Monday, December 21, 2015

Top 8 and Gluten Free Cut-Out Sugar Cookies with Aquafaba Royal Icing

This pair of recipes came out of the need to provide safe food for my family at two different events. The first was for Zax's class Gingerbread Party. The sign-up sheet came home, asking for parents to provide icing or decorations for the party. I signed up for icing and then chatted with the teacher the next morning. I know that oftentimes, Royal Icing is used for gingerbread houses because it dries very hard and strong, making a good "glue" for the houses. Was the recipe going to involve egg?

Royal Icing was the original plan and Zax's teacher had been searching the internet trying to find a safe alternative. I told her I knew of a way (aquafaba) to make Royal Icing without the egg, and then I wound up volunteering to make a batch for each table in Zax's classroom, because I didn't want anyone in the classroom using a sticky frosting with egg in it.

The second event I needed safe food at was Kal's preschool's Winterfest--an evening winter carnival to celebrate the holidays. I signed up to bring gluten free cookies because I needed to make something also be egg free, and all of the regular cookie slots were filled. Plus, I had TONS of gluten free flour left over from my top 8 free Pumpkin Bundt Cake experiments, and some soy-free Earth Balance too, so I decided to make my cookies top 8 free for the benefit of anyone with allergies!

Gluten-Free Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
Top 8 free!

  • 1 1/2 cups Soy-Free Earth Balance (3 sticks) or similar dairy-free "butter" substitute, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Ener-G egg replacer + 8 Tbsp water (or 4 eggs equivalent of your favorite egg replacer)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 5 cups gluten free flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Cream Earth Balance and sugar.

Beat in Ener-G and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix until fully combined.

Cover/wrap and chill 1+ hours.

When ready to bake, heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Roll out cookies and cut. I would've dusted the surface with gluten free flour, but I tried rolling them out on the plastic wrap I had refrigerated the dough in, and it worked well to keep them from sticking to the table. I did dust my cutters with GF flour before cutting though.

Place 1 inch apart on cookie sheet. Since my cookie sheets normally bake things containing gluten and I needed these to be truly gluten free for others at the preschool party, I lined my baking sheets with parchment paper first. Just in case.

Bake for 6 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool completely.

I transferred the parchment paper directly to the cooling racks. I don't think my racks carried as much cross contact risk, but this was easier. It made clean-up easier too!

Now to decorate!

Aquafaba Royal Icing
Top 8 free and vegan!
Put together from multiple recipes shared on the fabulous Facebook group, Vegan Meringue Hits and Misses


  • 1 can Chickpeas (Garbanzo beans) -- you'll need 11 Tbsp of the liquid (aquafaba)
  • 2 lbs (one full bag) powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp clear vanilla

Drain the liquid (aquafaba) from your chickpeas, carefully reserving the liquid. Pack away the chickpeas for later use, you won't need them for this recipe.

Measure out 11 Tbsp of the liquid into the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl.

Add the powdered sugar...

...cream of tartar...

...and vanilla.

Stir together at low speed until all ingredients are moistened, to prevent it from flying everywhere.

Once incorporated, increase speed to high and beat for 7-10 minutes, until stiff. A butter knife drawn through it should leave a line behind.

Spoon into a piping bag and remove all air. You can do the same with a ziploc bag for children, just snip off the corner. This is what I did with the frosting for Zax's class.

Be aware, this is very thick and hard to manipulate. This frosting is like cement!

And here's a trick for piping bags, if you haven't seen it already! This has made cleaning up frosting sooooo much easier for me!

Start by tearing off a large piece of plastic wrap and laying it flat on your counter. Place your icing in the middle of the piece.

Fold the plastic wrap over the frosting and squeeze any air out the ends. Then grab the ends and spin it around. This seals the icing inside a special little "pouch" of icing. Tie one end off to prevent the icing from leaking out.

Insert a coupler into your icing bag and then place this plastic wrap pouch into your icing bag. Grab the end of the plastic wrap and pull it through until the icing is in place.

Cut off the end of the plastic wrap and then insert a tip.

Pipe as usual. When you're done, you can pull the plastic wrap pouch right out, and there is very little mess inside the icing bag to clean up!

Use your icing to glue together a gingerbread house... make flowers or other small designs to dry and use as decorations...

...or to make pretty designs on your cookies!

Happy baking and decorating! We're very close to Christmas, have a Merry and Bright, not to mention Safe, Holiday!

Linking up at Allergy Free Wednesdays and Gluten Free Fridays

Monday, December 14, 2015

Pumpkin Biscuits

My pumpkin posts are extending into December!

I first made this recipe a long time ago with pureed sweet potato, but when trying to decide what to do with the mountain of pumpkin in my freezer, I realized that these biscuits would probably taste really good with pumpkin. And I was right! Not only have hubby and I been scarfing them down, the kids actually like them too! (The kids, being picky and not liking new things, don't actually like all of the recipes that hubby and I deem blog-worthy.)

So without further ado, here is the recipe!

Pumpkin Biscuits
(contains wheat and dairy)

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 8 Tbsp unsalted butter (chilled), cut into small pieces
  • 1 3/4 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup milk

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and cayenne. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter (or use your fingers) until it resembles course meal.

Mix milk with pumpkin puree and add it to the other ingredients. Mix dough, just to incorporate. If it is really sticky, add a touch more flour.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead a few times.

Roll/pat out to a 1/2 inch thickness. Cut biscuits with a biscuit cutter or glass.

Place on a cookie sheet and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Cook at 400 degrees until risen and slightly brown, about 10 minutes. Serve warm.

These taste great with a smear of butter or buttery "spread" along the top. (Or with ketchup, according to our seven-year-old. He puts ketchup on everything.)

I hope you enjoy! What are you cooking this week?

Linking up at Allergy Free Wednesdays 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Note to Parents: Don't Feel Guilty

Every once in a while, the food allergy community will amble back to the subject of eating their children's allergens and the emotions parents feel when they do so. I see a lot of guilt from fellow food allergy parents--they feel bad for enjoying something that could kill their child, and feel even worse about their strong cravings for said foods. Often following this are discussions of when/where parents enjoy these guilty pleasures and how they clean up afterwards.

I, of course, see this situation from two sides. I am a food allergy parent capable of eating foods my children can't eat, and I am an individual with allergies to foods other members of my family (including my kids) CAN eat.

So from that perspective of both sides of the coin, let me tell you something about that feeling of guilt.


You really don't need to feel guilty.

You don't need to feel too sad about enjoying this wonderful food that your child may never eat--because chances are you child will not even want to.

This is far from universal, but food aversions can set in early. A lot of kids who grow out of food allergies aren't eager to eat those previous allergens. I can tell you that tree nuts have absolutely 0% allure for me. I am beyond disinterested. The only times I've felt disappointed was when the nuts were hidden (so the allergens that hide are more likely to trigger regret.) But really, I'm so disinterested in nuts as to not give two hoots if somebody else eats them, so long as they aren't in danger of getting any on me.

So that ice cream you feel badly about enjoying because your dairy-allergic kiddo may never get to try it? He may not want to anyway. But if you project guilt about eating it, he'll pick up on that. Don't imply that it's wrong for people to eat your child's allergens, because it's not. Just teach him how to stay safe and remind him that everyone is different.

Remember that these foods were perfectly innocent until your child developed allergies. They're still perfectly innocent to most people, and there's nothing wrong with liking them. The foods you like are part of who you are and part of who you were before you became a parent--and you don't need to feel ashamed of who you are.

Also, don't feel bad about indulging. Whether you eat that allergen while your child enjoys his own favorite treat across the table, whether you only break it out after bedtime, or if you'll only eat it when you're out of the house, it's okay. You don't need to feel guilty about eating it. Having foods that you enjoy is a part of taking care of yourself, and all kids need parents who take care of themselves. As long as you are taking precautions to keep your child safe from exposure, you are being a good parent.

Yes, he adds extra peanut butter to his peanut butter cups.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Egg(less) Nog

Egg Nog. It's a tradition for many at this time of year. I'll be one of the first to say that I love the flavors, the creamy richness, and the decadence of eggnog. Sharing a cool glass with a loved one while bundled up in a cozy sweater is a quintessential Christmas feeling. I even made it from scratch once.

But what is one to do when you love someone with an egg allergy?

Zax's egg allergy does seem to be slowly improving and we have eaten egg-containing products in his presence with no ill effects, but it just doesn't feel the same as sharing the same drink as a family.

If you've been in this situation, or if you've eliminated eggs from your household entirely, fear not--you can still enjoy the flavors of the season. I present to you: Egg(less) Nog!

Egg(less) Nog
(contains dairy)


  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (or roughly 14oz equivalent)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp rum flavoring
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • turmeric* (for color)
  • 1 pint whipping cream, whipped but not too stiff
  • enough milk to bring mixture to 1 gallon
  • nutmeg (optional)

Whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, rum flavor, cinnamon, and turmeric in a medium bowl.

Whisk in 1-2 cups of milk. Pour into a gallon container.

Side note: this was my first time whipping anything in 
my stand mixer. I was AMAZED at how fast it was!

Whip your cream and carefully spoon it into your container. (This will be difficult if using a container with a narrow opening, just go slowly and spoon a little bit at a time.)

Ignore the whipped cream in my funnel.
Only use the funnel for the more liquid
ingredients. For the whipped cream,
use a spoon.

Fill container with milk. Close lid and shake to combine all ingredients.

Shake or stir before serving and top with a sprinkle of nutmeg.

This will keep in the fridge until the milk expires, although it will lose some (but not all) of the whipped volume after a few days.

It's so great to have a recipe like this to share with the kids! I hope you all are having a warm and happy holiday season so far!

*Knowing the strong flavor of turmeric, I only used a pinch of it for my gallon, but I'm not sure it colored the nog much. You could certainly use more, just be wary of using too much. I'll experiment with more the next time I make this, however, I only make a batch or two every year.

Linking up at Gluten Free Fridays and Allergy Free Wednesdays

Monday, November 16, 2015

Pumpkin Soup

I'm continuing my pumpkin junkie posts with another pumpkin recipe, this one for a spicy, savory Pumpkin Soup! Most pumpkin soups are sweet, but this one isn't, which is great if you don't want sweet for your main course. Adjust the amount of hot sauce and chili powder depending on how much you can take the heat!

Pumpkin Soup with Chili Cran-Apple Relish
Contains dairy

Soup Ingredients:
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp poultry seasoning (or 2 tsp ground thyme)
  • 1-2 Tbsp allergy-friendly hot sauce
  • 6 cups allergy-friendly chicken broth
  • 4 cups pumpkin puree (or 29oz can)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Relish Ingredients:
  • 1 green apple, chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries, chopped
  • 1-2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon


Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add oil, butter, bay leaf, celery, onion, salt, and pepper.

Cook 6-7 minutes, until tender.

Add cornstarch and poultry seasoning; cook for one minute.

Mix together a little chicken broth and hot sauce, and whisk into pot. Add remaining chicken broth; bring liquid to a bubble.

Whisk in pumpkin in large spoonfuls, incorporating it into the broth. Simmer 10 minutes to thicken a bit. Add cream and nutmeg.

Lower heat; keep warm until ready to serve.

While soup simmers, combine all relish ingredients.

Serve in bowls with a few spoonfuls of relish on top.
This is very scrumptious and really hits the spot on a cold day, not to mention it's great for pumpkin season! And I love that it only contains one of the big 8 allergens!

I hope you are enjoying Pumpkin Season as much as I am!

Linking up at Allergy Free Wednesdays and Gluten Free Fridays

(This recipe was originally posted on 1/5/15.)