Favorite Gluten-Free Potluck Recipes

With summer nearly upon us, and lots of picnics and parties in store, I thought I’d share our family’s top 3 favorite gluten-free potluck recipes with you…enjoy!

First off, 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.

Secondly, 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
• guacamole, cilantro, black beans, corn, etc. — if desired

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 13×9 pan and a 9″ pie plate and top both dips separately.

Third, Confetti bean mix:

• 1 can (15 oz) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
• 1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
• 1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
• 1 can of corn, drained and rinsed
• 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro or parsley (or dried herbs to taste)
• 1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper
• 1/2 cup chopped green pepper (or orange, yellow, etc.)
• 1/4 cup chopped onion
• 2 garlic cloves, minced

Dressing:
• 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
• 1/4 cup olive or canola oil
• 1 tsp chili powder
• 1/2 tsp sugar

In large bowl, combine first 9 ingredients. In another bowl, whisk vinegar, oil, chili powder & sugar and mix well. Pour over bean mixture, toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve w/ slotted spoon.

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

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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.

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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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.

Easter Treat Ideas: Super Simple and Gluten Free!

Ahh….Easter Sunday in the 70’s. Those were the days…Easter bonnets and dresses bought (or made) just for the big day — my whole family dressed in their finest duds. Even before church, my Dad would take home movies of us getting into our Easter baskets and devouring Peep after Peep, foil-wrapped chocolate eggs & jellybeans galore, without my Mom ever saying “That’s enough candy!” (That’s me on the right.)

I can’t imagine letting my own kids get so sugared-up before church (for my own sanity) and I give my daughters a fraction of the candy my parents gave me for Easter, yet I still don’t see a problem with letting kids be kids and enjoying sugary treats once in a while. My family eats quite healthy most of the time, we get plenty of exercise, we take care of our teeth and we aren’t couch potatoes — in fact, we don’t even own one video game!  Therefore, we don’t feel the least bit guilty indulging in making and eating these three yummy Easter treats together. And you shouldn’t either!  🙂

We call our first treat idea “Muddy Bunnies“. We’ve all seen chocolate-dipped Peeps,
but we thought we’d take it a little further and have them sit in the middle of a pile of springtime mud (peanut clusters). All you do for this is melt chocolate in the microwave, mix in peanuts and drop clusters onto wax paper over a cookie sheet. Arrange the Peeps bunny in the middle and spoon some more chocolate around his bottom to make him part of the peanut cluster. Then add sprinkles and set the cookie sheet in the freezer to harden. We also thought they looked cute sitting in these cupcake liners:

Our second idea we wanted to try was “Chocolate Peeps Eggshells“, which turned out to be our favorite. I originally saw the idea for chocolate ice cream shells here but I have no idea why it took me so long to try it. It was so easy! (Feel free to read that article for more details, but I simplified the process a lot, which I will explain below…)

To make these Chocolate Peeps Eggshells, you will need:
•  Melting chocolate
•  Peeps chicks
•  G-free sprinkles or nonpariels
•  Small balloons
•  Waxed paper

The first thing you do is to blow up & tie your balloons, rinse them with water, dry them and set aside. (We used water balloons without any problems, but I have read that a few other people have had issues with these and recommend small, regular balloons instead. It’s up to you.) Next, clear an area in your freezer to fit a small cookie sheet, then cover that cookie sheet with wax paper and set it back on your counter.

In a small-to-medium sized microwaveable bowl (depending on how many of these you’re going to make) melt your chocolate. We aren’t big fans of white chocolate so we used milk chocolate melting disks. Clearly, white chocolate would make a more realistic-looking eggshell, if that is what you are after. We were just after taste! 🙂 Either way, you’ll want
the melted chocolate to be a few inches deep so that you can cover your balloons up
high enough.

Once your chocolate is melted and cooled a bit, just dip each balloon in, tilting it around to cover the sides until you like how it looks. Then you just set it upright on the wax paper and toss some sprinkles on it. After they’re all dipped and sprinkled, just pop the cookie sheet into the freezer for a few minutes until they harden all the way. They will look something like this:

Then you can let your kids have fun popping the balloons! Below is Lindsey (with Morgan covering her ears) just before her needle popped the balloon…

After it’s popped, you will find the shriveled up balloon in the bottom of the chocolate shell. Carefully peel the balloon away from the chocolate and you’ll be left with shells like this:

Then all you do is pop a Peeps chick inside for your finished product. Another idea is to make these into birds’ nests by adding coconut underneath the chick.

The third idea is very simple as well. We call these “Bunny Trail Pops” and we just felt like doing something different than our usual sprinkled chocolate marshmallows. We popped a stick into each marshmallow, dipped the bottom of it in chocolate, set it on waxed paper and stuck bunny candies into it, evenly with one of each color. Again, set it in the freezer to harden. These don’t even need sticks, and you can experiment with any type of g-free Easter candies…

After they have all hardened in the freezer, all of these treats can be kept in airtight containers in your fridge til they’re gone — which won’t be long!    🙂  Enjoy!

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Simple St. Patrick’s Day ideas and coloring page for gluten-free kids

dancers2March is always a busy month for our family —
especially since my daughters are Irish dancers.
We don’t have their schedule yet, but it’s sure to be a month chock full of dance shows and 
everything else life brings. 

Despite the crazy schedule, we like to scatter little St. Patrick’s Day treats and symbols
throughout the month, just like we do for Valentine’s Day in February. There are far too many fun things to do with those holidays, than to limit it all to just one day a month. Wouldn’t you agree?

With this first idea (which is nothing original, I’m sure) I just arranged green, white and orange veggies in the shape and color order of the Irish flag. I used snap peas, broccoli, cauliflower, orange peppers and baby carrots. The subtlety of this idea may be lost on little ones, so a mini Irish flag (we made this one w/ markers, paper and a toothpick) helps make the connection.

veggieflagMy girls call these “Dublin Dragonflies.” They aren’t big raisin fans (think “ants on a log”) so I used Snyder’s gluten-free mini pretzels for wings and peanut m&m’s for eyes. If your celery is too narrow, just use plain m&m’s. Those with nut allergies can just substitute Sunbutter and use chocolate chips for eyes…

dragonflies1Another simple idea just involves cutting already-baked, g-free pizza (we use Chebe for the crust) into shamrock shapes with a cookie cutter… what could be easier?

4cloverpizzasFor the pizza below, I arranged Hormel mini pepperoni in the shapes of shamrocks all over the top of the (Chebe crust) pizza. Just watch that your cheese doesn’t get too over-cooked and dark, or your shamrocks won’t stand out enough.

pizza2Next I’ve created a gluten-free coloring page for your g-free kid to enjoy. Please fee free to post a picture of your child with his or her finished coloring page on my Facebook wall!

Here are some other crafty, fun things to do for St. Patrick’s Day:

And to close, here is an Irish blessing — heavily modified, by me, from one found here

“May you have gluten-free bread to do you good,
Gluten-free bread to sweeten your blood,
Gluten-free bread to do you no harm
And gluten-free bread to strengthen your arm.”

Happy St. Patrick’s Day (month) everyone!

Be sure you see the photo album of g-free kids and g-free kids’ stuff page.
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Mini peanut butter cups for your gluten-free Valentine!

IMG_6158I was looking for something different — yet easy — to make my g-free girls for Valentine’s Day week….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 the middle hollowed out 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, twist the edges until they loosen and then they should pop right out, nice and sturdy.

IMG_6174For filling, I just used Pillsbury Valentine’s Funfetti frosting, piped through the corner of a plastic bag. Obviously chocolate frosting would be another great combination to go with peanut butter —or 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!

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,
and be sure to check out the online photo album of g-free kids and g-free kids’ stuff page.

5 superfood snacks for g-free kids: healthy ideas from a RD

Here is a real treat for all of you fellow parents of g-free kids:  A guest post from Megan at www.thehappybellyproject.com who is a registered dietitian with a 4-year old daughter with celiac disease. I believe all of our children can benefit from her healthy superfood ideas. Enjoy! 

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Creating fun, kid-friendly snacks is a great way to get your little one to try new foods. Check out these ideas that all include superfoods—foods that provide a significant health benefit when you add them to your diet. Often as a dietitian I am telling people what not to eat. I love having the opportunity to encourage people to eat more delicious foods!

“Super-Nutritious Trail Mix”

    • Popcorn
    • Dark chocolate chips
    • Almonds
    • Gluten-free pretzels
    • Dried fruit

Mix all together and serve. Think outside the bowl! For a fun and portable snack pull out those plastic Easter eggs or other fun container.

What they know: Kids feel like they are getting a special treat just by getting to pick out which color egg they want their snack to be in!

What you know: Dark chocolate is full of good nutrients and antioxidants that help your brain, heart, and mood! Chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), the same chemical your brain creates when you feel like you’re falling in love. Almonds contain phytosterols, which promote lower cholesterol levels in addition to providing protein—a plus if your child is not a big meat eater.

“Yogurt Face”

  • Vanilla yogurt
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Mangos or other fruit
  • Gluten-free pretzel sticks

Create a circle of yogurt on a plate. Use the fruit to create your own silly face, or a cat face, or even to abandon the face idea altogether and simply spell out numbers and letters for your little learner.

What they know: They won’t get in trouble for playing with their food. They get to create a masterpiece and then eat it.

What you know: Superfoods yogurt and blueberries make this a nutritious and delicious snack. Yogurt provides protein, calcium and probiotics, which are important for keeping young (and old) GI tracts healthy. Blueberries have been touted as one of the healthiest foods you could possibly eat; they’re full of antioxidants protective against many cancers.

“Magic Princess Wands”

  • Skewers
  • Mangos or other fruit
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cheese cubes

Skewer the fruit and cheese. Add a strawberry as the topper. (I think Starfruit would also be a great topper; however, you’ll usually need to wait until it’s in season to find it at your local store.) With a 4-year-old daughter and a trip planned to Disney this year, Princesses are everywhere in our house! If you can relate, why not have them on your table, too?

What they know: Anytime little girls get to play “Princess,” it’s a good thing!

What you know: Cantaloupe is full of vitamin C, folate, and caratenoids, antioxidants that give cantaloupe its yellow-orange color and are important for eye health and immunity. All the fruits provide needed fiber, and you can sneak in a little protein with the cheese.

“Through the Forest

  • Broccoli
  • Cheese
  • Celery
  • Peanut butter
  • Dried cranberries or raisins

Create a forest with trees and logs with ants crawling on them! Let your kids get creative. What other animals can they imagine in the forest?

What they know: Their imaginations will run wild creating a story to go with their forest. Once one of the most feared dinnertime vegetables, suddenly eating broccoli that is a “tree” while pretending to be a giraffe sounds like a great idea!

What you know: Broccoli is a fiber-rich vegetable that has high levels of vitamin C (which helps the body absorb iron) and potassium (which helps ensure the nervous system, including the brain, is functioning optimally), and has even been found to inhibit many cancer cells. Protein found in peanut butter is a great way to keep those little tummies full until the next meal!

“Sweet Potato Power Chips”

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes peeled and sliced thinly. (The smaller and thinner you slice them the better! Only the small, thin ones really get the “crunch” like chips.)
  • Olive oil
  • Cinnamon
  • Sugar

Coat thinly sliced potatoes with olive oil and season with cinnamon and sugar. (A large plastic kitchen storage bag works great to ensure all pieces get evenly coated.) Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, flipping halfway through. Broil for 5 minutes. Watch carefully so they don’t burn! Bonus: Baking these makes your house smell wonderful!

What they know: Chips are like junk food, right?

What you know: Sweet potatoes: Like the cantaloupe, the orange color indicates they are full of carotenoids, the precursor to vitamin A in our body. Carotenoids help boost our immunity, are strong antioxidants, and help protect our eyesight. Olive oil is a great source of mono-unsaturated fat, or “healthy fat” that may help protect our hearts and ward off the “bad cholesterol” LDL. It is also a good source of Vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K.

Fellow parents: Do you have any other healthy snack ideas? If so, please comment below…thanks!

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Megan is a registered dietitian and mom to a 4-year old daughter with celiac disease. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband, daughter and son where she works with patients with kidney disease. She blogs weekly at www.thehappybellyproject.com on all things related to living, loving and learning about the gluten-free diet and celiac disease.

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.

Easter Treat Ideas: Super Simple and Gluten Free!

Ahh….Easter Sunday in the 70’s. Those were the days…Easter bonnets and dresses bought (or made) just for the big day — my whole family dressed in their finest duds. Even before church, my Dad would take home movies of us getting into our Easter baskets and devouring Peep after Peep, foil-wrapped chocolate eggs & jellybeans galore, without my Mom ever saying “That’s enough candy!” (That’s me on the right.) I can’t imagine letting my own kids get so sugared-up before church (for my own sanity) and I give my daughters a fraction of the candy my parents gave me for Easter, yet I still don’t see a problem with letting kids be kids and enjoying sugary treats once in a while. My family eats quite healthy most of the time, we get plenty of exercise, we take care of our teeth and we aren’t couch potatoes. Therefore, we don’t feel the least bit guilty indulging in making and eating these three yummy Easter treats together. And you shouldn’t either!  🙂 We call our first treat idea “Muddy Bunnies“. We’ve all seen chocolate-dipped Peeps, but we thought we’d take it a little further and have them sit in the middle of a pile of springtime mud (peanut clusters). All you do for this is melt chocolate in the microwave, mix in peanuts and drop clusters onto wax paper over a cookie sheet. Arrange the Peeps bunny in the middle and spoon some more chocolate around his bottom to make him part of the peanut cluster. Then add sprinkles and set the cookie sheet in the freezer to harden. We also thought they looked cute sitting in these cupcake liners: Our second idea we wanted to try was “Chocolate Peeps Eggshells“, which turned out to be our favorite. I originally saw the idea for chocolate ice cream shells here but I have no idea why it took me so long to try it. It was so easy! (Feel free to read that article for more details, but I simplified the process a lot, which I will explain below…)

To make these Chocolate Peeps Eggshells, you will need:
•  Melting chocolate
•  Peeps chicks
•  G-free sprinkles or nonpariels
•  Small balloons
•  Waxed paper

The first thing you do is to blow up & tie your balloons, rinse them with water, dry them and set aside. (We used water balloons without any problems, but I have read that a few other people have had issues with these and recommend small, regular balloons instead. It’s up to you.) Next, clear an area in your freezer to fit a small cookie sheet, then cover that cookie sheet with wax paper and set it back on your counter. In a small-to-medium sized microwaveable bowl (depending on how many of these you’re going to make) melt your chocolate. We aren’t big fans of white chocolate so we used milk chocolate melting disks. Clearly, white chocolate would make a more realistic-looking eggshell, if that is what you are after. We were just after taste! 🙂 Either way, you’ll want the melted chocolate to be a few inches deep so that you can cover your balloons up high enough. Once your chocolate is melted and cooled a bit, just dip each balloon in, tilting it around to cover the sides until you like how it looks. Then you just set it upright on the wax paper and toss some sprinkles on it. After they’re all dipped and sprinkled, just pop the cookie sheet into the freezer for a few minutes until they harden all the way. They will look something like this:

Then you can let your kids have fun popping the balloons! Below is Lindsey (with Morgan covering her ears) just before her needle popped the balloon… After it’s popped, you will find the shriveled up balloon in the bottom of the chocolate shell. Carefully peel the balloon away from the chocolate and you’ll be left with shells like this: Then all you do is pop a Peeps chick inside for your finished product. Another idea is to make these into birds’ nests by adding coconut underneath the chick. The third idea is very simple as well. We call these “Bunny Trail Pops” and we just felt like doing something different than our usual sprinkled chocolate marshmallows. We popped a stick into each marshmallow, dipped the bottom of it in chocolate, set it on waxed paper and stuck bunny candies into it, evenly with one of each color. Again, set it in the freezer to harden. These don’t even need sticks, and you can experiment with any type of g-free Easter candies… After they have all hardened in the freezer, all of these treats can be kept in airtight containers in your fridge til they’re gone — which won’t be long!    🙂  Enjoy!

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Psssst:  Have you seen the photo album of g-free kids and g-free kids’ stuff page yet? For much more in between posts, follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Simple St. Patrick’s Day ideas and coloring page for gluten-free kids

March is always a busy month for our family — especially since my daughters are Irish dancers. So far they are scheduled for 13 shows this month, on top of everything else life brings. Thankfully we all love it and seeing them do their 2-hand reel never ceases to bring tears to my eyes…

Despite the crazy schedule, we like to scatter little St. Patrick’s Day treats and symbols throughout the month, just like we do for Valentine’s Day in February. There are far too many fun things to do with those holidays, than to limit it all to just one day each month.

With this first idea (which is nothing original, I’m sure) I just arranged green, white and orange veggies in the shape and color order of the Irish flag. I used snap peas, broccoli, cauliflower, orange peppers and baby carrots. The subtlety of this idea may be lost on little ones, so a mini Irish flag (we made this one w/ markers, paper and a toothpick) helps make the connection.

Another simple idea just involves cutting already-baked, g-free pizza (we use Chebe for the crust) into shamrock shapes with a cookie cutter… what could be easier?

For the pizza below, I arranged Hormel mini pepperoni in the shapes of shamrocks all over the top of the (Chebe crust) pizza. Just watch that your cheese doesn’t get too over-cooked and dark, or your shamrocks won’t stand out enough.

Next I’ve created a gluten-free coloring page for your g-free kid to enjoy. Please fee free to post a picture of your child with his or her finished coloring page on my Facebook wall!

Here are some other crafty, fun things to do for St. Patrick’s Day:

And to close, here is an Irish blessing — heavily modified, by me, from one found here

“May you have gluten-free bread to do you good,
Gluten-free bread to sweeten your blood,
Gluten-free bread to do you no harm
And gluten-free bread to strengthen your arm.”

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!
More sweet, green ideas coming very soon!

In case you missed it, check out these sweet & salty treats for St. Patty’s Day,
and be sure you see the photo album of g-free kids and g-free kids’ stuff page.
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