Category Archives: Recipes & Food Adventures

Blueberry Pie: gluten/dairy/egg/corn free for Food Alergies

Have I ever told you how much I love butter?  … and dairy … and eggs?  OH…and gluten too?  I do. I’m a cook and a baker who has a very sensitive palette.  I know when something is made without those wonderful ingredients that I just mentioned.  I can taste the lack of fat and calories an starchy goodness.  It’s either a gift or I’m a snob.  When I bake I go hard with all the good stuff.

Enter, Nicolle.  Nicolle has SEVERE food allergies.  Throat closing, anaphylactic shock, has flat-lined twice in her life type of food allergies.  Throughout our friendship, I have monitored the size of her throat and watched her down a bottle of Benedryl on several occasions.  I have even, in a pinch, built a barrier with my own body to prevent a spilled beer from coming in contact with her skin.  When you love someone living with the constant threat of being hospital bound, you become very vigilant and protective of them.  One day at an outdoor eatery, my girlfriends and I whipped around and grilled some women at the table behind us for the ingredients on the bottle of some sort of aerosol that they sprayed. Nicolle became worried of the slight raspberry smell.  Raspberries = Allergic.  They were quite annoyed with us and in hind-sight we were probably really intense, but when concerned, sister friends pounce.

Pot-lucks amongst friends.  Awesome, right?  Cooking for friends.  I love it!  Cooking for Nicolle?  Scary as Hell.  She always provides things she can eat at a fun gathering and if others bring something that contains either dairy, eggs, wheat, raspberries…and now corn, she comments on how beautiful it looks or smells and then stays the hell away from it.  Cross contamination is a big deal.  At our recent girlfriend get-together, I really wanted to attempt a dessert that she could enjoy along with the rest of us.  Where do you turn for delicious recipes that are Nicolle friendly???  Cooking for Food Allergies Everyday and Gourmet.  

This book was written by Nicolle’s Mom, Libby Avery.  I have never tasted a single thing that she’s made where I’ve missed the buttery/eggy/gluten goodness.  The woman is a marvel.  Below is her fantastic recipe for a stellar blueberry pie without dairy, eggs, wheat or corn(starch).

This wasn’t my prettiest pie, but the taste was beautiful.  Recipe below 🙂  
Xoxo, Jenna


PREPARE THE CRUST:

I used a mix by Namaste Foods that I found at Whole Paycheck.  It’s very different than working with a regular pie dough.  It’s so flaky and fell apart easily.  I had a difficult time creating a decorative top crust (which I really like to do) and was left with making a crumble top.  The bottom crust was easy to mold into my ceramic pie pan (I would recommend this…especially when using this type of dough.)  I normally eat around pie crust because, unless it’s the bomb, I’m just not a fan.  However, I really liked THIS crust and ate it all.  I might try to perfect it for future baking because it was really good.

FILLING:
5 cups fresh blueberries
1 large bag of frozen blueberries
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 to 1/2 of a fresh lemon (depending on the sweetness of the berries)
2 tbls. tapioca starch (this stuff is awesome by the way)
2/3 to 1 cup sugar (depending on the sweetness of the berries) I used 2/3 c
pinch of salt
INSTRUCTIONS:
Blind bake your pie crust to the recommended temperature (I think it’s 400) for 10-12 minutes.
In a medium suce pan, add all of the fresh berries and 1/2 of the contents of the frozen.
Also add the cinnamon, nutmeg, tapioca starch, lemon juice, sugar and salt.
Heat on low to medium low, stirring occasionally until syrupy.
Turn heat to medium high or high and bring to a boil while stirring until the mixture becomes thick.  If you don’t think the mixture is thick enough, mix tapioca starch in a separate bowl with some cold water and gradually add it to the boil until desired thickness.
Remove mixture from heat and stir in remaining frozen berries and fill your blind baked crust.
If you have remaining pie dough or want to make a new batch, you can make a lattice top or any other decorative top crust.  {{{THIS DID NOT WORK FOR ME AT ALL}}}
FOR MY CRUMBLE TOPPING:
Crumble up remaining dough with hands or in a food processor along with sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and a pinch of salt.  I just eyeballed this and did a few raw dough nibbles to see if the spices were enough.  Crumble your topping over the blueberry mixture.
Bake your pie for 30-45 minutes (at same temp as your blind bake) until bubbly around the edges.  Keeping an eye on your outer crust.  If it starts to look like it’s browning too much, remove from oven and gently wrap the edges with tin foil.  This will help keep it from burning.
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Strawberry, Lemon and Mint Daiquiri’s

Rum is not my go-to liquor of choice.  I just don’t enjoy the flavor of it unless it is completely disguised by lots of fruity goodness and I typically don’t drink fruity drinks that often.  So that left the magnum bottle of rum with a remaining fours inches of liquor in it sitting on my bar for four years…since my wedding reception.

 Now even though I don’t love rum, I still love my drinks strong and didn’t want them diluted by blending it all with ice, so I did a little thinking and came up with a solution.  I will never make daiquiri’s any other way from now on…they were perfect.  Perfect consistency and flavor…smooth and freezy cold, but without ice chunks. Perfectly perfect.  Granted, this new method of mine took a little pre-planning, but I think it’s worth it.  Here’s how I made them…

Step 1:  Decide on your flavor
I went with strawberry, lemon and mint….a very summery concoction

I used…
  • 2 & 1/2 pints of strawberries
  • 20 fresh mint leaves – this left a subtle minty breathe to the cocktail, but you could surely use more if you want that to be a more prominent flavor
  • 1 cup real lemonade – my favorite is Simply Lemonade
  • 1/2 of a fresh lemon – or a whole lemon if you want more citrusy tartness
  • 2-3 tablespoons of sugar (optional) – this all depends on how sweet your strawberries are.  I ended up using three because I wanted it sweeter
  • Bacardi light rum
Step 2:  Cut up your cleaned fruit and add to your blender along with the lemonade and washed mint leaves.  Add your fresh lemon juice and be sure not to get any seeds in there.
Step 3:  Blend it all up and give it a taste to see if you want to add anything else.  Seriously this makes a totally delish smoothy, doesn’t it?  But we’re gonna booze it up.  Not yet though!  Don’t add your rum yet…that’s for later.
Step 4:  Pour the mixture into ice trays.  This filled 3 & 1/2 trays.  For the rest of the empty cubes in the fourth tray, I filled them with lemonade and added a mint leaf to each one.  Stick these in the freezer over night.
Step 5:  When the fruit cubes are frozen, pop them out into the blender and add your rum.  The blades need some lubrication so that’s why you wait to add your liquor…this also eliminates any additional dilution, because who wants that?  I did have some trouble getting the cubes out of the trays and had to dig them out with a knife, but they came out pretty easily.
Two full trays of fruit cubes yielded two very large rum daiquiri’s.  I had used up all of the rum, so for the remaining tray of 1/2 fruit 1/2 lemonade cubes, I made us a third cocktail with tequila and added a splash of OJ making a delightful frozen strawberry margarita…but we’re not lushes or anything.  😉
This could probably be spread out among more people if I used smaller glasses, but we were in it to win it.  If you decide to multiply the recipe to make these for a larger group, you’ll either need more ices trays or an additional day to dump the first batch of frozen goodies into a bowl to keep in the freezer and then repeat.
p.s.  We never made it to the pool  😀
Happy & safe drinking!
Xoxo, Jenna

German Chocolate Cupcake Review

June 29th is a fun day because two of my Lovelies (Angela & Lucy) share that birthday.  Lucy had to go and move away on us, so no cupcakes for her.  😛

Angela’s favorite cake flavor is German Chocolate and you know I like to bake soooooo…voilà!

Well, I can be somewhat of a food snob at times so I only liked half of this recipe.  All in all this was an easy recipe to follow and the frosting beat the cake by a mile.  Seriously, I could’ve eaten it by the spoonful.  Hell…who am I trying to kid, you know I did.  This frosting (to me) was perfection and the best “German” style frosting I’ve ever had.  The cake, however, is quite possibly the worst I’ve made.  It wasn’t chocolatey enough, but that wasn’t the worst part.  Although the cake was very fluffy, it wasn’t very flavorful and was too soft.  By the next day after being under glass it was almost soggy and fell apart very easily.  BUT, the birthday girl liked them so that’s all that matters.  I just happen to be a bit fussy with baked goods.
Side note: These cupcakes can look a bit boring and borderline ugly with just the frosted cakes.  Adding chocolate and coconut shavings makes them look fancier…and what have I been doing with the leftovers???
Yep….removing the crumbly tops from the ho hum cupcakes so I can still eat the frosting.  You betcha.  I’m also the girl who will suck the chocolate off of Raisinets and chuck the raisins when she’s desperate for a choco-fix.
What have we learned?  This frosting is boss, but use another chocolate cake recipe.  If you have a good one, pass it my way!
Happy baking!
Xoxo, Jenna


Key Lime Pie Cupcakes!

Last week or so I wrote a post called Holy Sweet Tooth! where I shared a link with 33 delish looking cupcake recipes.  Well!  I baked a batch of #32 for a lunch/baby shower celebrating my very preggo friend who is about to give birth to her second child.

This is the recipe that I followed and it was really quick and easy.
I did adjust the cook time from 20 minutes to 17 (because my oven tends to run a little high).
I might try checking them at 15 minutes next time because I thought they were just a touch overdone.

Verdict:

Very tasty…..and the pregnant lady had three, so that’s proof enough that the recipe doesn’t suck.  🙂
I really liked the addition of the graham cracker crumbs to the the batter.  It definitely gave it a different texture with a more dense and large crumb.  Don’t expect that fine and fluffy texture of a boxed mix, because that’s not what this batter yields.  The frosting is super easy (aside from juicing those teeny tiny key limes) and it was SO YUMMY.
Here’s how mine turned out!  That photo was taken right before I shoved it into my mouth.

NOTE:

It’s very tricky to make citrus curls for garnishes from teeny tiny key limes.  I don’t recommend it…it was messy and my fingertips were fearful as I worked at them with a very sharp knife.  If you want to garnish these with curls, I would use a regular lime.  Also, cut your garnishes the day you plan to present them.  Overnight they started to shrivel and dry out and by the next day began to turn brown and harden.
 Here’s a video on how to make citrus twists…he uses a lemon, but you can substitute a lime here.  There a few other methods you can find on YouTube, but I thought this one seemed the easiest.
Happy baking!
xoxo, Jenna

Holy Sweet Tooth!

Before I learned to cook, I learned to bake and baking became one of the great loves of my life.  I love sweet.  I love rich, buttery, chocolaty fatty goodness.  You can try to pull a low fat or sugar substituted baked good over on me, but I will most likely notice the lack of calories and splendor.  A Facebook friend posted the beautiful link of Ming Makes Cupcakes the other day and my excitement could be measured in “Mmmmmmmm’s”

Here are a few that really caught my fancy and I’m going to try to make some soon….

If you decide to try any of these delectable beauties, do let me know how they turned out.
Happy baking!
xoxo, Jenna