Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Blood Orange Cardamom Muffins

With Spring comes something new.  Something fresh and beautiful.  Flowers, lambs, a lot of babies, and for me, a brand new way to bake.  You may question my linking these things together, but in my life, my baking is one of the central elements  When something comes along and makes that baking better and more efficient, well sister, that's a beautiful thing!   Shauna, of glutenfreegirl  fame, has organized a movement among bloggers to start baking using a scale as opposed to measuring by volume.  It is called The Gluten Free Ratio Rally.  Serious and professional bakers (and I'm pretty sure Europeans) have always used scales.  I started using a scale about a year ago, off and on, but kept measuring for the blog.  I just wanted to make sure that readers would find my recipes user-friendly.  Now, however, I tend to feel as if I am doing you all a disservice in not printing my recipes the way that I create them; using the trusty scale.

There is a solid and quite obvious reason one should weigh her ingredients.  It's more precise.  If you are a baker then  you understand how important precision is to the outcome of your creation.  When you weigh them out there is less of a chance that you have scooped out the brown rice flour or the sugar differently than the person who created the recipe you are following.  He or she may have poured the flour into the measuring cup whereas you might drag the cup sideways to fill it up.  These differences matter.  They matter quite a bit.  Plus, when you use a scale you cut down on the mess and the clean-up.

However, the most important reason to join us in this revolution is how liberated you will feel.  It's like someone literally gave you the formulas for anything you want to bake and said  "Go for it!".  You create the flavor combination you think would be fabulous, follow the base of the ratio for that item, tweak it as you see fit, and Voila'!  You've just written a recipe.  How does it feel?  Pretty cool, huh?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Gluten- and Dairy-Free Rugelach..Finally!

When life gets in the way of my blog, it really gets in the way!  I had said in my last post that I would have the improved version of the Rugelach I was working on posted the next day...didn't happen!  I did tweak and improve the pastry dough the next day like I  had anticipated, but I just haven't had the chance to get it into a post!  At first my health threw me for a loop for a while and then my beautiful mom came to visit.  She's still here, but bless her, she's taking a nap!  So, without further delay, here is the Gluten- and Dairy-Free Rugelach that some of you have been patiently waiting for.  Thank you for your continued understanding, btw!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Gluten- and Dairy-Free Rugelach...1st Attempt!

Yesterday was a bubble day.  It was warm and these warm days are so sporadic during our Spring, so what to do?  We celebrate with bubbles.  I saw a kind of  dumb movie on cable the other day, "Knocked  Up" and even though it was dumb, I watched the entire thing.  It was perfect in that I could turn off my brain and just chill.  The movie did have some funny parts though and a few poignant lines.  One of the characters had a beautiful one.  He said, as his daughter blew bubbles in the park, "I wish I loved anything as much as kids love bubbles."  You see, that's the beauty of the simple movie genre.  Sometimes a line will come out of nowhere and  knock you sideways.  That line just moved me.  I appreciate the simplicity of it.  I guess I responded to it so much because it's patently true.  As adults we get so sidetracked with responsibilities and chasing whatever keeps us up with the Jones', that we forget the loveliness of the little things. Like bubbles.  Or my little sweetness Quinn,  smiley and  punch-drunk from the fun of blowing her bubbles.

 Today's weather, as I could have predicted, wasn't as warm.  So, it was a balloon day.  Inside.  Quinn was just as engaged, just as giggly and just as happy.  It was a good day.  Only made better by a classic cookie.  Rugelach. I realize this cookie is made a lot around the holidays, but I just wanted to try it.  To put together a gluten- and dairy-free version of Rugelach was my mission this afternoon.  After the balloons, before the making of dinner.

I love this cookie especially for the cream cheese in the dough.  It gives it a sweetness and a subtle creaminess  that I just dig.  I must admit however, that my first attempt was tasty, but I am very unhappy about this very crust that I love so much.  When I rolled it out it kept splitting and tearing.  I think I used too much fat.  Or maybe too little.  I must investigate.  This is the result...

Gluten- and Dairy-Free Rugelach
They actually taste really good.  In fact, a reliable indicator of their tastiness is what Isaiah, my 6-year-old, exclaimed.  He said, in his most I-want-more-cookies-see-how-cute-I-am voice, "Mommy, I must say, I just love your cookies!"  What a kid, huh?  He gets very verbose when he wants something.  Especially something sweet.  But, I am not satisfied with the crust, so I will be working on it tomorrow and post the recipe then.  It's worth the wait.  Remember, Gluten- and Dairy-Free Rugelach is perfect for a Spring treat.  Why wait for the holidays?!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Gluten- and Dairy-Free Carrot Cake...An Easter Tradition

Gluten- and Dairy-Free Carrot Cake
 I love Spring.  I really feel lighter on my feet and happier in my heart when the weather is nice.  Why is that ?  I should be steady.  Able to go with the flow, as the saying goes.  But, my moods seem to be intricately connected to the weather.  The flux of weather in Colorado makes me crazy.  Seriously.  Crazy.  It changes enough to keep you guessing about what it will be like on Easter.  It is not at all unusual for it to snow.  But, when it does snow on Easter, we all still wake up, look at each other, baffled,  and talk about how crazy it is that it snowed.  Actually,  I think it snowed last Easter.  I remember not being able to hide the Easter baskets outside in the backyard due to the damned snow on the ground.  I had to go to Plan B.  I hide them somewhere inside the house and each of my kids hunt around for their basket.  Oscar and Elliot are getting older, however,  and don't find that "necessary", according to Elliot.  If I have to use Plan B this year he suggested I just leave their baskets next to their beds.  Ouch.  A stab to your mother's heart, young man!  Oh, well.  Time, it goes a marchin' doesn't it?  They are getting older and I am going  to start lying about my age!  That's life. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Gluten- and Dairy-Free Cinnamon Rolls ...Spring Has Sprung!

I think Spring is trying to poke its head through this winter's stranglehold.  It's been a rough one.  Earlier, I heard a flock of geese honking (is it flock? I don't know.)   It  was such a great sound.  Today is beautiful and makes me feel that feeling.  Do you know the one?  That feeling of anticipation you get when you feel that familiar heat on your skin and you smell that crisp, fresh air.  You feel that happiness and a cool anticipation for the warmer weather that promises to come.  I feel good.  Moods out there are more cordial, including mine.  People around me in public have a brightness in their faces and a calmness about their presence.  They must  feel it too.   Ahhh, Spring.  In  Colorado it can be sketchy at its best and blustery at its worst.  But, right now, today, it's warm and cozy.  Full of possibilities. 

We need cinnamon rolls.  Plus, this weather is making me feel nostalgic.  In my last post I wrote about Jennie Mae, Andy's beloved grandma, and her amazing pound cake that inspired my Gluten- and Dairy-Free Prune Pound Cake.  Today, I am thinking about my own maternal grandma, Helen.  God, I loved her.  She and I were very close.  I am the only girl out of four boys, so that might have had something to do with it.  Whatever.  We were close and when she died it felt as if a part of me died too.  I was just 12-years-old, but I've always been an "old soul" and some may say a bit dramatic.  Maybe so, but it's not as if I threw my arm over my forehead and wailed "Oh woe-is-me!"  But, I was devastated.  She made me feel so special for just existing.  Her absence felt enormous and took a wild emotional toll on my mother, her daughter,  and even myself  for many years after her death.  Even now, when I am feeling vulnerable, emotionally  exposed, or even happy, I miss her.  I long to just hold her hand.

Grandma taught me many things.  How to hang the laundry on the line.   How to play cards.  I was actually learning from one of the best.  She played in tournaments all over the state. I also love remembering her and her ladies playing Bridge, drinking coffee and chain-smoking cigarettes around her kitchen table.  A lovely image, right?  But, it was.  To me.  She had so many friends and she worked so hard.  I would watch her baking loaves of bread and pans of cinnamon rolls each and every week.  She never missed a week as far as anyone knows.  That's dedication.  I bake bread every week as well, but sometimes if I'm not feeling up to the task, I skip it and go buy those disgusting loaves from the store.  Oh the shame...But, my little grandma didn't miss.  It wasn't an option in her mind, I guess.

So with the newness and possibilities of Spring sprouting around us,  I'm feeling  Grandma's spirit alive and well.  I'm wanting to hold her hand and go for a walk.  I want to bake with her.  She would have been so confused by this gluten and dairy free business, but she would have set herself to clattering around in the kitchen right alongside me,  learning.  And laughing.  I just know it.

Here, with this recipe,  I've been inspired by her cinnamon roll recipe and tweaked it to make it deliciously and safely gluten- and dairy-free.  This recipe makes eight,  nice-sized sweet rolls.  Please don't be put off by the number of ingredients for the dough.  I found, after several different combinations and trying to use just one gluten-free flour and one starch, that it just didn't have that elasticity that you want for a cinnamon roll.  You want it to hold its spiral shape of goodness.  It's the combination of these flours and starches that creates the magic!  Trust...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Prune Pound Cake Revisited...SS and GF!

Today I finally joined the Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays @ simplysugarandglutenfree .  There are some incredible recipes over there.  Amy also has a new cookbook of the same name.  Can't wait to get my hands on it!  Tomorrow version of my Grandma Helen's Cinnamon Rolls!  Yum!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Blog Love and Immunity Boosting Continued...

Man, there are some great blogs out there.  I mean it.  Being such a novice at all the tweaks and tricks for styling out your blog space, I feel like such a goof.  I can only persist and continue to create my recipes, study how to "pimp my blog" and maybe I'll get to the level of those I admire so much.

Blogs cover the gamut of subjects unlike any  other socially collective publications.   I drift toward, no surprise here, to the gluten and/or  dairy free blogs.   I aspire to be as relevant  as one like  It's unquestionably my  favorite for many different reasons.  Mostly I am totally in love with the way she writes.  Karina Allrich is gifted and she has garnered the attention she deserves.  Her recipes are inspired and therefore, she inspires me to be a better baker.  Another favorite,, was actually the first blog I discovered after changing the trajectory of my family's life with food.  I devoured each and every post for the longest time.  I didn't search for other blogs or even think any could come close to Shauna James' brilliance.  I bought her memoir, Gluten Free Girl: How I Found The Food That Loves Me Back as soon as I knew it existed and  I read it  cover to cover in about three sittings.  She is such an amazing story teller. I also pre-ordered the cookbook she wrote with her husband, Gluten Free Girl and The Chef.  The stories in the book were absolute page turners.   Also,  I started following the career of Silvana Nardone, dishtoweldiaries, when she was the editor-in-chief for Everyday with Rachel Ray and she would contribute the column called "No Recipe Zone".  I was hooked. ( I found out about her blog much, much later.)  Ms. Nardone is so accomplished,  her biography reads like a life I would create for myself if I had a do-over.  She inspires me and makes me feel envious, if I am being completely honest.   I was astonished when her cookbook,  Cooking for Isaiah  came out.  I bought it immediately and absolutely loved  it!  How could I not?  The recipes are incredibly straight-forward and the ultimate family friendly-fare.  Plus, her son's name is Isaiah,  just like mine, and seeing that name in print (connected to a gluten-  and dairy- free cookbook) made my heart thump a little louder.  It was destiny.

Gluten- and Dairy-Free Prune Pound Cake