Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ceci's 4th Birthday Purple Velvet Cake

Today we celebrated my amazing daughter's 4th birthday!  About 11 months ago she started asking for a Rapunzel birthday party for her 4th birthday, so today we made that simple wish a reality.  I asked her a month ago what cake she wanted me to make and she simply shouted "purple!"  Well, I know that red velvet cake is one of her favorites, which I truly believe is because she loves the cream cheese frosting on top, so I hunted down purple food dye and made it happen.  A week or two ago I realized I could make a frying pan shaped cake so I could write a birthday message.  Yesterday I went on a dessert making rampage and created all sorts of treats, purple velvet mini cupcakes, purple velvet cake, cake pops, purple chocolate covered marshmallows, and purple chocolate dipped pretzels.  Today I dyed frosting, and myself, 3 different colors, and was pretty proud of my mess!  The smile on that sweet face made all of it worth it.

Here's to 4 years of sweet joy!  I love you my little kitten Ceci!

Ceci's dessert extravaganza!

Purple Velvet Cake with grey cream cheese frosting, made into the shape of a frying pan.
"Chocolate" covered marshmallows, and "chocolate" dipped pretzels
Purple velvet mini cupcakes with yellow cream cheese frosting, representing Rapunzel's purple dress, and yellow hair

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Happy Coffee

For Mother's Day this year Tim got me a Keurig coffee maker, with an auto on timer to help me start my days with two kids.  I have spent the last several months taste testing several coffees and found a few I like.  Until about two weeks ago, I found San Francisco Bay Coffee company through

I was so thrilled to find these coffee pods, there is no plastic cup on them!!!  So much less waste!  I was sick about throwing away those little plastic cups everyday and now I don't have to.  I chose to sign up for Amazon's subscribe and save program, where they automatically charge your credit card and ship your item on a regular basis, this brought the cost of the coffee pods down to 41 cents each, the cheapest I have found anywhere.  One more reason I decided to get this coffee with out taste testing it was that for every 1 or 2 star review on Amazon the San Francisco Bay Coffee company personally responded and offered a resolution to any possible problem with the product.

view of the bottom of the coffee pod

I subscribed to the French Roast flavor of coffee, because it is considered their dark roast.  San Francisco Bay offers 2 other varieties of coffee, I personally like coffee you can stand a fork up in.  Their French Roast coffee delivers!  I love the strong dark taste, and it's perfect with a little milk and a bit of agave nectar.  It has an amazingly rich smell, and it goes down smooth and easy. I'm very happy we found these coffee pods and I'm also glad someone thought to get rid of those plastic cups.  The only drawback to these pods is they need to be stored in an air tight container to maintain freshness, I put them in a Rubbermaid storage container I had laying around.  The good part of that is they send you 3 vacuum sealed bags of 12 pods each so you are only storing at most 12 pods at a time the others can stay in their factory bags until you are ready to open them.

P. S. My aunt just let me know that Costco in Oregon carries these pods in a box of 80 for $26.00, or 32 cents/each.

Friday, July 13, 2012

My Breakfast, Wild Flours Bakeshop

I wanted to type a nice post about my breakfast this morning, instead I'm surrounded by two adorable children who want all of my attention.  I've managed to balance Ellis on my lap and the computer on my legs with Ceci on the other side begging for wonder woman videos on youtube.  I bargained a few minutes away from wonder woman videos to write this note about my delicious coffee cake from Wild Flours Bakery in Huntington Village.   We stopped by last night on our way home from haircuts and picked up some cupcakes and breakfast treats.

First of all, it's a dedicated gluten free bakery that does not use any nuts!  They are also dairy free for those who need it.  I love walking in the door and telling Ceci she can pick anything she wants in the cases, that is a huge mommy moment for me, considering most of the time I have to negotiate with her to select one or two items that are close to safe for her.  Ceci picked a gorgeous vanilla cupcake topped with chocolate mousse frosting and some pink sprinkles, I chose a cookies and cream cupcake for dessert last night, and a coffee cake for breakfast today.  We were too greedy to stop and take pictures of the cupcakes, they were so yummy we gobbled them up.

All the cake components of our treats were so light and airy and perfectly sweet.  The vanilla cake is almost to delicate to hold up the sinfully rich chocolate mousse frosting, but somehow gets the job done in the most delicious of ways!  My cupcake had a light chocolate cake, again light, airy, and delicate, with the perfect flavor of chocolate.   The icing on my cupcake was more of a ganache than a frosting which I suspect comes from the lack of dairy, and was a bit purpley-grey from the cookie bits being blended into it.  Now ask me if I was bothered by any of those issues after the first bite, my answer is NOPE!  I ate the whole thing!  This morning I got the joy of a beautiful coffee cake that I did not have to make.  The topping was so crumbly, with the perfect balance of sweetness and cinnamon, on top of the again, delicate, airy and sweet, dry cake.  I loved it!

Maybe I'm glad it's a bit of a hike to the bakery, so I can save it for when I really want to go, otherwise I would weigh a million pounds.  Everything is always yummy there and it is so hard to choose just a few treats when we are at the counter.  As a person who has been gluten free all my life, there is such a beautiful happiness seeing an entire bakery case full of treats that are totally safe for me to eat.  I said it earlier, but it's worth repeating, taking Ceci into a bakery where everything is safe for her to eat, makes my heart so happy, seeing the huge smile on her face as she runs to the glass case and presses her tiny button nose against it to choose the most beautiful treat she can find.

We are so happy we have found Wild Flours Bakeshop!

Ok, back to Wonder Woman videos!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Announcements and Apologies

I would like to apologize for my lack of posting in the last few months, I am sorry.  I would also like to announce the reason for my lack of posts, on April 3, 2012, we welcomed Ellis Yung-Tsun into our lives!  I had a beautiful healthy baby boy, 6 lbs 8oz, 20 in.

Since his birth I have been in a total fog trying to keep up with his eating habits day and night, so typing on the computer has been hard to do.  Hopefully as he settles into a schedule and doesn't need to eat every 20 min (it just feels that way) I can get back to cooking with Ceci and posting our creations here.

We feel so fortunate to welcome Ellis into our family.  Thank you for your patience in this exciting time in our lives.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Timing is Everything

This last week I was contacted by an amazing woman, Heather, who has an incredible story to tell with a beautiful outlook on life.  She was so kind as to write a guest post for me, while it doesn't directly correlate to Celiac/Gluten Intolerance it does relate to handling what life gives you.  It also relates to being a mother, which is certainly a part of this blog, and always welcome here.  Please read, and please encourage your friends and family to read more of Heather's story and philosophy on her blog at  A huge Thank You again to Heather for sharing her journey.

Heather and Family

Timing is Everything
By:  Heather Von St. James

Ineffable, funny sounding word, it’s an adjective with the definition of unable to be expressed in words. Most people can conjure up an adjective to describe any situation life puts in front of you. But alas, there is still one situation that can never be put into words to describe the feeling of it. Cancer, yes cancer, the real “C” word, which was introduced to me first hand on November 21, 2005, roughly four months after the birth of my one and only child. How’s that for timing? You’ll see that timing is a theme of this life episode.

Why would life do this anyone, to me!? Blessed with a new child to care for and now I’m to conquer the big C, malignant pleural mesothelioma to be exact. Why now? Why ever? But I wasn’t going to beat down by any disease. I’m strong, I’m now a Mother and I’ve got a life to live beyond my own. I turned cancer on its head and decided to not be the victim but to accept this challenge with my head held high. Being referred to one of world’s leading mesothelioma doctors, who was able to give me continued hope that I could beat this thing; kept the fire burning in me to beat it.

So did having a sense of humor about it, very important to this ordeal, I could only laugh when realizing that the date of my surgery to remove the tumor was on Groundhogs Day, 2006. We renamed Groundhogs Day, Lungleavin Day, since it was the day my lung left, and every year on the first weekend of February, we have a party to celebrate Lungleavin Day. No seeing any shadows this day. We celebrate the bright light of hope and life.

The big “C” is not so scary, in many ways I’ll be eternally grateful for this challenge that I overcame and lived though. My life has a bigger purpose now, more direction. I didn’t take the birth of my child for granted but there is a pureness to my love of motherhood now, because it could have easily been taken away from me. Proudly I’m now in a special club of beautiful and strong warriors, current battlers and survivors of cancer, their supporters and nurses and doctors who dedicate their lives to beating cancer and bringing more awareness to this disease.

In life, timing is everything. And now I simply approach each day with the joy of being alive and enjoying it, because any day could be your last. Cancer, you’re strong but I’m stronger and wish great strength to any other warriors battling cancer, call me, I’ve been there.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Ceci's Valentine's Treats

Ceci enjoying her hard work when all the dipping was done
Last year I went on a Mom's Night out to a chocolate shop here on Long Island called The Chocolate Duck and had a great time making tons of chocolate goodies with some fun ladies.  This year I didn't go but was missing the treats, and last year it was tough anyway because the had us make a lot of things with nuts which I gave away to friends, family, and teachers.  One of the favorite items we made was an accident that my friend Sheri and I made as a last ditch effort to use up more of the melted chocolate, we dipped the potato chips from the snack table into the chocolate.  Everyone I gave them to RAVED about them afterward.  Tim would have eaten the whole batch of them if I hadn't hollered at him not to.

So this year I decided to make chocolate dipped treats at home, but with Ceci helping I needed to keep them nut free.  I bought Hershey's Chocolate Chips and melted them in the double boiler, and we dipped all sorts of yummy things pretzles, chips, ghram crackers, anything really.  We even made nut free clusters using dried edamame beans and craisins, chex and crasins, and for Tim I made cheerio clusters (in a separate bowl).  Ceci had a great time and was really good about being careful of the warm pan and even learned a new word, Generous.  She had trouble understanding that we should put more than a dot of chocolate on each item, so I explained that each item needs more chocolate so it tastes better and our friends and family like them more.  She was so adorable after that, each time she dipped she would show me the item and say "Mommy, this is generous!"  Yes my love,  You are generous!

It made for a super fun afternoon and an easy way to make treats for lots of people.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Gluten Free Beginet with Amaretto Honey
I was just marking the calendar for February and noticed that Mardi Gras is coming up.  I had made these Beignets last year, but it was several days after Mardi Gras and I never got around to posting about them sadly.  I thought I would get them up in time for this year's celebration.  They came out beautifully, and our friends who helped us eat them thought they were fantastic, and they can eat gluten.  I take that as high praise when someone who can eat gluten thinks gluten free foods taste great, or even better than the glutinous version.  It was also fun to make them for Ceci since one of her favorite movies is Disney's Princess and the Frog, featuring Tiana a struggling waitress in New Orleans who is famous for her beignet recipe.  

I have never been to New Orleans myself so I can't speak to the authenticity of the taste of these beignets, but if these don't taste authentic, I think that's okay because they taste DELICIOUS!!!  

I borrowed this recipe from where the recipe called for a gluten free cake mix, I didn't have a cake mix in the house and was too lazy to go buy one so I subbed in Gluten Free Bisquick.  I was more than happy with the results, I like that the beignets were not over poweringly sweet, I believe the cake mix would have made it too sweet.  Everyone else eating them that night agreed that they liked this version too.  

A few Christmases ago I bought my husband a Cool Daddy Fryer for home so we could over indulge ourselves even more, and we used it to fry the beignets perfectly.  

I put out lots of different options as toppings, but the amaretto honey was the hit of the party.  Friends gave me flavored sugars for a past birthday and I had those out, vanilla sugar, cinnamon sugar with cardamom, and powdered sugar.  In my opinion any form of sugar is delicious, but the honey did bring them to a whole different level of yummy-ness!

Gluten Free Beignets

2       Cups Gluten-free Bisquick
1 1/2 tsp dry active yeast
1/8    tsp salt
2       Tbs granulated sugar
1/3    Cup lukewarm water
1       lightly beaten egg
1/6    Cup milk

Extra tapioca starch for rolling out dough
Canola or Vegetable Oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup confectioners sugar, honey, or cinnamon sugar

Combine gluten-free Bisquick, yeast, salt and sugar in a stand mixer, blend on slow just to mix the dry ingredients.  Add water, egg and light cream and mix until thoroughly combined. The batter should be thick and shaggy. If it's too thin add more Bisquick, 1 tablespoon at a time.  Scrape batter onto a large rolling mat or work surface. Use your hands to knead dough to form a ball.  Place the ball in an oiled bowl with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate overnight.  When you are ready to fry your beignets, take the dough from the refrigerator and place on rolling mat or work surface that's liberally dusted with tapioca starch. Punch the dough down and work in enough tapioca starch to prevent the dough from sticking to the board. Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and use a sharp knife, dipped in flour, to cut 2-inch squares or diamonds.  Use a floured spatula to place the cut pieces on a floured baking sheet. Let rise for 30 minutes.  Pour 2 inches of oil in a heavy saucepan or follow manufacturer's instructions for a home frying unit. Heat to 375 degrees F. Use a spatula to transfer the beignets to the frying pan. Deep fry beignets in small batches. Turn when golden and fry just until second side is light, golden brown.  Use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer beignets to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Liberally dust with confectioners sugar, cinnamon sugar, or drizzle with honey. Serve hot.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

New Gluten Free Store

I'm so excited to say that we found a wonderful new Gluten Free Store!!  It's called Strictly Gluten Free, and it is just that, an entire store dedicated to gluten free products!  Not just a small shelf in the back of items that don't get rotated, that's right an entire store of gf food, beauty products, books, and more.

The store is pretty small, but super clean and well lit, it makes it feel so much bigger than it really is.  It is in a tiny strip mall on Larkfield Rd. in East Northport Long Island.  The owners were there working and Steve even opened the door to greet us as we came in from the parking lot, his wife Angela was there with their baby Luca in a carrier and they were all so warm and welcoming.  Angela is the gluten intolerant one, and told us they have done tons of research and traveling to different gluten free expos around the country to seek out the best of the best gluten free products.  She said she has tried 95% of the products in the store and wouldn't stock it if she didn't like it!  Let me tell you, this was music to my ears, I despise wasting money on bad gf products!!!  There is never any reason that someone with celiac can't have delicious food, and I loath when companies think it's okay to sell us bland, dry, tasteless products and over charge for them.  Well, that won't happen here!  Steve and Angela have done their homework!  They had the best of the best products all in one place, all of my favorites so I don't have to run all over the countryside gathering things I like.

After chatting for a few minutes I asked Steve if they had the gf Chinese Dumplings we have been desperately searching for for months now.  He eagerly told me to follow him and that they not only had the dumplings but had a good stock of egg rolls too!  Ceci is so jealous of Tim's dumplings when he eats them for lunch and we had found Feel Good Foods online but had yet to see them in stores.  Finally a store close to us had them!!!  So excited!

Did I mention they have samples??  We went Saturday afternoon and they had taken a delivery of some beautiful baked goods from Ms. Michelle's Urban Gourmet, including lots of beautiful muffins and cupcakes.  I think Ceci must have had at least 4 samples, and you know she doesn't waste her time on food that isn't delicious.  I think her favorite was the chocolate muffin, with chocolate chips on top.  All of the Ms. Michelle's products were fresh baked, not frozen.  

Angela also offered us samples of Soft Gluten Free Pretzels from Tonya's Gluten Free, they were Amazing!!  I've never seen them in any stores around us before and that makes me sad.  They are so buttery and delicious and come with toppings, salt or cinnamon sugar!  We bought a box of those and I can't wait until snack time to dig into them!

The store also carried Goldbaum's ice cream cones, which I've had before and really liked, but Tim went back and took a second look and realized not only did they carry sugar cones, but Coco Sugar Cones!!!  That's something new!  I don't think I've even seen those in a glutenous version.  I had one last night with vanilla ice cream and it was fabulous!  Perfectly sweet and chocolate, a great way to add more deliciousness to my ice cream.  I can hardly wait to give Ceci her first ice cream cone all to herself and see what she thinks.

If you live anywhere near this store, PLEASE go visit it!  They are wonderful people and have stocked the best products!  I want them to be successful so I don't have to drive to 4 stores to collect all my gluten free products!