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It took me 18 years to get up the guts to taste tapioca pudding. I couldn’t help but associate it with crusty cafeteria food – the only place I’d ever seen it was in a clear plastic cup next to similarly packaged red and green jello cubes. (Let’s take an extra moment to collectively gag over green jello. HUAGH!) But when I did it was a revelation. Now it’s a staple – a quick and easy dessert you can whip up in an hour. Here are two variations:

Classic Tapioca Pudding

  • 1/2 cup small tapioca pearls
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups milk (soy milk works, too, but rice milk is too watery)
  • 3/8 cup sugar, maple syrup, or honey
  • 1/4 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. freshly grated nutmeg

Pumpkin Spice Tapioca Pudding

  • 3/4 cup small tapioca pearls
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups milk (soy milk works, too)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. ground ginger
  • 1/8 t. allspice

Directions for both versions: Preheat oven to 325 deg. F. Soak tapioca in water for 30-40 minutes. In mixing bowl, combine all other ingredients and mix well. Drain tapioca and place in a 1-quart covered baking dish. Pour liquid ingredients on top. Cover and bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and stir, making sure to break up any lumps of tapioca-ness. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Could it be true?!? Have I discovered the answer to my four-year quest for gluten-free filo dough? This guy sounds legit, the video looks legit, and the baklava looks like it might just make my yiayia proud. Oh, nellie. You know what I’ll be up to this weekend!!!

So, like many celiacs, it took me a long time and buckets of perseverance to get diagnosed with celiac disease. Doctor after doctor told me they had no explanation for my debilitating symptoms and that I was perfectly healthy (How’s that for logic!?). Actually, the first thing that clued me into the fact that it might be gluten was that my mom had long insisted that she didn’t do very well on wheat.

So fast forward three hard years, a positive diagnosis, and then four more squeaky clean years and I’m now sharing gluten-free recipes back and forth with mom. She’s even starting up an intolerance support group in Ottawa, ON. So if you’re in the area and living without, comment on this post and I’ll get you in touch!

In the meantime, here’s a gf cookie recipe she sent me. I made them yesterday and the entire house smells like the most delectable chocolate brownie you’ve ever schnozzed. And the cookies are good, too! They remind me of a coconut-less macaroon. Delish.

Flourless Chocolate Almond Cookies - feel free to experiment around with other nuts like walnuts and pecans

Gluten-Free Chocolate Almond Cookies

  • 3 C raw almonds (Mom says any nut will do)
  • 3 C icing sugar
  • ½ C plus 3T unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 2 oz (60grams) bittersweet chocolate, cut into pea-sized bits
    (I use Lindt 85% chocolate bars… ☺)
  • ¼ t salt
  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 T pure vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spread nuts on a baking sheet and roast until they begin to brown and smell divine.
Let cool, then chop very finely
Or process in food processor until mostly fine but with a few chunks remaining

Reset oven to 320 degrees
Line several cookie sheets with parchment paper
Mix almonds, icing sugar, cocoa powder, chopped chocolate, and salt
Whip egg whites to stiff peaks in another bowl, then stir in vanilla
Fold half of the whites into the almond/chocolate mixture
Fold in the remaining whites and mix until just combined
Drop by spoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets (they won’t spread so you can place them close to each other)
Bake 16-18 minutes, till tops begin to show cracks
Cool completely and store in airtight container
Mom says they’re better the second day
Thanks, Mom!

Obsessed. With. Mango Sticky Rice.

AAAAAAGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHLLLLLLLLAAAAAAAAAGGGGGHHHHHH!

Lucky for me, it’s easy as one, two, tree. (okay, four.)

Naturally Gluten-Free: Mango Sticky Rice

Mango Sticky Rice

  • 3 cups sticky rice
  • 1 13.5-oz. can of unsweetened coconut milk plus extra for serving
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 ripe mangos

Directions: Put the rice in a large bowl and cover with water so the water comes up at least two inches from the rice. Soak overnight.

Fill a large steamer with 3 inches of water. Place the rice in the top part of the steamer and steam for 30-40 minutes until the rice is still chewy but cooked. Scoop the rice from the steamer into a large bowl. Add the coconut milk and sugar and stir to combine. Return to the steamer (check to see if it needs more water) and steam for another 30ish minutes. The longer you cook it, the stickier it gets. Just keep testing it until you likey. Serve warm and garnish with sweetened coconut milk and fresh mango slices.

I love it when being gluten-free allows me to be totally gluttonous. For example: crustless pumpkin pie. There’s no reason why I couldn’t make a gluten-free crust, it’s more a matter of why bother? It’s the filling I’m after.

Gluten-Free Crustless Pumpkin Pie

  • 2/3 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. white sugar
  • 2 T gluten-free flour (all-purpose or sweet rice)
  • 1 t. cinnamon-a-mon-amon
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. ground cloves
  • 1/4 t. ground ginger
  • 1/4 t. ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 c. pumpkin puree (save yourself the BPA and get it from a real pie pumpkin)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup cream
  • 2 T maple syrup

Combine first 8 ingredients in bowl and mix. Add wet ingredients and beat until smooth. Put in greased pie plate. Bake at 450 °F for 10 minutes. Then turn down to 325 °F and bake for another 40 minutes until set.

Curses! Just when you think you have the gluten-free diet down pat, some jerk food scientist sneaks up behind you and bites you in the ass. This time it was masquerading as the Easter Bunny. Insidious bastard.

Trader Joe's Jelly Beans have wheat!

Don't be fooled! Trader Joe's Jelly Beans have been kissed by the wheat-beast!

You wouldn’t think it, but the second ingredient in these Trader Joe’s jelly beans is “wheat syrup,” whatever that is. And I only found out after I’d eaten a handful. To add insult to injury, as much as I’d like to say it was my ever-vigilant self who discovered The Wheat-beast in the ingredient list, it was not. My husband absent-mindedly picked up the box and saw it. I thought they were safe. Boo.

Wheat syrup! What the!?

Wheat syrup! What the!?

See what I mean? This kerfuffle renews my distaste for Trader Joe’s. Not only have they betrayed me with their excessive packaging and their commitment to greenwashed foods, but now they’ve forced me to ingest The Beast in jelly bean form, on a holiday, no less. Boo, boo, and more boooooo.

King Arthur Flour's Chewy (Gluten-Free) Almond Cookies

King Arthur Flour's Chewy (Gluten-Free) Almond Cookies

Oh, yum. King Arthur Flour just posted some (unintentionally? Aw, who the heck cares!?) gluten-free recipes on their blog. This one for chewy almond cookies is the clear standout for me. Watch out almond paste, Ima gonna getcha.

Folks, it don’t get much better than this. A dessert that you can whip up in 1 minute, 30 seconds. A dessert that doesn’t leave you lamenting the size of your thighs. A dessert to impress even the snob-von-snobbiest of gourmands. It’s chocolate mousse! And it’s easy as pie. Much easier, in fact.

Guilt-Free, Gluten-Free Chocolate Mousse

Eat your heart out, glutards! Guilt-Free, Gluten-Free Chocolate Mousse!

Gluten-Free, Guilt-Free Chocolate Mousse

  • 16 oz. (one package) of silken tofu, at room temp
  • 4 oz. (one bar) semi-sweet Ghirardelli chocolate
  • 1 t. vanilla extract

Yep, that’s it!

Dump the contents of the silken tofu packet unceremoniously into a food processor. Giver ‘er a whirl. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate. Pour into the tofu and process on high for 30 seconds or so, until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla. Split amongst four perty glasses and chill. Top with nuts or fresh berries or just down them straight-up. Huh, boy. That’s my kind of dessert!

Chocolate popcorn, you’re the one,
You make snack-time lots of fun,
Chocolate popcorn, I’m awfully fond of youuuuuuuuuu!

Awwwww, jeah! Score one for the naturally gluten-free terrible treatsies. This time, the glorious invention is chocolate popcorn. Ghirardelli chocolate popcorn, to be precise. It munches, it crunches, it’s good for your lunches. Run to the kitchen and make it NOW. You know you want to.

Ghirardelli Chocolate Popcorn - whats not to love?

Ghirardelli Chocolate Popcorn - what's not to love?

Ghirardelli Chocolate Popcorn

Basic Corn:

  • 1/3 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 heaping T Ghirardelli Sweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1 T veggie oil

For fahncy corn:

  • 1/8 t. cinnamon
  • dash of cayenne

If you’re making the fahncy popcorn, measure the cocoa powder, cinnamon and cayenne out into a small bowl and mix. Put the oil and popcorn kernels in a covered pot on high heat. When you hear the first pops, take oven mitts and jiggle the pot on the stove to prevent burning. Wait until the intense popping dies down to about a pop every two or three seconds. Turn off the heat. Lift the lid and sprinkle the cocoa powder (or mixture) over the popcorn. Put the lid back on, hold and shake to distribute the chocolatey goodness. Crunch, crunch.

I wanted to call these Pemon Loppyseed Muffs because they’re all backwards: light poppyseeds in a dark cake. But my google analytics tell me that not so many people search for pemon loppyseed muffins, so I’m copping out and going mainstream. How boring.

Anywhoo, you’ve heard me talk about Indiaville in Chicago and the buckets of delectable spices you can buy for pennies or peanuts a pound. Last time I was up there, I came across white poppy seeds. Did you know they existed? I sure didn’t. So this is a recipe for lemon poppy seed muffins using white poppy seeds and dark flour. Change it up a bit – why not?! Obviously, you can substitute regular poppy seeds if you can’t find the white ones.

Gluten-Free Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Gluten-Free Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Crazy, Confused Pemon Loppyseed Muffins

  • 1 stick butter, room temp
  • 1/2 c. veggie oil
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 c. white poppy seeds
  • 1 c. milk of some sort
  • 2 3/4 c. gluten-free flour*
  • 1/2 c. almond flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 3/4 t. xanthan gum
  • 1/8 t. salt
  • 1 T brandy
  • 3 t. lemon zest
  • 1 t. lemon juice

TO make the muffs: Preheat the oven to 350°. Combine the gf flour, almond flour, baking powder, xanthan, and salt in a small bowl. Stir and set aside. Combine milk and poppy seeds and heat in a small pot on the stove. Let it get steamy and then turn it off and let it sit. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter. Add the oil and beat until smooth. Add the brown sugar and beat another 3-4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until incorporated. Add the flour mixture and milky poppy seeds in small increments until completely combined. Mix in the lemon zest, brandy, and lemon juice.

Plip, plop. Fill to the top: Line a muffin tin with cupcake holders and fill each holder to the top. Bake in the middle rack for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Makes 12-18 muffins, depending on how zealous you are at filling the holder.

*I use equal parts teff, sorghum, sweet rice, and tapioca.