Betty Crocker GF Chocolate Cake with Blackberry Buttercream Frosting

When in doubt, make a cake. A potluck at work and a chance to impress everyone with my skills? Had to make a cake, but I was also sort on time. So I cut a couple corners and did a box mix, but made my own frosting (I’ll never go back to canned).

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The cake mix is excellent, I’ve used it before. It’s moist, has a great chocolate flavor, and is really consistent. I’ve never had a problem with it. I wanted to put something unexpected on top, so I went for Blackberry. Now the trick to a good, fruit flavored buttercream is to use jam. It gives flavor without letting the acid break down the butter and making your frosting too runny. I used a really inexpensive jam because, well, it doesn’t make much of a difference and I needed seedless. You could use whatever, raspberry, strawberry, apricot, etc. The recipe is simple:

1 stick of butter or vegan spread (I use earth balance, just because it’s really smooth), room temp.

1/4 cup jam

3-4 cups powdered sugar

Cream the butter with the jam, add the sugar, mix well and you’re done. Easy. It should look something like this:

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Now I added a hint of food coloring just for looks, but it’s certainly not needed. Just an extra.

For the cakes I split the batter and made two layers. They came out great:

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Spread a thin layer of frosting on the bottom layer (make sure it’s cool!) and then top it with the other layer. Frost it and you’re good to go. Here’s what mine looked like (it’s decorated for work, so you’ll just have to roll with me on this one):

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Everyone at work loved it and they couldn’t believe it was GF. They raved about the frosting and I didn’t have a single leftover slice to take home!

I give this cake 10 out of 10 delicious stars.

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Joan’s GF Greatbakes Pizza!

I love pizza. I’m sure you’ve noticed. I like to make my own, don’t get me wrong, but I also enjoy just being able to pop one in and not have to do any of the work. I’m only human. Now, I’ve had a lot of frozen pizzas. A lot. However, there is one that rises above all the rest. There is one pizza that I would fight for. It’s from Joan’s Greatbakes and it’s the Sicilian Pizza.

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It even comes in it’s own little tray and has it’s own funny little shape. You just take it out of the freezer, pop it in the oven, wait a few minutes and then you get this little piece of heaven:

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The crust is chewy, but with a crunch, and has a nice sort of Italian seasoning in it. The cheese melts perfectly, getting ever-so-slightly brown. The sauce is magical. It’s SO GOOD. Honestly. I may or may not have eaten the whole thing, because that’s how good it is. Now, I have to say, it’s also really expensive. So this pizza really has to just be a special treat, a once-in-a-while sort of thing. But if you want to truly experience pizza again, check it out here: http://www.gfgreatbakes.com/Default.asp

Joan get’s a 10 out of 10 stars from me, all day long.

(For the record, her bagels are out of this world as well!)

Mama’s Sugar Cookies

I’ve been using Mama’s Gluten Free mixes for a while now, so I thought it was high time I share a little something with all of you.

Though the holidays might be over I got a hankering for sugar cookies and I remembered I had one of these still in the pantry to try:

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I followed the instructions (surprising, I know) and ended up with a pretty excellent dough. It was only slightly crumbly and rolled out well (I did have the flour the top and the rolling pin, however). I just cut out simple circles, but the dough was sturdy enough to stand up to more exciting cookie cutters as well. I also cut mine a little thicker, because I like a slightly soft cookie rather than a crunchy one. Here’s what they looked like once they had been cooled and frosted:

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And they were every bit as delicious as they look. Mmmmm.

Overall, the mix was user friendly and the results were as promised. It’s a slightly crunchy, yet still soft sugar cookie. I paired mine with a simple vanilla frosting. I give this mix a 9 out of 10.

If you want to try out Mama’s stuff for yourself (which I encourage — it’s GREAT!) then get started here: http://glutenfreemama.com/

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GF Single-Serve Cheesecakes

Recently my big sis got rid of some cookbooks, now that she’s gone all hipster and vegan (if you’re into that kind of thing, check our her foodie blog here: happytobeatableoftwo.wordpress.com), and I was all too happy to take them off her hands. One of them was a wonderfully out-dated Philadelphia cheesecake book.

Seeing as how I had leftover pie filling from the mini pie disaster, I figured cheesecake was the option that made the most sense. However, cheesecake is still a bit daunting to me, so when I happened across a recipe for mini ones, it seemed more manageable. Since the book is most likely out of print I’m going to break the rules and share the recipe (the lazy-man way):

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I used Tree of Life GF shortbread cookie crumbs for my crust and real butter instead of “Parkay.” Because, ew.

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So first, I made the crust and baked it off:

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Then, I mixed up the filling:

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Fill ’em up:

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And bake those little buggars off till they look like this:

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An hour and a half later I took one out of the fridge for a little taste. Not only did they look beautiful, but it tasted pretty darn good as well.

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The filling was creamy, but firm. Not too sweet, but not too cheese-y either. Just right, if you will. The crust got nice and crunchy (unlike my last cheesecake attempt) and that was superb. I give these tasty little bites a 9 out of 10 all day long. I imagine they’d be delightful for parties, gifts, or just to make and freeze for those rainy, cheesecake-less days. You decide. The topping could be anything from preserves, chocolate sauce, fresh fruit, or nothing. Go crazy! And then tell me about it.

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Trader Joe’s GF Frozen Pizza

I’m always up for pizza. Even when it’s 8:00 at night. In fact, especially when it’s 8:00 at night. At times like those, though, you want to rock a frozen pizza rather than making your own (at least, I do. Maybe ya’ll are much more motivated than me in the evening).

So I turned to my recent acquisition: a Trader Joe’s frozen pizza.

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All I had to do was pop in the oven at 425 for 20 minutes and that bad boy was done. The cheese bubbled nicely, the crust was firm but still chewy, and the whole slices of tomato on top were the perfect touch. It had excellent italian herb seasoning lurking in there somewhere, which earns it bonus points. Here’s the picture of my slice right before I devoured it in no uncertain terms:

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I’m going to keep this post short and sweet: TJ’s GF pizza, a solid 8 out of 10 stars. Scrumdiddalyumptious.

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Gluten Free Mini Pies (Or, a Disaster in GF Pie Crust)

I love Target. I’m not ashamed to admit it. Without Target I would be naked, hungry, and bored. During my most recent trip I happened across a kitchen device — my weakness. This one was a mini pie maker. I love pie. I love things in miniature. Plus, it was on sale for cheap, so of course I bought it.

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But I had to try it out! So when I was invited over to a super bowl party I thought mini pies would be the perfect thing to take (…ok, maybe I don’t really do the whole sports thing, but whatever. I am bringing class to an event typically defined by the lack thereof). I opted to make blueberry and strawberry pies, to offer a little variety.

Here’s what I used for filling:

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But we all know the most important part is the pie crust. A while back I made a post about how much I love Whole Foods’ GF crust and how it’s the best. That comment still stands. However, I didn’t have any today, so I thought I’d try something new. This was on sale at Hy-Vee, so I decided to give it a whirl:

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Biggest mistake of my life. It came together okay and I rolled it into a ball and chilled it for one hour like the box instructed me to.

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When I took it out of the fridge it wouldn’t roll out for anything. It crumbled, it cracked. I let it sit for a few minutes to warm up and tried again — same thing. It stuck to my rolling pin when I tried to roll it out. I finally got it rolled/smashed out between two pieces of parchment paper and cut out my shapes. I had to use a spatula to get them off the board.

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Finally, I got them into the pie maker, filled them, topped them, and closed the lid. Here’s what I ended up with:

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It wasn’t pretty. They were crumbly and fragile and a general mess. I was NOT pleased. Few things are more frustrating than pie crusts gone bad. Especially when you need to take them somewhere.

But I know what you’re thinking — how do I know it was the pie crust and not just the pie maker that led to the horrible end result? Several reason, one of them being because I tested the pie maker out with regular pie crust first (I know better than to count on GF food working for an event, I had a back up plan — at least the party guest other than myself will be eating well…).

It was disheartening. I turned to my kitchen confidant, Sir Oscar, to ask his sage advice. He responded with an indignant squeak and a look of sheer disdain (pictured below):

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So overall, NOT the perfect pie crust. Maybe even the worst. I’m considering a letter, with photographic evidence, to GFP. It’ll start with
“Dear Gluten Free Pantry, your pie crust gets a dismal 2 out of 10 stars.” The two stars are for taste, because it didn’t taste bad, though, it was gritty.

As a side note, the filling was delicious.

Yet, lest I end on a negative note, I’d like to say that I will be back in the future with better pie crusts and hopefully better results with my new pie maker. So stay tuned. All is not lost!!

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Pass the Chicken, Boyo!

The library is such a great place. There are books there for every occasion — even books that show you how to cook things! Oh, so you already knew that? Then why aren’t you out there, using your library card like it’s going out of style? Because it’s about to and I’m on a mission to save it one book at a time.

I’ll stop being so dramatic and get to the point. I recently checked out a book called The Irish Heritage Cookbook and I’m so glad I did. Want to get the recipes and try them yourself? Good. Order the book here.  I love Irish cuisine (anyone who tells you Irish food is bland and boring is sadly misinformed). Since arriving back in the States I’ve been trying my hand at a few of the scrumptious dishes I had while over in the land of green and all things good.

Tonight I opted to try Pureed Parsnips and Chicken Cashel Blue with Gaelic Sauce. Now, I need to say that Cashel is sort of blue cheese. I don’t like blue cheese. So I used Feta. I was really just in it for the Gaelic Sauce anyway (I’ll give you a hint: imported Irish whiskey, mushrooms, and cream). i also didn’t have breadcrumbs (I swear, I read the recipe before I went to the store…) so I used Glutino’s Parmesan and Garlic Bagel chips and just beat the heck out of them with with a rolling pin. The results were delicious! I can be really awful at chicken (the browning, the finishing in the oven), but this time the results were nothing short of spectacular.

So, first came the parsnips:

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This pile of root vegetables (and the secret ingrediant — an apple) just before it simmered away and became the lovely mash you are about to witness.

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Now then. The chicken was excellent. The sauce disappeared a bit on me, but I think I just needed to add a little more cream. The parsnips were as advertised, but a bit sweet for me. I tend to like my food more savory, but I was trying something new. They were very good and for anyone who loves the natural sweetness of parsnips, these would be perfect.

All in all I give myself an A for effort and 8 out of 10 stars.

As the Irish would say, sláinte, my friends!

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Nutella Buttercream Frosting

I know that usually I’m on here reviewing the tasty (and sometimes not so tasty) creations and products of others, but today I’d like to share a recipe with you all.

As you might have noticed, I rather enjoy baking — cake, in particular. But what does every cake-baker need to have in their box of tricks? A killer, go-to buttercream recipe. Anyone can do vanilla and just plain chocolate has been done already. So today I will offer to you my own recipe for Nutella buttercream. It’s fluffy, not overwhelmingly sweet, and super easy to whip up.

I don’t like recipes that involved shortening or egg whites — who has time for that? I want a frosting recipe that I can make with what I have lying around already.

So without further delay, here it is:

Nutella Buttercream Frosting

2/3 cup Nutella

1 stick butter, room temp.

3/4 cup powdered sugar

a dash of salt

Cream together the Nutella and butter until well combined and fluffy, then add in powdered sugar. Beat on low (to avoid giant poofs of sugar), slowly working your way up to medium speed. Add the dash of salt and then beat for 3 minutes (don’t cheat, it makes a difference). And there you have it! It make enough to frost a single layer cake, so if you want to do a two layer, best to double the recipe.

Now, fun fact of the day, this recipe also works with peanut butter in the place of Nutella. Both are a similar consistency. (The peanut butter version seems to be very popular when paired with brownies…)

Enjoy!

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After All Miss, This is France!

Ok, fine. This is not France. But for an afternoon with my sister, it felt just a wee bit like France — which is good enough for me. As a foodie and a general enjoyer of life, sometimes one just has to have a little fun with your food.

Thankfully, my sister agrees, and together we decided to create a vegan, gluten free menu that would make us feel as if we were in a cafe in one of the classiest places on earth. So here’s what we had: red grapes, Glutino flax crackers, Glutino table crackers, Tofutti “cream cheese”, Trader Joes Hot Pepper Jelly, sparkling blood orange spritzer, and butternut squash bisque.

What’s that you say? It doesn’t sound very French? Hey man, this is the Midwest. We do what we can. And we listened to French music, so it was legit. But enough talk, here’s some pictures to satisfy your curiosity:

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The soup was made with the usual ingredients (butternut squash, veggie stock, onions, etc.), but for the cream we use mimicream (http://www.mimiccreme.com/). Mimicream is a non-dairy cream substitute and it worked great! The Toffuti cream cheese spread was, surprisingly, tasty (http://www.tofutti.com/?page_id=489). It was especially nice when paired with the hot pepper jelly, which was a great balance of sweet and spicy (http://www.amazon.com/Trader-Joes-Sweet-Pepper-Jelly/dp/B009FDJCIY). So overall, délicieux!

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Claim: I have the world’s coolest sister.

Proof: the cake you are about to witness.

This post has little to do with my usual reviews. It’s just a post of unashamed bragging and appreciation.

Because seriously, has your sister made you a gluten free cake, shaped like a moustache, and frosted in pink buttercream for your birthday? I think not.

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