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Celebrating My Independence from Gluten

July 21st, 2011

Summer is a great time for traveling. Many spend time outdoors attending fairs and festivals enjoying the nice weather with family and friends. But smelling the fair food can really make me feel like I am missing out on some of the fun. While we are all watching our waistlines, we definitely give in to temptation occasionally when we are out celebrating with family. Part of the fun of going to a carnival is getting to dine on your favorite greasy treat, be it a corn dog, ribbon chips, fried Twinkie or the classic funnel cake.

I have just returned home from visiting my younger brother, Justin, who is now living with his wife in Colorado Springs. Traveling from Indiana by car with my husband and son, we saw many sights and had a wonderful trip. Of course I still packed my cooler full of gluten-free goodies because I had no idea what to expect along the way. When we finally arrived in Colorado, I dined on the best gluten-free pizza I’ve ever had from a take-out restaurant. Plus the grocery stores were fully stocked with organic whole foods and gfree options. I can attest to the area being a gluten-free mecca and would happily move there, if I could convince the rest of my family.

My dad unfortunately passed away this year, so I didn’t get to visit with him on Father’s day or the 4th of July. So my trip to Colorado to see my baby brother was a much needed visit. All of us went on a day trip to the Royal Canyon Gorge park. Not only did we get a gorgeous view, but there was an incline railway, a petting zoo, a few rides, along with the typical fair food. My brother bought a funnel cake, and I reminded him to eat slowly and to chew his food properly. You see, the last time he ate funnel cakes he almost choked to death.

Gluten-Free Funnel Cake

Gluten-Free Funnel Cake

My mom is a bit of a spendthrift and as she didn’t like spending $5 on a small funnel cake at the local Forest Festival. She thought, “Why not have funnel cakes anytime we want?” So she bought a funnel cake kit. My dad would mix these up and my younger brother would practically inhale them. One night, Justin ate one too many and it upset his stomach. In a late night run to visit the porcelain god, his stomach in angry protest began returning the food from whence it came. Unfortunately, Justin didn’t chew his food properly and some funnel cake lodged in his throat. Luckily my dad was up late that night, probably having problems sleeping. He heard Justin being sick in the bathroom and was able to give him the Heimlich Maneuver. Dad saved Justin’s life that night, true story. So after this happened to my little bro, he is able to eat funnel cake, so why can’t I? Oh the Gluten.

What if I told you there is a super easy way to make a gluten-free funnel cake, easy enough that even I can make it? So easy I made two pretty perfect ones my first time trying. The idea came to me when I was telling my mom about my brother risking eating a funnel cake again. I was reminiscing with mom about how dad use to make them. I asked her if the batter was anything like pancake batter and when she said yes, I instantly thought about Pamela’s Products. After I got off the phone, I whipped up a batch.  I’ll warn you though, they are a bit dangerous. Please chew them properly. Eat slowly and enjoy!

Gluten-Free Funnel Cake Recipe
(Follow the directions on the Pamela’s Products Pancake and Baking Mix for Waffles)

1-1/2 cups Pamela’s Mix

3/4 cup water

2 eggs separated

2 TBSP oil

You will also need clean vegetable oil for frying. You don’t want your funnel cake to taste like onion rings. For the topping you will need enough powdered sugar or brown sugar & cinnamon mix to dust on top.

To make the batter, first whip the egg whites until they are stiff. In a separate bowl combine Pamela’s Mix, egg yolks, water and oil until there are no lumps. Fold in stiff egg whites.
Gluten-Free Funnel Cake
I mixed my batter in a large Pyrex measuring cup with a spout. I filled a medium size pot with vegetable oil. Once the oil was up to temperature, I drizzled the batter into the hot oil in circular and criss-crossing motion. I let the funnel cake fry until the bottom was golden, then flipped it to brown the other side. When it looked golden and delicious I placed it on a paper plate and tossed powdered sugar all over it. Another option would be to top them with brown sugar and cinnamon, which would taste more like an elephant ear that you would purchase at a carnival.

Upon tasting my deep fried treat, I thought it must taste so good because it has been so long since I have had one. So I had my hubby taste it and he thought it was pretty close to what you might get at a fair. Unfortunately it doesn’t reheat well, so just make as much as you can eat in one sitting. Using 1-1/2 cups of Pamela’s Mix yielded two good sized funnel cakes.

 

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Gluten-Free Double Chocolate Cookies

July 20th, 2010

Well I was hungry for some cookies tonight and had no mixes and no xanthan gum in the pantry so I attempted to make some gluten free cookies from scratch. I adapted a recipe from vegan chocolate to get me started in my first cookie experiment. The biggest substitution was the freshly extracted honey my hubby just claimed from his beehive. I used honey instead of brown sugar. The batter tasted delicious.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup spectrum palm oil
1 teaspoon of gluten free vanilla
1 egg
3/4 cup white or brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup Dagoba cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 oz. package of chocolate chips (gluten free)

Combine the shortening in a large bowl with the sugars, honey, salt and vanilla. Mix well. Add the egg and mix well. Preheat oven to 350F. Mix in the dry ingredients, and stir in the chocolate chips. Next, drop the mixture by SMALL teaspoons onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake 8 – 10 minutes (watching carefully). Cool on pan for 10-15 minutes.

Although without the gluten, these cookies do end up flattening out, but I have always preferred a chewy cookie to one that is fluffy and cake-like. These chewy cookies are what I would call “Brownie Good”. I’ll definitely keep experimenting with this recipe to perfect it.

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Gluten Free Brain Slugs Recipe

July 9th, 2010

Brain Slug Cupcakes

My hubby is a huge Futurama fan and has been really excited that new episodes have returned. In honor of his birthday, I decided to make some really special brain slug cupcakes. Thank you Alicia Policia, the original creator, for your creativity! My version is gluten free!

With a three year old, I wanted these to be as easy as possible to make, so I used some mixes for less measuring, less stress. For the cupcake batter I used Bob’s Red Mill Vanilla Cake Mix. After mixing the batter my son helped me pour the batter into 20 foil cups. I love that this cake mix is so moist!

While the cupcakes were baking in the oven I started mixing up the gum paste for sculpting the brain slugs. I used Wilton’s gum paste mix, but you can make your own. I think next time I will try making my own marshmallow fondant. I’ve read it tastes much better than the gum paste.

The gum paste needs to sit for 15 minutes before you can sculpt with it, so I moved onto the next step which was mixing up the brain icing. For the icing mix, I chose to use Namaste’s Toffee Vanilla Icing. This makes a darker frosting, so when I mixed the red food coloring in, it gave the brains a nice color. The difficulty here is getting the right whipped consistency so that you can pipe out all of the curves in the brains using a pastry bag without making your pastry bag explode. The toffee icing has a great flavor, but I think it would have been easier to use a basic buttercream frosting to get the right texture of the brains. Mine were a little runny, but still tasty.

By this time, the cupcakes were out of the oven and placed on a cooling rack so they could be ready to ice. I should have kept track of how many times my son Corbin asked if he could have one. I decided to keep him occupied by helping me make the Brain Slug’s eyeballs. We made these by rolling some of the gum paste in to tiny balls a little smaller than the tip of your pinky finger, and then squeezing them down to flatten them out. Then Corbin put a miniature chocolate chip in the center for the pupil. I think he ate more chocolate than what he used on the eyeballs, but he likes to help out. Plus it kept him occupied so he momentarily stopped asking if he could eat a cupcake yet.

After making the eyeballs, we had to make the slugs themselves. I knew I was going to use the rest of the gum paste on the slugs, so I kneaded in blue and yellow food coloring to give the slugs their green color. After the coloring was consistent, I divided the gum paste into 20 servings. Then I rolled each into a ball and shaped the slugs by pulling the “legs” out. For finishing the slugs, I used a little bit of the icing to attach the eyeballs and added the flower stamen for the slugs’ antenna.

All that was left then was piping the icing on the cupcakes to make them look like brains. Just make squiggles back and forth and don’t be afraid to swirl the icing around a little bit. At first I was trying to be precise, but then I just went with the flow. I think that they turned out pretty good. Plus they won’t make me sick and that is a bonus! Sickly sweet and fun, this is a great treat for your Futurama fan.

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Gluten-Free Tempura

June 1st, 2010

When spending Memorial Day Weekend up in Michigan, I sat and tried to ignore family eating fresh fried asparagus, but became determined to fry up my own batch when I returned home. So tonight I looked up a recipe for gluten-free tempura and it wasn’t half bad. The recipe I used comes from the blog Vegetable Japan.

Besides asparagus, I battered and fried yellow squash, but really you can do this with any vegetables you choose. I will make this again in the future when I have the craving again.

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