Tuesday, April 15, 2014

5 Things Tuesday - Party Themes (Warm Weather Style)

..with warmer weather coming our way here in Canuckland, well hopefully anyway, I start to get very excited about Summer parties, ..and wearing flip flops, like all the time! Yep, I'm that lady in the Summer wearing those 'fashion-less' flip flops all the time, ..and loving it!



..So where was I, oh yes the parties, well I enjoy organizing them for friends and family, a lot, I'm always volunteering to bake for these parties, at least ..and of course I enjoy putting together a great bash here at our humble abode, too!

Themed parties and candy/dessert tables are still a huge trend, and are not going anywhere, anytime soon! Thank gawd! ..love them! And if you want to know how to create a kick-ass dessert table for your part--ayy, well just ask Amy Atlas, the Queen of the Dessert/Candy Table, she sure knows what she's doing! ..also just do an image Google search for dessert table and thousands of images pop up for them, and you will be instantly inspired and/or overwhelmed! ;) Just have fun with it, and add your own unique and special ideas to the mix.

I'm in the midst of helping a friend organize a birthday party for her daughter's 6th birthday and in doing the 'research' for her 'Sprinkles & Sparkles' theme, I have come across some oh so cute party themes on Pinterest, Catch My Party, Hostess With The Mostess, and across the great wide web.

I've picked 5 I absolutely adore for this 5 Things Tuesday, ..just 5 for inspiration without the 'overwhelm', ..and I hope that you do get inspired by some of them for your next warm weather party or birthday party extravaganza!

Enjoy and happy Tuesday!

1. Sprinkles Sleepover Party Theme

How sweet is this party theme! ..I want this one for my next birthday, but maybe I'll see if Little Mama wants something like this for her 6th bday bash! I love the idea of combining sprinkles and pjs, and yogurt bars! ..I'd probably switch mine out to an ice cream and cocktail bar, but that's just me! ;)


Image Courtesy of Hostess with The Mostess


2. Awesome Retro 50s Diner Inspired Birthday Party


..this party theme is just so rock and roll cool! The colour theme is gorgeous and so spot on to the retro look of a 50s diner! So much inspiration to be had from this party theme! Rock N Roll is here to stay!



Image Courtesy of Hostess With The Mostess



3. Gumballs & Ice Cream Sweet Shoppe Themed Party

This party theme is perfect for warmer weather, and to combine ice cream and gumballs, how clever is that!? Very, I think! Everything looks so sweet and yummy, from the little gumball machine cupcakes, to the bright pink, orange and yellow polka dot cake.


Image Courtesy Of Hostess With The Mostess


4. A Backyard Camping Party Theme


This is so happening in my backyard this Summer, ..a camping party for the kids and big kids, too. I love how this theme has a ruggedness to it, which is cool because after all it's a camping theme and it's outside! The best idea is the outside Big Screen they had for the kids right before bed, ending it with a movie and popcorn! Ammaazing!


5. Surf's Up, Dude Party Theme

Surf's Up, Dude! What a great warm weather theme this is, too, and you can set it up pretty much anywhere, ..inside, outside, inside and outside, ..and if you don't have a pool, or any water to swim in, just go out and get a little kiddie pool and one of those slip and slid carpets and have a blast! I love this theme, lots! Don't you? ..

Image courtesy of Paisley Petal Events

Monday, April 14, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookies, gluten free style!

These cookies are not 'normal'? ..and by that I mean these cookies are way tooooo good to be gluten-free! There I said it!, ..I'm still a 'gluten free stuff ' skeptic at times, especially when it comes to certain baked goods, and cookies are one of those baked goods that I couldn't imagine tasting amazing, unless making them with good ol' all purpose flour.


But nope, I was oh so wrong!, these are so yummy, especially if like me you love crispy on the edges cookie with a fabulous chewy middle!

..I've experimented quite a bit with gluten free cookie recipes these past couple of years, and I'm a believer of how good a GF cookie can truly be! And the key, at least in my experience anyway, is in the type of gluten free flour you use! I've experimented with heaps of GF flours, and only one has my heart these days, ..only this one goes into my GF baking recipes now! I'm loyal like that! So since I've discovered Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Baking Flour, it is all I use when baking gluten free, ..when a GF flour is required!

These cookies bake thinner, and as mentioned above, with a crispy outer edge and a chewy middle finale! I promise you they are TDF (to die for!) My kids and my neighbour's kids (they have 4) love-love-love these! ..helloooo, ..imagine 6 kids under 10 in da house eating cookies, crumbs everywhere, screeching at the top of their lungs, ..and playing hide in seek in between mouthfuls! Holy Smokes, I deserve the Mother Theresa award, or something of that nature, for suuuuure! ;) 
 

So without further ado, my sweets, I introduce to you the very delicious Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe.  
 

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 10-12 minutes
Amount: makes about 30, 3 1/2 inch cookies
Level: Easy Peasy, Lemon Squeeze-y

Printable Recipe


Ingredients
  • 1 1/3 cup Gluten Free All Purpose Flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Guar Gum or Xanthan Gum (used as a 'gluten replacer', binds ingredients)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (I used Hershey's Milk Chocolate Chipits, they are gluten free according to Hershey Canada/USA)



Instructions
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a medium bowl, combine GF flour, salt, baking soda and guar gum or xanthan gum, and mix thoroughly with a whisk or fork.
  • In another medium bowl, mix cooled melted butter, sugars and vanilla extract.
  • Whisk in the egg.
  • Stir in flour mixture.
  • With a spatula, mix the batter for about a minute, do not over mix the batter.
  • Stir in the chocolate chips.
  • Position rack to middle of the oven.
  • Scoop approximately 2 tablespoons of dough and place 2 inches apart on a lined or lightly greased cookie sheet.
  • Bake until the cookies are a light golden brown, about 10-12 minutes.
  • Let cookies cool for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.
  • Once on wire rack, let the cookies cool completely, and enjoy!
  • Cookies will keep in an airtight container for 5 days.

P.S. I decorated this batch with some cute pastel, Easter sprinkles! ..since Easter is just around the corner. Little Mama and I are making some for the Easter Bunny on the weekend, and guess who's dressing up as The Easter Bunny? ..yours truly! ..cookies coming my way!

Enjoy with a big glass of cold, cold milk of choice!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Peeps Cupcakes

Hey you guys, I'm back! ..and I'm excited to share some fun, pastel-coloured, and delicious recipes with you all, ..and just in time for Spring, ..and Easter, too!

Even though it still looks like we are in the midst of Winter out there, ..there is hope for warmer weather now! *fingers crossed* ..'cause like it says on the calendar, Spring is officially here, ..it just doesn't quite feel like it or look like it, though! But Spring weather is coming, SOON!, ..right?! I just know it is!

..so with this 'warm weather hope' brewing in my heart and soul, I'm in a strong mood to bake again, and to bake fun and pretty and colourful things that make me happy, ..and Peeps make me happy! I've had a fascination with Peeps ever since I was a kid.

I could just eat them right up, ..and I do! ..because they're edible! ;)

For those of you not familiar with Peeps, they are marshmallow candies, sold in the United States and Canada, that are shaped into chicks and bunnies. They come in other shapes, too, but for Easter it's mostly about the chicks and the bunnies! 




..I also have a bit of an obsession with cupcakes, as some of you know, and so I decided to put the two together here with this cupcake recipe, and make Peeps Cupcakes! I mean you can't get much sweeter than this, can you?!

..my kiddos helped with making, and eating these, and we had a lot of fun!

Recipe and how to below!


Peeps Cupcakes





Prep Time: 20 minutes
Assembly Time: 10-15 minutes
Bake Time: 18-20 minutes
Amount: 12 standard sized cupcakes
Level: Easy & Fun


Printable Recipe

Ingredients


Cake:
  • 1/4 cup/62 grams butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg (room temperature)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (I use Nielsen-Massey)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (unbleached)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk (room temperature)
  • 1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles

Frosting
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream

Special Things You'll Need:
  • Easter Themed Cupcake Liners (available at Michael's, Walmart, Target, online)
  • Rainbow sprinkles to add to batter (I bought mine at Bulk Barn)
  • Peeps (purple chicks and pink bunnies. I bought mine at Walmart)
  • Piping Bag for frosting cupcakes (you can buy piping bags online, Walmart, Bulk Barn, or even some local grocery stores carry them.)
  • Piping Tip (I used the Wilton 1M tip (Star Tip)
  • Shredded Coconut to make grass
  • Green Food Colouring to colour shredded coconut
  • Candy Covered Milk Chocolate Mini Eggs (Cadbury, Hershey and Our Finest (Walmart brand) make yummy ones)




Instructions


Cake:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Line 1 cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
  • Combine and stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
  • Cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 minutes.
  • Add egg and mix for about 1 minute. Do not over mix the egg.
  • Add vanilla extract and mix for another minute.
  • Add milk. 
  • Alternate 2x each and on low speed the milk and flour mixture into butter mix.
  • Use a spatula in between mixing to ensure you do not get any large lumps in your batter.
  • Add sprinkles and fold in with spatula.
  • Scoop batter evenly into 12 liners, about 3/4 of the way up.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes.
  • Remove from cupcake pan and let cool on wire rack.



Frosting:
  • Beat butter for 3 minutes at high speed, until smooth, and then reduce speed to lowest setting, and add the icing sugar and salt. Continue to beat for another minute.
  • Add Vanilla Extract and Whipping Cream, and beat for 1 more minute. Do not over mix once whipping cream is added or the frosting can get too stiff and separate.
  • Pipe frosting with a piping bag and tip, onto each cupcake.
  • Set cupcakes aside for assembly.

Assemble:
  • Colour shredded coconut using liquid green food colouring. Add 3-4 drops to about 1/2 cup of shredded coconut, and mix with a spoon until shredded coconut turns green. You can do this step in advance so it gives the food colouring time to dry before placing on frosting.
  • Sprinkle coloured coconut on frosting.
  • Place one Peep on each cupcake.
  • Decorate with mini chocolate eggs.
  • Eat!



Enjoy!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Gluten Free Chocolate Glazed Double Chocolate Cake

..In my last post, I mentioned sharing my gluten free chocolate cupcakes recipe, but I decided to share this recipe in cake 'form' instead, ..only because I ran out of cupcake liners and had to improvise. You can totally use this recipe for cupcakes as well, though.


This gluten free chocolate cake uses the same, wonderful gluten free flour blend (Bob Mill's Gluten Free Baking Flour) as I use in my GF Vanilla Cupcakes, and I also doubled the cocoa powder amount I usually put in, in my non gluten free recipe, hence the use of the word Double in the name. 

This cake is moist, rich and full of chocolate flavour. Almost brownie-like in flavour, but texture-wise, not typically dense like a brownie. This cake keeps beautifully for up to 3 days (no need to refrigerate), but I doubt it will even last that long after you make it.

Gluten Free Chocolate Glazed
Double Chocolate Cake

 


Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time:  35-40 minutes
Amount: 1 bundt cake or 24 cupcakes (halve recipe (glaze, too) to make 12 cupcakes)
Level: Easy
 
Printable Recipe

Ingredients
 
Cake:
  • 2 cups Gluten Free All Purpose Flour (I use Bob's Red Mill), sifted. Measure first, then sift.
  • 2  teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder (Dutch processed or regular)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1  teaspoon Guar Gum or Xantham gum (one of these ingredients acts as thickener/emulsifier, they mimic what gluten does, basically)
  • 1/2 cup butter/124 grams, at room temperature
  • 2 cups organic coconut sugar or white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract (I use Nielsen Massey)
  • 2 large eggs (I use free range eggs), at room temperature
  • 2 cups 2% or whole milk, at room temperature
 
Glaze:
  • 1 cup confectioner's/icing sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder (Dutch processed or regular)
  • 2 tablespoons whole or 2% milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 

Instructions
 
Cake:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, with wire rack in middle.
  • Butter bundt pan and dust with gluten free flour, tapping out excess flour.
  • Combine and stir together gluten free flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, Guar Gum or Xantham Gum and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
  • In another medium-sized bowl, cream butter and organic coconut sugar on medium-high speed for 3 minutes.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, and mix for about 30 seconds with each addition. Do not over mix the eggs.
  • Add vanilla extract and mix for another minute.
  • Alternate 2x each and on low speed the milk and flour mixture into batter. Use a spatula in between mixing to ensure you do not get any large lumps in your batter. This is a liquid-y batter.
  • Pour batter into prepared bundt pan.
  • Bake for 40 minutes or toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.
  • Remove cake from oven and let completely cool before removing from bundt pan.

Glaze:
  • In a small to medium bowl, add milk and vanilla extract.
  • Sift cocoa powder and icing sugar together in another small bowl.
  • Add cocoa powder and icing sugar mixture gradually to milk, whisking, until you get desired consistency. You want to ensure that the glaze is not too runny.
  • Once the cake has cooled completely, drizzle glaze over top.

 


Enjoy!

 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcakes, ..made with Organic Coconut Sugar!

I've received quite a few requests to post a gluten free cupcake/cake recipe, and the reason I haven't until now is because I simply haven't been completely overjoyed with the results. I need to feel joyous about a recipe before I share it, ..after all this blog is about sharing recipes that are successes, ..and so I leave the failures and trials and errors behind the scenes, and only bring forth the successful, scrumptious recipes. :)

I've tried a number of gluten free flour blends, and most don't produce a great gluten free cake crumb. Gluten free baking is tough, no pun intended! Often when baking gluten free cakes and breads the end result is a very dense, dry cake or bread, ..and some I've tried produce a very grainy texture, too! ..not very appetizing at all!

But with this recipe here, ..well if you follow it to the letter, and have a decent oven, I can almost assure you that you will get a moist, fluffy and delicious result! I say almost, 'cause you just never know, right!? I've made this recipe a few times now, and I'm OVERJOYED, with everything about this cupcake, sans gluten!
 
 
So, after quite a bit of experimenting with different flour blends, some which I've mixed on my own and some pre-made, I have found THE ONE that I absolutely love to use when baking gluten free! It is a pre-made gluten free all purpose baking flour made by Bob's Red Mill.  I love that guy, Bob!
 

Also, I've tried different gluten free Vanilla cake/cupcake recipes which I've found online and in some of my gluten free baking books that turned out ok, but not quite where I wanted my gluten free Vanilla cake/cupcake to be. After more experimenting, and more experimenting I came up with my own gluten free Vanilla cake/cupcake recipe using Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Baking Flour! ..nope, I am not advertising for Bob, btw, ..promise! :) I just simply adore this gluten free flour! Plus, it doesn't smell or feel funky like some gf flours can, ..it's actually quite sweet smelling and very silky to the touch, ..however the key is to always sift this flour for a  moist and fluffy result! *I will also share my gluten free chocolate cake/cupcake recipe next week, using this same gluten free flour.


 
And so without too much further ado, below is my version of the Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcake, ..made with organic coconut sugar. You can use regular sugar for this recipe as well, but for 'eating healthier' sake, I went with the coconut sugar. I use organic coconut sugar quite often in my baking these days! It's fantastic!

FYI: organic coconut sugar and regular sugar measure 1:1. You can buy organic coconut sugar at most health food shops or some grocers carry it in their 'health' food section. I buy mine online, sometimes at well.ca.
 
Guar Gum in picture above acts as the gluten in gluten free baking.
Click HERE for more on Guar Gum or Xantham Gum (Xantham Gum can also be used as the 'gluten' substitute)

Did you know? Organic Coconut Sugar has naturally occurring nutrients including magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, B vitamins and amino acids, ..and it is sustainably grown and harvested! Now that's what I call SWEET!
 

Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcakes,
..made with Organic Coconut Sugar




Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time:  18-20 minutes
Amount: 12 cupcakes (double recipe (frosting, too) to make an 8 inch cake or 24 cupcakes)
Level: Easy

Printable Recipe

Ingredients
 
Cupcakes:
 
  • 1 1/2 cups Gluten Free All Purpose Flour (I use Bob's Red Mill), sifted. Measure first, then sift.
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Guar Gum or Xantham gum (one of these ingredients acts as thickener/emulsifier, they mimic what gluten does, basically)
  • 1/4 cup butter/62 grams
  • 1 cup organic coconut sugar or white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (I use Nielsen Massey)
  • 1 large egg (I use free range eggs)
  • 1 cup 2% milk

Vanilla with a hint of lemon Buttercream Frosting:
  • 1 cup butter
  • 3 cups icing sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
 
Instructions

Cupcake:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Line 1 cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
  • Combine and stir together gluten free flour, baking soda, baking powder, Guar Gum or Xantham Gum and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
  • In another medium-sized bowl, cream butter and organic coconut sugar on medium-high speed for 3 minutes.
  • Add egg and mix for about 1 minute. Do not over mix the egg.
  • Add vanilla extract and mix for another minute.
  • Alternate 2x each and on low speed the milk and flour mixture into batter. Use a spatula in between mixing to ensure you do not get any large lumps in your batter.
  • Scoop batter evenly into 12 liners, about 3/4 of the way up.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes.
  • Remove cupcakes from cupcake pan and let completely cool on wire rack.
  
Frosting:
  • Cream butter for 4 minutes at medium speed.
  • Add your icing sugar, and mix for 2 more minutes at low speed. Ensure your mixer is at the lowest speed when adding icing sugar to avoid sugar from flying everywhere.
  • Add vanilla and lemon juice and mix at medium speed for 2 minutes more.
 
Assemble:
  • Scoop frosting into piping bag, with a round tip (I use Wilton 1A round tip)  already in place, and frost each cupcake. If you do not have a piping bag or tip, frost your cupcakes with a spoon or stainless steel spatula. Just a little dollop of frosting on this cupcake, not to overdo it on the icing sugar, unless you want to overdo it!
  • Sprinkle a little coconut sugar on frosting.
 
 
 
 
Enjoy!
 

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