Friday, September 30, 2011

The Great Puppy Chow Debacle of 2008

Both of my children tend to have a flair for the tramatic.  I have no idea where they get that from.  None.

Back in 2008 I was staring my first Gluten Free Christmas straight in the face.  I was determined to conquer it but had some trepidation.  I was however relieved that Will was now in the 6th grade and at the middle school they did not have Christmas parties like the big shebangs at the elementary school.  Then I got this email.

"The kids have decided to have a little celebration during homeroom on the last day before Christmas break.  Instead of sending things to eat, the kids voted and everyone just send $3.oo and we will get chicken biscuits."

Well Crap!  Sorry that is not nice but it is exactly what went through my head.  But I collected my thoughts and emailed the teacher and asked if I could send a little snack to go with the biscuits.  She of course said yes and then I panicked cause I didn't know what to make.  I had not at all mastered GF baking and my worst fear was some kids spitting something out and yelling that it tasted wierd.  So I decided on Puppy Chow.

This puppy chow.

You know.  Chocolate.  Peanut Butter.  Butter.  Powdered sugar.  All kinds of yummy.  In college we called this White Trash.  I'm less tacky now and we call it Puppy Chow.  At least I think that's less tacky.

Anyway.  Long story short.  Stayed up really, really late.  Made enough puppy chow for 27 huungry 12 year olds.  Let it chill.  Put it into 28 individual bags (the teacher needs one of course) and tied them up with cute Christmas ribbon.  I might have made cute tags.  I can't remember because it was THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT!

I sent him to school the next morning with the beautiful bags of puppy chow (Odd sentence).  So happy and relieved that he would have something to eat for the party and if I'm honest here, pretty pleased as punch with myself.  I'm just that kind of mom I tell myself.

When he got home that afternoon I excitedly asked how the party was.  

"And the puppy chow?  How did everyone like the puppy chow?"


People, he threw it away.  Didn't even try a bit beacuse he knew he wouldn't like it.  He threw it away.  And was not even tramatized that he didn't have a biscuit.  You know why?  Because he didn't like chicken biscuits in the first place.  He wouldn't have eaten it if he could.  

This was a major lesson for me as the mother of a GF child.  Know what's important to your kid.  He didn't care about that biscuit or that puppy chow.  Don't be like me.  

Do make puppy chow though (or white trash if you're still in your tacky phase).  It is super yummy and more than a little addictive and easy peasy to make GF.  I made some this morning because we are going to a family camp this weekend and everyone brings snacks and I'm bringing this because everyone else in the world likes chocolate and peanut butter.

This is what you need:

Let me just say here that there are actual measurements to this recipe and I will give them to you but it's chocolate and sugar and butter and peanut butter.  Nobody has ever said "Yuck! Too much chocolate in this."  Well, you know.  Nobody except my son.

Put 1 stick of butter, 12 oz. of chocolate chips and a cup of peanut butter in a large microwave safe bowl.

I don't like digging peanut butter out of a measuring cup so I guessed.  It's close enough.  The butter is hiding under there.  I microwaved this for one minute and it looked like this.

 But stir it a few times and it looks like this:

You can stop here and get a spoon if you want.  

Ok.  Here is where you add the cereal and I need to make an aside:
The orginial recipe calls for Crispix cereal. You know.  Rice on one side.  Corn on the other.  GF right?  NOPE NOPE NOPE!!!  Barley Malt flavoring is the culprit in most cereals that seem like they should be GF.  Chex cereals are the only main stream cereal that is completely GF that I know of.  I use just corn Chex because I like them better but 1/2 box of corn/rice would work just as well.  Now back to the show recipe.

Add the whole box of cereal a little at a time

Action shot!

Mix, mix, mix and it will look like this

Then break out the paper bag.

Dump the cereal in the bag and add about a pound of powdered sugar.  And then shake! shake! shake!  Just a tip:  I take it outside to do this because sometimes the powdered sugar escapes a little.  You could also use a large size ziplock.

Here is a peek inside the bag

Dump it into a container and put it in the fride to chill.  And you get this.

I prefer this kind of container because it fits well on my lap and makes it easy to dig for the good pieces.  Oh and it's easy to transport.  I meant to say that first.

Fast, easy, delicious.  Regular food that's also GF is awesome!  But if you don't want anyone else to eat it just put a little sign on it that says Gluten Free and everyone will leave it alone so there's more for you.  Ok.  That was tacky and I didn't mean that.  Enjoy your puppy chow White Trash.

**Update.  Last night I mentioned at the dinner table that I was making puppy chow to take on our trip.  Will responded and I quote, "Oh good.  That stuff is awesome."  I'm not even joking.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Time's a wastin'

So before there was Pinterest what did we to waste time online?  Oh yea, Facebook.  I'm completely enthralled with Pinterest.  If you haven't discovered it yet don't.  Or better yet - follow me on Pinterest.  I'll follow you back.  We can waste time together!

Anyway...  I found this recipe on Pinterest the other day and pinned it to my "Recipes" board.  I knew I could finagle (is that a real word?) it to be GF.  The kids were hungry after church and so was the husband and so I decided to give it a try.  So here goes:

Mini Deep Dish Pizza 
(The pictures are not great-sorry!)

I used these tortillas

I love these.  I would definately consider them staples in my pantry.  I haven't been able to find them locally until recently and I was so excited!
I used a glass and cut 3 circles from each tortilla.  I used 4 tortillas for a total of 12 circle.  
See kids you will use math in real lfe!

I sprayed a 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray and pressed each tortilla round into a muffin cup.
Tip:  I put the circles in the microwave for about 20 seconds to soften them up.

I then filled them with pizza sauce, cheese and a pepperoni.

An action shot.  
Certainly not a "Stacy forgot to take the picture before she put them in the oven" shot.

And after.

I have no idea why they look radioactive.  I tried different lights on and off and even different angles and I got radioactive pizza every time.  

These turned out really well.  Everybody liked them.  They held their shape great and the tortilla was just the right amount of crunchy.  Good teenager food.  

Now if you will excuse me I need to get back to wasting time gathering ideas on Pinterest. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Getcha Head in the Game!!

Have you ever had one THOSE weeks.  Please say yes.  I need you to say yes.  Last weekend my sink seemed to look like this ALL weekend long.

That's gross.  Sorry.

Anyway. Every time I turned around there was a sink full of dishes and I'm blaming the week that followed on that.  I just needed a break.  Or something.
My family ate tacos, pizza and Fito pie this week.  Now mind you there is nothing wrong with tacos, pizza and frito pie.  But all in one week.  All in a row.  Pretty gross.
Thursday I made the cake that turned out just lovely.
I made chocolate chip cookies to make up for the lack of cooking this week and overcooked them.
I don't even want to talk about dinner Friday night.
I washed the clothes on Monday but didn't fold them until Friday.
And the kitchen floor?  Well, lets just's sticky.

An off week to be sure.  But I'm going our on a limb here and saying we all have those don't we?  Just blah!  I don't really want to do anything and nothing I do turns out great.  And you know what?  It's ok.  They all survived tacos, and pizza and frito pie all in a row.  In fact they all said it was great!  I have a sweet husband who just gets his socks out of the laundry basket and kisses my when I say I'm sorry.  Saturday I found myself home alone for few hours and I thought "I'll work for an hour, I'll clean for an hour and then I'll run errands for an hour."  Reality: I watched the Kate plus 8 episode where they take an RV trip (haven't watched that in years- Made me sad) and then I slept for 2 hours!!  I made a simple but good supper and went to a movie with my boys.  And let me tell you a simple "This was fabulous mom!" and "I had a great time mom" from your teenage son will do wonders for your morale and I began to get my mojo back.

So it's Monday morning.  The laundry is going and I even got some washed and folded last night.  The menu is planned and the grocery list is made.  The floor is still sticky but I am cleaning the kitchen top to bottom today.    I made the good syrup to go with our waffles this morning and BBQ chicken* is on tap for tonight.

I just need to find my cape under the pile of ironing and I'll be set!!

Have a great Monday!

BBQ Chicken (this is long and complicated-hold onto your hats!)
Frozen or fresh chicken breast or tenders
Bottle of BBQ sauce (I use Kraft Original, Sweet Baby Rays is also GF)
Put both in the crockpot on low for about 4 hours.
Serve with corn on the cob or mashed potatoes.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Teacher Appreciation Cake-Sort of

Dear Middle School Teacher,

Today, Thursday, is the teacher appreciation lunch at school.  I really do appreciate you very much so I happily signed up to make a cake for the luncheon.  I tried out this recipe not long ago.  Not to brag, but it was fabulous.  I took it to a tailgating party and it might be the reason we got invited back.  Look how pretty it was.

This is a poppy seed pound cake with blueberry lemon glaze.  This is the cake I wanted to make for you.

So I mixed my dry ingredients.

And then I mixed my wet ingredients.

And then I mixed them together and added poppy seeds.

I poured it into a greased bundt pan.

I dutifully waited for the oven to preheat to 350 and put my beautiful cake in.  Forty minutes later, the house smelled yummy and I pulled my cake out.  I waited to let it cool and turned it onto a wire rack.

Look how pretty.

I'm so embarrassed. 

 Please forgive me.  
I know by the time I get to middle school I need to be graded not just on effort but on performance as well, but it was a really good effort.
I know I should have started over.  
I really do.  
But some of you gave my child 2 hours worth of homework and a big ole history project and I just didn't have it in me.
If it helps my case I did make a pre-algebra practice test and researched Thomas Paine.  No truer words were ever spoken: 

"These are the times that try men's souls."

I did my best to fix it.

I'm so embarrassed.

I did make this to put on top.

Blueberry Lemon glaze.  
I didn't even eat the leftovers.  I gathered them up and spooned them back over it.  
You know, to fill in the cracks.

So, dear middle school teacher, if you see a funny looking purple cake tomorrow please take a slice.  It was made with love and appreciation.

It deserves at least a C.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Waffles, Pancakes, Waffles, Pancakes, Waffles,etc!

When I first started grocery shopping at Kroger years ago I came across my first 10 for $10 sale.  Eggo Waffles.  I thought you had to buy 10 of the same item and I didn't bat an eye before loading up the ole grocery cart with 10 boxes of Eggo waffles.  We love some waffles at the Huff house.

Well, no more Eggo waffles over here.  I do want to say that they do make frozen GF waffles, but remember the whole, smaller and more expxensive thing?  Plus, my kids will eat them but they don't love them.

So....Pamela to the rescue.

I do this about once a month or so.  I buy a new bag of Pamela's pancake mix and make the whole bag.  The whole thing.  Lots and lots of these:

I made 3 batches of waffles and I think 6 batches of pancakes. I followed the recipe on the bag for both pancakes and waffles although I added about a tsp. of sugar and vanilla to each batch for some extra flavor.

I ended up with this!

Minus the four pancakes the kids had for breakfast the bag made about 45 pancakes and 21 waffles.  It took about a dozen and half eggs to make these.  The bag of mix costs $16.00.  So for about $20.00 I have breakfast for a month.  I put them in ziplocks and pull them out of the freezer at least 3 days a week.  

It took me a couple of hours beginning to end with running carpool in between.  My freezer is stocked and the bank is not broke!  All good things!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Saturday Morning Donuts

When my kids were little we would sometimes go to a local donut shop on Saturday mornings and get donuts and chocolate milk.  Sometimes they would go still in their little  jammies.  Sigh!

We can't go to the donut shop anymore and I'm pretty sure they wouldn't agree to go in their jammies anymore either so it's just as well.  We'll just make our own!

I bought this little appliance last Christmas.  

It was on an end cap with all the "fun" food stuff and I kept eyeing it every time I passed by.  A mini donut maker.  Donuts!!  That could be so fun!  It was $20.00 and I hated to just grab a $20 "extra" to add to an already ridiculous pre-Christmas grocery trip, but it was donuts!!  I was in the middle of checking out when I looked at the checkout girl and said, "I'll be right back!" and I ran and got it and kind of laughed and said, "Sorry, forgot something."  Like I usually forget to grab the small appliances on my list.

Anyway.  The little thing has more than earned it's keep.  I use the recipe that came with it, but it is almost exactly the same recipe as the french breakfast rolls I make sometimes.  It is very easy and uses everyday ingredients, but it is a little time consuming just because it only makes 6 donuts at a time.  It's worth it though.

You will need:
5Tbps butter-softened. 
I just sat it out on the counter before I went to bed and it was ready to go in the morning.
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups All purpose flour.
(Two quick things here.  1) I of course used Pamela's bread mix for the flour substitution and 2)  I knew this recipe would most likely turn out well because it only uses 1 1/2 cups of flour.  The less you have to sub the better-in my experience anyway.)
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg (I was out-I used cinnamon-tasted great!)

Plug in the donut maker and let it heat while you mix the ingredients.

Cream the butter and sugar and then add in the egg.

Good things come from the words: cream the butter and sugar!

Mix the dry ingredients together and then add to the butter/sugar/egg mix alternating with milk.
Drop by teaspoons into the donut maker.
The batter spreads and it takes surprisingly little batter to make a donut.  I clearly have not perfected to right amount yet.

But it's ok.  That's why we have kitchen shears.  Snip, snip and you have this:

Obviously it's not necessary to snip your donuts onto perfect rounds.  I have control issues.  I fully recognize that. My family finds it funny that I snip the edges of the donuts.  

I put the donuts on a wire cooling rack set on a cookie sheet.  The reason will be obvious soon.

Donuts need frosting!  I wish I could give you exact measurements here but I just sort of mix it  until it's like I like it.  Here is what I used:

Powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla mixed in a bowl.  I then melted a Tbsp of butter and poured it in.  It  makes it so nice and rich.  If it is too soupy, add more sugar.  Too thick, add milk.  I then spooned it over the donuts.

Now for sprinkles.  I have an embarrassingly large collection of sprinkles, but for the life of me could not find any fall themed sprinkles in the whole lot.  I need a theme for my sprinkles  so I decided for just plain red ones because my son has a long practice today for the school musical and it's High School Musical and the wildcats color is red.  Not one person in my family picked up on that.  Can you believe it!

These are not Krispy Kreme type donuts.  They are much more cake like.  My kids love them though and I make them for after school snack sometimes.  It makes about 30-36 mini donuts and there are 4 of us and there are none left.  Please don't do the math.  It's embarrassing!

Oh and the reason for the wire rack on the cookie sheet?

It makes it much easier to get the leftover frosting on a spoon!

Happy Saturday y'all!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cookies and Cream!

Sometimes when I make cupcakes I pretend I'm on Cupcake Wars.  I have to make these cupcakes in 45 minutes or I'm out of the competion.  That's a little embarressing.  Don't tell anyone.

According to my kids, these are "awesome!"

I had not bought these until this summer.  They run about $5.50 a bag and there are 21 cookies in a bag. I counted.  The cookies are a bit smaller than regular Oreos.  Smaller and more expensive.  The story of our GF lives right!?

The first time I bought them I put them in the snack drawer and left to run some errands.  I came home an hour later to find my 13 year son eating the last cookie.  Of an unopened bag.  Twenty one "Oreos" in an hour.  $5.50 worth of cookies in an hour. 

I came across this recipe on Bakerella a few months ago and printed it out.  They seemed a bit extravegant for just everyday life, but I knew an occasion would present itself before long.  And that was today!  I have to make 2 dozen cupcakes for the school's fall festival tomorrow night and I thought these would be great!

The first thing I did was chop some of the cookies into fouths.  I put 3 or 4 pieces of cookie in the bottom of each cupcake liner.

I made the batter according to her directions.  I substituted Pamela's bread mix for the all purpose flour.  I absolutely love that flour blend.  It already has xantham gum in it so there is no need to add that crucial ingrediant.  It really works well for recipes like this.

I poured the batter over the cookies filling the cup about half way.

I baked them at 350 for about 20 minutes.  I usually like my cupcakaes to be uniform in size and just kind of rounded on top, but these puffed up really big and filled up these big liners great so I didn't mind too much.

Now for the frosting!!!  
I followed her recipe to a degree but also kind of fiddled with it.  I like to use butter for frosting but she suggested using shortening to keep it nice and white and I agreed with that so I used a cup of shortening.  That's the only amount I kept the same as hers.

Whip the shortening in the mixer so its nice and fluffy.  I then added about 2 tsp of vanilla.  That's a lot but I don't necessarily love the tast of shortening.  I then added about 1 1/2 pounds of powdered sugar.  I mixed all that together and then added a few Tbsp. of milk.  Just until it was the consistency I liked.
Then I chopped up three or four of the cookies.  These I chopped pretty fine.  

Ok so here is my confession for this recipe.  Bakerella suggested using 2 tsp. of chopped up cookie.  I used 1/4 cup.  I know, right!
I ended up with this.

Common decency mandated that I put this on the actual cupcakes but seriously, I really just needed a spoon!

I just snipped a pretty big hole in a bag and scooped the icing in and piped it onto the cupcakes.  I cut up the remaining cookies into fourths and topped each one with a piece.  
Here is the final product.

These were really good.  The frosting is definately not buttercream but tastes a lot like the filling of an Oreo which is just shortening and sugar.  The only thing I would have done differently is to add the batter and then put the cookie pieces on top instead of on the bottom of the liner.  They stuck to the paper to some degree but nobody complained too loudly.  

One last word of warning about these is that the recipe only made 16 cupcakes.  Minus 4 for my family and I don't have 24 cupcakes for the fall festival.  But it's ok.  I'm giving the rest to a neighbor and a few teachers and I like to give people food.  It's makes everybody happy.  

Of course I still have to make 24 cupcakes before 10:00 tomorrow morning. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Just for fun!

One of the very first GF discoveries I made was that taco shells are gluten free.  Always check, but most are.  What a relief.  If nothing else-there is always tacos!!

So anyway..last Christmas my son was preparing for his first middle school dance.  Like any mother, I panicked a little, caught my breath and decided we would have a group over to our house to eat before the dance.  That way he would be able to eat and if I'm totally honest, I would be able to watch and listen.  I decided taco salad was a good choice to go with semi-formal dresses and nervous middle schoolers.  Maybe not the wisest choice in retrospect but I wasn't thinking clearly because my baby was going to a dance!!

I wanted to use the taco shell bowls like restraunts and knew I had seen them at the grocery near the regular taco shells.  Much to my chagrin they were not GF!  I searched high and low. Well, I checked Walmart and the healthfood store.  None could be found that were GF.  I ended up using the bite size tortilla chips and it worked out fine because it turns out middle schoolers are too nervous before a dance to actually eat.

But I have lamented the fact that it was good party food and it couldn't be found!  Than I came across an idea on pinterest!  And I had to try it!

I used the extra thin Mission corn torillas.  I exchanged emails with a reader yesterday and we both agreed that regular corn tortillas are kinda nasty, but these are a good alternative.  I've used them in other recipes and I like them.

I flipped a mufin tin upside down and sprayed it with cooking spray. I put the corn tortillas between four of the "bumps."  Just like this. I lightly sprayed the tops with the cooking spray.  I think it makes them crispier.

I put them in a 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes.  I did two sets at a time, but the ones on the bottom rack did not brown and I had to leave them for a few minutes longer.

They slipped right out of the "bumps" and made these cute little bowls!

They held there shape perfectly and very much had the texture of a taco shell!

I put out some taco fixins.

Everybody added what they wanted, which for Jenny was cheese.  That's it - cheese.  Lord help me.
This it what the rest of us ended up with.

It's so fun when something turns out good and this really did.  The kids both ate the shell like a regular taco but I ate the contents with a fork like a taco salad.  I did eat some of the shell but broke it off in pieces.  I think it's great for a party!  You could make the shells the day before and put out a salad bar.  

I can't wait for the next middle school dance so I can make another go of it!  Maybe they eat more in 8th grade!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Special Treat

If you found your way here because of the article in The Clarion Ledger today I appreciate you stopping by!!  I'm by no means an expert but I try to make life sweet for my crew.  Here is the link if you would like to read it.

My 10 year old was absolutely beside herself this morning about having her picture in the paper.  My 13 year old grunted and said "cool."  Jenny took a copy to school for her teacher to hang up.  Will shrugged and said "uhahu"when I asked if anybody at school saw it. Two very different responses but still I thought it called for a special after school snack.

I haven't done Floats in awhile and both kids have asked for them in the last week so I grabbed a bottle of root beer while I was the grocery today and we had Root Beer Floats after school today!

A little vanilla ice cream, a little root beer, and a cute soda glass from the dollar store just makes for a happy afternoon.  Even if you're 13!

**Most root beer is GF, but please be sure and check!  Barq's is just fine and Diet Barq's is caffeine free.
I bought a 20 ounce bottle but barely used half to make two floats so a can would be plenty.

Add some ice cream to your glass.  We went with 2 scoops because, you know, you don't get your picture in the paper every day.  

Pour in some root beer.

Maybe a little bit more.

Add a straw and a spoon.

And you end up with this!!!

And that makes me happy!

(Please excuse the laundry on the table behind the smiling girl.)