Archive for Special Occasion

sweetpotatoesThis is a fairly simple, traditional recipe that I put together for our Thanksgiving family gathering this year. I always enjoy sweet potato casserole for the holidays. I usually prefer a crunchy pecan and brown sugar topping, but I know some people always look forward to the toasted marshmallows on top. So, this year, I did both. This is now my favorite way to eat them.

I like to think of this as a vegetable side dish, but really it’s sweet enough to call it dessert. In fact, since I’ve been reducing my sugar consumption, I’ve found it to be too sweet. Now, I don’t add the 3/4 Brown Sugar to the main ingredients. Instead, I just enjoy the flavor of the sweet potatoes and the sweetness added by the toppings.

Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe

Ingredients:

Main Ingredients:
4 large Sweet Potatoes or Yams, peeled, cooked and mashed (about 4 lbs or 8 cups)
3 Eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar (optional)
1/2 Cup Butter, softened (I use Earth Balance Vegan.)
1 TBSP Maple Syrup
3/4 Cup Almond Milk (I used vanilla flavored.)

Topping Ingredients:
1 Cup Chopped Pecans
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Brown Rice Flour
1/3 Cup Butter, melted (Again, Earth Balance Vegan Sticks)
1 Cup Small Marshmallows

Directions:

  1. Cook and peel the sweet potatoes, or yams. I like to score the skin on the yams both around the middle and lengthwise. Then I put them into boiling water and simmer until they are fork tender (about 20-30 min.).
  2. While the yams are cooking, combine the first four topping ingredients with a fork and set aside.
  3. When the yams are done, remove them from the heat and drain the water. Cover with cold water to cool down. If the skin hasn’t come off already, gently pull the skin off.
  4. Mash the yams and add the rest of the main ingredients. Combine thoroughly. You may want to beat the ingredients together for a smoother, fluffier texture.
  5. Spread the yams/sweet potato mixture into a 9 x 13 baking dish. (You can cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator at this point, if you are saving for the next day.)
  6. Then top the yams with the mini marshmallows and pecan mixture in alternating diagonal stripes.
  7. Bake at 350° F for 30-40 minutes, or until the yams are bubbly hot and the marshmallows are lightly browned.

Additional Notes:

  • To make ahead: I made this the day before Thanksgiving, skipping step 2 and ending at step 5 the first day. On the morning of Thanksgiving, I took the dish out of the refrigerator and let set on the counter while I worked on step 2 of the directions and preheated the oven. I then finished the baking with steps 6 and 7.
  • If the marshmallows don’t brown after 40 minutes, put it under the broiler for a few minutes. But watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn.

Notable Links:

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.

Aug
01

Fruit Pizza Dessert

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Every year, we get together with family to celebrate all the summer family birthdays. Most years, each person has already had a birthday cake to celebrate on their special day. So, when we finally all get together with aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents, we often do something other than birthday cake for the dessert. Last year, we had chocolate fondue for dessert. This year, I decided to make a dessert pizza with fresh fruit.

It was a busy weekend for us, and I actually decided last minute what I was making, so I took a short cut and used Cherrybrook Kitchen Gluten Free Sugar Cookie Mix for the crust. (FYI: The mix can be made egg-free, dairy-free, and peanut-free.) I combined two mixes to make a 16″ pizza crust. Then, I made a simple cream cheese spread to cover the huge sugar cookie crust, and topped it with slices of fresh fruit. It’s a simple and easy dessert, but very satisfying and pretty. You can use whatever fruit you have available. Make a design with the fruit, like I did, or simply pile it all on.

Gluten-Free Fruit Pizza Dessert

Ingredients:

Sugar Cookie Dough (2 Cherrybrook Kitchen mixes, 1 Cup margarine or Earth Balance dairy-free substitute, 1/2 Cup almond milk, 5 tsp vanilla)
8 oz. cream cheese [I use Tofutti’s dairy-free Cream Cheese to make this dairy-free.]
1/2 Cup powdered sugar, sifted
Variety of fruit, sliced (I used 3 kiwis, a pint of strawberries and a handful of blueberries.)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Make the sugar cookie crust. Follow the recipe as usual for the sugar cookie dough. (I combined two mixes with 1 Cup melted butter, 1/2 Cup almond milk, and 5 tsp vanilla.)
  3. Place the dough on a large sheet of Parchment Paper and top with a large sheet of plastic wrap. Then roll, or press, out the dough to a 16″ round. Remove the plastic wrap and slide the parchment paper with dough onto a Pizza Pan or cookie sheet.
  4. Place the large cookie dough into the oven, and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until it starts to brown around the edges.
  5. Remove the pizza crust from the oven and let it cool completely on a wire rack. The parchment paper will make it easy to slide the crust off the cookie sheet and onto the wire rack.
  6. Mix up the cream cheese spread by thoroughly mixing together the cream cheese and powdered sugar.
  7. Once the crust is completely cooled, spread the cream cheese/sugar mixture evenly over the top of the crust.
  8. Now add the sliced fruit to the pizza. If you are going to make a fun design, I suggest you start in the middle and work your way out to the edges.
  9. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until time to serve.

Additional Notes:

  • We cut our pizza into 16 large servings.
  • Each Cherrybrook Kitchen Gluten Free Sugar Cookie Mix makes about 20 cookies.
  • One batch of homemade gluten-free sugar cookies works for the crust, too!
  • Feel free to use any variety of fruit: berries, peaches, nectarines, mango, cherries, etc. You can also use bananas, but remember they will brown so add them right before you serve it.
  • Want more fruit? Cut thick slices, overlap the fruit, or just pile it all on. Get creative and have fun!RedWhiteBlue
  • You can also use canned fruit, but be sure to drain any sauce or liquid completely from it, so it doesn’t make the pizza soggy.
  • Some of our family members added a scoop of vanilla ice cream to top their pizza slice. I don’t think it needs any topping, but if it sounds good to you, you may also consider topping with whipped cream, chocolate sauce, or a simple glaze.
  • You don’t have to make this as a round pizza. Use a baking sheet/jelly roll pan for the crust. Then, cut into squares for serving. fruitsquaresOr, halve the recipe, press it into a 9×13 pan, and bake it for about 15-20 minutes.
  • This is such an easy dessert to make, it would be a great project for the kids to make.

Notable Links:

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.
Comments (14)
Apr
24

Tropical Mimosas

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This month, Naomi at Straight Into Bed Cakefree and Dried, is hosting Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free! It’s a fun roundup of gluten-free recipes. The theme this month is Breakfast In Bed. How appropriate. It’s just in time to find some great ideas for Mother’s Day (May 9th in the US this year). I’m not exactly a “Breakfast in Bed” kind of girl, but I did think of a new recipe to share for breakfast. My mom made a great punch to go with our Easter brunch this year, and my dad decided to add it to some champagne. It was so wonderful, it inspired me to create my own champagne punch.

I knew I’d have to modify my mom’s recipe because I didn’t want a whole punch bowl filled with enough to serve a large party. (Without the champagne, this recipe makes a tropical juice punch that fills a 2-quart pitcher.) And while I was changing the recipe, I decided to change up some of the flavors, too. I think I’ll serve these Tropical Mimosas with my Banana Coffee Cake (regular and dairy-free) and Berry Fruit Salad. What an exquisite way to start the morning on Mother’s Day!

Tropical Mimosas

Ingredients:

2 very ripe bananas
24 oz. (3 Cups) pineapple juice
16 oz. (2 Cups) orange juice
12 oz. (1-1/2 Cups) mango nectar/juice
2 bottles of champagne or sparkling wine, chilled

Directions:

  1. Add all of the ingredients, except the champagne, to a 2-quart pitcher. Using an immersible blender, thoroughly blend the bananas and juice until frothy. (If you don’t have an immersible blender, just pour it all into a regular blender to mix it.)
  2. Fill a champagne flute half-way with champagne, then top with the juice.
  3. To garnish, try a fresh pineapple or mango slice. Enjoy!

Additional Notes:

  • For a non-alcoholic version, add the punch to Ginger Ale instead of champagne.
  • Or, for a smoothie, add a cup of yogurt to the juice and give it a whirl in the blender.

Notable Links: