Friday, November 7, 2014

Fork & Beans Give Away!!

 Gluten-free vegan cornbread

     My friend, Cara Reed, at Fork & Beans is well known to my regular readers as the genius who converts my Christmas cookies every year for those who can't have gluten.  I am so happy to announce that her first cookbook Decadent Gluten-Free Vegan Baking is out and rocking!  Besides all her fantastic recipes, this book contains lots of tips for egg substitutions, two gluten-free flour recipes, lots of sauce and toppings, too!  Oh.  And gluten-free and vegan Girl Scout Cookie replicas.  You heard me.  Lucky, lucky you!  She has allowed me to share one of the recipes from her book and give one of you a free copy!  Since we're getting into soup season around here, I thought I'd share a cornbread perfect for pairing with soup, chili, or just a tall glass of (dairy free) milk.  Gluten-free Thanksgiving stuffing, anyone?  Cara also suggests adding jalapeños, canned chilies, or vegan cheese to mix it up a bit.

Gluten-free vegan cornbread

Stone-Ground Cornbread

Makes 8 slices

1 c/165 g Cara’sAll-Purpose Blend (page 166)
1¼ c/153 g stone-ground yellow cornmeal
½ c/100 g granulated sugar
3 tsp/11 g baking powder
½ tsp salt

3 tsp/9.5 g Ener-G Egg Replacer plus 6 Tbsp/90 ml water, whisk until frothy (I used Cara's chia seed substitution on p. 172)
1 c/120 ml nondairy milk
4 Tbsp/56 g vegan butter (I used Earth Balance Coconut Spread that I melted in the microwave.)

Preheat oven to 400°F/ 200°C and grease an 8–inch/20-cm round pan.

Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Make a well in the center and pour the wet ingredients into the well. Mix until just combined. Pour batter into the greased pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the top is lightly browned.

Drown in nondairy butter.


My whole family liked this!  Even my youngest who doesn't like cornbread.  It's sweeter than what we normally make, being Southern and all, but the flavor and texture are nice and my husband said, "It doesn't taste gluten-free at all!"  My eldest said, "It's sweeter and butterier than normal."   Considering there's no butter in it, I'd say that was a pretty good endorsement!

Decadent Gluten-Free Vegan Baking: Delicious Gluten-, Egg-, and Dairy-Free Treats and Sweets Give Away
Who wants to win this?!  I know it's you.  Whether you're making the switch to gluten-free, cooking for gluten-free friends or relatives, or maybe you want to give this as a Christmas gift.  Now's your chance to win!  Just leave me a comment below or on facebook and you will be entered.  Last day for entries is November 20th by 5pm PST and the winner will be announced November 21.

Friday, October 31, 2014

A Very Happy Halloween to You...

1950's Halloween Party

     Our Halloween party was this weekend.  It was a whirlwind of ladybugs, robots, spiders, and werewolves all wrapped up in a tidy 1950's-era package.  It was also pouring down rain and pitch dark so I don't have a lot of pictures of our scavenger hunt in progress, I'm afraid.  I have lots of shots like this:


So I'll tell you what we did and show you pictures of what it looked like sans kids...  We held a 1950's style Halloween party including some reproduction decorations.

1950's inspired Halloween party

1950's style Halloween Party

1950's Halloween party decorations

We carried the theme into the menu by trying to replicate a TV dinner in a more desirable way.  We served homemade meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and steamed peas and carrots mixed with mint.  There was also a jell-o salad style dish because 50's and a 7-Up Cake.  Our starter for the kids was Vienna Sausage size organic hot dog chunks.  We also had meatballs, gluten-free cookies, and the vegetarian main was beans and franks.  We washed it all down with punch and martinis!

1950's 7-Up cake

50's Housewife Halloween Party
This was an agar agar Jell-o salad stand in.  It was interesting.  I especially liked the salad dressing.

Minted Peas and Carrots
1 lb bag carrots, peeled and sliced
1 bag frozen peas
2 Tbs mint
salt and pepper to taste

Steam the carrots until almost done.  Add the peas and continue steaming until warmed through.  Toss with salt, pepper, and mint.  Serve immediately.

50's punch no HFCS!
1 Bottle Sparkling Apple cider
1/2 Gallon orange juice
1/2 Gallon Earthwise Wild Berry Guava Lemonade
12 scoops Raspberry Sorbet

Add all drinks to a large punch bowl and top with sorbet.  It doesn't look like much, but it tastes great and there are no HFCS or artificial flavors!  It also happens to taste great with vodka, so if you happen to make your martini a little too strong, dollop a little punch in there and you'll be a happy haunter!

One of our lovely hostesses, Danika.

 Our cowboy, David, who handed out the scavenger hunt sheets, sock hopping it up with a robot and a ladybug.  You just don't see that kind of thing every day.  For music, I found several, mostly 50's era songs including: Wooly Bully, Lil' Red Riding Hood, The Twilight Zone theme song, Bo Meets the Monster, Halloween Spooks (featuring Lambert, Hendricks and Ross), I Put a Spell on You, Witch Doctor, Punky Punkin, Morgus the Magnificent, The Purple People Eater, and of course, Monster Mash all downloadable on Amazon from about $.90 to $1.50.  Some of these songs are crazy weird.  Just sayin'.

 Our homage to 1950's cowboy flicks, the kids had to break out of jail by sliding down the slide.  The sheriff gave them a handy map to the rest of the scavenger hunt.  Apparently he was in on the whole thing...

First stop, Pin the Tail on the Donkey.

Halloween apple game
 Next up, apples on strings.  At every station, the kids got stickers to prove they completed the mission.

 Because it was raining and I was busy appleing out in it, I don't have one picture of our witch, Lauren, who many kids said was their very favorite part of the hunt, and was also one of our hosts.  She had a bubbling cauldron full of dry ice and a bowl full of "eyeballs" for the kids to scrounge through to help her find her jewels (skull rings which the kids got to keep).  So here's a picture of her hut, which you may remember as the troll house from our fairy party a few years ago.

50's inspired Halloween party Hula hoop
 Can't really have a 1950's party without a hula hoop, can you?  No.  No you can't.

 50's inspired halloween party frisbee toss
A classic game with a 1950's twist.  Tossing mini Frisbees into the pumpkin's mouth turns a bean bag toss into game using an iconic vintage toy.

Note to self: Yellow Frisbees are hard to find in a leaf pile...

Spooky ghosts in the rain...

 Fortunately revealed in the daylight to be balloons with flashing lights inside zip-tied to dowels.

 Our fortune teller (and co-host), Tori, before she braved the weather to read our guest's fortunes.

  It was wet business...

 EEK!  A GHOST!  Matt was the scariest ghost in a sheet the world has ever seen.  Three-year-olds the world over were terrified.  The kids were rewarded with Trader Joe's candies when they returned with their scavenger hunt sheets filled out.

1950's housewives Halloween costumes and party ideas
 Twin housewives, Bekah and myself.  At the end of the party.  With fallen hair and rubbed-off make-up.  Drinking.  I also discovered something about my costume.  All it takes is a hair change to turn perky, perfect wife-lady into:

The Lunch Lady.

Hoagies and grinders, baby.

Friday, September 19, 2014

S'more S'mores, Please!

I've got two boys.

I've got two boys who like campfires.

I've got two boys who like campfires in the Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter.

I've got two boys who like campfires in the Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter, because campfires mean S'mores.





Let's count the ways, shall we?  Number 1, cookies and marshmallow.  You may remember my post from last year featuring these bad boys:

Or, 2, why not try it with Everybody's Mom's Chocolate Chip Cookies?  No need for an extra chocolate slice!


3) My eldest came home with the next idea from Scout Camp.  And let me say:  It's genius.  Put your S'mores toppings into an ice cream cone, wrap it in foil, and put it in the fire!  I added walnuts 'cuz yum.

4) A few of you may recall my facebook post encouraging Peep hoarding this Spring.

The number one thing I learned from facebook this year is that people hate Peeps, ya'll. This next picture is for those people:

Trust me on this, our neighbors taught us that Peeps over flame turn into a completely different thing.  It's like crème brûlée.  Then you smash it between graham crackers and chocolate.  This picture is for those of you who love Peeps.  And also for those of you who hate them, 'cuz they're pretty mutilated.

And, yes, they stay fresh this long.  Preservatives ftw.

If you'd like to skip the preservatives, I've got something for you... 

Number 5: Homemade S'mores

This one uses another technique we've learned from friends, chocolate frosting instead of chocolate bars.  No waiting for it to melt.  Just slathering and eating.  Our friends used store-bought frosting.  Not my thing, so homemade frosting it is.  Before you ask, I did try multiple times to make homemade vegan marshmallows.  They did not happen.  They were delicious, but they were gloopy and completely campfire incompatible.  I have not given up, but this post had to go up someday so for the time being, these are store bought 'shmallows.

Homemade Graham Crackers

America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book  p. 177

1 3/4 C Graham flour (or whole wheat flour)
1/2 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
8 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
5 Tbs water
2 Tbs light molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract

Heat oven to 375°.  Process the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a food processor until combined, about 3 seconds.  Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 15 seconds.  Add the water, molasses, and vanilla and process until the dough comes together, about 20 seconds.  Divide the dough into 2 even pieces.  Roll each piece of dough out between 2 pieces of parchment paper to a 16X8-inch rectangle, 1/8 inch thick.  Remove the top pieces of parchment and trim each piece of dough into a tidy 15X7 1/2-inch rectangle with a knife, and then score each into eighteen 2 1/2-inch squares.  Prick each square several times with a fork.  Slide each piece of dough and parchment onto separate baking sheets.  Bake the cookies until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes, switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through baking.  Let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheets, then break them apart along the scored lines and serve.

I dusted some of mine with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon.
These freeze really well.

1 C Powdered Sugar
1 stick Butter
2 Tbs Cocoa Powder
1 Tbs cream

Beat the butter a little, then slowly add the sugar and cocoa powder.  If it's a little dry, mix in the cream.

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