Celebrating a Birthday

This year for Sierra’s Birthday we had 3 “cakes”.

1) I sent cupcakes to kindergarten to share with her friends. I used the basic vanilla cupcake recipe from Gluten-Free Cupcakes but added lemon zest and Chocolate Frosting from my cookbook. The “Happy Birthday Sign” was part of Sierra’s bento that day. The other half of the bento was filled with Chicken Salad- her favorite food.

2) For a little get together with the grandparents, I made the Acorn Squash Cake from my cookbook and frosted some of it with left-over chocolate frosting and some with cashew cream and mangoes (6’s because she is 6).

3) For a party with a few of her friends I made the Chocolate cake from my cookbook and frosted it with pink cashew/coconut frosting (which started to look odd but still tasted good) and toasted coconut.

The rest of the party spread included humus with cookie cutter veggies, some chips, and apple slices.

I can’t keep up the pace of making three Birthday cakes for every Birthday… but at least I have something to blog about!

Speaking of blogging… please share my blog- let your friends know about me.

Mango Lassi Ice Cream and Mango Lassie

Mango Lassi Ice Cream

I spent a semester living abroad in Sri Lanka (something like 17-years-ago). The food of Sri Lanka is very similar to Indian food, with lots and lots of coconut in it. Everything was made with coconut. And chilis. Seriously spicy food. At first I had a tough time adjusting to the diet.

Dessert was less common there and often was fruit. So, this ice cream reminds me Sri Lanka. Coconut and mango, with cardamom, only lightly sweetened. If you like more sweet, add more honey (I will give you a range in the recipe). I have made several batches of this ice cream. In the photo above you will see one scoop is more orange than the other. That is the natural variation in mango colors. For the lighter one I used frozen (then thawed) mango chunks. It was not as good. For the more orange version I used two very ripe and juicy mangoes. Delicious.

Mango Lassie

While planning for this post, I ask my husband, “How can I make Mango Lassi Ice Cream cute?”

He said, “How about a dog”.

“What?”

“You know, Lassie”, said my husband Tim.

Oh, that is it! I have to do that! I was laughing hysterically. (Easily inspired/amused I guess!) So, yes, just for my amusement and out of dedication to the blog I purchased a collie cookie cutter.

I laid the kiwi and grapes out on the plate, then poured vegan jello (coconut water and agar agar) over the top. Let that set while I prepared the flowers, then quickly assembled the whole thing.

Mango Lassi Ice Cream Recipe
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1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk (full fat)
1/3-1/2 cup honey (or agave for vegan)
1/2 cup coconut water or other non-dairy milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (cardomom is a strong flavor, you can use less if you prefer)
2 cups mango chunks

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Combine the coconut milk, honey, and coconut water in a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil (whisking occasionally as it heats). Add the cardamom. Reduce the heat and simmer for 3 minutes, whisking frequently. (This heating process is important for the texture of the ice cream.) Set aside to cool in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Combine the chilled ice cream mixture and mangoes in a food processor and blend until smooth. Pour into an ice cream maker and use according to the manufactures instructions.

Enjoy! (If you have left overs in the freezer, just let the ice cream soften a bit before enjoying again.)

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I am sharing this recipe on Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, Whole Foods Fridays, Melt in Your Mouth Mondays, Meatless Monday, Mix it Up Monday, Allergy-Free Wednesdays, Wellness Weekend

Watermelon Sherbet Sundae

Sundae

My favorite dairy filled ice cream was always Ben and Jerry’s. My husband, however, really appreciates sundaes at Friendly’s. When I heard about a vegan sundae contest the first thing that came to my mind was a Watermelon Sundae! Friendly’s makes a “Wattamelon Roll” and I always thought it was so cute. I actually don’t think I have ever tasted it … but I will tell you that when my husband tasted mine he said it was a dead ringer for the real thing (although if you read their ingredient list- “real” isn’t the word that comes to mind).

Watermelon Sorbet

I formed my ice cream watermelon in a bowl, but it was a bit hard to get out. Next time I think I should try forming a log. I played around with the concept of what qualifies as a sundae. Fresh watermelon and peach with maple candy pecans serve as a base for the watermelon sherbet (below). Above, I layered lime sherbet, chocolate chips, watermelon sherbet, candied nuts, and topped with a chocolate dipped dehydrated watermelon slice.

My ice cream colors are not as bright as the commercial version because I don’t use food coloring. In the future I could add a teaspoon of beet juice (give or take) and it would be more pink.

The pink ice cream is watermelon sherbet with chocolate covered dehydrated watermelon chunks (the chunks are outstanding by the way). The green ice cream is a lime sherbet (the green color comes from avocado). Please don’t give up on me here: you might be thinking avocado would be weird, but it is very creamy and delicious. This recipe only takes about 30 minutes of actual work, but each element needs to be prepared at different times so it takes about 2 days to execute (my ice cream tumbler needs 24 hours in between batches).

Lime Sherbet Recipe
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1 cup canned coconut milk (full fat)
1/2 cup agave
1 cup rice milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1 ripe avocado (under-ripe will not be good)
2 limes, zest and juice

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Combine the coconut milk, agave, and rice milk in a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil (whisking occasionally as it heats). Reduce the heat and simmer for 3 minutes, whisking frequently. (This heating process is important for the texture of the ice cream.) Set aside to cool in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Puree the coconut milk mixture with the avocado and lime zest and juice (I add a bit of liquid at a time to be sure the avocado isn’t chunky).

Pour into an ice cream maker and use according to the manufactures instructions.

Enjoy now or wait until you make the watermelon flavor too! (If you have left overs in the freezer, just let the ice cream soften a bit before enjoying again.)

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Watermelon Sherbet Recipe
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1 (13-ounce) can coconut milk (full fat)
1/3 cup agave
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups chopped watermelon
1/3 cup chocolate covered dehydrated watermelon* or chocolate chips

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Combine the coconut milk, agave, and vanilla extract in a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil (whisking occasionally as it heats). Reduce the heat and simmer for 3 minutes, whisking frequently. (This heating process is important for the texture of the ice cream.) Set aside to cool in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Puree the watermelon chunks and strain out the pulp.

Combine the chilled ice cream mixture and watermelon juice. Pour into an ice cream maker and use according to the manufactures instructions. Add the chocolate chunks at the end.

Enjoy! (If you have left overs in the freezer, just let the ice cream soften a bit before enjoying again.)

* Basically dehydrate 1/3 inch cubes of watermelon in a dehydrator until chewy/crunchy. Then dip in melted chocolate.

I am sharing this recipe on Sweetly Raw, Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, Wellness Weekend, and Allergy Free Wednesdays

Nutty Seed Bars and a Barn

For this post I am participating in Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger. I chose to adopt Amber from The Tasty Alternative . She is super friendly and has made my first few weeks as a blogger very fun. In fact she seems fun. (And has a fun font on her blog.) Amber has quite a few recipes that I want to try. I was recently tempted by her Chewy Granola Bars, which I have respectfully renamed Nutty Seed Bars (because my family already has a “Granola Bar” recipe, so I need a different name for the kids).  I made them, and followed the recipe … but I think I should have chopped the nuts a bit smaller. I put a piece of parchment paper over the mixture and tried to “whack it” but that didn’t work so I used a rolling pin- which did the trick! (Also my husband is allergic to walnuts so I subbed in pecans.)

Nutty Seed Bars

Then my daughter and I embarked on a mission to make it cute.

Before I stopped eating sugar I loved decorating ginger bread houses. As soon as I figure out how to make a good “glue” frosting without sugarcane, I will be back to making them at Christmas time. Setting that idea aside for a moment, I decided to try a small Nutty Seed Bar “House”. Then we decided to make it a barn. And my daughter built a fence. And added some animals… She really did a nice job and had a lot of fun.

I reduced honey on the stove-top and mixed that with cashew butter. It made a decent glue. Sort of. It was a hot day and when the sun hit the barn the whole thing collapsed. Just as well because we were going to eat it anyways!

Nutty Seed Barn

As for Amber’s recipe:

The bars taste fantastic. If I made them again I would omit the cranberries. They have a strong flavor and I would rather enjoy the flavor of the apricot and cashew butter. (That’s just me.)

The bars held together well under normal circumstances, but in the heat (we took them on the bike path and it was over 85), they got soft. This happened with the bars I made for my cookbook- but I discovered a solution while testing for the book. Adding a couple tablespoons of coconut sugar to the recipe adds strength and heat resistance. Or, just be happy to eat these delicious bars on a cool house or a bit soft on the bike path (which really is fine!).

Blueberry Pound Cupcake and Cookie Monster

I’m new to the (blogger) neighborhood– sort of. I’ve been around, eating gluten-free for about 6 years, reading gluten-free blogs for about four years, and writing recipes for several years too. But, I never had my own blog … until now. So I’m new. I am introducing myself to my neighbors; joining in the blog hops and online events.

For this post I am participating in Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger. I chose to adopt Shirley from Gluten-Free Easily (her blog is older than mine, but youngsters can adopt in blog-land). I have long admired her blog banner (the alphabet backwards highlighting the gfe- clever right?)  I was also recently inspired by her Coconut Blueberry Pound Cupcakes. So I made them, and followed the recipe exactly …

Pound Cupcake

… then I made it cute. If you type “Cookie Monster Cupcakes” into a search engine you will get about 500 images of similar cupcakes. This is not an originally idea, but it sure is fun! I put my healthy spin on it and used blueberries to color the frosting, apples for the eyes, and raisins for the pupils. I used the batter from the cupcakes to make tiny cookies with cacao nibs (they are a bit fragile). If you have a child with food restrictions, it is really nice to have a recipe like this to turn to.

Cookie Monster

As for Shirley’s recipe:

1) She says the flavor gets better as the cupcakes sit. She is right. Please don’t even bother tasting these for 2 hours. I took a nibble after 20 minutes and was disappointed, then I tried one after a few hours and ended up eating 3. So delicious!

2) They don’t taste like coconut to me. It tastes like pound cake with blueberries, and it is quite sweet.

3) When I make these again I will be adding orange zest and I could see lemon zest being nice another day.

The frosting: sorry no recipe for that; I just pureed coconut butter, coconut shreds, honey, and blueberries (wild frozen berries give the most color) in a food processor. The quantities? I just kept adding stuff until it tasted good. Then I chilled it in the refrigerator to thicken a bit.

Vegan Cream Cheese

Cream cheese on bagel

What could be more perfect than bagels with cream cheese? I have two bagel recipes in my cookbook, but I am also posting a new bagel recipe next week here on Cuter Than Gluten.

This cream cheese is creamy and delicious and I made a strawberry version! I can’t explain why the strawberry version is sort of lavender instead of pink (hard to tell in the photo). Hmm… cooking chemistry is not my point of expertise. Anyway, I like purple.

I am sure this could lead to some tasty frosting too. I would add the sweetener during the cooking faze if you decide to try it. Later I will experiment and write a recipe for that if it works out.

Strawberry Mice

I saw these cute strawberry mice made with candy features on a preschool handout and I decided to improvise with what I had on hand. I gave them pumpkin seed ears, a sunflower nose, nori paper eyes, and radish root tails. The tails bother me a bit. They border on creepy. Maybe next time a parsley stem or something less “bare” looking.

Strawberry Cream Cheese

Vegan Cream Cheese Recipe
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3/4 cup raw cashews
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1 1/4 teaspoons agar agar powder (if you have flakes grind them down before measuring)
3/4 cup canned full fat coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup strawberry “jam” * (optional)
1/2 teaspoon honey or agave (optional)

*Strawberry “Jam”: cook down fresh strawberries until they are the texture of jam. It is hard to say how many to start with as the water content varies but try about 2 cups. You might try store-bought strawberry jam, but it will make the cream cheese sweeter (which could be nice!)

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Blend the cashews in a good blender or food processor until finely ground/powdery.  Add the salt.

In a large sauce pan bring the water to a boil and add the agar agar. Whisk until dissolved (2 minutes or so). Slowly stir in the coconut milk and bring to a boil (whisking all the while). Pour the mixture into the blender, add the vinegar, jam (if using), and honey.

Blend until very smooth (use caution blending hot liquids). Pour the contents into a glass storage container and chill in the refrigerator for several hours until firm.

The cream cheese can be used in this solid form, but I like it best when whipped. So, I drop it into the food processor and process until very smooth.

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I am sharing this recipe on … and love it too! for strawberry month. Yum! Also on Allergy Free Wednesdays.