It’s my birthday and I’ll eat what I want to!

Hello friends–and greetings from the land of being in your late twenties! That’s right, I’ve reached the ripe old age of 27, and now that I’ve reached the age of wisdom I think I know what birthdays are all about: eating delicious treats all week long!

Props to my friend C for getting me the best birthday card ever.
Props to my friend C for getting me the best birthday card ever.

Despite the fact that I just started classes and a new job, I did 27 up right. My actual birthday was on a Wednesday, so rather then hauling the crew out on a weeknight I requested a family sushi making party. We’ve been making sushi for years, and I have to say we do a bang-up job.

Salmon avocado rolls!
Salmon avocado rolls!

It’s definitely a little bit time-consuming but making sushi at home is actually pretty easy–keep an eye out for my super simple sushi tutorial in an upcoming post! Plus it saves you a TON of money versus going out, and you’re able to be 100% sure everything is gluten free.

More of the feast, featuring tuna, cuke, carrot, and scallion.
More of the feast, featuring tuna, cuke, carrot, and scallion.

We capped things off with a couple of bites of an assortment of gluten free cupcakes from Treat Cupcake Bar. I loved that they make so many flavors gluten free–although the red velvet were a little bit dry and pasty. I highly recommend the oreo cookie and the pumpkin pie!!

Treats from Treat!
Treats from Treat!

After taking a day to digest, I had some friends over for wine and cake on Friday night. Basically I wanted an excuse to play around with the recipes in my new America’s Test Kitchen How Can It Be Gluten Free cookbook. I’ve been craving a good carrot cake, so I dove right in.

Can we finish taking pictures so I can dive headfirst into this cake??
Can we finish taking pictures so I can dive headfirst into this cake??

Damn, was it fantastic! Moist, not too dense, sweet, and covered in cream cheese frosting–just the way I like it. I had heard great things about the ATK book and it didn’t disappoint.

Carrot cake-y amazingness.
Carrot cake-y amazingness.

All in all, it was a fabulous birthday week filled with great eats! How do you celebrate your birthday? Is everyone as food-focused as I am? Is anyone else as super impressed with the ATK cookbook as I am??

Advertisements

Gluten free baking and the best brownies ever

Everyone needs a great standby dessert recipe. Whether it’s a gourmet homemade layer cake or Funfetti cupcakes from a box, there’s a tried-and-true recipe for every kind of baker, no matter what your laziness level is. I definitely fall towards the lazier side as a baker, and I’m pretty adamant about the fact that I don’t get into buying a million different kinds of flour in order to bake gluten free stuff. Potato, sorghum, tapioca, xanthan gum, brown rice, white rice, coconut flour, almond flour–just reading some of these recipes makes my head spin! I’m not a chemist, and I don’t have unlimited time on my hands to measure out minuscule amounts of obscure ingredients.

Enter: the gluten-free flour mix. Through years of dry, crumbly, metallic-tasting  trial and error, I have finally found two relatively failsafe options: King Arthur and Better Batter. These pretty much work flavor-wise in recipes for things like loaf cakes, muffins, and brownies. Beware, though: the really tricky part of GF baking is keeping things from flattening out all over the pan. Gluten is the stuff that gives your baked goods springiness and structural integrity, so things like cookies and cakes can be challenging. Not impossible, but don’t assume that subbing out the flour cup-for-cup with a gluten free version will work. Also, be sure that your GF flour blend contains xanthan gum, which takes care of some of the structural integrity conundrum.

With those tips in mind, I’m about to present to you my previously secret, always rich and fudgey, super simple family brownie recipe. This recipe is so gosh darn easy it actually takes less time and effort than a boxed mix, and it is so delicious you may even be able to fool your friends into thinking it is chock-full of gluten. (Yes, I have tried this at a party.)

Keepsake Brownies

  • 4 squares unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 cup butter or margarine
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1 cup GF flour blend
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Melt chocolate and butter in microwave. Cool. Add sugar, eggs, vanilla. Mix.

Add nuts if you’re using them. Mix flour and salt. Add gradually and mix well. Pour into greased and floured 9″ square pan, or something slightly wider and more shallow if that’s your preference. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes (subtract 5 min or so if you like em really gooey). Cool and cut.

This recipe is super fun to play around with. Check out my melted peanut butter swirl and candy corn versions, and feel free to experiment with your own. Happy brownie baking and brownie eating!

Peanut butter swirl brownies
Peanut butter swirl brownies
Candy corn brownies--a fall favorite
Candy corn brownies–a fall favorite

What are your favorite dessert recipes? Do you have a favorite gluten free baking mix?