Does anyone else crave comfort food this time of year? For me that’s carbs (well, I pretty much crave cabs all year, but let’s not go there right now…) and sweet things like baking. If you saw my post last week with The Sweet Life Apparel, you saw the chocolate cake Ari and I whipped up together. It was one of our messier endeavours (and crankier- at least in the beginning- for Ari), but we ended up having a blast and the cake turned out amazing (sprinkles EVERYWHERE!). While we still make everything gluten free, I’ve been able to add dairy back into what we eat since the end of Summer, re- introducing it in meals and baking. I’m not going to lie, I’ve missed cooking/ baking with butter. And milk. But that’s not to say this recipe wouldn’t turn out if you used a dairy- free milk, I just enjoyed the chance to try it out (this is the first cake I’ve made with milk in a long time, yahoo!). It’s about as easy as it gets, with simple ingredients, and if you’re like us, the decorating is at least half the fun (and most of the mess 😉 ). If you want a sweet treat for holiday parties, why not whip up this baby? Enjoy.
2 cups gluten free flour (I used 1 cup brown rice flour & 1 cup coconut flour) use an unbleached or all- purpose flour if not gluten free
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
– frosting (I cheated and used the store- bought stuff)
– toasted coconut
– fresh flowers
– whatever you like! 😉
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cake pans with parchment paper- use two 9- inch pans for 2 layers, or four 6- inch pans for 4 layers
2. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Tip: to help make it lighter- especially if making a gluten free cake- sift the dry ingredients to aerate them.
3. In another bowl, combine the wet ingredients and slowly add to the dry mix, stirring to avoid lumps as you go.
4. When combined, pour the batter into your pans, distributing equally among the 2 or 4 that you’re using. Bake for 30 -35 minutes until you can insert a toothpick into the centre and it comes out clean. If baking four 6- inch cakes, bake them two at a time.
5. Allow to cool before removing from pans. Use frosting between the layers and frost the outside however you like. We went more for a naked cake look (at least that’s what I”m calling it!), but pick an icing/ decoration that you like. This is a nice, moist cake that’s not too rich/ heavy so there’s lots of options.
Who else always gets to the day after Halloween and wonders what to do with all the candy they’ve got kicking around the house? I know a few parents who trade their kid’s candy for money or a toy but if you’re like me and have a sweet tooth, you don’t mind the extra treats in the house (should I mention here that I do ration the candy/ hide it so the sugar rushes are somewhat avoided?).
Now that the trick- or- treating is behind us, why not do something fun with all that candy? Have you ever made chocolate bark? It’s pretty much the simplest thing you can make and it’s a great way to use up some of those sweets (and not that I want to bring up Christmas the day after Halloween, but this would be cute to make for the holidays- just wrap it up in cellophane). You can use melting chocolate like I did or chop up a bunch of those mini bars and melt them for the bark. The options for this are endless- you just have to pick your favourites to use and try not to eat them all as you go!
– melting chocolate (you can also chop up mini chocolate bars & use them instead)
– assorted candy
1. Begin by brining a pot of water to a boil & melting the chocolate in a double boiler (I use a Pyrex jug to make it easier to grab/ hold onto to pour out the melted chocolate).
2. Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.
3. Take all your candy out of the wrappers (and try not to eat too much while you do! 😉 )
4. When the chocolate has melted, pour it onto your baking sheet and use a spatula to spread it out until it’s about 1/8″ thick (I totally failed on getting out the lumps/ air bubbles 😉 ).
5. Now for the best part! Toss on your candies & sprinkles to your heart’s content. Allow to cool- pop in the fridge for about half an hour to help it set/ solidify faster.
6. When the chocolate has cooled/ hardened, break the bark into pieces and enjoy!
OK- how many of you have a) a freezer full of ripe bananas just waiting to be made into something delicious and b) are digging the cooler weather because it means you can turn on your oven for baking without feeling like you’ll melt like a human popsicle?
How’s that for a recipe post intro (insert teary- eyed laughing emoji here!)? But seriously- how many times do you buy bananas and end up tossing them in the freezer because they get to that ‘too ripe I don’t want to eat them’ stage? This recipe is perfect for this exact situation. Whether you go for it and make a whole yummy loaf or opt to make muffins, the strawberries and chia seeds are a yummy addition to this oh- so- classic of recipes. There’s also a secret ingredient that I love including in a lot of my baking for some added flavour/ moisture/ nutrition, but you’ll have to scroll down to see what that is. Happy baking all!
1 3/4 cups flour (I used a combination of a gluten free flour blend and brown rice flour)
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2- 3 bananas)
1 tbsp melted coconut oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup of apple sauce (my secret ingredient instead of an egg! I’ll tell you why after the directions…)
1/4 cup Greek yogurt (for a dairy- free version, swap in 1/4 coconut yogurt or another 1/4 cup of apple sauce)
2 tbsp coconut milk
3/4 cup strawberries, diced
1/2 cup unsweetened dried coconut
2 tbsp chia seeds
Fresh strawberry slices
Unsweetened dried coconut
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees & line a 9″ loaf pan with parchment paper
2. In a medium bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients; in a separate, larger bowl, mix together the wet ingredients, including the mashed banana & strawberries (remember to keep some for garnish!)
3. Slowly add the dry mix to the wet mix- about 1/2- 1 cup at a time to avoid lumps
4. Pour the batter into the baking pan and top with strawberry slices and unsweetened dried coconut
5. Bake for 50 minutes- to 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean (I find with my oven it’s always closer to an hour or just over an hour)
6. Allow to cool for a few minutes & enjoy the loaf fresh with your favourite toppings or slice it up & put it in an airtight container for snacking and lunches throughout the week
And as for that secret ingredient: why apple sauce?
When I first started baking gluten and dairy free recipes, I also tried some alternatives for eggs out of curiosity and apple sauce has become a staple in some of my sweet recipes as an egg substitute: simply swap in 1/2 cup of apple sauce for each egg the recipe calls for. And if you’ve followed the blog for a while, you know that our family is a fan of Love Child Organics and their awesome organic food options for littles. Well, guess what I used in this recipe? A pouch of their apple puree! One pouch is equal to almost half a cup, so they work perfectly as a pre- measured ingredient (lol can I consider that a #momwin? 😉 )
I love that I can trust the quality of their ingredients and that their pouches are an allergy- friendly option, free from dairy, gluten, nuts, and absolutely no additives/ fillers. If you look on the back of the pouch I’m talking about there is one ingredient: organic apples. Don’t you wish more food labels were simple like that? And if you have a hard time getting your kids to eat fruits and veggies, their pouches are a great option for babies just starting out on solids and for older kids as well (Ari & Liam practically pounced on the pouches I had on hand for these photos- safe to say they’re a hit with the kids!). If you want to learn more about this awesome company, I’ll share more at the end of this post, but for now let’s get back to baking!!!
A little about Love Child Organics
Love Child Organics was started by a husband & wife team who were frustrated with the food options available for little ones when they became parents. Foods that were labelled ‘organic’ and natural contained added ingredients and fillers that offered no nutritional benefit, so Leah and John set to work creating healthy meals for their kids from organic ingredients and superfoods for an added boost of nutrition. From these efforts, the company was born, with the goal to make pure organic food accessible for all kids. Since then, LCO has grown to offer a variety of food and snack options and will be introducing an organic infant cereal soon. The company also partners with First Book Canada as part of their Spreading the Love Campaign, to provide new books to children in need. From nutrition to overall well- being, LCO is committed to helping kids get the best start in life possible.
To see the full selection of products from LCO & learn more about the company, visit their website.
For the latest product announcementss, giveaways & more make sure you follow Love Child Organics on social media:
Earth Day is just a few days away (April 22) so I thought it would be the perfect time to share about some nature- inspired books and a fun and edible activity to make with your kids inspired by one of my favourite children’s authors. We discovered Dianna Hutts Aston’s books at our local library this past Winter and have since added them to our book collection at home. Our favourites include A Butterfly is Patient, A Beetle is Shy, and A Rock is Lively, (this last book was the inspiration for today’s activity). Her books are educational, teaching kids about nature with beautiful illustrations by Sylvia Long- scroll to the end of the post to see photos of these books- and are a great way to get kids interested in animals, bugs, and other elements of nature.
I remember loving the illustrations of agate and other rocks when I came across A Rock is Lively and that I’d love to find a project to go along with it. So I had a scroll through Pinterest and found way too many beautiful agate crafts, but I wanted something that Ari could participate in. Then I came across the idea for making agate lollipops out of hard candy and thought it would be perfect. Ari helped pick out the candy at the grocery store and loved sampling the sweets as I got everything ready. When it came time to making the agate designs she also got to help sprinkle the crushed candy and loved seeing it melt in the oven. While she’s still a little young to understand the finer details of how rocks are made, this would be a great opportunity to teach older kids about different kinds of rocks, what they’re used for, and how they form (Aston’s book is perfect to have on hand for this). I think these turned out great for a first attempt and I’d love to try making them again to perfect the designs a little more. See below for the materials and how- to. How will you teach your kids about Earth Day?
– various hard candy in your choice of colours, plus some white and clear (I also bought gummy candy to try and opted to skip it)
– parchment paper
– baking sheet
– rolling pin or other heavy item to crush candy
– Optional: lollipop sticks (I found mine were too think to make into lollipops, but this would be such a cute idea if you could get yours thick enough)
1. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees and pick out which colours you want to use (tip: look up pictures of agate slices online to help guide your designs)
2. Cut out agate slice shapes from parchment paper cutting them out a little bigger than the size you’d like. Then make 1/2″ snips around the edge and fold up to create a rim around the shape. If you’d like a hole in the middle, poke a hole through the parchment and repeat the process on the inside edge.
3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place your cut outs on top. In case any of the candy melts through your shapes this will protect your baking sheets and make clean up much easier.
4. Line up the candy you want to use between two pieces of parchment paper (mine ended up with some holes from the candy as I crushed it, so maybe double- up the parchment or place inside a ziploc bag to avoid making a sticky mess)
5. When the candy is crushed, sprinkle it in the parchment cutouts in the designs you’d like and bake in an oven for approx 10 minutes or until the candy has all melted. I checked the candy every few minutes to avoid having it discolour/ burn.
6. Remove from oven and allow to cool. You can use a wooden skewar to swirl the melted candy to change the designs a little before the candy cools completely
7. Remove from the parchment paper and enjoy!
I found the edges were a little rough on mine, so I’ll snip around the edges a little closer next time to avoid having sharp folds in the paper that led to this. If you try this I’d love to hear how yours turned out!
And here are the 3 books I mentioned at the beginning of the post with photos of my favourite pages, the illustrations are really amazing and colourful. I enjoy reading these books as much as Ari and am hoping to add a few more by Dianna Hutts Aston to our home library later this year. All 3 titles are available through Raincoast Books.
I love making homemade pizza (this is the recipe I use and love), but sometimes I want a bit of a twist and something a little different is in order. I’ve tried several attempts of gluten free foccacia bread and flat bread and they’ve turned out like bricks. So when I came across some ideas for flatbread made with quinoa I was intrigued. So far I’ve tried a few versions and haven’t been disappointed- serve up with some balsamic vinegar and olive oil for dipping for a yummy appy or make as a meal. (Next up is to try a sweet version with cinnamon)
1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
3 tsbp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt & pepper
1/2 cup grated cheese (I used goat cheese)
1/4- 1/2 cup flour/ gluten- free flour (in case the mix seems too wet)
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees & line a baking sheet with parchment paper
2. In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients; add in flour if the mixture seems too wet (it shouldn’t be super runny when you scoop it onto the parchment)
3. Spread the mixture out evenly on the parchment paper using a spoon to smooth out the edges and top.
4. Cook for 15 minutes, remove from oven to sprinkle toppings on and then cook for another 5- 10 minutes until everything is cooked/ melted to your liking.
So far my favourite combos have had contrasts of flavour such as sweet and bitter (cooked beets with goat cheese) or salty and creamy (olives and avocados), and I love dipping it in olive oil and balsamic vinegar mixed with some herbs de Provence for a yummy Mediterranean twist. I’m looking forward to trying out a lot more combos over the Summer (how great would this be to bring to a potluck?). Hope you like it as much as I do!
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