Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Very chocolatey dairy, wheat and egg-free cupcakes

I really hate including the word “free” in recipe titles.

It just sounds so negative - like glass-half-empty thinking. What would be a more positive recipe title be? Full of Delicious Chocolatey Flavour Cupcakes? Or maybe Chocolate Bursts of Flavour Cupcakes?

At any rate, Saturday was my dear friend’s son's second birthday. For something different, the little guy blew out candles that sat in a giant cupcake cake, consisting of cupcakes set on a 5-tier cake stand! It was spectacular!

Well, for almost everyone.

One little girl stared longingly at the cupcakes knowing that she couldn't eat even one. Not only was she gluten intolerant, she couldn’t tolerate diary.

So this recipe is for her. And you can enjoy it too.

I did ice the cupcakes with butter cream which, as its name suggests, has butter in it, but you can substitute margarine combined with a bit of vegetable shortening to add body to the icing.

This recipe makes two dozen mini cupcakes or 12 regular sized beauties.

1/2 cup each: vegetable oil, honey, applesauce and water
3/4 cup garfava bean flour
1/4 cup each: potato starch and arrowroot
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp each: baking soda and xantham gum
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
2. In a bowl stir oil, honey, applesauce, vanilla and water together.
3. In another bowl combine remaining ingredients together.
4. Add dry ingredients to wet and stir until combined.
5. Spoon batter into greased or lined pans. If you want to make small mini cupcakes, you will need to prepare a third pan.
6. Bake 12 minutes for mini cupcakes and 20 minutes for regular sized or until a tester comes clean.
7. Cool on a rack and ice if desired.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Eat Well Save More

I think most moms find fall a rather expensive time of year.

There are back to school expenses and fall wardrobe upgrades and, at least in my case, increased food costs as I begin my annual cold weather bulk-up.

Luckily this year I got a little help in that department from the generous folks at Loblaws who sent me over a food basket featuring some of the grocery items they slashed prices on as part of the recent Eat Well Save More promotion at their family of stores.

You may have noticed the Eat Well Save More logo throughout September on items such as Ocean Spray Cranberry Cocktail, Tostitos, Diana's BBQ Sauce, Kraft Salad Dressings and Jello. Graham and I certainly enjoyed the basket - only minutes after it arrived he was scarfing down chips and chugging cranberry cocktail like it was practically free.

Oh wait, it was free.

And luckily for me, the prices remained reduced for several weeks as Graham has developed a serious addiction to cranberry cocktail.

Either that or he's just joining mommy in her annual cold weather bulk up.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Helping you fight big oil

Don't you hate it when you're enjoying a yummy banana muffin and you notice an oil slick on the napkin it's sitting on?

Yuck! These muffins are moist but not full of fat. Better yet, they are completely dairy free. Turn these into to gluten-free muffins by replacing flour with equal parts of Bette Hagman’s 4-Bean Mix and adding 1 tsp xanthan gum.

These delicious muffins turned out square 'cause I used my amazing Calphalon dessert bar pan that makes single serving desserts like cheese cakes or petit fours. I'll make sure to put up another recipe showcasing this versatile pan, so you can wow your friends at your next “girl’s night in”.

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp each: baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 1/2 cups flour

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 12 muffin tin lightly with oil.
2. Combine eggs, sugar, oil, applesauce and bananas together in a large bowl.
3. In a separate bowl stir dry ingredients together. Add dry ingredients to banana mixture and mix until combined.
4. Divide batter between muffin cups.
5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Bette Hagman’s 4-Bean Mix (Makes 9 cups)
2 cups Garfava bean flour
1 cup sorghum flour
3 cups cornstarch
3 cups tapioca flour

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A cub bear tries to prettify herself: fails

It's a fact that the older I get, the more maintenance I require to look my best.

But it's also a fact that the age at which I need to spend more time on my appearance - uh, NOW! - just happens to coincide with an incredibly busy time in my life.

So it's no wonder I'm always looking for a quick beauty fix and was instantly intrigued when the folks at Whitening Listerine Quick Dissolveing Strips contacted me and asked to review their product.

What could be easier than tooth-whitening strips you just put on and leave? No timing the removal, no messy clean-up afterwards. I could just pop them on before I went to bed and wake up with gorgeous, whiter teeth.

Easy as pie, right?

Yeah, not so much.

I did use the whitening strips as directed for two weeks and at the end of that time period my teeth did appear to be slightly whiter and brighter than when I started.

But the problem was getting the darn things on my teeth in first place. The very thing that makes these whitening strips so appealing - they dissolve! - makes them very difficult to deal with. If your fingers are even just a little moist they will get sticky and be rendered useless before you can get them positioned properly.

I ruined several strips just trying to get them out of the packaging and several more trying to get them on - imagine placing tiny pieces on saran wrap on your teeth and you start to get the idea.

This was the resulting debris from my very first attempt to use the strips:

It's not a pretty sight.

The folks at Whitening Listerine Quick Dissolving Strips very generously provided me with lots of samples, so the wasted ones didn't constitute a financial loss for me, but if had paid for them I would have been pissed.

In a nutshell: I think dissolving whitening strips are fantastic idea, but the execution and the packaging needs some work.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that my father often compares my skill and grace to that of a cub bear: if you are a careful and meticulous sort, wrangling these strips may not present a problem at all.

In either case, more information and fantastic money-saving coupons for Whitening Listerine Quick Dissolving Strips are available on this web site.