Snickerdoodle Squares

I am a chocolate chip kind of girl, through and through, but every once in a while something buttery calls my name. After my second child was born, during those blurry first weeks, a sweet friend brought us dinner and included the most incredible snickerdoodles I have ever encountered. Rich, luscious, and definitely buttery, but somehow still light and tender.
I dream about those cookies when my no-longer-baby children are driving me nuts and I want to drift back to a time when they just needed a bottle and a nap. Given that those things don’t solve their problems anymore, I decided I should  have a really strong cookie in my repertoire to subdue them. My friend’s cookies were decidedly not gluten free, so I couldn’t use those, but I had another plan. Enter Smitten Kitchen.
Have you visited Smitten Kitchen? It’s a really fabulous food blog by a woman named Deb Perelman. I was given her cookbook as a gift and have found it to be simply excellent. That’s where this recipe originated. I took her recipe for Gooey Cinnamon Squares and converted it to the gluten-free-ness that I needed. These little babies took first prize at a recent potluck and I am happy to report that they do indeed subdue my children when necessary! Hurrah!
Snickerdoodle Bars
Cookie Base
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon tapioca flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
Gooey Layer
1/4 cup light corn syrup or honey
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons white rice flour
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon almond flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
Cinnamon Topping
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9×13 inch pan.
For cookie base: Combine butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs and milk. Beat well, scraping down the sides as needed. Add dry ingredients. Beat well, scraping down the sides as needed. Batter will be pale yellow and smooth. Spread evenly in the bottom of your prepared pan.
For gooey layer: Whisk corn syrup (or honey, if using), milk, and vanilla in a small bowl. Set aside.
Cream butter, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add egg. Scrape down sides and beat again.  Combine flours and xanthan gum in separate bowl. Add 1/2 of flour mixture to butter and sugar. Beat well, scraping down the sides as needed. Add 1/2 of milk mixture. Beat well. Add remaining flour mixture and beat well, scraping down the sides. Add remaining milk mixture and beat well, again scraping down the sides as needed.
Dollop batter over the cookie base and spread evenly.
For topping: Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small dish. Sprinkle ALL of the mixture evenly over the top of the batter in the pan.
Bake 25-30 minutes. Center will be slightly gooey when you remove it from the oven. Cool. Cut into 1-inch squares to serve.
PS: They don’t keep very well so eat them up in the first couple of days, though honestly, I don’t think that will be too much of an issue!
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Easy Bake Oven Cakes

Here’s something I never thought I’d need or want to do – bake a gluten free chocolate cake in an Easy Bake Oven. Yep, Santa delivered one of those little lightbulb-powered ovens to my daughter last Christmas and it’s darling, it really is, but good Lord, the baking mixes that came with it were disgusting. I simply refuse to buy replacements. On top of that, I think my daughter might have a little gluten sensitivity so we’ve been experimenting with her avoiding it, which leads me back to my first statement.
The circle of life, people. It always leads to cake.
Gluten Free Cake for your Easy Bake Oven
(each recipe makes 1 tiny cake with a little batter leftover)

Chocolate                                                                              Vanilla

3 teaspoons white rice flour                                        3 teaspoons white rice flour
2 teaspoons almond flour                                             2 1/2 teaspoons almond flour
1 teaspoon tapioca flour                                               2 teaspoons tapioca flour
4 teaspoons sugar                                                          4 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cocoa                                                   1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder                                       3/4 teaspoon butter, softened
3/4 teaspoon butter, softened                                      1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 teaspoons milk                                                            5 teaspoons milk
Preheat your Easy Bake Oven for 15 minutes. (And before you ask, it doesn’t matter if yours is an actual “Easy Bake Oven.” Ours in not, but it is very, very pink.) Butter and flour the tiny cake pan that comes with the oven. I have found that rice flour works best for preparing the pan.
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl with a fork. Mix until smooth.
Pour approximately 3 tablespoons of the batter into prepared pan. Please note that you don’t want to fill the pan to the very top or the cake will rise too much and then it will be a pain to get out of the oven. The pan should be a little over 1/2 full. You can eyeball it – no need to be super precise.
You will have a little batter left over. If you make 2 batches, you should have enough batter left over from each to make a third cake. We tend to make both vanilla and chocolate and then do a swirl cake for the third. If you want to do the same, just spoon in the separate batters side by side, then take a little knife and drag the chocolate into the vanilla, or vice versa, until they are swirly with each other.
Bake for 12 minutes. Cool slightly, then slide a knife in between the edge of the pan and the cake to loosen it before you turn it out onto a cooling rack.
Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar or a smear of Nutella or frost as you would any cake.
Honestly, for cakes make without eggs and cooked with a lightbulb, they are darn tasty. Heck, they are darn tasty even without those caveats. And, as a bonus, you don’t have to spend a small fortune when letting your little one bake in his or her own oven.

Pumpkin Bread

pumpkin-bread
Quick breads are fabulous. They really are. They’re simple, delicious, and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, snack, or (depending on how much chocolate you add) dessert. They’re easy to make, hard to mess up, and everyone always wants a slice regardless of whether or not you decide to put in chocolate chips. What I really like is how versatile they are. You can swap out the pureed pumpkin for mashed bananas, applesauce, or grated zucchini or just about anything else that suits your fancy and can be mashed or pureed. This particular rendition stays super moist and is flavored with just enough vanilla, cinnamon, and sugar to make it especially delicious.
Pumpkin Bread
1 cup pureed pumpkin
1 cup sugar
1 cup white rice flour
3/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips, optional
Combine pureed pumpkin and sugar in a large bowl. Use a fork and stir well. Add remaining ingredients. Stir until combined with no lumps and everything is a pretty, uniform, pale orange color.
Let batter rest for 30 minutes. Don’t skip this step. It’s important for the texture of your bread.
Once rested, pour batter into a prepared (i.e.greased and floured) loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean when bread is done. Enjoy whenever, but hide it from your kids if you want to enjoy it for more than one day!

Extra Chocolaty Brownies

 

 

xchoc-brownie1
People seem to think you have to decide which brownie camp you want to live in – fudgey or cakey. I happen to think that is a very restrictive way to live. Why can’t I like both equally? I don’t want to be forced to choose between two equally wonderful, albeit different entities. Star Trek or Star Wars. Chris Chambers or Gordie Lachance. Whiskey or tequila. Can’t I like it all? Honestly. Why so much pressure? When it comes to brownies, I prefer to love those that are extra delicious. Let’s just leave it at that.
Extra Chocolaty Brownies
3 tablespoons butterxchoc-brownie3
3 tablespoons coconut oil
6 ounces chocolate chips
2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup tapioca flour*
Dash salt
Set oven to 350 degrees. Line a smallish (8×8 or 9×9 or 7×11) glass baking dish with parchment. Alternatively, you can grease the bottom with a little butter or coconut oil.
Melt butter, oil, and chocolate chips in the top of a double-boiler. Stir until very smooth.
Whisk eggs, sugar, and vanilla until well combined. Add melted chocolate mixture. Whisk well.
Add cocoa powder, tapioca flour, and salt. Whisk until well combined and smooth.
Pour batter into prepared dish and bake for 25-30 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center of the pan should have some bits and pieces on it. Cool brownies before cutting.
*You can substitute regular flour for the tapioca flour if you prefer. It will likely change the texture a little, but not in a bad way.
P.S. To cut the brownies into squares without destroying them, dip a sharp knife into a glass of hot water before each cut. It helps the knife slide through easily.

 

Mexican Wedding Cookies

mex.wed.cookies

Mexican Wedding Cookies, Russian Tea Cakes, Snowballs. A cookie by so many names must be sweet.
Now, I usually need at least a chocolate chip or two in my cookies to feel like they are worth eating, but there are exceptions to every rule and sometimes you need to do things a little differently. And fancier. I would argue that these wedding cookies/tea cakes are fancier than your standard chocolate chip cookie and are therefore appropriate to bring to a party. Especially a taco party where you are bringing dessert, are trying very, very hard to stay on-theme, and are not ready to commence experimenting with gluten-free churros. Yes, these tasty little bombs will definitely do the trick in that scenario.
And as luck would have it, my gluten-free version of these guys are nearly indistinguishable from the original. It was meant to be.
Mexican Wedding Cookies
(makes about 36 cookies)
1 cup butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup white rice flour*
3/4 cup +1 tablespoon almond flour*
1/4 cup +3 tablespoons tapioca flour*
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum*
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
*If you want the non-gluten-free version, just replace the 3 flours and xanthan gum with 2 1/4 cups regular flour. Easy.
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream butter in the bowl of a large stand mixer. Add sugar and mix well. Add vanilla. Mix.
Add flour(s), xanthan gum (if going with the GF version), and salt. Mix well. Add nuts and mix to combine.
Using your hands and about two teaspoons of dough at a time, roll dough into small balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. (Note, the smaller the balls, the more cookies you will have.) Bake 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Pour about a cup of powdered sugar into a shallow bowl. While still warm, roll cookies in powdered sugar, then place them carefully back on the rack. When cooled, roll them in the sugar a second time.
Hasta luego.

Breakfast of Champions

avo.toast.eggBreakfast isn’t my favorite meal. I like breakfast foods well enough, but I rarely get excited about it all. I like sausage and eggs and bacon, but I’d just as soon have a bunch of melon, some juice, and be done with it. I don’t even drink coffee so there’s no morning ritual with a nice warm cup of something infused with caffeine to look forward to. But this… this is something to look forward to. Simple, delicious, ready in mere minutes. This is a breakfast I can get behind.

Avocado Toast with a Fried Egg

1/2 ripe avocado
Sprinkle of garlic powder
Squeeze fresh lemon, to taste
Salt, to taste
1 piece bread of choice
1/2 tablespoon butter
1 egg

Place the flesh of 1/2 a ripe avocado in a shallow dish. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and salt to taste. Mash well with a fork. Set aside.

Set bread to toast.

Heat a small skillet to medium-high. Add butter. Once butter is melted, crack egg into pan and fry, flipping at least once, until desired yolk-consistency is reached.

When toast is toasty, cover with avocado mash and top with your fried egg. Eat.

Seriously – isn’t that super good?! Oh man, I could eat one right now!!

PS – Use gluten-free bread for the gluten-free version of this. The rest of it is inherently gluten-free, which is awesome.

 

 

 

 

White Bean and Avocado Dip

whitebean.avo.dip
We spent last Friday evening at our community pool. We all bring food to share, the kids have free reign of the pool and hot tub and can pretty much do as they please as long as they don’t run – seriously, running on wet pool decks is so insanely dangerous, why do they all do it? Even after they slip and fall or see one of their friends slip and fall, still they run. Did we so flagrantly disregard this no-running-on-pool-decks-rule when we were children? No. We inherently knew the dangers of slippery concrete. We were walkers, all. (Just kidding, honestly, we would have raced around that pool at full speed and then found a way to the top of the gazebos seeing who could make the 8-foot jump into the deep end. I’m still shocked I haven’t seen anyone attempt it yet. How have they not tried that yet? It’s right there!)
In any case, we all eat and talk and tell the kids to stop running and it’s great fun and a wonderful way to spend an almost-summer Friday night. I wanted to bring something with avocados because I had some that were on the edge, but didn’t want to bring guacamole, which, while delicious, is something we eat a lot of because we are lucky. So, with a pantry full of white beans and a fully ripe avocado, this is what I chose to bring. It was a good choice (unlike the choice to jump off of the top of a gazebo into a pool, which I am certain someone I know will do in the coming years and which I will scold him for as if I never, never!, had the idea myself and wondered what took him so long to try!).
White Bean and Avocado Dip
1 15oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/4 cup diced cucumber (about 1/2 a large cucumber)
1/3 cup diced red onion
1 large avocado, diced
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
Spicy Pink Sauce
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar*
1-2 teaspoons Sriracha hot sauce
1-2 teaspoons Cholula hot sauce
* Champagne vinegar is fine too, or you can leave out the vinegar altogether. It’s not dire. Mostly just don’t use balsamic. That would taste weird.
In a large salad bowl, add drained beans, cucumber, red onion, and avocado. Add a squeeze of lemon and salt and pepper to taste.
In a small dish, make your Spicy Pink Sauce. Add all ingredients and mix well with a fork or mini whisk.
Pour Spicy Pink Sauce over the salad and toss well. Have a taste and adjust salt, pepper, and spicy levels to your own liking.
Garnish with extra diced red onion and serve with tortilla chips.
P.S. – Spicy Pink Sauce is great on all sorts of things. I’ll do a post on it soon detailing all the wonderful things you can put it on.