Category Archives: Sweet Things

GF: Fabulous, Quick Brownies

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Quick, easy and delicious: GF Brownies!

Quick, easy and delicious:  GF Brownies. Photo by Kate Chan.

The holidays are over (but my tree is still up until Saturday).

My parents have left  (leaving my Chicklet at a loss for her beloved Grammy and Grampy).

My work?  Still not done, but at least the pile is neater well… still visible and now sporting a “to-do list” sticky note.

The New Year has begun and I am so very thankful to have had some time with my parents.  My dad is tired (chemo, anemia and a variety of other ailments), my mom is amazingly steady and continues to demonstrate grace, and I am still just figuring it all out as it comes.  Sometimes it’s strange to me to think of all of our ages and that I have KIDS!  What?!?!  Kids?  I’m a mom?  Get out! I still feel like a kid myself!  Who knew that this is the way it really would be.  Certainly makes me appreciate this bizarre phase of life more.

I am realizing all the things my parents did for and with us that I don’t remember.  Raising kids is a bit like raising a future amnesia patient.  :D  I will remember all of our lovely little snuggles, games and conversations, but they won’t.  It’s definitely eye-opening and character building.  It’s sad that we don’t remember these tender moments with our parents as we grow up.  But I’m happy I don’t remember teething, etc!  Blech!  Some things are definitely meant to be forgotten after the experience is over.

Experience is also what makes me able to remove myself from the high school drama that swirls outside my classroom door (and sometimes sneaks through the doorway in whispers, glances and clandestine text messages).  Thank goodness none of us have to relive that again, huh?  But really, the beautiful part about experience is the sincere appreciation of my parents and their gifts to me.

There are too many instances for me to name, but I will just say this:  we are much more like our parents than we will ever know. :D  (And in my case, that is a great thing! I’m lucky.)

My folks just left on Tuesday.

On Monday night, I decided to whip up some brownies for a lunch meeting on Tuesday.  I started at 9:45.  By 10:20, the brownies were done.  But my mom had already gone upstairs to bed (or so we thought) while my Love and I visited with my Dad at the table.  As my dad excused himself to join my mom, I went up to say goodnight to her.  I didn’t want to miss my chance as I wasn’t sure if she would be up when we left the house early in the morning heading off to daycare/work/school.

I found her at the top of the stairs – holding her laptop and sniffing the air.  “Are the brownies done yet?” she asked.

Oh yea.  You have to love her. :D

She came downstairs to make the great sacrifice of taste-testing.  I had the brownies cooling on the counter (laying on parchment paper but out of the baking dish).  When she and my dad entered the kitchen, they were both whispering about brownies.  My dad asked her what she was doing and that he thought she had gone to bed.  She laughed and said nope – not when there are fresh brownies in the house.

And then he asked, “Brownies? Where?”

“Yes!” she said, “I can smell them but I don’t see them!”

I chuckled from the other room.  Busted by my giggle, my parents laughed too.  And then we cut into the delicious, fudgy warm brownies and talked about the quality of them.  Oh, chocolate.  If not for love to bind our family, I’m sure chocolate would do.

——————–

And now that there are a few more gluten-free buddies at work (for a few reasons), I have even more taste-testers.  The mistake I made, I guess, was bringing the brownies in from the car before lunch.  Why?  Well, because they never actually made it to lunch.  They were eaten for breakfast.  :D Oh yes, it was a sacrifice indeed.

My normal breakfast it typically a cup of coffee and a banana.  This time is was a mighty chocolatey banana with a fabulous coffee kicker and a side of brownie.  YUM.

I guess I will just have to make another batch for my meeting on Saturday (8:00AM until 2:00PM, anyone?).  Something tells me they might just end up as a Saturday brunch item during our meeting, but I know my chocolate-loving colleagues.  They will be all-over the idea of that!

And I know some of you are doing the appropriate thing:  avoiding sugar after so many yummy treats during the holidays.  But chocolate is like air sometimes:  you just GOTTA have it!  And besides, my wild rice dish that I am making in the crock pot tomorrow will more than make up for it.  :D

If you get a hangering for some fabulous brownies, try these.  When they are warm, they are rich and fudgey.  When they cool off, they are still fudgy, but get more cake-like.  Either way, they are delicious.  And if you don’t want to make your own, you are more than welcome to come to our curriculum planning meeting on Saturday morning to try some of mine. :D

Gluten Free Quick Brownies
Makes a 6″ x 10″ oblong or 9 inch square pan.

Ingredients:
2 eggs, beaten together in a small bowl
2/3 c. GF flour mix
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (optional – but adds a great layer of flavor)
1/2 cup sugar (use 2/3 cup if using all bittersweet chips)
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons water
2 cups chocolate chips (1 cup bittersweet, 1 cup milk or semi-sweet)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Line your baking pan with parchment paper (or oil tin foil).
  2. Beat together eggs in a small bowl.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and chili powder and set aside.
  4. In a microwave safe bowl, place the sugar, water and butter.  Melt in your microwave (30 seconds +, depending on your microwave).  Take out and stir.  Then put back into the microwave and bring it to a boil.  (About 2 minutes more – again, depending on your microwave).  (PS.  This step can be done on your stovetop in a small saucepan too, if you would prefer.)
  5. Stir the chocolate chips and vanilla extract into the hot sugar/water/butter mixture.  Stir until the chocolate chips have all melted (leaving a few chunks is okay).
  6. Add dry ingredients plus eggs to the mixture and stir well.  (Do this quickly so the eggs don’t begin to “cook” in the hot chocolate goodness.)
  7. Pour your batter into the parchment lined baking dish.  Bake for 20 – 26 minutes or until the top shines and is dry.
  8. Remove from the oven.  Lift the parchment out of your baking dish and set it on a cooling rack to allow the brownies to cool.  Cutting in to warm brownies will give you fudgey dense brownies.  Allow them to cool completely for a less dense-fudgey brownie.  Store in an airtight container or a plastic food bag until all have been devoured.

Happy GF Chocolatey Goodness!
~Kate

 

Dear Santa

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Chocolate Caliente a la español

Chocolate a la española/Spanish Hot Chocolate Photo by Kate Chan

A tidbit off my facebook posting just to help you get the context for my chocolate craving:

Dear Santa –

Please forgive my little imp’s exclamation of “Oh, shit!” when the gas fireplace burst to life the other day. And, well, her “What the hell is that, Momma?” query while we drove home and she saw strange sights through her side window in our quirky little town. After all, she did just give me the biggest, unrequested snuggly hug after her bath tonight.

And besides, we both know Momma and Papa deserve the coal for these infractions. But can you make my coal caffeinated at least? I need to keep up with her after all.

xoxoxoxo
~Kate

Get the picture?

Yes.  Tonight required much more than Calgon.

It was a hard-core, bring on the chocolately goodness that you have to sip off a spoon because it is slightly thickened and to-die-for.

Drink up.

Sip it all.

Lick the spoon and then ever crevice of your serving cup.

Sigh.

And post the recipe for someone else’s long day.

You won’t have any regrets.  Just delightful thoughts of chocolate, warm and toasty family cuddles and deep winter sleeps.

It’s HOT CHOCOLATE SEASON!  Wahooo!

Spanish-style hot chocolate
Serves 1.5 chocolate lovers or 2.5 chocolate sippers (if those types exist.  LOL)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup half and half
4 ounces chopped chocolate (semi-sweet OR dark chocolate)
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon cold water
vanilla extract OR peppermint (that…would not be Spanish but it would be good!)

1. Heat milk and cream over medium-low heat until warm. STIR constantly to avoid scalding milk.
2. Stir in chocolate pieces and continue stirring until completely melted. Add the extract of your choice.
3. Mix together water and cornstarch until it is smooth. Add to chocolate. Continue to stir until the hot chocolate thickens to a thin pudding. Remove from the heat.
4. Serve with whipped cream (ideally) or mini-marshmellows (if necessary).

If you use dark chocolate, people in Spain have been known to sprinkle a little sugar on top for added sweetness.

Recipe serves 2-3 in demistasse cups OR just one if they have a huge chocolate craving!

Happy Gluten Free Chocolate Days, all!
~Kate

 

Gluten Free Pumpkin Fries

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Gluten Free Pumpkin Fries

Tomorrow shall be a BIG adventure for our little one.  We are off to a pumpkin farm with her Aunt Kari.  Pumpkins are a big theme around here. I’m not sure that Zoe will actually let me cut into the pumpkin she picks out to make a Jack-O-Latern with her.  She won’t let me touch the two little ones that she has now.   The other day she wanted to draw a face on the little pumpkins but when she saw that the marker wouldn’t come off, she wigged.  No pumpkin coloring for her yet.  Maybe when she sees ALL of us cutting and carving pumpkins, she will change her mind.  I’m willing to bet that she will be thrilled to see me carve *my* pumpkin but that she is not going to allow a knife anywhere near her pumpkin.

Case in point:  the pumpkin fries.

I bought two small pumpkins (about 2 pounds each, I think) to make pumpkin fries.  Zoe likes squash so I though she might like to try these pumpkin fries.  However, when I went to cut the pumpkins, she wasn’t happy.  In fact, I had to put the pumpkins aside and get her occupied doing something else.  Like play with her lavender-orange scented rice with scoops and funnels.

Playing with textures
Playing with textures by Kate Chan

Looking on

Then, and only then, could I start peeling and chopping.  Once she saw me happily peeling and preparing the pumpkin fries, there was no problem. She wanted to see the inside “guts” of the pumpkin and we talked about roasting the seeds, etc.

Zoe snuggled up next to my legs drinking her juice and munching on GF cheese crackers as I was prepping the pumpkins. And Rory was in a bouncing chair nearby watching it all go down and cooing away. It brought back memories of standing on chairs around our kitchen table as a kid while I scooped out the pumpkin I was going to carve.  I thought about how much fun I will have when both girls are old enough to carve pumpkins around the kitchen table with me.  Oh, the joy of two little ones.  I just hope time doesn’t steal all of the good opportunities away from me with it’s speed.

I’m going back to work a week from today.  It’s killing me.  Every second that I can, I am listening to the girls.  Rory’s little coos are enough to make time stop and fairies rejoice.  Zoe’s stories keep me company everywhere we go.  She and I headed to the cell phone store (again…really obnoxious third visit in five days….grrrrr) and she kept me laughing the entire ride, wait and trip home.  She tells great jokes (okay… repeating the same joke 700 times really does wear you down and make you laugh more somedays) and she loves to learn.  Both of these girls are the absolute joys of our lives.

Leaving the tiny moments to return to the ebb and flow of traffic, “to do” lists, papers to grade, lessons to write, emails to answer, etc has me just at the edge of breaking.  I can’t imagine what I will miss with them.  I don’t want to even think about it.  I can’t.  It hurts too much.  Instead, I am just trying to take comfort in the times that we will be together and the plans and things that we can do together then.  After all, I am incredibly lucky to be a teacher in the sense that I will have more time with my girls than some friends of mine who work a full calendar year.  I’m just worried about the fact that a teacher’s job doesn’t end when the school day does.  I work until 11PM sometimes and usually on Sundays too.  I’m worried about the impact on my family and my girls.. and to me, to a lesser extent.  I am definitely in need of setting some different professional expectations for myself as well.

I want more time with my kids.

More time to play in the buckets of rice.

More time to watch the seasons changing and teach them about the leaves changing colors, etc.

More time to cook and eat healthy food at a normal paced and not rushing through everything.

More time to listening to the stories that bloom from our days and adventures together.

More time to hear the coos turn into words and into stories of their own.

Just more time.

We all want that, don’t we?

So I guess I will just seize the opportunities as they come and as we make them.  Like making pumpkin fries and talking about Halloween when I was little with them.  And for those of you who are curious, Zoe is not interested in dressing up this year for Halloween.  She doesn’t think it sounds like fun (yet) to be wearing a costume or a wig or make up, etc.  Ah well, more time for me to savor my little one at home.  (And honestly?  MUCH less temptation to eat too!  We are giving out mini Play-doh containers.  Those leftovers will surely be loved to bits by the girls and my high school students.  LOL)

Since it is pumpkin season, now is the time to make your own pumpkin fries and relive or create some memories.  I made two batches of oven baked fries.  One was savory and the other cinnamon-sweet.  Both will enjoyed by Zoe and I.  We highly recommend you giving them a try yourself too!

Cutting pumpkin fries

Cutting pumpkin fries, Photo by Kate Chan

Gluten Free Pumpkin Fries

Ingredients (per batch)
1 two pound + pie pumpkin

for Savory fries:
olive oil
salt
pepper
optional: ground garlic, ground ginger

for Sweet fries:
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Optional:  1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Peel and scoop our pumpkin.
  3. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Cut pumpkin into fries.  (I cut mine into 3-4 inch long sticks that are about 1/2 inch thick.)
  5. Toss one pound of the cut fries in a tiny bit (maybe 1 tablespoon, or two?) of olive oil with salt and pepper (to taste).  Consider tossing in some of your other favorite spices combinations like:  ground garlic +ground ginger, cumin + fennel, etc.
  6. Mix together the cinnamon and sugar.  Toss the remaining pumpkin fries in the cinnamon sugar mix.
  7. Spread savory fries out in a single layer on one prepared cookie sheet and the sweet fries on another.
  8. Bake the fries in the oven for 20 minutes.  Then remove the pans.  Flip the fries over.  When you return the fries to the oven, be sure to rotate the pans as well.  Whichever was on the top shelf, move to the bottom and vice versa.  Continue baking another 15 – 25 minutes or until the fries are crispy and a deep golden brown color on the edges and the top.

Enjoy with your favorite meal – or eat them for dinner like Z & I did!

Happy Gluten Free Eating!
~Kate