Cinnamon chips: a GF recipe from school!

IMG_6752Yep, this recipe for “Cinnamon Chips” actually comes from my daughter’s 6th grade “Home & Careers” class, although I’d say kids ages 3+ could help make these. Of course, it wasn’t originally gluten-free since it called for flour tortillas, but by easily switching them to corn tortillas, we’re all set! My daughter made these at home today and they were awesome!  I was totally surprised by how crispy and tasty they were. Since corn tortillas are smaller we felt like 2T of sugar and 1 tsp of cinnamon was way too much for this little tortilla, so instead we used this perfect-for-the-occasion Cinnamon Sugar Grinder from Trader Joe’s. Your g-free kid is sure to love cranking the grinder to cover it w/ the sweet mix and cutting it with the pizza cutter. Original recipe is below. Have fun!

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P.S.  We didn’t use parchment paper and she brushed on the water with clean fingers since we didn’t have a pastry brush. Such an easy, fun recipe for kids!  🙂

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Favorite Peanut Butter Pie Recipe

pieWe made our favorite peanut butter pie again for family game night at Aunt Kate’s last night. We thought we’d send the Olympics off in (our own casual) style by making the 5 Olympic rings out of M&M’s on our pie. I just found a jar lid that would work in size and lightly marked where the rings should be, then stuck in M&M’s sideways instead of laying them flat. It was surprisingly easy! I was just going to post it on Facebook and link to the recipe, when I realized that I have yet to post it other than on our recipe PDF. So, here you go!  Recipe is below, followed by photos of a few different ways we have topped our pies. These are a local hit with lots of friends and family making this same recipe, most of them not even gluten-free themselves. Enjoy!

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Artichoke Lover’s Lasagna (gluten-free, of course!)

Here’s to a lack of ingredients and creative thinking!  A new recipe was created because of this combination… Hope you like it as much as we do…

IMG_1532Ingredients:

  • 12 GF lasagna noodles
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 2 cans (13 oz) artichoke hearts, rinsed, fully drained and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic (1 tsp crushed garlic)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp italian seasoning (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
  • 4 cups (2 jars) pasta sauce

Directions:

  • Boil noodles for 10 minutes, carefully rinse and drain noodles
  • Set noodles side by side on tin foil or parchment paper to cool
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Mix together all above ingredients except pasta sauce to make filling mixture
  • Spray pan with Pam cooking spray
  • Divide filling mixture roughly into thirds
  • Pour half a jar of pasta sauce onto the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish
  • Put 3 noodles on top of sauce for your bottom layer
  • Spoon 1st third of mixture onto noodles and spread around evenly, followed by 1/4 jar of sauce on top
  • Put a second layer of 3 noodles on top of that and spread the 2nd third of the filling mixture evenly on top, followed by 1/4 jar of sauce on top (that will use up your first jar of sauce)
  • Put third layer of noodles on top of that and spread the 3rd third of the mixture evenly on top, followed by 1/2 jar of sauce on top
  • Put fourth layer of noodles on top, cover them & all noodle edges up with remaining 1/2 jar of pasta sauce, plus sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top
  • Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes, then uncover and bake another 5 minutes
  • Allow time for it to cool and firm up before cutting
  • Even better if you can make it the day ahead…the flavors of any lasagna seem to mesh even better when you put it in the fridge for a day. Leftovers are awesome, too, and can easily be frozen and re-thawed for a busy night.  Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Cheese Ball

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If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know we are big fans of Snyder’s of Hanover’s Gluten-Free pretzels. Well, we discovered a new way to use them that really adds some zing to an already tried & true cheese ball recipe. It’s the same recipe that my Mom has made for every family party (ever) and it’s an appetizer that is always devoured straight away…

IMG_0567For years she coated her cheese balls with crushed peanuts, but once we discovered a peanut allergy in the family, that part of it was quickly (and understandably!) abolished…

Well, we finally figured out a way to put some crunch back into it, and with more flavor than ever — coating the cheese balls with crushed Snyder’s Gluten-Free Honey Mustard & Onion pretzels!  We tried this for Christmas and it was a big hit which will be repeated very soon. Here’s the recipe:

• 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
• 2 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
• 1 – 2 T milk (or coconut milk, rice milk, etc.)
• 1 T. onion, minced or diced
Directions:  Mix all ingredients together, form a ball, wrap in wax paper to chill for a few hours, then roll in crushed Snyder’s Honey-Mustard & Onion pretzel sticks.

Try it with your favorite gluten-free crackers. If you want to add more spice to your cheese ball, try Snyder’s Hot Buffalo Wing flavor instead!

Enjoy — and Happy New Year!

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.

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!

Snyder’s of Hanover New Flavors Review and Giveaway

IMG_0567When Snyder’s of Hanover contacted me about sampling some of their newest pretzel flavors, I was all over it. I’m a Snyder’s pretzel lover from way back in 1989 when my husband and I were first dating and used to dip pretzels into salsa for a late night snack. Once I was diagnosed w/ Celiac in 2007, I discovered Snyder’s gluten-free pretzel sticks and have been eating them ever since, plus their twists which were recently introduced. But I never dreamed I’d be once again eating flavorful seasoned pretzels like the flavors they just came out with!

IMG_0574IMG_0551My girls & I LOVE the new Honey Mustard & Onion flavored sticks. What an awesome flavor combination! My girls ask for these all the time, but we stick with eating them at home. That way their bad breath won’t be making other kids back away at school.  🙂  We think these are the perfect pretzel to make “The Big Game Chex Mix” with, using all GF Chex cereals, of course…

We liked the Hot Buffalo Wing flavor, too, although it was a tad spicy for us wimps at first….but once we dipped them into blue cheese (or ranch) dressing, that was the ticket. It cools them off nicely and the combination of the two flavors & textures is sure to be a hit. These would be great to use in the “Buffalo Chex mix“, also substituting GF cheese crackers, using all GF cereals and omitting the hot sauce since these will already be adding a certain amount of spiciness.

IMG_0625Another way we used these pretzels is crushing them up, adding a little parmesan cheese and coating chicken with them. They are the best eaten right away while the pretzel pieces are still crunchy. We crushed both flavors separately and dipped them into blue cheese dressing (or honey mustard or ranch dressing or whatever your g-free kid prefers)….what a simple and convenient way to make a flavorful meal.

I ask you:  Who better than Snyder’s of Hanover to make these great new flavors for g-free pretzels? 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.

Have you seen these new flavors in stores yet?  Below is a list of the retailers that have approved placement so far. If your favorite store isn’t on the list, contact them to ask them to carry these awesome pretzels…

Wal Mart • Weis • Tops • Shoprite • Shop N Save • Price Cutter • Piggly Wiggly • Mars • Lowes • Harris Teeter • Ingles • Giant Eagle • Great A & P Tea Co • Albersons
Also available through Snyder’s online store.

By the way, please be sure to tell your child’s supporters how readily available and inexpensive (plain ones are $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 where regular pretzels are 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.  🙂  I even know some non-GF kids who prefer GF Snyder’s over regular pretzels, believe it or not!

Below, my pretzel hounds are putting on their serious faces, to show that they are pulling for Snyder’s to make gluten-free pretzel rods next!  (hint, hint)

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Now for the giveaway: Snyder’s of Hanover has generously agreed to give away 1 full-size (8 oz.) bag OF BOTH FLAVORS to TEN lucky, randomly-drawn winners. All you have to do is comment below, saying why you and your g-free kid are so excited about these new flavors and what you plan to do with them if you’re a winner. 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 other brands. Giveaway ends at midnight on Monday, December 9th. If any winners don’t respond by Tues. December 10th, 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 new 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 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:

INGREDIENTS YOU WILL NEED:
  • 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)

Directions

  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!

Lazy Mom’s lasagna rollup recipe (gluten-free, of course)

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Gluten-free lasagna is one of our favorite meals, and it just keeps getting easier. When making a regular tray of lasagna, I always thought it was tricky to spread the cheese layer across 3 cooked lasagna noodles, which slide all over the place. But once I tried lasagna rollups I found it’s much less daunting to make, and easy enough for kids to help with. Here’s what you do:

Step one — Get your ingredients together:
• 1 box Tinkyada lasagna noodles (you’ll use 12 of the 13 noodles in the box)
• 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
• 1 (16 oz) container of ricotta cheese
• 1 lb. of ground beef, cooked & crumbled (or other fillings- see comment at bottom)
• 1 egg
• parmesan cheese
• 1.5 jars of pasta sauce
• Italian spices of your choice, to taste

Step two — Add all noodles into boiling water and cook for about 8 minutes. You want them soft but not falling apart. While the noodles are cooking, mix together the ricotta, mozzarella & egg.

Step three — Remove cooked noodles and lay in a single layer on a sheet of tin foil. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Step four — Spread cheese mixture divided evenly onto 12 noodles, sprinkle ground beef and a few blobs of pasta sauce & spices onto each flat noodle. Roll up all noodles.

Step five — Spray a 9″x13″ baking dish with Pam and spread a thin layer of pasta sauce onto the bottom. Place rolled noodles in pan in 4 rows of 3 and cover with rest of pasta sauce and parmesan cheese. Cover pan with foil and cook at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

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And that’s that.  You can add whatever you want to the rollups, like spinach or chopped artichokes, or top them with things like toasted pine nuts and crumbled feta cheese, like in the above photo.  Just use this basic recipe and adjust as you’d like.  I also like to make this the day before and let it set in the fridge for a half day or so, after it’s cooled. Like many Italian dishes, this tastes even better the next day.

And lastly:  these freeze REALLY well, and are perfect to pull out of the freezer for that last minute meal where you have no idea what to make.  Just heat and serve — almost every food group is covered!  🙂  Enjoy!  ~Katie

Van’s New Products Review and Giveaway

One of my family’s go-to brands has been Van’s Natural Foods for as long as my daughters and I have been gluten-free….going on 6 years now. You can check out our review of their waffles and french toast sticks at this link, if you haven’t tried them yet.

We recently tasted some of Van’s new products and wanted to tell you what we love about them…

First: their new cereals. They are really good. Simple as that. We tried both flavors: Cinnamon Heaven and Honey Nut Crunch. They are a little smaller than Chex squares and have a nice, crispy texture that doesn’t soak up milk too fast like other cereals do. Sometimes I expect Cinnamon cereals to be too sugary, but both kinds have just the right amount of flavor— not overpowering yet not too subtle. These cereals are tasty, substantial and give us long-lasting morning energy, which is especially important for kids.

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I am guessing some of the reasons for this “staying power” is how much fiber and whole grains are in these cereals.  According to their website, Honey Nut Crunch cereal is packed with 19g of nutrient-rich whole grains (Cinnamon Heaven has 17g) and both have 5g of fiber per serving. When it comes to fiber, my family can never seem to get enough, so this is a welcomed addition to our “regimen of regularity.”  🙂  Below is their nutritional information. Both cereals are Non-GMO Project verified and free of top allergens.

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Be advised that, despite the name, Honey Nut Crunch does NOT contain nuts. While I doubt anyone with nut allergic kids would buy this on account of confusing their kids, I still wanted to make sure you knew… For more info. on allergens, see their FAQ page.

Now, on to Van’s crackers:

One word, “WOW.”

We took a few boxes of these crackers up to Maine with us last month and enjoyed them on our trip. This photo below was taken a minute before a huge bald eagle flew over our heads and caught a big seagull down by the water! Anyhow, after things calmed down we had a really nice picnic on this rock and enjoyed these crackers with cheese, turkey and pepperoni on them. They held up great and tasted even better.

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My opinion:  These are by far my favorite crackers to date. If I’m eating crackers, I’m putting cheese & other toppings on them, so I prefer the larger square ones: “The Perfect 10” and “Fire Roasted Veggie”, the latter of which is probably the most “adult” flavor. Besides the great taste and texture of these crackers (every single kind) I love the fact that they are soy-free. This 42 year old doesn’t need her hormones messed up any more than they already are, so soy-free foods are key.  🙂

IMG_9791My girls enjoy them topped w/ cheeseball spread (above), dipped in dill dip, or stacked with deli cheese and meat, as a sandwich alternative. But they prefer just snacking on the smaller ones which are more kid-friendly (they are currently the most-requested school snack), especially Van’s “Say Cheese!” crackers. They are the closest thing we’ve found to Cheez-Its, and have a very similar crispiness and cheesy taste, and are also available in snack size bags for your convenience.

As you can tell in the comparison shot below (no, I’m not a hand model, thank you very much) the smaller ones are thinner and crispier than the larger ones, so they both serve their purposes well.

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Here is information on Van’s “Say Cheese!” crackers from their website. The other flavors are all dairy free…

Screen shot 2013-10-10 at 8.07.01 AMIf you really want to knock your g-free kid’s socks off, try this new take on chicken fingers, using Van’s “Say Cheese!” crackers as breading. We tried this recipe last week (it’s a winner) but ate it before we remembered to take a picture, so this one is courtesy of Van’s:

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If you’ve had bad luck with crackers so far and are starting to think that all gluten-free products still taste and feel like eating cardboard, then you’re in for a real treat!  The flavor and texture of all of these crackers is right up there with the best of regular crackers, gluten-free or not. Seriously. Try them. You’ll love them…

If you don’t win the below giveaway, just head to your nearest Walmart, Safeway, or Sprouts store to pick up these products for your g-free kiddo.  You can also join the Van’s E-club which keeps you up to date on new products, and makes you eligible for special offers and coupons. And don’t forget to Follow Van’s on Facebook for plenty of kid-friendly, gluten-free meal and snack ideas.  This is one company you can count on to keep coming up with great new products!

And now for the giveaway:  TWO random winners will each win THREE “FREE PRODUCT” COUPONS (cereals, snack bars or crackers: retail value up to $4.49 each) courtesy of Van’s Natural Foods. 

To enter, simply leave a comment below, letting me know which of these Van’s products you think your g-free kid will love the most.

Giveaway ends at midnight on Sunday, October 20, 2013. Then the 2 winners have 24 hours to get back to me, otherwise new names will be chosen. U.S. and Canadian residents may enter. Good luck!

Disclaimer: Van’s sent me free products to try 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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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.