Easy GF birthday cake designs

Hi everyone,

My daughters just turned 13. One has been GF since age 4 because of celiac disease and the other since age 7 because of non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

I came across a  bunch of photos of their birthday cakes over the years (I’ll add more if I can find them) and thought I might post some, starting with the most recent. Early on I started out making cookie cakes and brownies. Most years I’ve made double layer cakes, using Wegmans GF mixes, Betty Crocker GF mixes and a few other brands (2 boxes of each flavor makes two 9″ round cakes that I stack and frost between) plus Duncan Hines frosting (2 cans per cake). They have always turned out great and have gotten many compliments on taste.

As for decorations, I am notorious for not thinking ahead, so I have usually made do with whatever candy I had in the house like M&Ms, Sixlets, (usually sprinkles) and have made cardstock templates for their initials. Here they are…

I hope everyone realizes that g-free kids can still have very happy birthdays — even with GF cakes!  🙂

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I’m back!

QuoteHi everyone. Just wanted to thank you all for your patience as I know I haven’t been posting regularly for a while now. Life kept getting in the way, but I’m back with renewed interest. Various health issues (not gluten related) have been factors, as well as travel, irish dance, job searching and the weather, too, in fact. Sometimes it’s just too nice outside to be inside on the computer! Anyhow, I’m committing to posting more regularly now (my goal is a few times per month) so I hope that you find what I share to be helpful in your g-free kid’s life. Sometimes, when you’ve been at it as long as I have, you forget what it’s like for those who are new at this whole thing. I want to be there for you, though, so please comment here or on Facebook to let me know your thoughts (show me you’re out there to keep me motivated to keep this site going!) and also let me know if there is anything special you would like to see on my site. Thanks again!  ~Katie

Fudgy Peppermint Ice Cream Pie

IMG_6046It seems we’ve put a little twist on a classic ice cream pie recipe, and this one’s a keeper!

We made a different type of ice cream cake a few years ago in a loaf pan that looked like this:

IMG_8780It was two types of ice cream separated by a mixture of (cold) hot fudge and chocolate cookie crumbs. It was really good but the slices were messy, as you can imagine. If you don’t have a ready-made GF pie crust, go with something like this.

But if you can locate all of these ingredients, or similar brands of the same items (mint ice cream, Cool Whip, hot fudge, ready-made crust and crushed candy canes) I’m going to highly recommend you try it another way…


This Mi-Del crust is really wonderful. I have never used a ready-made GF cookie crust before, and now I am hooked. I usually make my own by crushing nuts or cookie crumbs and sticking them together with melted butter. These homemade crusts taste great, but they are also messy. With this Mi-Del crust, I easily popped the entire finished pie out of the foil pan and sliced it on a cutting board like so…


The pieces stayed together really nicely and there were hardly any crumbs.

My little twist was adding a layer of hot fudge (don’t warm it up) on the bottom of the crust which gives this pie an extra layer of awesomeness.



Soften half a container of Cool Whip and half a container of peppermint ice cream (you could also use mint chocolate chip or whatever), mix the two together until blended, and pour over the hot fudge. Smooth it out and sprinkle with crushed candy canes for a little crunch. That’s it. Freeze it for a few hours and then enjoy, which goes without saying.  🙂



Late Summer Zucchini Bread

IMG_3433I know I haven’t posted much in the past few months but life rolls along way too quickly sometimes. Meals come and go with no time or desire to get that perfect photo of whatever you’re about to eat…until after you’re done eating and it’s too late.

However, there are a few things I managed to record this summer, which I want to share with you in the next few posts. Starting with this wonderful zucchini bread, made from zucchinis my Dad grew for me in his garden…

I used the recipe my Mom always used when I was growing up, but subbed out the flour for Cup4Cup Gluten Free multi-purpose flour, with excellent results, if I do say so myself. Here is the recipe:

IMG_3435Gluten-Free Zucchini Bread

First, preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9×13 pan.
Then, mix together these ingredients in a large bowl:
• 3 eggs, beaten
• 2 cups sugar
• 2 cups packed grated zucchini, including outside dark green layer
• 1 cup oil
• 1 Tbsp. vanilla

In a separate bowl, mix together:
• 3 cups GF flour
• 1 tsp. baking soda
• 1/2 tsp. baking powder
• 1 tsp. salt
• 3 tsp. cinnamon

Add dry ingredients to wet mixture, then mix in:
• 1/2 cup of diced walnuts (optional)
and pour into greased pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until done.

IMG_3437I made a few batches this summer and froze square pieces in freezer bags. They reheat so well and are always a much requested & very welcomed sight on my daughters’ breakfast plates. Sometimes they slice them in half across the middle and eat them with whipped cream on top.

This bread is absolutely delicious and gives long-lasting energy as well. So snag those end of summer zucchinis from your local farmer’s market and get baking! Your g-free kid will be glad you did…


Easiest S’mores Treat Ever

IMG_3637I‘ve had s’mores on the brain lately for some reason. Maybe it’s the fact that summer is finally rolling around after an extremely long winter, or maybe it’s the fact that I’ve posted a few similar ideas on Facebook recently… Whatever the reason, I’ve been in the mood for s’mores, and found a super simple (yet dangerous for my waistline) way to get a fix…and you don’t even need a campfire…

Here’s what you do:

Get these 3 ingredients:  GF sugar cones, marshmallows & Hershey’s chocolate bars. (Personally, we don’t care too much for dry, crumbly graham crackers and much prefer using crisp, tasty sugar cones instead)…


Note: Each treat uses 1 cone, 1 marshmallow & 3 Hershey’s chocolate rectangles.
You just take a cone, drop in one piece of chocolate, and a marshmallow on top of that. Break the other 2 pieces of chocolate in half and tuck them around the marshmallow.


Sit each cone upright in some kind of cup and pop it in the microwave for about 10-12 seconds. Stay there and watch it, as the marshmallow really expands when heated. Tuck everything back into the cone if it starts popping out, let cool for a few seconds, grab a napkin and enjoy.


And, yeah, your kids will love them, too!  😉

IMG_3656Happy summer!

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For much more in between posts, follow me on Facebook and Twitter!

Valentines for g-free kids


Here are 4 little Valentine’s Day cards that I drew a few years ago — made especially for all the g-free kids out there. You can download the PDF here: 4VcardsHR, then print out copies for your child. He or she can color the cards, glue them onto colored construction paper and give out for Valentines — or just hang them in their room or on the fridge, or use them as bookmarks. (*Please note: the below preview won’t print out large enough — click on the blue link four lines above this for the printable PDF).

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Feel free to post a picture of your g-free kid with his or her completed cards on my Facebook page. Keep coming back for more ideas for g-free kids, and don’t forget to check out the
photo album and kids’ stuff page!

Restaurant-Style Mexican Meals, Made Right at Home

Here are two simple, gluten-free meals that your g-free kids are sure to love, right at home:


Sometimes I’m just not in the mood to eat out…  Maybe I don’t feel like explaining our dietary needs to the waitress, or asking to speak with the manager while everyone around us listens in…  Or maybe I don’t feel like wondering if the kitchen workers are wearing clean gloves or preparing our food free without cross contamination… or maybe it’s just too darn cold to go anywhere…

Whatever the reason for staying home, our kids really enjoy when we make a restaurant-style meal. We most recently made these “taco boats” which everyone loved, using Yellow Corn Ortega Fiesta Flats (Flat Bottom Taco Shells)

IMG_1314Just heat the Fiesta Flats up in the oven for a few minutes, then fill with your favorite taco ingredients. To season our taco meat, we use Simply Organic Southwest Taco seasoning, then we just added shredded lettuce, mexican cheese, green onions and tomatoes.

A regular go-to meal of ours is quesadillas. We usually add grilled chicken to ours and sometimes just serve them plain alongside mac & cheese and veggies.  But, the simplest way to make quesadillas seem “restaurant-style” is by just arranging them in a design and adding condiments like homemade guacamole and (our favorite) Green Mountain Gringo mild salsa!  We use Chi-Chi’s, Mission or Wegmans brand soft corn tortillas.

Here is my recipe for guacamole, which can also be found here with our other favorite recipes.

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Note:  I often make guacamole the same way as above, but without cilantro & tomatoes. And if I only have 1 or 2 avocados on hand, I just add a little minced garlic, onions, salt and a dash of lime juice to taste. Just wing it.  I’ve never made a bad guacamole…

Also note:  We do eat out regularly and usually successfully. It’s just that once in a while we parents don’t feel like it, so we fake it with meals like these.  🙂

Disclaimer: Nothing to disclose. I bought these products myself, none of these companies even knows I’m writing about their products, and honest opinions are from my family & me.

Gluten-free Pumpkin Cheesecake

IMG_0275Last week I had a can of pumpkin in my pantry that wasn’t yet spoken for, so I asked people on my Facebook page what they thought I should make with it. One idea from Kate B. really tickled my fancy, especially since she included the recipe, so I tried it the other night. My whole family went crazy for it — plus my brother-in-law, who is a cheesecake fanatic. It’s the perfect blend of pumpkin pie and cheesecake flavors, and was gone before we knew it…

The original recipe was for this double layer pumpkin cheesecake from AllRecipes.com, but I made some changes to it, which you will see noted below in bold type:

  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust (To make a gluten-free crust, I used an entire bag of Pamela’s Extreme Chocolate Mini Cookies, crushed, plus 2T butter and a sprinkle of sugar, mixed together and patted into place. You can do the same thing using GF graham crackers if you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg (I used ginger instead)
  • 1/2 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed (I just put a dollop on each piece for those who wanted it, as opposed to covering the whole thing)


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Blend in eggs one at a time. Remove 1 cup of batter and spread into bottom of crust; set aside. (I didn’t do this last step — I just mixed the batter all together w/ the below ingredients, instead of removing a cup and putting a white layer on the bottom. Either way will work.)
  3. Add pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg to the remaining batter and stir gently until well blended. Carefully spread over the batter in the crust.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until center is almost set. Allow to cool (very important) then refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight. Cover with whipped topping before serving.

This is the first cheesecake I ever made, and I couldn’t believe how easy it was and how well it turned out. Will definitely make this again….  Enjoy!

Gluten-free Valentine’s Day cards plus 3 treat ideas

Valentine’s Day brings plenty of opportunities to make your g-free kid feel extra loved — as well as show love to others — around the clock. Here are a few ways to make things seem “Valentinesy” (as we say) for the weeks surrounding the big day:

IMG_0224G-free V-day cards!

Last year I drew these 4 little Valentine’s Day cards — 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 note: the below preview won’t print out large enough — click on the blue link four lines above this for the printable PDF).

V-day G-free treat ideas

1.  For those of you who are “regulars” here, this is no surprise……but, one of our “go-to” treats — for any occasion — is chocolate dipped marshmallow pops. All you have to do is stick a skewer into each marshmallow (or do it without skewers), dip them in melted chocolate, add sprinkles, put on wax paper and set in the freezer. Allergy-friendly and always a hit with school parties!

2.  With your handy-dandy cookie cutter, make heart shaped pizzas. For these we just rolled out part of the dough and cut them out, then topped them individually. Or even easier — just make regular pizzas and use a cookie cutter after it’s cooled. Moms like me are always happy to eat the leftover scraps!

3:  Make simple peanut clusters. Just fill cookie cutters up partway (depending on how thick you want them) with melted chocolate mixed with peanuts, decorate with sprinkles if you’d like, then let them set in the freezer for a while before you pop them right out.

Remember and repeat:  Life is not all about food!

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Kraft Good Seasons dry mixes are NOT gluten-free anymore

IMG_6115I can’t believe I’m saying this after years of exclusively using Kraft Good Seasonings dry mixes as my family’s go-to salad dressing, but I am…. Kraft Good Seasonings dry mixes are (just as of recently) NOT gluten-free anymore. Unfortunately you won’t find anything about it on the Kraft website or anywhere else online — at least that I could locate!  No wheat warnings or notices from a big company like Kraft — just a stealthy ingredient & label change. The only way I first found out is by the good word of the online gluten-free community…

I felt the need to post this because, basically, there is nothing else out there to warn people. Take me for instance: I was so ingrained in my habit of being devoted to their mixes that I never thought to continue to read their labels since their ingredients have been gluten-free for as long as I have (almost 6 years) and probably longer… Until just recently…

After hearing about this, I went to my cupboard and found 2 unused packets to check for myself. Sure enough, underneath the ingredients, it reads, “contains wheat, soy” in bold letters. It looks to me like the wheat is in the dried soy sauce they are now using because it reads, “soy sauce (wheat, soybeans, salt)”.

IMG_6117I took the time (5 minutes) to call Kraft to find out more. Unfortunately I apparently know more than their customer service reps do. I said that I had heard their dry mixes now contained wheat. She said that just this month (some people are saying Dec. 2012 but she didn’t know for sure) Kraft reformulated their ingredients and “some of the spices contain wheat.” I notified her that the package said that it’s the soy sauce that contains wheat. Next I asked which dry mixes were involved in the reformulation and she said, “As far as I know, just the Italian.” So I proceeded to tell her that I had 2 packets in my hand (Zesty Italian and Garlic & Herb) which also read, “contains wheat.”  That was news to her. So — so far there are 3 mixes affected: Italian, Zesty Italian and Garlic & Herb. I had to ask to get a case number and lodge a complaint (asking them to go back to their old ingredients) and had to give her some coding from the packets.

Here is more information, which circulated on the Celiac ListServ email network, from someone else who looked into this:

“I spoke with Kraft yesterday and they explained what happened with their Good Seasons Italian — dry packet mix. Seems like one of their major manufacturing facilities had wheat on the production line and it wasn’t cleaned. (Different explanation than the one I received) That’s why thousands of boxes had to be re-packaged and labeled “contains wheat.” The head of dietary services suggested that if calls were received that they might be able to sway the top-brass to move to a safer facility. They suggested that we call 1-800-522-0501 and get a case number and lodge a complaint. (Tip:) Many stores still have the old formulation… I went to several and bought out the stock. Check your local stores, too. PLEASE take a minute to call and strongly suggest that they change facilities and go back to keeping this product all natural and preservative free… as the original box states.”

So, please, take a few minutes and join us in calling Kraft at 1-800-522-0501. Ask for a case number and request their old formulation. Maybe there will be power in numbers on this one. Please share this notification so others aren’t inadvertently consuming gluten through these salad dressing mixes.

And last but not least, please heed this warning as proof that we all (myself included) need to continuously read and re-read packaging labels and be vigilant for things like this to happen again….even to our tried & true, favorite products. We can never be too careful.