Sweet ways to surprise a g-free kid this holiday season

Supporters, this one’s for you!

Is there a g-free kid in your life?  Are you this child’s teacher, “Room Mom”, aunt, uncle, neighbor, Sunday School coordinator, friend of the family, or relative?  Well, all it takes is a little bit of effort on your part to make this g-free kid feel welcome, valuable, and loved for that upcoming school, church or family party.

Your event is likely just one of many that he or she will attend this month, and I can almost guarantee that many other party planners will not think ahead to include gluten-free treats. Sure, there may be fruit, veggies and other naturally g-free foods — which is great — but kids are kids, and a sweet, safe, great-tasting treat is always a welcomed sight. Especially when the “other kids” are gushing about how amazing the donut holes, cupcakes and cookies are, while all the g-free kid is allowed to put on his or her plate is the healthy stuff…

This is where you come in — to light up that g-free kid’s eyes, and to see the gratitude come shining through… So take a bit of time and a few dollars and be the one to make that kid’s day!

Most likely, there is a gluten-free section at your local grocery store. If so, check it out. This time of year there are multiple seasonal offerings that you can pick up, such as these ready-to-enjoy treats:

storebought

There are also several brands of peppermint & chocolate-drizzled popcorn available right now, and plenty of other year-’round goodies. These types of ready-made treats are your safest bet, as you can bring in the package for the child or their parent to read, so they can feel secure that they can indulge safely. Make sure you see the words: “certified gluten-free” or “gluten-free” on the label. Whatever you end up buying, please remember to bring the packaging, as many g-free kids are (understandably) wary of eating anything they can’t prove is gluten-free.

If you’d like to add a little something extra to a plain food, just clean your countertop, spread out some wax paper and drizzle chocolate over plain Snyders of Hanover GF pretzels, “Boom-Chicka-Pop” popcorn, or dip marshmallows in chocolate (you don’t need sticks) and decorate with sprinkles, like you see in the next three photos:

pretzels

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If you’d like to take it to the next level and bake them something, it’s probably best to check with the g-free kid’s parent first to make sure you do it safely. There are things you need to know and certain ways of doing things in order to make the end result a safe bet. And, no, these are not hard things to do…

Things like cleaning your counter work space well of all crumbs before you start the recipe. And using wax paper, aluminum foil or parchment paper on your cookie sheets, so you are not baking where wheat ingredients just were. Believe it or not, even a small amount of cross contamination can really make super-sensitive kids (like one of mine) sick, so please trust in simple measures and go along with it. Use squeaky clean bowls & utensils for mixing, scraping and removing cookies after baking — or better yet: buy and keep separate ones designated only for GF foods.

Here are some more tips on avoiding cross-contamination. Read it over and let the g-free kid’s parents know you understand the importance of following these measures, or whatever additional measures she requests. As one of these parents, I can tell you how uncomfortable and awkward it is to ask other adults to do these things, and how much easier it is when someone shows that they are happy to do whatever it takes for their awesome, generous & thoughtful gesture to work out well in the end.  🙂  I can also tell you how extra awkward it is having to decline something I don’t trust to be safe…

If they give you the go-ahead, here are 3 super-easy, gluten-free cookie recipes:

3cookiesA) Four ingredient cake mix M&M cookies (You just need GF cake mix: Aldi’s Live G-Free brand is good and cheap, eggs, butter and M&Ms)

B) Flourless Fudge Chunk Cookies (Calls for dark cocoa powder, powdered sugar, salt, vanilla extract, egg white and choc. chips)

C) Three ingredient peanut butter cookies (peanut butter, eggs and sugar) (not for school parties, for obvious reasons)

There are many things you can do beyond these ideas to make that g-free kid in your life feel special, and to bring a tear of gratitude to their parents’ eyes. Whenever anyone in our lives does any of these things for my g-free girls, they earn some serious bonus points from all of us, and we appreciate it from the bottom of our hearts.  🙂

Any more ideas or tips?  Feel free to comment….

Peppermint Stick Ice Cream Sandwiches

IMG_1101If you have followed my Facebook page and this blog the past month, you already know I have a thing for candy canes. I’ve posted countless recipes using them and have visions of candy canes dancing in my head when I consider all the possibilities…

One of the few things I really miss as a Celiac is a good ice cream sandwich. Sure, we’ve all squished some ice cream between two round, gluten-free cookies, but I miss that rectangular shape and flat, soft, thin pieces of cookie bars that come on the originals….

Pillsbury-Gluten-Free-Dough-Cookie-DoughSo when I finally picked up a tub of Pillsbury Gluten Free Cookie Dough,
I knew just what to make with it… a Christmassy version of an ice cream sandwich, perfect for this most wonderful time of the year.

Before I get into the recipe and how easy (albeit a bit messy) these were to make, let me just say that this product is perfect to share with supporters of your g-free kid, because now they can make GF cookies with much less risk of cross contamination than they would using dry mixes. This comes ready to use right out of the tub — just scoop it out, plop it down and bake. Supporters can just make a few cookies on tin foil and keep the rest in the tub for another time. Keep this in mind for grandma’s house, church coffee hour, or other get-together where it would be nice (and super thoughtful) to have a few sweet things on hand for the resident g-free kids…

Now, how to make them:
The directions on the tub only tell you how to make regular cookies, but this dough is apparently much more versatile than the package gives it credit for. Thankfully, Pillsbury has this comprehensive collection of recipes using their gluten-free doughs which proved to me that it can be used in many ways.

When I first started scooping out the dough in small pieces and dropping & flattening them down into a (greased) 9″ x 13″ metal baking dish, I wasn’t sure it would cover the whole bottom. It made a pretty thin layer which puffed back up nicely as it baked. I made it at night and covered it loosely with tin foil before I went to bed, and in the morning I easily got it out of the pan and cut it into pieces.

Of course I had to sample some, and all I have to say is, “Wow.” I was taken back to my pre-GF days of old and that classic chocolate chip cookie taste of a soft baked cookie. My husband could NOT believe these are gluten-free. Luckily we stopped eating them and managed to save some to make the recipe with…

So, anyhow, after you flatten the dough onto a greased baking dish, you just bake it for 10 minutes at 350 degrees, take it out and let it cool completely.

IMG_0836Then you cut it into whatever size and shape pieces you want (square, rectangle or use a cookie cutter), making pairs of the same shape and size as you go. I went with a variety of rectangles for old times’ sake.

IMG_0837Then I pressed them together a bit and put them into the freezer on wax paper to stiffen up enough to put the ice cream on.

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While the bars are stiffening up in the freezer, start melting your ice cream (any flavor, really, if you’re not a peppermint fan)…

IMG_1058Just mush the ice cream  between 2 matching pieces…

IMG_1064Pop ’em back into the freezer onto wax paper, as soon as each one is put together…

IMG_1079Let the ice cream harden up a bit, then clean off & straighten the edges with a knife…

IMG_1090Dip edges into a plate of crushed peppermint or sprinkles and refreeze…

IMG_1094When you feel like surprising your g-free kids with a special treat, get ready to watch their eyes light up as they bite easily into the soft Pillsbury GF cookie ice cream sandwich and realize they will want you to make these again, in whatever flavor you can get them to agree on…  😉

IMG_1114See what else you can make with all of these gluten-free doughs at the Pillsbury Pinterest board.

Are any of these gluten-free doughs available near you? Find out with the product locator.

Disclaimer: Pillsbury sent me a free product coupon for this dough and is sponsoring this post, but as always, I only post positive reviews like this when my g-free girls and I actually love a product. And we did.

Christmas Corn Thins

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Try and find these somewhere else on Pinterest — I dare you!  It’s just not gonna happen….so you had better pin it here…  😉

It’s a cute, cheap, quick, fun, easy idea we just thought of that you can use for any holiday, really. All you need are Real Food corn thins, melted chocolate, sprinkles and/or crushed candy canes, cookie cutters and a new paintbrush. You can make any amount you need — for a quick snack for your g-free kid, or enough for a school party. It tastes like chocolate covered popcorn but in a nice compact, portable form…

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It’s simple. All you do is find cookie cutters that fit on these Real Food corn thins (these are thinner and much less bumpy than traditional corn cakes and rice cakes so it’s easier to make shapes on them)…

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Melt some chocolate, hold the cookie cutter down firmly (no, I’m not a hand model) and brush the chocolate on around the edges…

IMG_0995Add sprinkles or crushed candy canes, put on wax paper in the freezer to set, and voila…IMG_0990A g-free kid-friendly treat that can’t be beat…especially if you love chocolate and popcorn. My kids love these — and yours will too!

Want to know if these are in a store nearby? Check this store locator.

Come back tomorrow for another special treat idea…

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Candy Cane Fudge (a new gluten-free favorite!)

fudgeI can safely say — by how quickly it’s disappearing — that this new concoction will be added to our list of favorite holiday treats. I saw it in one of my Country magazines — a recipe for Candy Cane Fudge. We made it last evening, let it harden overnight and I couldn’t resist trying it at about 7am this morning (and a few other times during the day just to make sure it was as amazing as it was earlier).  😉

Just wanted to share it with you….the recipe was quite easy and it is definitely a keeper!
Everything you need to know is at the second link above… Enjoy!
~Katie

Kid-sized Peanut Butter Cups for Christmas

IMG_0731I was looking for something different — yet easy — to make my g-free girls for a holiday treat….I ended up looking no further than one of my all-time favorite cookie recipes: this one in particular.

To make these perfect, kid-size peanut butter cups, you just preheat your oven to
400 degrees, then use this simple cookie recipe:

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg

Mix 3 ingredients together, and press cookie dough into greased mini cupcake tin openings. Be sure to press it evenly inside each opening — the same thickness on the bottom as it is along the sides—to ensure even baking, leaving an indentation in the middle for filling later on… The dough should come up and around the edges of each opening, which is where you add fork marks. Then you pop them into the oven and bake for about 9 minutes (watching them so they don’t burn around the top edges)  After they are cooled completely, twist each one by its edges until they loosen, after which they should pop right out, nice and sturdy.

(Note: I have had a few “duds” in the past which didn’t come out in one piece, because I made the indentation down too far which made the bottom thinner than the sides.)

IMG_0735For filling, I just used chocolate frosting piped through the corner of a plastic bag. (I’m sure it can be done much better than I did), or use vanilla frosting, Nutella, a Hershey’s kiss, etc. No matter how you fill them or top them, they are the perfect kid-size peanut butter cups!  Try them with Sunbutter, too…

Enjoy!

Super simple g-free toffee brittle

Before Christmas last year, my Mom had tried a version of this delicious brittle (made with Saltine crackers) at church coffee hour and was instantly hooked. After she raved about it a number of times, she tracked down the original recipe, I went out and bought some Glutino original gluten-free crackers to replace the Saltines, and we got the other ingredients together. We whipped it up one night and this brittle was a huge hit over the holidays — especially with my daughter Morgan. We will definitely be making it again this month…

What you will need for this recipe (which is a good one to let kids help with):

  • 1 box original flavor Glutino original gluten-free crackers
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 cups of brown sugar
  • 2 cups of mini chocolate chips
  • toppings of your choice: toffee pieces, m&m’s, sprinkles, diced nuts, crushed peppermints, butterscotch chips, coconut — you name it!

(Please excuse the photos — we did this on a whim and I didn’t have my own camera.)

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STEP 1:  Empty the entire box of crackers onto an ungreased baking sheet,
all in one layer. Then preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

STEP 2:  In a medium size pot over the stove, cook one stick of butter and 2 cups of brown sugar together until gooey, then pour over crackers to cover them, and bake at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes until bubbly. (Watch carefully so that nothing burns.)

STEP 3:  Remove pan from the oven and sprinkle 2 cups of chocolate chips over top,
let it sit a few minutes to melt the chocolate…

STEP 4:  Then, after the chocolate chips are melted enough, smooth the chocolate layer over with a spatula and top with toppings. Put the tray in the freezer for at least an hour.

STEP 5:  After at least an hour has passed, remove it and break it into irregular pieces
with the help of a stiff spatula. Voila!  A sweet treat for any occasion!

Let me know what you think of this recipe — we call it “toffee brittle” because the taste of it reminds us of toffee, even though we didn’t use any as a topping. After you try it (trust me — you will definitely be glad you did) let me know if you can think of a better name for it. Thanks, and enjoy!

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