Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Gluten and Egg Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

 


While out on a lunch get together with my friend Trond, we went into this cute little shop on Bryggen called Ting, and I more or less want everything in there.  I especially love the tins and canisters.  They are just too cute for words.  Now seeing as I went in to this store with Trond, and Trond absolutely insists on spoiling his lady friends, I came out with an adorable little cookie tin.  You can't tell this boy no, he simply does not understand the word.  So to make up for him spoiling me, I said I will make him cookies to put the cookie tin to good use.  He wanted chocolate chip cookies, so chocolate chip cookies it is. 

I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome of these cookies.  Given that they are gluten free, I expected them to be sandy and have that distinctive metallic taste that can sometimes result from the ingredients used, or rather lack of ingredients.  When you're someone who is accustomed to gluten and eggs, it's quite easy to spot a faker.   But these guys here came out exactly how you would expect a cookie to taste, with only the very slightest hint of gluten-free-ness.  I could easily convert to these cookies, they are a much healthier alternative, especially if you switch up some other ingredients such as using vegetable based margerine, Splenda, and adding nuts and raisins.

You know what my favorite thing about these cookies is?  They actually look like proper chocolate chip cookies.  So often you see gluten/egg/dairy free cookies that are just unattractive little blobs.  These are very pretty, sporting all the classic cracks that a good cookie should have.   If you need a gluten free cookie, I definitely recommend this one.  Hell, make it even if you don't, cutting out the crap never hurt anyone.

Hope you like them Trond! 



Gluten and Egg Free Chocolate Chip Cookies 
 recipe adapted from All Recipes

3/4 Cup (96g) Butter/Milk Free Butter/Vegetable Margarine
 1 Cup Brown Sugar
OR
1/2 Cup Splenda Brown Sugar Blend
1/2 Cup White  or Splenda
 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 Cup Egg Substitute or Flax Jelly
3 1/4 Cup Gluten Free Flour Blend
 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1  teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
1/4 Cup Water
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil 
1 Cup Chocolate Chips 


To make egg substitute using flax seed, combine 1 part ground flax to 3 parts water and stir until it's thick and gooey.  You can also use whole flax, 1 part flax to 4 parts water, let it sit until thick and gooey, then strain.

Preheat oven to 375F/190C 

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugars, beat in the vanilla and egg replacement.  

Add the dry ingredients to the wet, then stir in the water and vegetable oil.  Stir in chocolate.

 Using your hands, roll dough into 1 inch balls and lightly flatten.  Place 2 inches apart. 

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.

Makes 3 dozen. 


 

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Almond Vanilla Cinnamon Biscotti

 


I love biscotti, but I've had a couple failures with it now.  I always had a problem getting the dough to spread out and form that classic biscotti shape when you slice it.  I looked through many recipes trying to find something that seemed different than what I've tried before.  I hit the goldmine and had a little aha! moment when I came across this recipe.  The problem I've always been having is that the 'dough' was in all actuality a dough.  It went up and up but never spread.  That's no good.  This recipe produces something much more akin to a cookie batter.  It's slightly sticky and spread just like a cookie would and raises perfectly.  





Perfectly crunchy all the way through, these are exactly like the biscotti you get out of the pretty jars at coffee shops.  Filled with almonds and vanilla and scented with cinnamon, they just can't get any more perfect.  Except if you drizzle them in white chocolate and dunk them in a hot cup of coffee like I did.



These can be made any way you can imagine using the base recipe.  Just trade the almonds and cinnamon for anything else.  Macadamia nuts and cranberries, pistachio and orange zest, coffee extract instead of vanilla, these are wide open to creativity.  I suggest making a double recipe, you aren't going to want to share these.


Almond Vanilla Cinnamon Biscotti 
recipe adapted from My Kitchen Addiction

2 Eggs
2/3 Cup Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1/2 Cup Sliced Almonds
2 Cups Flour
1/2 teaspoon Roasted Saigon Cinnamon 
2 oz. White Chocolate Chips
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon Vegetable Shortening

 Preheat oven to 350F/175C.  Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Combine eggs, sugar, baking powder, salt and vanilla extract and mix until it's light in color and forms ribbons when it falls back into the bowl.

Combine flour, cinnamon and almonds.  Gradually add to egg mixture and stir just until combined.  The batter will be sticky and very similar to cookie dough.  Do not add more flour.

Pour the batter into the cookie sheet and shape it into a flat rectangle.  Bake 25 minutes.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let it sit 5 minutes.  Very lightly spritz or rub water over the cookie, then let it rest another 5 minutes.  Move it to a cutting board and cut into even slices.  Cutting diagonally will create larger cookies.  Return to the baking sheet and stand them up, don't lay them on their sides.  It's best to have the cookies open to the heat as much as possible.

Bake an additional 20 - 30 minutes until light golden and they don't feel too moist.  Cool completely.

Combine white chocolate and shortening and melt in the microwave or a double boiler.  Drizzle over cooled biscotti or dip the cookies.

Makes 16 - 20 biscotti 


 
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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Homemade Cleaning Products

 


Cleaning supplies are expensive and easy to go through, but they are also full of harsh chemicals that aren't good for our kids and animals, or for us.  Here is a list of commonly used cleaning items that are made from everyday household ingredients that will save you from spending all that money and breathing in fumes.

Click on whichever you would like to jump to the ingredients and instructions.



Products: 




Bathroom Cleaner 

1/2 Cup Vinegar
1/4 Cup Baking Soda
2 Liter Bottle

Put the vinegar in the bottle and fill it almost to the top with hot water.  Add the baking soda and mix.  Fill a spray bottle with the mixture and store the rest.


Windex 
  
1/2 Cup Ammonia
2 Cups Rubbing Alcohol
1 teaspoon Dish Soap
Gallon Jug

Mix the ingredients together in the gallon jug then fill jug with water.  Fill a spray bottle and store the rest.


Kitchen Cleaner 

1/3 Cup Vinegar
1 teaspoon Dish Soap
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
2 Cups Hot Water
Spray bottle 

Put everything in the spray bottle and shake it up.


Febreeze 

1 1/2 Cups Water
3 Tablespoons Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Fabric Softener, your choice
 Scented Oils, optional

Combine everything in a spray bottle or empty Febreeze bottle. Shake well and use as normal.  I make this all the time, love it!! 



Powdered Laundry Detergent 

6 Cups Borax
8 Cups Baking Soda
 2 Laundry Soap Bars, grated

 Mix everything together and store in a large sealed container.  One load is 2 Tablespoons of the mixture.
You can find laundry soap bars and borax at Walmart or even in your local grocery store. 


Room Deodorizer

1 cup vinegar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon allspice

Combine in a pan and bring to a simmer.  Put into a heat proof bowl and set out in the room.  Best kept up high if you have little kids or nosy kittens.


Disinfectant 

1/4 Cup Bleach
1 Quart Warm Water

Combine in a spray bottle.  Mark clearly that it contains bleach.  While this does contain bleach as a harsh chemical, it is by far the best disinfectant you can use without all the other additives in commercial cleaners.  If you spray your counters with this then scrub using a bit of baking soda on a rag, this becomes a bleach surface scrub and works great.


Everyday Shower Spray 

 2 Tablespoons Jet Dry dishwasher liquid
Water

Place Jet Dry in a full size spray bottle then fill to the top with water.  Shake and use.


 Color Safe Bleach

 2 Cups Hydrogen Peroxide
Water
Gallon Jug

Put hydrogen peroxide in the gallon jug, fill to the top with water.  Soak clothing for 10 - 30 minutes before washing.  This can be used for all colors and synthetic fabrics. 


Citrus Multi Surface Floor Cleaner 

1 Gallon Hot Water
2 Tablespoons of Liquid Soap
15 drops Orange Essential Oil
1/4 cup Lemon Juice

Mix together and wash floors.

  
Carpet Deoderizer 

2 Cups Cornmeal
1 Cup Borax

Combine and sprinkle over carpet.  Let it sit fifteen minutes to one hour and then vacuum.  



Baby Wipes 

2 Cups Warm Water
 2 Tablespoons Baby Shampoo
2 Tablespoons Baby Oil
Heavy Duty Paper Towels

Mix the water, shampoo and oil.  Soak the paper towels in the mixture then store in a wipe box or plastic bag.   


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Monday, March 14, 2011

If you know it, you'll see it...


Excuse me, I'm dying XD 
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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Oreo Dream Cake



This cake is ridiculous.   Crushed oreo crust, cream cheese and whipped cream with crushed oreos and a chocolate mousse center all topped with oreos.  Pure heaven.




This is so good you'll want to lick it off someone's face.  


Oreo Dream Cake recipe from Kaya's Mat

Crust:

Half a pack of Oreos (300g), crushed
1/3 Cup (100g) Butter, melted

Combine the two, set aside.

Chocolate Mousse: 

Easiest option is to use a packaged mousse, but feel free to make your own.  I used an instant package.  If you want to make your own, you can use this recipe.  Put it in the fridge until you need it.

Cream Layers: 

1 1/2 Cups (300ml) Heavy Cream 
8 oz. (225g) Cream Cheese 
1 Cup (2.5dl) Powdered Sugar
1 row (150g) Oreos, chopped
2 Tablespoons Vanilla Sugar or Powdered Sugar

Whip together the heavy cream and 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar/vanilla sugar until stiff, set asides.
Whip together the cream cheese and 1 cup of powdered sugar until smooth.
Combine the two together and stir in the chopped oreos. Set in the fridge.

Assembly: 

Line the sides of a 10 inch (24cm) springform pan with plastic wrap, then press the oreo crust into the bottom. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Take half of the cream mixture and spread on top of the crust.  Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Add all of the chocolate mousse.  Refrigerate 30  minutes.

Add remaining cream mixture and smooth.  Cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight.  

Decorate with oreos.




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Greek Pizza on Olive and Chili Ciabatta


An easy Sunday brunch using up the left overs from Mediterranean Macaroni and Cheese.


1 long loaf of Ciabatta, any style
Any kind of sauce
1/4 Cup Kalamata Olives
2 Artichoke Hearts, chopped
2 Roasted Red Peppers, chopped
1 Cup Cheese, shredded
1/4 Cup Feta, crumbled
1/2 Onion, sliced
2 Garlic Cloves, diced
Oregano, Basil, Sea Salt

Slice ciabatta lengthwise, then into four pieces.  Add sauce, top with cheese.  Add toppings however you like, then top with feta, basil, oregano, sea salt and a bit of the feta oil.  Bake 15 minutes at 450F/220C.  Use a pizza stone if you have one, makes it all the better.



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Giant Blueberry Raspberry Lemon Muffins



*Insert retarded seal clap*

These are really, really yummy.  There isn't that much else to say about them.  The berries are tart and nicely complimented by the lemon, then the muffin is topped with lemon zest and demerara sugar for a cruncy caramelized top.  It just doesn't get any better.

I highly recommend anyone with sugar sensitivities or diabetes not eat these.  I ate half of one and passed out with my face smashed against the kitchen counter.  Seriously.  Totally worth it though.


Giant Blueberry Raspberry Lemon Muffins recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com

2 Cups Flour
1 Cup Sugar
3 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 Eggs
3/4 Cup Skim Milk
1/4 Cup Cream Cheese 
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
2 teaspoons Lemon Zest, divided
1/2 teaspoon Lemon Extract
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract 
1 Cup Frozen Blueberries
1 Cup Frozen Raspberries
1 Tablespoon Flour
1/4 Cup Demerara Sugar 

Preheat oven to 400F/200C 

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, 1 teaspoon lemon zest and salt.

In another bowl, combine eggs, milk, oil, lemon and vanilla extract.

Add wet ingredients to dry, combine halfway.  

Mix berries with 1 tablespoon flour, add to batter and fold together.  Don't overmix.

Combine demerara sugar and remaining 1 teaspoon lemon zest.  

Line and fill muffin cups, top with demerara sugar mix.

Bake 22 - 27 minutes or until they test clean.

Cool slightly before eating 

Makes 6 giant muffins or 12 - 14 regular sized muffins




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Lemon Scented Vanilla Cupcakes with Rainbow Vanilla Buttercream

 

Yesterday, I went to a little housewarming get together for my friend Caroline, who is the mom of the little girl I take care of. What a perfect excuse for cupcakes, can't have a get together without them right?

I wanted to do something simple yet stunning, and this is truly the best way to accomplish that.


 

Jazz up a basic vanilla cupcake with some fresh lemon zest and turn an every day buttercream into something awesome with a few drops of food coloring and a spoon.

If you want beautiful, impressive cupcakes and your friends to think you're cool, these are the way to go.



Vanilla Cupcakes recipe adapted from Joy of Baking

1/2 Cup (113g) Unsalted Butter, softened (tip: if using salted butter, just omit the salt from the recipe)
2/3 Cup (130g) Sugar
3 Eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
or
1 Vanilla Bean
1/4 teaspoon Lemon Extract
1 teaspoon Lemon Zest
1 1/2 Cups (195g) Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
1/4 Cup (60 ml) Milk

Preheat oven to 350F/175C

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing in between.  Add vanilla and lemon extracts.

Combine flour, baking soda, lemon zest and salt if using.

Alternate adding flour mixture and milk to butter mixture, starting and ending with the flour.

Line and fill pan, if using a scoop you will get exactly 12 cupcakes.

Bake 17 - 20 minutes or until they test clean.  Mine were done perfectly in 18 minutes.

Cool completely before frosting.


Rainbow Vanilla Buttercream recipe adapted from My Sweet and Saucy

1/2 Cup (113g) Unsalted Butter, soft
2 1/2 Cups (10 oz) Powdered Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Salt (omit if using salted butter)
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Cream butter together with salt if using unsalted butter, if using salted butter just cream it for about 30 seconds to smooth it out.  Add half of the powdered sugar and combine it.  Scrape the bowl, then add the rest of the powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk. Scrape the bowl one more time, then beat on high for 2 - 3 minutes until the frosting is nice and fluffy.


To create the rainbow effect:

Split the buttercream into parts depending on how many colors you are using.  Dye each part whatever color you want, gel food coloring is the best option here.

Put whatever tip you're going to use in your piping bag, then hold the tip and fold the bag down over your hand.

Using a spoon, place blobs of each color next to each other inside the bag, not on top of each other.  Repeat this process alternating the colors around the bag until you've used up your frosting.

Tighten your piping bag and press out any air, then pipe out an inch or two of frosting to get the rainbow effect going.


To get the frosting pattern I have use pink, blue and yellow dye.

To pipe the design, use a wide mouth pinched star tip and pipe from the center, going around three times.  This creates the rose design and is not only beautiful  but covers the whole cupcake without the frosting overload you can get when starting from the outside.
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