show up. Then, pop the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 15 minutes. You could have a whole tray of these cooked and ready to serve while the kids play games, open presents, etc.

I should also mention that the pizza crust turned out very good, too! But somehow, I forgot to take a picture of the pizza we made. It was devoured way too quickly for me to even get a shot of it. ;)

Notable Links:


Make Your Own Snack Mix – GF/EF

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Due to all the snow days we’ve had this winter, my son just hit his 100th day in school last week. His teacher planned all kinds of fun counting activities for the kids to mark the 100th day. The week before the activity, the teacher emailed me saying that she wanted to have the kids each make their own trail mix snack. They would each count out 10 pieces of 10 different food items and combine them to come up with 100. So, she gave me a list of snack foods that she has used in the past for this activity, and asked me what we could do to make sure it was gluten-free. There is another student in the class that has an allergy to eggs, so they needed to be egg-free, too. I was surprised how quick and easy it was to come up with a list of items.

The teacher was able to find 9 different items at her local grocery store with no problems. I provided the 10th item, a bag of small pretzel twists for the class because I had a spare bag in the pantry. Glutino makes great pretzels that are gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, casein-free. If you haven’t thought about making a trail mix for snack foods, here’s a list of items to get you started. Choose two, three or ten! items to create that perfect snack for you and your kids. Obviously, you can make it as healthy or unhealthy as you like. And, of course, check labels to make sure that the items you are buying are gluten-free (and egg-free if you need it to be egg-free as well).

This is a great activity for the kids. It certainly makes a good counting activity, but also encourages them to prepare their own nutritious snacks. Give them a choice of appropriate snacks to choose — maybe one of each of the categories below. Whatever works for you and your family, just have fun and enjoy eating gluten-free!


Dried Fruits:

  • raisins
  • cranberries/craisins
  • blueberries
  • yogurt covered raisins


  • Peanuts
  • Cashews, almonds, or other tree nuts
  • Sunflower Seeds



  • Mini marshmallows
  • chocolate chips
  • M&Ms
  • Skittles
  • Fruit snacks
  • Gummy bears

So, I’m sure I’ve missed some snack ideas. Do you have any to share? What do you put in a snack mix?

Notable Links:

Categories : Kid-friendly, Parenting
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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


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


  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.


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.

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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