Brownie Easter Nests

Easter nest brownies…I don’t think anything could get any cuter or tastier. I have seen a lot of variations on this Easter dessert nest, such as savoury potato stick clusters, rice crispy treats, sugar cookies and cupcakes. I hadn’t come across brownies though and I thought it would be interesting to create a mini brownie with an indent in the centre to hold the candy chocolate eggs. I was a bit lazy with the brownie base, I used King Arthur’s Gluten Free Brownie Mix, however I don’t think any homemade recipe could possibly mimic this mix; it is unbelievably delicious, moist, fudge-y and crunchy on top.

I baked the brownie mix in a mini cupcake tin, the only downside was the bottoms of the brownies stuck to the bottom of the pan, I even greased it! I’m thinking the next time I will grease and then flour it to prevent any sticking. I had thought to maybe line the cupcake tin with easter themed cupcake liners, but online I read that brownie mix tends to stick to paper linersNonetheless, the brownies turned out awesome, they were the perfect little nests, and as the brownies cooled, they naturally deflated and created their own little indents in the centre – perfect for holding the mini eggs.

I’d have to say that my favourite easter candy are Cadbury Mini Eggs. There is no gluten listed in the ingredients, but they don’t say that they are gluten free. I seem to be fine eating them, but I would take caution if you are celiac. I however used Carnaby Street Chocolate Eggs – the micro mini eggs, I got them at Shoppers Drug Mart. I thought they were so cute, no bigger then a pinky finger nail, but they didn’t taste the best. I was expecting them to taste like the Cadbury kind.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and have a very Happy Easter!

 If you want the eggs to stick to the brownie, use a little bit of icing.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from The Gut Gazette! I can’t believe how quickly Christmas creeped up on us and now it’s all over with.
What are your Christmas traditions? Our family has a quiet Christmas Eve, and for dinner we usually have tourtiere, which is a meat pie that originated from Quebec, and cheese fondue. This year we just did the cheese fondue, with gluten free bread of course! We then sat around and enjoyed each others company, watched The Polar Express and then got our annual Christmas pjs and hung our stockings. In the morning we slept until 9:00am, got our tea and coffee and opened stockings and presents. We took a little break to have breakfast and then finished up the presents! For the rest of the day we relaxed and enjoyed the quiet after weeks of Christmas preparation. For dinner we mixed it up a bit and had a roast chicken instead of turkey, but we still had the traditional side dishes. I had done a lot of Christmas baking this year, and I thought I would share with you two holiday gluten free cookie recipes that you could keep in mind for the 2013 holidays.
Gluten Free Christmas Shortbread
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 cup gluten free flour
3/4 cups butter
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Stir cornstarch, icing sugar and GF flour together. Blend in butter. Shape into 1 inch balls, place 1.5 inches apart from each other on an ungreased pan. Flatten with the palm of your hand or a fork. Place a single piece of chocolate in the middle of each cookie (either a Hershey kiss or chocolate chip). Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden around the edges.
I actually combined 3/4 cups of rice flour with 1/4 cup of coconut flour and they turned out amazing. I enjoyed the consistency of the cookie and it wasn’t as crumbly as just using the rice flour.
Gluten Free Sugar Snowflake Cookies
3/4 cup softened butter
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/3 cups gluten free all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
In a large bowl combine butter and sugar, beat in egg and vanilla. In another bowl mix together the gluten free flour, baking powder and salt. Transfer the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Divide the dough into two, flatten into discs and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm – for about an hour and a half. *(You can refrigerate the dough for up to 24 hours).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Once the dough is firm enough to roll, dust a wooden cutting board or counter top with gluten free flour and roll dough until 1/4 inch thick. Using a snowflake cookie cutter (or any holiday shape), cut out cookies. Place cookies 1 inch apart on baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes until cookies are golden around the edges. Let cookies completely cool before decorating.
Use royal icing as the “glue” for the decorations. You can decorate them however you wish…no two snowflakes are the same! I used silver dragees and coarse sugar crystals for my decorations.
Let the cookies set before you stack them…or just eat them right off the platter!
We enjoyed the shortbread for Christmas day dessert, and then we continued our lounging and watched a bit of TV.  It was a lovely Christmas despite the snow, however yesterday we got dumped with snow!
I hope you enjoy your holidays and I look forward to more posts in 2013!
I would love to hear your Christmas traditions!

Thanksgiving Sugar Cookies

Happy Thanksgiving fellow Canadians! I hope everyone has had a wonderful weekend with family and friends and have enjoyed the beautiful smells of fall and autumn colours. I had a lovely weekend up north enjoying wonderful company, scenic walks, and delicious food. 
To start off the Thanksgiving weekend, I made some delicious gluten free sugar cookies. I found a sugar cookie recipe off the Canadian Living website, and just tweaked it to make it gluten free. The addition of candy corn and a few chocolate chips give the cookie a cute Thanksgiving turkey feel!
Thanksgiving “Turkey” Sugar Cookies 
3/4 cup softened butter
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/3 cups gluten free all-purpose flour 
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt 
Candy corn 
Royal icing 
Mini chocolate chips
In a large bowl combine butter and sugar, beat in egg and vanilla. In another bowl mix together the gluten free flour, baking powder and salt. Transfer the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Divide the dough into two, flatten into discs and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm – for about an hour and a half. *(You can refrigerate the dough for up to 24 hours).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. 
Once the dough is firm enough to roll, dust a wooden cutting board or counter top with gluten free flour and roll dough until 1/4 inch thick. Using round cookie cutters, cut out cookies. Place cookies 1 inch apart on baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes until cookies are golden around the edges. Let cookies completely cool before decorating. 
To create a turkey decorated cookie, use the royal icing (I used Betty Crocker Cake Mate Cookie Icing – you could also make your own royal icing and pipe it yourself) as your “glue” to stick 5-7 candy corn pieces on the top of the cookie, to create a “feathered” look. Place the candy corn pieces tips down (pointed ends facing down). Next, make 2 dots using the royal icing for eyes – stick the chocolate chips on the dots. Finally, create a beak and feet on the bottom of the cookie with the icing. 
Let the icing on the cookies set before stacking.  
Enjoy! 

Gluten Free Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip-Coconut-Date Cookies

Gluten free – oatmeal – chocolate chip – coconut – date cookies…that is a mouthful to say, eh? It is also a mouthful of deliciousness. I was originally going to do raisins instead of dates, but then I found some plump dried dates in my pantry and thought they would pair better with both chocolate and coconut. 
These cookies can be made gluten free or not. You can replace the gluten free oats and flour with “regular” flour and oats. They pair perfectly with a cup of tea or a glass of milk!
I like the different texture and tastes within this cookie. The dates and coconut bring a chewy texture to the cookie and the chocolate chips are perfect for any chocolate craving.
GF Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip-Coconut-Date Cookies

1.5 cups gluten free all purpose flour
3 cups gluten free certified oats 
1 cup brown sugar 
1 tsp cornstarch 
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
6 large medjool dates chopped 
4 tbsp butter (1/4 cup) melted 
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (or grease with oil). 
Combine GF flour, GF oats, sugar, cornstarch, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together in 1 large bowl. Mix in chocolate chips, shredded coconut and chopped dates. 
In separate bowl melt butter and whisk in 2 eggs and vanilla. 
Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until all is combined and mixture is moist. 
Roll mixture into 2 inch balls and place on cookie sheet 1 inch apart. 12 cookies per baking sheet.
Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. 
Let cool before serving.

GF Brownies with Salted Caramel

King Arthur’s Gluten Free Brownie mix did not disappoint! Chewy, moist, dense, rich, chocolaty, melt-in-your-mouth, delicious…I could go on and on about how amazing King Arthur’s GF Brownie mix is, but the only way you will really believe me is if you try it yourself. I have tried other gluten free brownie mixes before, but never have I had tasted anything like this. Even those who are gluten-eaters will enjoy this fabulous mix, they will never suspect that the brownies are gluten free. The only disappointing down side to all of this is that King Arthur’s mixes are not available in Canada. You can order them online, however shipping costs are an arm and a leg. The great thing about the mix is that it says right on the box that the brownies stay fresher longer…however, when I made them they didn’t last for more than 2 days (in a family of four)!
The brownies were very easy to make, I just had to mix in a couple of eggs, some water and vegetable oil into the mix, pour into the pan and bake for 40 minutes. They came out wonderfully – a little crispy around the edges and chewy in the centre; the perfect brownie. I then decided to mix up a salted caramel sauce to pour on top of the warm brownies, because really, what is better then chocolate + caramel + salt? All I can say is that the final product was delectably satisfying. My taste buds were in paradise. 

You can make these delicious Salted Caramel Brownies with any type of brownie mix, gluten free or not, but I would highly recommend trying out the King Arthur Gluten Free Brownie Mix! You can view the packing and nutritional information here.
Salted Caramel Brownies (GF)
– [Gluten Free] Brownie Mix (King Arthur’s GF Brownie Mix)
– 1 cup sugar
– 6 tbsp butter 
– 1/2 cup cream or milk (I actually used milk and they came out fine)
– 1/4 cup water
– 1 tsp sea salt
First off, mix up the brownie mix, pop in the oven and start your timer! While the brownies are baking in the oven, heat 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in a pot over the stove, making sure not to stir. Heat mixture until it becomes a golden, amber colour, you can then mix in the cold butter. Once the butter has melted, take off the heat and whisk in the cream/milk. If using milk, keep the heat on low so that the mixture is able to reduce into a thick caramel sauce. Once the mixture is thick and creamy, stir in the salt. Let cool, and once brownies have cooled, slice a brownie, pour sauce over it and sprinkle a little bit of extra salt. Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Truffles

I can’t believe that a) I haven’t made a post since July 10, and that b) I have not shared with you the most delicious gluten free, vegan, chocolate recipe! My lovely friend shared this recipe with me after she brought them to a dinner party that I hosted. You would never believe that this delicious treat was full of healthy ingredients, or that it was free of dairy. I made them for my cousin’s wedding shower a few months later, not telling anyone that the secret ingredient was dates. I thought that the cupcakes would be a hit, but the truffles flew off the dessert tray quickly and left everyone wanting more. 
I love this recipe for many reasons. First off, it is super easy, with no baking required. Secondly, it is perfect for any special diet, including vegan diets, gluten free diets and diabetics, as the dates not only form the balls, but also are used instead of sugar, making them low in the glycemic index and naturally fat free. I also love this recipe because of the health factor. Dates, coconut oil, cocoa powder, maple syrup and shredded coconut are a great combination of ingredients that are all naturally gluten free (and vegan), and offer fibre, healthy fats, amino acids and trace minerals. Did I mention how delicious and “melt-in-your-mouth” these treats are? You won’t believe me until you try them for yourselves. 
Dark Chocolate Truffles (GF, V)
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
6 medjool dates 
1/2 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/8 tsp salt 
Shredded coconut (to dip truffles in)
Combine melted coconut oil and dates – soak for 30 minutes.
Transfer oil and dates to blender and add maple syrup, cocoa powder and salt.
Chill mixture for an hour.
Roll mixture into balls (truffles). *Rubbing a bit of coconut oil into your hands before rolling the mixture into balls creates a smooth roll and less of a mess on your hands.
Once rolled into a ball, roll in shredded coconut. 
Chill in fridge before serving. 

Carrot Coconut Muffins w/ Cream Cheese Icing

Remember my post about the greatest pancake mix? King Arthur’s pancake mix? Well my friends, let me introduce you to the most delicious muffin mix. King Arthur sent me a box of their gluten free muffin mix, quoted by my mother: “these are the most delicious muffins, I can’t believe these are gluten free…you would never know they were gluten free if you didn’t know!”.  The muffins were light, fluffy, full of flavour and they actually rose, they weren’t dense little muffins (like gluten free muffins are usually like). My sister and I baked together, it was tons of fun. The mix calls for an optional 1.5 cups of add-ins, so we decided on shredded carrots and coconut. Good call on our part! To view the packaging and nutritional information, please click here!
The mix was easy to follow, all we had to do was beat in melted butter, eggs and milk. The mix made 12 muffins. Not only are they gluten free but also soy and nut free. I love the fact that this basic mix can allow you to create any muffin you want…I’m thinking blueberry, lemon cranberry, lemon poppyseed, cinnamon raisin, and chocolate chip banana…the ideas are endless. 
What is a carrot muffin without a little bit of icing, eh? My sister and I were really feeling a bit of cream cheese icing. We decided to embark on a homemade icing, one that we had never attempted before. It was crazy easy and crazy delicious. We were dipping strawberries in it this afternoon, so evidently it can serve as a fruit dip too! 
Cream cheese icing/fruit dip!
1/2 package of cream cheese
2 tbsp butter (soft)
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract 
Blend cream cheese and butter until smooth, add in icing sugar and vanilla, beat until combined. Voila! 
After the muffins cooled, we spread the icing on top and wow, was it ever amazing. I loved the sweet base of the muffin with the undertone of the coconut and the crunchy sweetness of the carrots. The cream cheese icing was the perfect combination of tangy and sweet, and it was the perfect topping for the fluffy muffins. 
These will definitely be repeated. I can’t believe how good they were. 

King Arthur’s can only be purchased in the USA but it can be shipped to Canada, yay! What kind of muffin would you make with this mix? I would love to hear!

Mother’s Day Dessert

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the wonderful, loving, caring Mothers in our world. If it weren’t for Mothers, we wouldn’t be the people we are today. I am so thankful everyday for the love and support from my Mom. I am so lucky to have my Mom as a best friend, I am truly blessed!

I made baked apples with dates, almonds and rum for Mother’s day dessert, after a delicious pasta dish my Dad made. I found the recipe off of the Epicurious website!
This was an easy recipe, full of flavour and healthy ingredients. I would definitely recommend this dessert! I served it with a dollop of whipped cream, but I think the next time I will try vanilla ice cream. 
I ended up baking them for an hour at 350 degrees. I kept tinfoil over the apples for about 35 minutes and then took the foil off to let it bake for the last half hour. Once I took them out of the oven I let them sit for about 10 minutes before serving them, I didn’t want them to be too hot. They were absolutely delicious. 

The hints of lemon were very strong, but a sweet lemon. I couldn’t taste the rum, and the dates were not that strong either. It was overall perfectly balanced with all the tastes. 

Sunday Night Dinner

What a lovely weekend! The weather was so warm and the trees and flowers are blooming like crazy. Did you all have a nice weekend?
I went to Chapters in search of some books Saturday, but it was crazy busy and I forgot a coupon that was going to give me half off any second book…so, I came home empty handed and went onto Amazon…where I got 4 books for the price of 2, it was great! We also went to see a really funny movie Saturday night, Death at a Funeral. We saw the original British version and thought it was hilarious, so we went to the theaters to see the American version – it was even funnier.
Yesterday I did a big spring cleaning of my room, throwing out things that I really don’t need any more…things that I’ve been holding onto for much too long. It feels nice to finally get rid of them. I also went for a nice long walk with my sister, it was nice being able to walk around in shorts and tanks and not being cold!
In the afternoon I made a Gluten free, Refined sugar free Fruit Crumble for dessert. It felt so satisfying to pick fresh rhubarb from our garden and put it to use.
We didn’t get to eat it until after our dinner though….I guess that’s why it’s called dessert! Our dinner was soooo good though. Mom made a roast chicken with carrots and onion, sweet potatoes, green beans and asparagus. Yum, yum, yum!
Mom said the dinner wasn’t “blog worthy” to take a picture of.
 
Gluten Free/Refined Sugar Free Fruit Crumble
Filling:
2 cups chopped rhubarb
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 apple chopped
1 pear chopped
1.5 tsp stevia powder (5 packets)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup maple syrup
Topping:
3/4 cup white rice flour
1 cup gf oats
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup apple sauce
1 tbsp safflower oil
4 tsp maple syrup
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
First, chop all of the fruit into 1/2 inch chunks. Throw the fruit, stevia, cinnamon and maple syrup in one bowl. Stir until combined. Grease a baking dish and then place the fruit mixture on the bottom of the dish. In another bowl, mix together the topping ingredients until moist and crumbly. Crumble the topping over the fruit until covered. Pop into the oven for 40 minutes until golden.
Serves ~6 people.
Serve with ice cream, frozen yogurt, plain yogurt, or eat on its own.
This makes a great dessert, or you could even eat for breakfast with yogurt!
This dish was great. The whole family loved it and thought it was nice and sweet. I was so happy it turned out sweet, as rhubarb is such a bitter vegetable.
 
Did you know rhubarb was a vegetable? I always thought it was a fruit! Did you know that one cup of rhubarb provides 348 mg of calcium, that is as much as a glass of milk!
 
Wow. You learn something new everyday, don’t you!
 
Well, it looks as if it’s going to be a sunny day today! Enjoy your Monday everyone 🙂
Tulips are my favourite flower. They make me so happy and get me excited that warm weather is on its way!
 
Last month was ‘daffodil month’ in support of the Canadian Cancer Society. They’re still blooming in our garden though. They’re such a beautiful cheery flower!
 
Updates:
– Check out Katie’s giveaway!
– Look! My Operation Beautiful note was posted!
Okay…now I’m off to yoga!!

Fat Date Fig Bars

Yesterday was boxing day, also known as “be lazy day” in our family.
I did absolutely nothing. It was great. Well…I didn’t do ‘nothing’…I did do some baking and I made turkey stock from Christmas dinner’s turkey carcass.

I found a recipe called Skinny Fig Bars from FatFree Vegan Kitchen, I modified it to be my own and yum were they good!

Fat Date Fig Bars

The Goo:

1 cup dried figs
1.5 cups pitted dates
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger

Take the stems off the figs, and chop up the figs and dates. Place in a bowl and cover with boiling water, let stand with a lid over top for about 10-15 minutes. Drain the water and place in a food processor (I used my Magic Bullet). Blend with water until smooth. Add in honey, lemon juice and spices.

The Crust:

1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup gluten free oats
1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder (*see below)
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
3 tbsp honey
1/2 cup water

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stir in the wet ingredients and mix until a dough is formed. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of a greased, eight-inch square cake pan (I used a 10 inch casserole dish). Spread the fig mixture evenly over the crust. Top the fig mixture with the remaining crust mixture. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting into the bars.

These turned out great! They were sweet and flavourful and the crust tasted like pastry. I found that I couldn’t really taste the dates as much as I could taste the figs, but still, they were really yummy. I will definitely be making these again!