Category Archives: cake

Coconut Cake Fit for a King

My husband had a very special birthday last week and to commemorate the occasion, I decided to get him a coconut cake. I could have made it, but he is always mentioning how much he misses his grandmother’s coconut cake and I didn’t think I could get close.

Enter Angela Saban. I’ve have tried many of her cakes and treats, all of which are gluten free and amazing. I knew it would be good, and I knew it would be closer to grandma’s than I could ever get. What I received was a beautiful, huge cake that lived up to my expectations and more. Husband was totally surprised and said it may not have been grandma’s cake, but it’s the closest he’s ever come to it. And since it was gluten free (and he is not)  I think we’ve accomplished something here, don’t you?

The cake was beautiful on the outside with a pretty ribbon on top with Happy Birthday written on it, edible blue glitter sprinkled on lightly and a generous amount of light frosting and coconut surrounding it. The cake inside was four layers high and yet it was light and sweet. The cake was not too dense and not too sweet, making it a great combo for the light whipped buttercream icing. All white, all coconut and all amazing.

The party was a combined celebration for the Husband and a wonderful 6-year-old boy who is very close to our family. My daughter made her famous gluten-free chocolate cupcakes topped with vanilla buttercream frosting and decorated with crushed K-Too cookies just for him and his friends. They loved them, and we even had a couple left to bring home and freeze for another day. The cake, as you can see, is sky high and even though there were 15 people eating it, we still had enough to leave a piece for the hostess, give a piece to my Mom, freeze a piece and eat some the next day. Angela did say it would feed 25 people and she wasn’t kidding!

And just for the record, I don’t get anything for writing this. I paid for the cake and I will be doing so again on any other occasion where I don’t have time or inclination to make a cake. I’m just trying to come up with an occasion soon!

Enjoy!

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Filed under baking, Birthday, cake, celebrations, chocolate, coconut, cupcake, gluten free, gluten-free cake, party, vanilla

Fresh Orange Cupcakes

I just love this time of year when the citrus trees are full of beautiful, fresh, sweet navel oranges. When we moved here 11 years ago, there were nine orange trees on the property. Now, there are three left that produce lovely fruit every year. Christmas morning, mimosas with fresh OJ are always on the menu.

But, what to do with all those oranges? Yes, I’m generous with them to everyone who visits, but I love cooking and baking, so I’m always looking to use them. Yesterday I had the urge to bake and decided on orange cupcakes with orange glaze on top. The fresh orange juice and grated orange peel makes it taste like a bite right out of an orange. If you don’t have oranges you can get right in your back yard, I supposed you could use frozen or store-bought OJ, but I don’t think it will be the same.

These were so good, I packed them into the basket on my bike this morning and rode over to a friend’s house for tea and cupcakes. What a beautiful way to start the week. Hope your week is grand.

Fresh Orange Cupcakes
1 package Gluten Free Pantry yellow cake mix
2/3 cup fresh OJ
Grated rind from two oranges
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 stick butter, room temperature

Glaze
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2-3 Tbs fresh orange juice

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Add all ingredients to a large bowl and mix until smooth.
3. Line cupcake pan with cupcake papers.
4. Pour into cupcake pan, filling each about 3/4 full (this made 12 full-size cupcakes and about 9 minis)
5. Bake minis for about 10-12 minutes, full-sized cupcakes take about 5 more minutes.
6. Remove from oven and let cool completely while making the glaze.
7. To make the glaze, just add a little juice at a time to the sugar and mix until you have a thick, smooth consistency.
8. When cupcakes are cool, just drizzle the glaze over the top and add a little of the orange peel for color and a lovely tart bite, then let them set for a few minutes.

I dare you not to eat them in one night. They are so light and refreshing. But save some for tea in the morning, they are perfect.

Enjoy!

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Filed under breakfast, cake, cupcake, dessert, gluten free, orange, vegetarian

Here’s how to have a gluten-free book club tea party

It was my month to choose a book and host book club in November. Not only do I love reading, but I also love hosting parties. The book I chose was Remarkable Creatures, by Tracy Chevalier. And since the book is based on the lives of spinster women searching for fossils on the coast of England in the early 1800s, (yes, it really is), I chose a tea-party theme with seashells and dinosaurs thrown in for fun.

Tea Party with sea glass, shells and dinosaurs
Tea is served

First let me note that I am the only GF eater in the group. It’s been my mission to prove to them all that GF cooking is just as good and that the wheat is not missed. Top that with the fact that we’re vegetarians and there isn’t any meat at our house and I’ve got a real challenge, but I’m always up for a challenge, Dear Chef.

The dinosaur is there for a reason, trust me.

I decided on making two veggie tarts, (basically quiche without the crust). The first was made with carmelized leeks, browned mushrooms, mozzarella and goat cheese. Carmelize one onion and two leeks, then add mushrooms and brown them with the onions. When they’re done, place them on the bottom of a tart pan and spread out evenly. Cover with a layer of shredded mozzarella and about 3 TBS of shredded Parmesan. Sprinkle with chopped fresh thyme and parsley. In a separate bowl, mix together about 4 egg whites and 3 eggs. Add about 1/4 cup of goat cheese and whisk it all together with a pinch of salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried mustard and nutmeg. Pour evenly over the tart and bake in a 350 oven for about 30 minutes. Don’t let it get too brown. Slice when cool and enjoy. I’m always apprehensive about using goat cheese since even though I love it, I have found that people either love it or hate it. But this was first plate to be empty, so I suppose this wasn’t anything to worry about.

Another dinosaur, representing the fossils in the book.

The second tart was onion, spinach, asparagus and Swiss cheese. Start with the onions in a bit of olive oil and butter (as above) and cook till brown and sweet. Add about 2 cups of fresh spinach and cook until wilted. Turn the heat on low and cook for about 10 minutes until the liquid has cooked out of the spinach. Add 1/2 tsp fresh garlic, pinch of salt and pepper. spread evenly into a pie/tart pan. Cover with 1 1/2 cups of shredded Swiss cheese. Take asparagus and arrange in a patter on top of the cheese. In a separate bowl, beat together 4 egg whites, 3 eggs, 1/4 cup half and half, salt, pepper, pinch of both nutmeg and dried mustard. Chop about 1 TBS fresh parsley and add to the mixture. Beat and then pour evenly and gently over the veggie/cheese mixture. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes, but don’t let it get too brown. Slice when cool.

Thanks to Udi’s for the fabulous bread used to make the cucumber sandwiches and the egg salad sandwiches. They were the first to go and not one was left on the plate. Daughter and I kept eating them while making them, we love them that much. Simple to make, really. For the cucumber sandwiches, just cut the crusts off the bread, then spread with cream cheese and layer with strips of cucumber (use a veggie peeler for strips) and slice. Sprinkle with a little salt and a bit of chopped fresh parsley. For the egg salad I used chopped egg, mayo, apples, celery, salt/pepper and chopped parsley. I didn’t cut the crusts off of these and they were yummy .

In keeping with the fossil-hunting theme, Daughter actually made a wonderful GF coffee cake and placed a small dinosaur in one of the pieces while plating the cake. (Fossil hunting in the dirt? Too much of a stretch?) The cake was gone quickly, and worked perfectly with the tea after dinner.


And believe it or not, I found the perfect wine in the spirit of the fossil-hunting theme of the evening. Thanks Trader Joe’s.

I was depending on Trader Joe’s for their lovely shell-shaped chocolates to round out the decor. And wouldn’t you know it, they don’t have them yet for the holiday season. What’s a girl to do? Ask her teen to make some chocolate, that’s what. Darling daughter actually melted white and dark chocolate and poured it into molds to give us our shell chocolate. What a doll! The night was rounded out with cheese/pesto/sun-dried tomato torte with rice crackers, caramels with sea salt and a lovely salad of spring lettuce, roasted beets and candied pecans in a balsamic dressing.

I’m sad the night is over, but I can’t wait for next month. Try reading the book and see what it inspires you to cook. Enjoy!

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Filed under asparagus, cake, cheese, chocolate, cucumber sandwiches, eggs, gluten free, leeks, quiche, sandwich, spinach, tart, vegetarian

A Supernatural Gluten-free Party!

With an elegant twist in honor of Breaking Dawn, a party was created and I was lucky enough to be invited. I spent the evening last night in a beautiful place, eating beautiful food (all gluten free) all while talking with lovely people. I can’t think of a nicer way to spend an evening. And since you were not there, let me tell you all about the fun and more importantly, the food.

Thanks to Angela Saban of Angel Cakes for hosting this fabulous party. Check out her blog, here, for updates on the amazing cakes she creates (see below for more details on the ooh- and aaah-worthy food).

Welcome!

When you’re welcomed at the party by an old truck (Bella’s with a better paint job?) and a sign, this sets the stage for what’s to come inside. With this attention to detail, I had a feeling nothing would be missed from this point on.

Yay, Swag!

I followed the red carpet into the entry hall with it’s TWILIGHT centerpiece surrounded by swag bags for all guests. Sweet! The centerpiece fascinated me with its simplicity yet creativity. I found out that Angela’s wonderful daughter-in-law, Trista Williams, had fashioned it using pages right out of the series. (Although she did say she felt bad tearing up a perfectly good book, it was worth it!) Here’s a close-up for you crafters.

Pages of the book, close up

Can you choose between Team Edward or Team Jacob? Even if you’re not a fan of the movies or books, the theme is fun and whimsical, yet mysterious with werewolves and vampires. I chose Team Jacob, there I said it. Let the debate begin. Fangs for Edward’s team, wolf ears for the better team, er I mean the other team.

Choose a team

With Full Moon cocktail in hand (Maker’s Mark, apple cider and a splash of ginger ale), I made my way around the pool, which was surrounded by candles and spinning lights. Looking up on the wall I saw projected images of Bella, Edward, and Jacob, as well as scenes from previous movies lighting up the patio. DJ Gabriel kept the vibe going with music from the series, keeping the mood romantic and fun.

Photos and movie scenes on the wall

Moving on to the buffet table (you know that’s what you were interested in!) was a real treat. First off, the tables were topped off with spectacular floral arrangements that fit the mood perfectly. A rose here, a red carnation there, moss and greenery everywhere. All arrangements were created by Elba Brown of Designs by E in Phoenix with an eerie, supernatural touch. Floating red roses among moss and soft white flowers gave the buffet table just the right touch of beauty, elegance and mystery.

Notice the enormous pile of potato chips near the flowers? Oh yeah, my friend. Freshly made chips that were crispy, not too salty and oh so yummy. An avocado cream dipping sauce was provided for the chips, but seriously, with a good chip who needs dip (although it was amazing and I just needed a spoon for it and I could eat it like pudding).

The food was provided by Jennifer’s Catering in Phoenix. Check out the website and see how they serve the chips in little cones, Oh my. Maggie Wark, who works at Jennifer’s, is the gluten-free guru there who made the slider rolls and is spear-heading the gluten-free division of the company. Also on the menu was a tomato salad with Cojita cheese. So refreshing and served in little cups with cute tiny forks. Pork belly and salmon rounded out the food, but you know of course that was not my cup of tea, although I hear it was quite good from those who tried it.

 
Tomato/Cojita salad (yes, I had about 7!)

On to the crowning glory of the party, the pastry table. Oh man, if I could have married it, I would have. It was that good. I stood there wishing I hadn’t opted for the cute little purse that matched the outfit rather than the huge, pastry/cupcake smuggling purse. I would have to be content with eating it all there. (Next time, Angela, don’t question the large duffle purse at the party.)

Edward and Bella should have had this at their wedding

First off, the cake. A beautiful centerpiece with edible flowers. Definitely would not fit in the purse (damn!) I did not eat any, but I’ve had Angela’s cake before at a lovely tea party (check it out here).

Next the cupcakes. Both sides were represented with a special cupcake. Jacob’s side (werewolves) had a fabulously chocolatey caramely cupcake with salted caramel and a fondant paw on top. I could have eaten four, I admit it, but I didn’t. But I so wanted to, but I didn’t.

Edward’s side was represented appropriately by a vanilla-bean cupcake with raspberry filling and even bite marks. The filling was gooey and lovely, the cupcake was light and fluffy and the frosting was a dream.

True to my original team choice, I preferred the chocolate, but it was a tough choice, trust me. Both were light and airy like a cupcake should be, but it didn’t fall apart at all. I felt like Florian from Cupcake Wars as I tried both. Of course, I gave them both good marks, but I’m a chocolate lover at heart, you know.

What about Bella, you ask? Bella-berry Cobblers with a berry filling and flaky, buttery crust gave Bella her chance to shine. And that she did. Two bites of a perfect cherry pie. My table mates all claimed that this was their favorite. The crust was something I have been trying to perfect without success. Once again, Angela shines with a gluten-free pie crust that is equal parts flaky and chewy, just the way it should be.

And yes, there were cookies! What, you say? No really, on top of all this, there were little white hearts of vanilla cookies with white icing. They reminded me of the glorious black and white cookie of my New York City days that I feared I would never eat again. Never fear, they are right here. I’ll bet Angela could even make them black and white if you ask her.

Swag bags, you ask? Oh yeah! I was fortunate enough to meet the actual Tom Sawyer of Tom Sawyer Gluten Free Flour-fame, no kidding. And not only that, there was a bag of flour for everyone to take home and start baking. Sweet! A chocolate wolf lollipop, Werewolf “kibble” and “blood-spattered” popcorn, all by Angela Saban started the bags off. Add to that Udi‘s chocolate chip cookie, Julia’s Gluten Free Cinnamon Roll and more. I can’t imagine a better time with better food or company, and I even had swag to take home. Now that’s how you throw a party!

I was lucky enough to meet Kim Pebley, president of the Southern Arizona Celiac Support group and Chandice Probst of Gluten Free Frenzy here in town. Check out her website for giveaways and fun restaurant reviews. I also had the chance to spend a little time with Nina Spitzer, the GF guru who started the Phoenix Celiac group and Gluten Free Absolutely, a wonderful restaurant menu consultation service. What a great group of people who are supporting and advancing the GF community.

Trista Williams, me, and the lovely Elba Brown

Proof positive by Angela that you can have a lovely, successful cocktail party with elegant food and not a speck of gluten to be found. Thanks!

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Filed under Breaking Dawn, cake, cookies, crafts, cupcake, dinner parties, gluten free, party, salad, Team Edward, Team Jacob, Twilight, vegetarian

Whole Foods to the rescue!

Daughter and I were headed out to a baby shower yesterday and realized that we had no cake to eat at the party. Normally, I don’t really care about eating at these things. I usually eat beforehand so I’m not tempted. Daughter has learned to do the same. But she wanted to have some cake and I’ll admit it, I wanted something sweet. I didn’t have time to bake and we were on our way so we stopped at Whole Foods and grabbed a package of their vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting.

When the cake for the party was served, it looked wonderful. It was chocolate with a chocolate mousse filling and everyone seemed to love it. Daughter and I broke out the cupcakes and tore into them right away. The cake was moist and yummy with a great cupcake texture. The icing was a bit sweet and overpowering, but I think next time I’ll just eat half the frosting and be done with it. For the most part, we didn’t feel deprived and it hit the spot. If we’re on our way to another party, I may grab the chocolate for a change of pace. These are large cupcakes, which is good but, at $8.99 for 4 cupcakes, that won’t be happening very often. It’s much more cost-effective to make our own, but for a quick cupcake…not bad at all!

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Filed under cake, cupcake, gluten free, party, vegetarian

Ice Cream Cake and Carrot Cake…Happy Birthday to Me!

My darling daughter bakes a cake, just for me!

I celebrated my birthday a few days ago, and I’ve been continuing the celebration ever since. Actually it’s been a birthday month for me. But more importantly, I gave myself permission to eat cake the entire month of July, with abandon. Good thing the month is almost up, I am going to need to lose a few pounds.

For the actual birthday, I made an ice cream cake similar to what my grandmother used to make when I was a kid. We would get to choose what kind of ice cream we wanted when it was our birthday, and then the celebration began. I wish there was a photo for you, but we ate it all so fast there wasn’t enough time. But let me spell it out for you and you’ll see why it didn’t last.

In the bottom layer of a springform pan, crush half a package of Kinnikinnik K-Toos (take the filling out of about half of them) and add about 2 Tbs of melted butter. Press into a pan you’ve sprayed with nonstick (GF) spray. Let your first ice cream soften on the counter for a few minutes (I used Baskin Robbins chocolate chip). Each layer took about a quart. Layer the ice cream evenly over the crust mixture and freeze at least an hour.

Layer the rest of the crushed cookies (without butter) on top of the ice cream layer. Sprinkle a few chocolate chips in there if you want. We used about a 1/4 cup of Enjoy Life mini chips. Freeze again for about 30 minutes. Spread the next layer of ice cream (Baskin Robbins Gold Medal Ribbon) and freeze again for about an hour. Finally, pour a jar of chocolate fudge topping over the top and freeze again till you’re ready to serve. And don’t forget the whipped cream. Oh, that was good….

The best carrot cake in the entire world

OK, cake number two I just had tonight. My daughter wanted to make me another cake before the month was out and who am I to protest? Using The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten Free once again, she made a carrot cake that is out of this world. I haven’t had carrot cake in years and even when I ate gluten, I couldn’t eat the nuts so I would have to pass on the cake wherever I went. I never made one myself. Now, I see what I was missing. This cake had just enough spice and flavor and the cream cheese frosting was sweet and tart. No nuts, and just the right amount of golden raisins and fresh carrots. I ate it while it was still warm, I couldn’t wait. My oldest daughter said, “It smells like Christmas in here,” as it was baking. It sure felt like Christmas to me!

I’d love to give you the recipe, but I don’t want to type it right out of her book. I urge you to get Anne Byrn’s book, you won’t regret it!

Enjoy!

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Filed under cake, carrots, dessert, gluten free, vegetarian

A Gluten-free Tea Party for Big Girls

Don’t you just want to dive in there?

I was invited to a tea party by a dear friend recently. Normally, I turn those down since all those goodies are off limits to me and it can be quite depressing. I don’t mind spending time with friends over tea, but it breaks my heart sometimes when a lovely affair is catered and I’m munching on fruit. But this time it was different. I wouldn’t have to turn it down, I wouldn’t have to pass on dessert, and as a matter of fact, I would have to refrain from eating too much. Surprise, surprise…everything was gluten free and fabulous.

And not only were all the treats GF, but the little finger sandwiches made by the adorable husband of my friend were made using Udi’s bread. Yum! Top that off with every attention to detail in the design of the room down to the amazingly beautiful Ikebana flower arrangements keeping the theme of blue and yellow throughout their lovely home.

Lovely flowers
Crispy, light sugar cookies

 The party was catered by Angela Saban of Angel Cakes Bakery. Wow! It is very unusual for me to be speechless, but I couldn’t find the words to express how delighted I was at everything I tried. Excuse me while I take a few minutes to gush…

Finger sandwiches with arugula and egg…yum!
(Thanks Chris)

Luscious lemon tarts

There were lovely, light and crispy sugar cookies tied in sweet blue ribbons. Along with those were luscious and delicate lemon tarts in a GF crust that was flaky and buttery, just like grandma used to make. Perfect little bites of lemon creme and topped with a dollop of whipped cream.

  My favorites would have to be the little vanilla cakes with whipped cream icing and fresh fruit. The cake was so light and fluffy, I could have eaten the entire plate and not felt full (I tried, but darn it there were other people who wanted some.)
Little cakes with whipped cream frosting…oh I still dream about these.

The centerpiece of the table was a beautiful chocolate cake with chocolate mousse filling. I didn’t know if I even wanted to eat it, it was that beautiful. Even the flower on top was made of sugar…But I found the courage and couldn’t help myself. The cake was just as I remember a chocolate cake was supposed to be. Light, chocolaty, moist and not too sweet filled with a chocolate mousse filling that I would have eaten out of a bowl if they let me. The cake was decorated with an elegant, simple style and looked more like a piece of art than food. But then again, we eat first with our eyes, right?

Thanks again to my dear friend, Elba, for such a wonderful time, as always….and to Angela Saban for making this one of the best tea parties I’ve ever been to. This topped any tea party the Mad Hatter or Alice ever attended! Any time I need something catered, it will be by Angela for sure. Her passion is obviously making GF treats that taste like we remember them, not like we have learned to accept them. Thanks Angela!

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Filed under cake, cookies, dinner parties, gluten free, tart, tea, vegetarian