Mini Gluten-Free Easter Baskets

Easter is coming soon so I wanted to give you this idea for something fun and easy to make with your g-free kids. I have shared this before, but it’s a favorite of my girls, so I’m putting it out there again since it’s a keeper!  🙂

To make them, you will need:
– gluten-free ice cream cones with flat bottoms
– sugared gummy worms
– gluten-free frosting (we used Pillsbury)
– regular size marshmallows
– gluten-free jelly beans
– sweetened coconut
– food coloring

And here is how you make them…

The first thing you do (to make the shorter baskets shown above) is to take a sharp knife and cut off the top portion of the cone, so that it looks like the photo below. It doesn’t need to be perfect since the frosting and coconut will cover the edges… Then you pop a regular sized marshmallow inside the cone and tuck a sugared gummy worm in around the edges, as shown below. This gives you a surface to frost on and keeps the “handle” of the basket snugly in place…

After that, you just frost the top with vanilla frosting (plus a drop or two of food coloring) and then add coconut and three jelly beans. We made four different frosting colors and four matching coconut colors (sweetened coconut with a drop or two of food coloring mixed in) so they were coordinated.

We also discovered something fun afterwards, when we mixed the remaining coconut colors together: rainbow-colored coconut!  Here it is on a full-sized basket, without the top cut off, in case you choose to do it that way. (I just think the shorter ones look more proportional, and this one needs 2 marshmallows inside the cone). As you also may notice, the gummy worm’s pattern makes it look even more like a basket handle when the lined side is facing out like this:

Either way (short or tall) these Easter baskets are sure to be a hit — whether you make just a few for your family, or make a lot for a school party or church brunch. We kept them in an air-tight container and they tasted great even days later.

For more sweet ideas, check out our Chocolate Peeps Eggshells and Muddy Bunnies at this link.

Enjoy and Happy Easter!  ~Katie

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Snikiddy Review and Giveaway

This post is long overdue…  Snikiddy has been a favorite brand name in our house for the past few years when we first picked up a bag. What kid doesn’t love super-crunchy snacks they can both eat and play with?  We’ve tried a few Snikiddy varieties, but my daughters’ favorite is their grilled cheese puffs, which are little, cheddar-cheese flavored, crunchy balls of gluten-free goodness. They never get sick of them, and if we are buying a bag of Snikiddy, that is the kind they always choose.

IMG_5381Here are the ingredients for the cheese puffs: CORNMEAL, RICE FLOUR, SUNFLOWER AND/OR SAFFLOWER OIL, CHEDDAR CHEESE (CULTURED PASTEURIZED MILK, SALT, ENZYMES), NONFAT MILK, WHEY, SALT, NATURAL FLAVOR.

You won’t see chemicals or artificial colors in these babies. Snikiddy products contain no corn syrup, no hydrogenated oils, no trans fat, no preservatives, are low in saturated fat and are wheat and gluten free.  It’s a healthier alternative to so many other similar snacks.

We have also tried (and enjoyed) Snikiddy mac n’ cheese puffs, and sea salt and bbq baked fries, but the grilled cheese puffs remain #1 in my girls’ eyes — and in mine. Something about that combination of flavor, texture, size and shape just do it for us I guess… We have yet to try their “Eat Your Vegetables” varieties, but I am hearing good things so far…

Just for fun: My one daughter enjoyed making this origami basketball hoop (below) to toss her cheese balls into. Even if you don’t like your kids to play with their food, this is still something they could easily learn to make. Of course my daughter had to make a whole park to go along with hers!  🙂  Instructions for a simple hoop are on this video.

IMG_5430For more information about Snikiddy, please take a moment to visit their website:  You can find out more about the company & its people at: http://snikiddy.com/about and you can read more about their products here: http://snikiddy.com/products.

So — I’ve got a simple giveaway for you… Snikiddy was kind enough to send me some free product coupons which is what I’ll be giving away.  There will be 3 random winners, each receiving a “free full size product” coupon and a $1 off coupon, which they can redeem themselves at a local retailer.

To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment below, letting me know which Snikiddy snack your child would most like to try if you were to win these coupons.

Giveaway ends at midnight on Thursday, December 6, 2012. Then the 3 winners will be notified, and will have 24 hours to get back to me, otherwise new names will be chosen. U.S. and Canadian residents only please. Thanks for your understanding…

Disclaimer: Snikiddy sent me free product coupons for this giveaway.  I only promised an honest review and was not compensated in any other way. Opinions are my daughters’ and my own.

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RW Garcia Tortilla Chips: Review, Giveaway and GF Recipes

I first became a fan of RW Garcia when I spotted their red & green holiday chips in Wegmans a few years ago. They looked too good to pass up, so I brought them home and the entire bag disappeared quite quickly. Since they’re only available around the holidays, each year we stock up and enjoy a good 5+ bags of them, between eating them at home and bringing them (along with dips) to parties for festive and gourmet-tasting dipping chips.

Recently I contacted RW Garcia, who sent me a box of bags to sample and review, since at the time they weren’t available locally, other than the holiday chips. Our favorites were the MixtBags: sturdy, thick, solid, hearty triangles without holes or bubbles. We enjoyed the yellow & blue chips and the yellow & red chips equally. They held up flawlessly while scooping beef bowls and chicken bowls (a go-to meal of ours — recipe below/photo directly below). Another thing I like about their triangles is that they aren’t too wide where you have to maneuver them into the corners of your mouth 🙂  They fit perfectly!We also tried a few varieties of their “Dippers”. These were a bit thinner than the triangles, and were longer rectangular shapes, perfect for dipping. These were a little more fun for my girls to dip into hummus and taco dips, and my girls liked the “3 seed Veggie” flavor the best. When your kids try these, remember to show them how to not “double dip!”  😉

The other two flavors we tried we a little too sophisticated for my kids, but I, myself, really enjoyed them. They were not flavors I would see myself choosing in a store, but it was fun to have the chance to try them and expand my flavor horizons. The “curry and mango” flavor was a nice combination of Indian and Mexican flavors: a bit spicy with a hint of mango. I especially enjoyed the “Himalayan pink salt & tellicherry cracked pepper” chips  as they had a really savory, rich, gourmet taste, which ended up being the perfect match for my feta artichoke dip. (photo directly below, and recipe below)

Overall, RW Garcia chips have a certain gourmet taste and heartiness we haven’t found in other tortilla chips. They are definitely our first choice of dippers to accompany so many of our favorite recipes (taco dip shown directly below) which I am sharing below…

In addition, RW Garcia’s website is proud to state the following about their chips:

  • We use only certified non GMO corn
  • Our oils contain no trans fats
  • Our organic corn is certified from seed to milling
  • Our spices are non-irradiated and free of artificial ingredients
  • All of our products are wheat and gluten free

As promised, here are some of our favorite gluten free recipes that require dipping chips:

Mexican Bowls (our homemade version of a Chipotle bowl from many years ago)
Basically this recipe is Mexican ingredients all mixed up together and eaten with tortilla chips. There’s no right amount to put in of anything—just keep adding stuff and mixing til it tastes right. Reheats well too.
Basic “Bean Bowl” Ingredients:
• 2 cups cooked rice (brown or white)
• 1 can corn
• 1 can black beans, if desired
• salsa to taste
• extra diced, fresh tomatoes if desired
• sour cream to taste
• shredded mexican cheese to taste
• lime juice to taste, if desired
• chopped fresh cilantro, if desired
• chopped avocados, if desired
To make a “Chicken Bowl”, add grilled, diced chicken to basic ingredients (with or without GF taco seasoning) -OR-
To make a “Beef Bowl”, add cooked, ground beef mixed with GF taco seasoning
Mix together all ingredients and heat up in microwave. Put into individual bowls and scoop up the mixture with GF tortilla chips.

Hot Feta Artichoke Dip
• 1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
• 6-8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
• 1 cup mayo
• 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
• 1 clove garlic, minced
Preheat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients and spoon into 9″ pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Garnish with chopped tomato and green onions if desired. Serve with GF tortilla chips.

Aunt Barb’s Famous Taco Dip
• 1 pkg cream cheeze, 8 oz.
• 1 container (16 oz) sour cream
• GF taco sauce
• lettuce, in thin, short strips (also good without)
• 2-3 tomatoes, diced
• cheddar cheese
Soften cream cheese and mix together with sour cream. Spread mixture onto bottom of 13×9 pan. Top with other ingredients working in layers. Serve w/ tortilla chips. If you want a thinner cream cheese/sour cream layer, just split it between a 13x9pan and a 9″ pie plate and top both dips separately.

You can find these and more of our favorite family recipes at this link where you can download a free, printable-by-page PDF.

And now for the giveaway:  One random winner will win five bags of RW Garcia tortilla chips, as shown in this photo:

To enter, please leave a comment below, letting me know which of our favorite recipes you will be trying if you are the winner of these fabulous chips (or link to your favorite online recipe).  Please include your answer in your comment in order to be entered…I won’t count entries that show this post wasn’t read completely.

Giveaway ends at midnight on Wednesday, August 29, 2012. Then the winner has 24 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new name will be chosen. U.S. and Canadian residents only please. Thanks for your understanding…

Disclaimer: RW Garcia sent me a box of bags of chips to try for this review. Half of the bags in that box were set aside by me for this giveaway. In return I only promised an honest review and was not compensated in any other way. Opinions are my daughters’ and my own.

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For much more in between posts, follow me on Facebook and Twitter,
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Mini Gluten-Free Easter Baskets, Plus a Giveaway!

I just can’t seem to get this song out of my head…. Partly because my girls’ weekly piano lessons are today (and I’m thinking of teaching them a simpler version of this tune) and partly because I am so excited about these cute, little Easter basket treats we created a few days ago!  Gluten-free, of course!

One “replacement food” my family is thankful for is gluten-free ice cream cones, especially around holidays when it’s fun to create kid-friendly goodies with them. A local gourmet food shop owner started a gluten-free section in his store a few years ago, after he heard that my daughter and I were diagnosed with celiac. One of the products he started stocking (to my family’s delight) was Goldbaum’s gluten-free ice cream cones — both sugar cones and cake cones.

We’ve bought many boxes from his store — especially the sugar cones, which have always been our favorite. Besides just using them as normal ice cream cones, we often crush them up and mix them into our ice cream, along with chocolate sauce and nuts to get that “Nutty Buddy” flavor. We even gave two local ice cream shop owners the idea to buy a few boxes of Goldbaum’s cake cones to keep in stock in case of any gluten-free customers. To us, they literally taste just like regular ice cream cones. Goldbaum’s cones are just as tasty, crispy and sturdy as cones I remember eating when I was growing up. We wouldn’t change a thing about them…

Looking at the cake cone box (they call them “cups”) the other day, it just said “Easter baskets” to me. I could picture them in my mind, yet I had doubts about how I would pull off the handle. Thankfully everything came together just perfectly and it was a big success.

To make them, you will need:
– Goldbaum’s gluten-free cups (I call them cake cones)
– sugared gummy worms
– gluten-free frosting (we used Pillsbury)
– regular size marshmallows
– gluten-free jelly beans
– sweetened coconut
– food coloring

And here is how you make them…

The first thing you do (to make the shorter baskets shown above) is to take a sharp knife and cut off the top portion of the cone, so that it looks like the photo below. It doesn’t need to be perfect since the frosting and coconut will cover the edges… Then you pop a regular sized marshmallow inside the cone and tuck a sugared gummy worm in around the edges, as shown below. This gives you a surface to frost on and keeps the “handle” of the basket snugly in place…

After that, you just frost the top with vanilla frosting (plus a drop or two of food coloring) and then add coconut and three jelly beans. We made four different frosting colors and four matching coconut colors (sweetened coconut with a drop or two of food coloring mixed in) so they were coordinated.

We also discovered something fun afterwards, when we mixed the remaining coconut colors together: rainbow-colored coconut!  Here it is on a full-sized basket, without the top cut off, in case you choose to do it that way. (I just think the shorter ones look more proportional, plus you only need one marshmallow inside the cone). As you also may notice, the gummy worm’s pattern makes it look even more like a basket handle when the lined side is facing out like this:

Either way (short or tall) these Easter baskets are sure to be a hit — whether you make just a few for your family, or make a lot for a school party or church brunch. We kept them in an air-tight container and they tasted great even days later.

And now for the giveaway:  Goldbaum’s has generously agreed to send three, lucky, randomly-drawn winners the following prize: 1 box of sugar cones, 1 box of regular cone cups and a few other Goldbaum’s gluten-free products which will remain a mystery!

To enter, please leave a comment below, letting me know how you make Easter special for your g-free kid:  Do you re-make favorite recipes gluten-free? What special things do you put in their Easter baskets? How do you make sure they are included in the big family meal?  Any other ideas you can share?

Giveaway ends at midnight on Thursday, April 5th. Then the 3 winners have 48 hours to get back to me, otherwise new names will be chosen. U.S. Residents please. Good luck!

Now get out there and buy yourself some cones so you can make these baskets with your kids in time for Easter!  When you try them (you just have to — they are SO easy!) feel free to post a photo on my Facebook page. And in case you missed our Chocolate Peeps Eggshells and Muddy Bunnies, just click this link or see the post below this one.

Enjoy and Happy Easter everyone!  ~Katie

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For much more in between posts, follow me on Facebook and Twitter,
and be sure to check out the online photo album of g-free kids and g-free kids’ stuff page.

Cupcake templates: a mini giveaway for your gluten-free kid, plus a fun awareness idea!

A few months ago I picked up a handful of “baking templates” which I had found at a local Michael’s store. Since most of us are making gluten-free cupcakes for our g-free kids, I figured we could all use something new to decorate them with…

Does your g-free kid love cupcakes? Are you looking for a way to help spread awareness? Then here is the perfect answer: host a cupcake party!  The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) and Pamela’s Products have collaborated on this idea, so find out more, be inspired and get out there and make a difference!

Decorating cupcakes with these templates is something your g-free kid can definitely help with. She can begin by holding the template flat while you show her how to sprinkle in the sugar (or nonpariels) evenly to fill up the template. Then, once she understands how it works, you can hold the template while she does the sprinkling. Wait until you see her pride and excitement when you take the template off and show her the final shape!

Tips: these templates work best on flat frosted surfaces, so if your cupcake it too rounded on top, slice off some of the cake part to make it flatter. Then put your frosting on as flat as you can, with more around the edges to build a more even surface. Also,
try these on frosted brownies, cookie cakes or regular cakes.

7 lucky winners will receive (for their g-free kids) a set of 3 different cupcake templates as shown in the first photo above, along with a personalized note from a children’s book author and illustrator. (me)  🙂

I like to keep my giveaways simple by just requiring a comment below (instead of making you “like” me on Facebook and twitter for extra entries). However, I would appreciate more followers on social media (this will only help this site get bigger and better) and for you to help me spread the word about gfreekid.com. So, if you like what you see here, please tell people about it. Thanks!  🙂

That being said, this giveaway is still simple:  All you have to do is comment below, answering these questions: What does your family do to help spread awareness, and which cupcake or cake mix/brand/recipe is your favorite?

Giveaway will end Monday, March 19th at midnight. Winners will be randomly chosen and emailed with notification. If I don’t hear back within 48 hours, other winners will be chosen to replace them. GOOD LUCK!  🙂   -Katie

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Snyder’s Gluten-Free Mini Pretzels: Review, Ideas and Giveaway!

Way back before I went gluten-free almost 5 years ago, my husband and I used to be huge Snyder’s of Hanover (regular) pretzel fans. I remember eating Snyder’s pretzels when we started dating in 1989! Our favorite snacks were their sourdough hard pretzels, pretzel rods and sourdough nibblers. Once I went gluten-free I thought I would never enjoy another Snyder’s pretzel again — that is, until the day I discovered their Gluten-Free Pretzel Sticks back in 2010.

Ever since, our family has been their #1 group of fans — I’m the kind of #1 fan (in my own mind) of their pretzels that I feel like I’m almost a stalker or something. 😉 I honestly think that we’ve gone through one bag almost every week since we first found them at our local Wegman’s store. Even my dog begs for them and my non-gluten-free husband loves them! We bring them everywhere as snacks, and just really appreciate and enjoy their taste, texture and lack of weird after-taste (that you get with other brands of gluten-free pretzels).

So you can imagine how excited I was to find out that my favorite pretzel company just came out with a new shape…Snyder’s Gluten Free Mini Pretzels. My daughters and I couldn’t open our first bag fast enough. We almost ate the whole thing that same afternoon, eating them both plain and dipped into hummus.

They taste just like our beloved GF pretzel sticks — buttery “regular pretzel” taste with the perfect amount of salt — but we are really enjoying this new shape and texture. It’s funny how Snyder’s can make another product using the same ingredients (click here for ingredient list) but how they seem “new” to us all over again. Their texture is a little different, but in a very good way… These mini pretzels are thinner and a bit crispier than the sticks. Something about the shape, size and taste of them makes me feel like I’m eating just plain regular pretzels, taking me back in time to the days when I could have any pretzel in the world. I can honestly say that I would keep eating these pretzels even if I could ever go back to eating gluten-free. They really are that good. (And, like the sticks, the minis are also dairy-free, casein-free, egg-free, and low-fat, by the way.)

With St. Patrick’s Day and Springtime coming soon, we came up with a few simple ways to make the following cute, little salty-sweet treats, using both minis and sticks…

Sweet & salty shamrocks:

Sweet & salty dragonflies:

Simple flowers:

and M&M buttons & nonpariel buttons:

For all of the above, we preheated the oven to 400 degrees, arranged pretzels and placed colored melting disks or chocolate disks with nonpariels (round sprinkles) on top. Melt them in oven for 30-60 seconds and place in freezer to harden. The buttons only take about 30 seconds but the others take around 60 seconds to melt enough. Because ovens differ, I would suggest you do a little trial and error until you’re able to get them to melt enough to stick onto the pretzels so they don’t fall apart. I brought a big tray of these to my grandma’s 90th birthday party yesterday and they all disappeared without anyone realizing they were g-free!

Here are some other sweet ideas I found in case you’re interested:

I ask you:  Who better than Snyder’s to make our favorite g-free pretzels?  (Now in 2 different shapes!) Which other company makes gluten-free pretzels right here in the good ol’ U. S. of A?  None that I know of — other brands are imported. The fact that they are Certified Gluten Free (with that sight-for-sore-eyes logo printed right on the bags) is a huge plus, too, and I commend them on making the effort. Also Certified Gluten-Free are their Multigrain Tortilla Chips in their EatSmart Naturals line. And they also offer 100 Calorie Pretzel Stick Packs now, too. Next I am pulling for them to make gluten-free pretzel rods!

By the way, please be sure to tell your child’s supporters how readily available and inexpensive ($2.99 for an 8 oz. bag at my Wegmans) Snyder’s gluten-free pretzels are. I don’t know how many times my kids have been to parties that have regular pretzels sitting out as a snack, when (had the host known about Snyder’s GF) maybe they would have been willing to just put GF ones out instead. It’s a simple way to make g-free kids feel “thought of” and included.  🙂

Now for the giveaway: Snyder’s of Hanover has generously agreed to give away 1 full-size (8 oz.) bag of their new Gluten-Free Mini Pretzels to 10 lucky, randomly-drawn winners. All you have to do is comment below, saying what you and your g-free kid are looking forward to doing with Snyder’s new pretzels: Making a special treat with them? (If possible, include link to online recipe);  Eating them plain?  Dipping them in something? (If so, what?) Let’s share some ideas and inspiration…and if you’re already a Snyder’s fan, feel free to add reasons why you prefer their pretzels over others. Giveaway ends at midnight on Monday, March 12th. If winners don’t respond by Wed. March 14th, new winners will be picked to replace them. Good luck!  -Katie

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Keep coming back for more things for g-free kids, and don’t forget to check out the photo album and kids’ stuff page!

[ Disclaimer: Snyder’s sent me free samples of their mini pretzels, as I could not find them available in stores at the time. The opinions I expressed are my own, honest feelings about their products and I was not coerced into writing a positive review.  🙂 ]

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Gluten-free Valentine’s Day cards, plus a mini kid-size giveaway!

Hello!  I normally won’t be posting every day like this but I have a few more things I want to get out before Valentine’s Day, and wanted to give you a few days to enjoy them…

G-free V-day cards!
My favorite site for coloring pages and cards is Activity Village. They’ve got everything imaginable except for gluten-free cards (in fact, I couldn’t find any anywhere) so what else could I do but create my own?  I pulled out my old marker pad and pens and went old-school for this post, drawing everything by hand. (I had to get off the computer for a few hours!)  🙂  So what I came up with is 4 little Valentine’s Day cards (with the help of dear ol’ Mom who helped me come up with some wording) — made especially for all the g-free kids out there. You can download the PDF here: 4VcardsHR, then print out copies of it for your kids to color, glue onto colored construction paper and give out for Valentines — or just hang in their room or on the fridge. Please let me know how your children enjoy these…I would love to hear what they did with their cards! (*Please note: the below preview won’t print out large enough — click on the blue link four lines above this for the printable PDF).

My first mini kid-size giveaway… I have a bunch of stuff like this that I’ll be giving away once in a while, just for kids. How often do your kids get things in the mail?  If yours are like mine: not often enough. These giveaways are just meant to give your g-free kid a little excitement by receiving a little surprise in a snail-mail envelope, along with a little note from a famous author (okay, maybe an unknown author)…  😉

If you’d like your child to receive one of these coin purses in the mail, please comment below with your favorite thing about this website and/or something you’d like to see here in the future. I’ve got 3 of both styles, so 6 winners will be randomly chosen by midnight tomorrow (Sunday, Feb. 12th). At that point winners will need to send me their mailing addresses and I’ll send them out. Stay tuned…

Next up are some wiggly, jiggly jello ideas for Valentine’s Day. Keep coming back for more things for g-free kids, and don’t forget to check out the photo album and kids’ stuff page!