Candid Reflections

January 6, 2009

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake

Filed under: Gluten-Free, In the Kitchen — Tags: , , , , — candid reflections @ 10:15 pm

When my youngest little fella was diagnosed with a few food allergies recently, I really felt quite sorry for the little guy.   The thought of going through life without the ability to devour scrumptious cinnamon rolls fresh out of  the oven, and to have to face a plate of spaghetti without the noodles or a cheesy piece of garlic bread to gnaw on – I think I’d lose my mind… I’d definitely lose a few pounds! 

Anyway, I love to bake, and I’m on a new found quest to find delicious, not just tolerable, treats for my food challenged little guy.  The standing test on whether a recipe is a keeper or not in my kitchen is how fast it gets gobbled up, and I’m making no exceptions with the allergy recipes.  So for this cake to go from this:


to this in one short evening, you know it’s good!  and to think only one of us has the food sensitivities!


Yummy Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

2 cups sugar
1 ¾ cups brown rice flour
¼ cup almond meal  if you have it
¾ cup cocoa
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs  – or 2 Tbs. flax seeds in 2/3 cup of water for those who can’t do eggs
1 cup milk – or rice milk, or soy milk for those who can’t do dairy
½ cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Heat oven to 350 .  Grease and flour a 9×13 baking pan, or two 9″ rounds.  Combine dry ingredients in large bowl.  Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla, beat on medium speed 2 min. (or if you can’t have eggs like my little guy then place the flax seeds in a pan with the water, bring to boil, and then simmer for five minutes.  Add this mixture to the other wet ingredients in place of the eggs.) Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin.)  Pour into pan.  Bake 30-35 or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool completely.

Chocolate Frosting

1 stick of margarine
2/3 cup Cocoa
3 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup rice milk or soy milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Whip soft margarine and cocoa with electric mixer.  Alternate adding powdered sugar and milk, beating on medium speed.  Add vanilla.  Spread on cake.


December 11, 2008

Feeling a Little Saucey

Filed under: In the Kitchen — candid reflections @ 4:36 pm


Boxes and bags of apples = Quarts and quarts of applesauce to enjoy…. after all the hours and hours of work, that is!  😉


December 9, 2008

Trying My Hand at Gluten-Free

Filed under: Gluten-Free, In the Kitchen — candid reflections @ 4:21 pm


Well, we discovered last month that our littlest guy is gluten intolerant, which means he can’t digest wheat flour properly.  This hasn’t been the most uplifting discovery for us to make, as we’re finding that wheat flour is in just about everything prepared… from things less obvious like taco seasoning and soy sauce, to things most obvious like pasta and nearly all breads on the grocery shelf.  I’ve finally accepted this new challenge, and am dealing with the possibilities of a new array of staples in my kitchen.  I’m not ready to give up cooking and baking as I know it, however I am prepared to delve in and try my hand with unfamiliar ingredients – xanthan gum, tapioca flour, potatoe starch, almond flour, sorghum flour…


These Gingerbread  Sandwhiches are my first attempt at baking with alternative flours, they are pretty good I must say… oldest son called them heavenly, as a matter of fact!  I can definitely see replacing my old, all-purpose flour, gingerbread recipe with this new, alternative flour, recipe.  This new recipe was in no way inferior to my previously preferred recipe..that’s great news!  Soo, that’s one down, and many more to go…

Gingerbread Cookies    recipe from Carol Fenster’s book:  Gluten-Free 101

¼ cup butter or margarine
3 Tbs. molasses
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ¼ cup flour blend*
1 tsp. xanthan gum
½ tsp salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 ½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground cloves
2 Tbs. water ( if needed )

*the flour blend is something that I mixed previously to use as a replacement for the all-purpose stuff.  Ings. are:  1 1/2 cups sorghum flour, 1 1/2 cups potatoe starch, 1 cup tapioca flour, and 1/2 cup almond flour.


In food processor, or with electric mixer, combine butter, molasses, sugar, and vanilla.  Add remaining ingredients.  Blend until throughly mixed together and dough forms a ball.  Add water 1 Tbsp. at a time, if needed.  Shape dough into 1″ flat disk, cover, and refrigerate for an hour.

Preheat oven to 325º.   Grease baking sheet, or line with parchment paper, set aside.

Shape dough into 1″ balls and place on baking sheet.  Flatten slightly with bottom of drinking glass.

Bake 18-20 minutes on the middle rack of oven, or until cookies start to turn brown on bottom.  Cool cookies on baking sheet for a few minutes then transfer to cooling rack.  Store in an airtight container.

For the icing:  blend 1/4 cup of butter, softened, and 3 oz. softened cream cheese.  Gradually add 1 cup  of powdered sugar and 2 Tbsp. Jet puffed marshmallow cream.  Spread filling between two cookies and press slightly.  Chill.

December 3, 2008

Makin’ Kraut, Baby!

Filed under: In the Kitchen — candid reflections @ 9:22 am


October 9, 2008

Um….yum! Pumpkin Scones

Filed under: In the Kitchen — Tags: , , — candid reflections @ 7:50 am

Pumpkin Spice Scones


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 7 tablespoons sugar 
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger 
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter 
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3 tablespoons half-n-half (I used sour cream, cause that’s what I had) 
  • 1 large egg 

Powderered Sugar Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar 
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar 
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk 

Spiced Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar 
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar 
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
  • 1 pinch ginger 
  • 1 pinch ground cloves 


  2. Preheat oven to 425º. Lightly oil a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.
  3. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Using a pastry knife, fork, or food processor, cut butter into the dry ingredients until mixture is crumbly and no chunks of butter are obvious. Set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, half and half, and egg. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Form the dough into a ball.
  5. Pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a 1-inch thick rectangle (about 9 inches long and 3 inches wide). Use a large knife or a pizza cutter to slice the dough twice through the width, making three equal portions. Cut those three slices diagonally so that you have 6 triangular slices of dough. Place on prepared baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 14–16 minutes. Scones should begin to turn light brown. Place on wire rack to cool.
  8. Mix the powdered sugar and 2 tbsp milk together until smooth.
  9. When scones are cool, use a pastry brush to paint plain glaze over the top of each scone.
  11. Combine the ingredient for the spiced icing together. Drizzle this thicker icing over each scone and allow the icing to dry before serving (at least 1 hour). A squirt bottle works great for this, or you can drizzle with a whisk.

October 7, 2008

Pumpkin Pancakes

Filed under: In the Kitchen — Tags: , , — candid reflections @ 8:52 am

In celebration and introduction of a new and festive season, I invite you to serve up these delicious autumn pancakes.                                      

Pumpkin Pancakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
¼ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 2/3 cups buttermilk ( I used coconut milk, cause that’s what I had)
¾ cup pumpkin puree
4 tablespoons butter,  melted

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, pie spice, and salt.  Whisk until completely incorporated.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs until well blended.  Stir in the buttermilk, pumpkin, and butter.  (I suggest adding a tsp of vanilla and ½ a tsp of cinnamon as well.)   Add the dry ingredients into the wet and whisk until smooth. 
Heat a griddle or cast-iron pan over moderately high heat.  Brush lightly with oil.  Working in batches, drop batter by ¼ cupsful onto the griddle.  Cook pancakes until bubbles form on top , and bottoms are golden brown, about 2 ½ minutes.  Serve hot with maple syrup.


August 16, 2008

The Apple-of-My-Eye Pie

Filed under: In the Kitchen — Tags: , — candid reflections @ 10:56 am

If you like apple pie, then you’ll love this Irish Cream Apple Pie!  









Begin by making the very yummiest, flakiest pie crust on the planet…

here’s what you need:










 Pie Crust

4 cups flour
2 tsp. salt
1 ¾ cups unsalted butter, chilled
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp. white distilled vinegar
½ cup cold water
3 Tbsp. sugar
Blend flour, salt, and butter with a pastry blender, until you have oatmeal sized chunks.  Mix egg, vinegar, water, and sugar together.   Then, gradually add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring with fork until just blended.  Divide mixture in half and gently form into two loose balls.  The key to a flaky pie crust is not handling it too much.  Here’s a little secret to help ensure that this doesn’t happen-  When you’ve divided your dough in half, place each ball between two sheets of plastic wrap.  It will be a bit crumbly, but once you have it between the plastic wrap begin rolling it out and you’ll find it holds together quite nicely.  You might have to add a sprinkle of flour, just as you would if you were rollin it out without the plastic wrap to keep it from being too sticky.










Once you’ve rolled it out to a bigger size than your pie plate, peel back the top layer of plastic.  (If it seems a bit soft, stick it in the fridge to firm up for a few minutes before you peel off the first plastic layer.)













Then, all you have to do is lift it by the bottom piece of plastic and turn it into your pie plate. 











Just look at how easy that is!

Now, just trim the edge, fold it under, and crimp with your fingers.





And when that’s done, you’ll be ready to start the filling.  Take a look at these ingredients:










The original recipe called for a quarter of a cup of water, but I decided to give it a little twist and replace the water with a little Bailey’s Irish cream and whipping cream…oh yah, baby!  Go ahead and get started… you know your taste buds are bursting for it.

Michelle’s Irish Cream Apple Pie Filling

½ cup butter
3 Tbsp. flour
¼ cup Bailey’s Irish Cream
¼ cup whipping cream
½ cup white sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
6-8 apples (a combo of Granny Smith and McIntosh)

Preheat oven to 425º.  Melt the butter in a saucepan.  Stir in flour to form a paste.  Add Irish cream, whipping cream, sugars, and cinnamon.  Bring to boil.  Reduce temp. and let simmer for five minutes, will resemble caramel.
Brush your pie crust with egg white and bake in oven for five minutes (this prevents a soggy crust.)  Peel and slice apples quite thin. Stir apples into carmel mixture, then pour into piecrust. 

Now pull out your mad weaving skills and make yourself a pretty lattice crust for the top.










Place pie plate into a cool cast iron skillet (this also helps to ensure that the bottom of your pie crust will cook thoroughly, as well as catching those little spill overs.) 
Bake for 15 minutes at 425º, then reduce temperature to 350º and continue baking for 35-45 minutes, or until apples are soft.

August 1, 2008

A Hot Date

Filed under: In the Kitchen, Making House — Tags: , , , — candid reflections @ 11:23 pm

Yah, tonight – Friday night, my fella and I had a hot date… in the kitchen monitoring this:

10 lbs of pressure is 240º F.  I told you it was HOT.


We were canning tuna fish.  I’d ordered fifty pounds of it, and yesterday I got a call that it was on the boat and ready to be picked up.

When you have raw fish in your kitchen, you drop any plans you may have had and you roll up your sleeves.  You might even reach for a nearby clothes pin to stick on your nose while you’re at it.

Next, you’ll want to get a couple of water bathes simmering in order to sterilize your jars and lids.

Don’t worry, by the time this whole process is over, you’ll get your own bath… you’ll want one, believe me.  You’ll be up to your elbows in fish guts, unless you order your fish already boned and gutted etc… like we did.  If that’s the case, then all you’ll have to do is cut the fish loins into jar length chunks like these handsome hands are doing in this picture.

Now, please excuse me while I go blow off a little steam.

Hmm, wonder if this is where that expression came from?!

Anyway, as I sit here typing, the tuna is in the kitchen being processed… I have to babysit it to make sure the pressure doesn’t get too high on the cooker, and as it rises I let off some steam to keep it near 10 lbs of pressure.

So, after you’ve cut your fish into chunks, you’ll want to grab yourself a sterilized jar and lid.

Geesh…just look at me there, clean things sure make me happy…the more sterile, the bigger the smile.  You should see me when my car gets washed.

\Now that your jars are sterilized, they are ready to be filled, sealed, and placed in the pressure cooker.   There are those masculine hands again!  I’m so truly blessed to have this fella, I mean how many guys would be canning in the kitchen on a friday night, after working a ten hour day of his own!!  No wonder he’s sacked out on the couch!

Once this is done, the babysitting begins, or snoozing if you’re a certain someone who sneaks away to the living room couch

all 100 minutes of it.

And here they are… ending up with 32 pints in all!

July 27, 2008

Coconut Macaroons

Filed under: In the Kitchen — Tags: , , — candid reflections @ 10:17 pm

These yummy little cookies are golden and crispy on the outside, tender and chewy on the inside.  Yum!

Coconut Macaroons

7 extra large egg whites, room temp.
1 cup sugar
1/8 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla
Pinch of salt
3 cups unsweetened coconut
1 Tbsp. flour

Preheat oven to 325º.  Line baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper.









In a double boiler combine eggwhites, sugar, honey, vanilla, and salt.


Whisk over medium heat til frothy and warm (120-130ºF)








Using a spatula, fold in coconut and flour until just incorporated.  Careful not to overmix.








Place rounded tablespoons onto prepared pans.

Bake on middle shelf until golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

June 29, 2008

Finger Lickin’ Good Pecan Pie Bars

Filed under: In the Kitchen — Tags: , , — candid reflections @ 9:41 pm

If you like pecan pie but don’t want to hassel with pie crust, AND if you don’t mind gaining five pounds, then you ought to try this recipe for pecan bars.  My husband gave them a 10 out of 10.  For chocolate-pecan pie bars, see note below.













Pecan Pie Bars

1 ½ cups butter (softened)
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
4 cups all purpose flour

8 eggs
6 cups firmly packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
2 cups sweetened coconut
2 cups pecan halves

To prepare crust:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 12×17 baking pan.  Beat butter and sugar in large bowl on medium speed for about a minute.  Add the flour, mix on low until evenly incorporated but still crumbly.  Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Bake the crust for 20 minutes, until a deep golden brown.  Remove, but leave oven at 350.

To prepare filling:  Whisk the eggs and sugar in a large bowl until blended.  Stir in the butter, vanilla, and flour.  Then stir in the coconut and pecans.  Pour the filling over the crust, spreading evenly.  Bake until set, about 30 minutes.  Cool thoroughly, at least an hour, before cutting into 3” squares.

*note:  to make Chocolate-Pecan Pie Bars, melt 2 Tbs. unsalted butter with 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat.  Add the cooled chocolate-butter mixture to the filling’s egg and brown sugar mixture and follow the recipe as directed.

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