Friday, December 2, 2011

Gluten Free Nanaimo Bars

Some holiday traditions should really be done all year round. The Nanaimo bar is always around the house at the holidays. Normally made with graham cracker crumbs, I had to make a change this year and there's no difference whatsoever. Other than no tummy ache!!

From Wiki: "The Nanaimo bar is a dessert of Canadian origin popular across North America. A type of chocolate no-bake square, it is named after the West-Coast city of Nanaimo, British Columbia. It consists of a wafer crumb-based layer, topped by a layer of light vanilla or custard flavoured butter icing, which is covered in chocolate made from melted chocolate squares.[1] Many varieties are possible by using different types of crumb, flavours of icing (e.g. mint, peanut butter), and types of chocolate. Two popular variations on the traditional Nanaimo bar involve mint flavoured icing or mocha flavoured icing."

I used Josef's graham crackers:

They worked fantastic but are slightly difficult to find. Kinnikinnick Graham Crumbs are becoming more widely available though.
Since my Sugar Cookies turned out so well last time, I think I might bake a few a little bit more and then crush them. I'm sure I will find a place for the rest of the cookies that are made. The first batch didn't last long at all!

Nanaimo Bars


1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
4 Tbsp cocoa
2 cups graham wafer crumbs
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans


1/4 cup butter
3 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp vanilla custard powder or pudding powder
2 cups sifted icing sugar
Add peppermint extract to taste and green food colouring to tint to your preference


4 squares semi-sweet chocolate
1 tsp butter

For base:
Mix 1/2 cup butter, white sugar, egg and cocoa in top of double boiler and set over boiling water. Stir until mixture resembles a custard. Combine crumbs and nuts and mix into cocoa mixture. Spread and press tightly into a 9x9 pan. Chill while preparing custard.

For custard:
Cream 1/4 butter, milk, custard powder and icing sugar, peppermint and food colouring together and spread over mixture in pan. Chill while preparing topping.

Melt chocolate over hot water and add butter and blend well. Spread over custard filling. Let set and chill.*
If you like, when the chocolate has set slightly you can score the chocolate so that it won't break when it's firmly set.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Gluten Free Cinnamon Bun Cake

Remember when Cinnabon first appeared in malls? The smell overtook the nearby area and you just had to buy some to take home. You know, back when your hips and butt were a whole lot smaller?

Well anyways, Cinnamon buns have always been a Christmas tradition at my house. Used to just go with the easy Pillsbury Pop-open packs and then last year I made my own using a recipe I found on the celiac forums. They were quite good and I thought about making them again but then somewhere in my constant browsing of food sites, I saw it.


I planned on making it and just converting it to Gluten Free but I could not find the same page again.

So I made my own.

Gluten Free Cinnamon Bun Cake

How easy does that look? It's quick,it's convenient, it's easy. No kneading or rolling, just scooping and smoothing.

Cinnamon Bun Cake


  • 1/2 c. butter ( melted will make the batter easier to spread but softened is also fine)
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. gluten free flour ( I use 2 parts brown/white rice, 2/3 part potato starch, 1/3 part tapioca)
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
Cinnamon Mix

  • 1/4 c.brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon


  • 1.5 - 3 ounces of a package cream cheese, softened ( I prefer 1.5-2 myself for less cream cheese taste)
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract ( I use clear vanilla extract)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Grease 9 x 9 inch pan or line with parchment paper

Mix well butter and 1/2 cup sugar. Add eggs. Mix in flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt and vanilla extract. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together. Spoon 1/2 of the batter in the pan and spread batter over pan and sprinkle with 1/2 of the Cinnamon Mix. Top with remaining batter and cinnamon mix.  Bake 350°F. for 30-35minutes or until cake tests done.
For icing, using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat cream cheese, butter, icing sugar, vanilla and salt together until icing is smooth and fluffy, approx 5 minutes.
Pour icing over warm cake and let sit to cool.

** If you are making this with regular flour, use 1 cup of all-purpose flour and omit xanthan gum**

I used my Peach Cake recipe for the base cake mix.
First layer of batter and cinnamon

2nd layer

Looks perfect to me!

You're covering it in cinnamon and icing anyway so it doesn't have to be beautiful

Fresh out of the oven

How do I not own a square 9 x9 pan anymore?

Every bite has cinnamon and icing

Hello there....

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Chocolate Temptation Chocolate Cake

This is the greatest chocolate cake that I've ever had, hands down. This includes my pre-Gluten Free days. I was never one to make my own cake from scratch since the boxed mixes always turned out so well and were so moist. Rather than using boxed GF cake mixes that fall apart, taste flat and only make 1 layer, why not try a real cake?
This comes from Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman and truly is a great recipe.
I've made it before but posting this time with my own alterations making it easier than ever!
My very first attempt at this cake last year. I've made it many times since then.
Chocolate Temptation Chocolate Cake


For the Cake:
  • 1 Cup Butter
  • 2 cups Sugar

  • 2 cups all-purpose Gluten-Free Flour*
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • ¼ teaspoon Salt
  • 4  Heaping Tablespoons  Cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder

  • ½ cup Buttermilk ( use 1 /2 cup milk plus 2 tsp of cider vinegar if you do not have buttermilk)
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 cup Hot Water
For the Icing:
  • ½ cups Finely Chopped Pecans
  • 3/4 cup Butter
  • 4 Heaping Tablespoons Cocoa
  • 6 Tablespoons Milk
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 pound  Powdered Sugar (approx 1/2 bag of a 1 kg bag)
*also use an additional  small amount  of butter and 2 Tablespoons of flour for flouring cake pan

Note: I have used a general all purpose GF flour mixture from Bulk Barn as well as my standard baking mix of 2 parts rice flour, 2/3 part potato starch and 1/3 part tapioca starch.

Preparation Instructions

Prepare 9 x 13 pan by greasing with butter and sprinkle in 2 Tablespoons of gluten free flour. Shake flour around pan until lightly covered and discard remaining flour.
Heat oven to 350F.

In mixing bowl, cream butter until fluffy and add sugar. Mix until well combined.
Add flour, xanthan gum, salt, cocoa, baking soda and baking powder. Mix well.
Add buttermilk, eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.
Carefully add 1 cup hot water and gently stir until water is incorporated.
Pour into prepared cake pan.

Bake for approximately 35-40 minutes until tester comes out clean.

While cake is baking, make the icing.

 Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add cocoa, stir to combine, then turn off heat. Add the milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Stir together. Add the pecans, stir together, and pour over warm cake.

Before baking

Poured warm icing over warm cake

For my birthday, I made small squares of cake and then poured the icing over top.

Stays nice and moist for over 1 week if it lasts that long. Keep a fork nearby and sneak some everytime you go in the kitchen and it'll be gone sooner.  I know from experience
I plan on making this into a layer cake, into small cakes, cupcakes etc and just change up the icing. It's just a great recipe.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Ummm, welcome?

People of internet land, welcome to my little corner of the blogosphere. I'm not really all that used to visitors around here, except for Jeanine from The Baking Beauties and well, my mom.   My recipes are here, mostly for my own use, so that I have a place to keep  them and to refer back to while I cook. I know that my photos aren't the greatest since I take them too fast and the lack of creative art design is apparent.

Jeanine was nominated for a Links assignment that is going around right now and she then nominated me as one of her 7 bloggers to do this next.  I love Jeanine's blog. I've made a number of her recipes and even adopted her for Adopt a GF Blogger 

So here goes...

Most Beautiful Post

Fried Chicken Well, oven fried chicken. So what if there is a crumb down by the bottom right corner. I still tried to take a nice photo with a black background. It's about as fancy as I get. It's crunchy and crisp and tastes fantastic cold the next day. It's perfect for picnics.

Most Popular

Everyones loves biscuits. And these are a nice rustic biscuit. King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Biscuits  are definitely the most popular post here. Maybe it's people searching for King Arthur Flour, maybe not. But they are good. Not a light fluffy one like my Duinkerken  ones but delicious anyways.

Most Controversial

Me? Controversy? I'm sorry. I searched and searched and I've got NUTHIN'!!! So I'm creating my own. Beer Battered Fish and Chips What kind of beer to use? Redbridge? Bard's? Green's? New Grist? La Messagere? Estrella Damm Daura? Or maybe skip the beer and add some soda water? Or plain water? Oh boy, the drama....

Most Helpful

Tips and tricks on making these crackers are what make this helpful. Sesame Crackers These are just so darn tasty. They don't last the afternoon with me.

Successful Surprise

Greek Salad Dressing is pretty popular around here. It's naturally GF and super yummy. Add some feta, olives, tomatoes and cucumbers and you're all set!

Post that Didn't get the Attention it Deserved

Another naturally GF item. Vintage Lemonade 3 ingredients. Peel lemons and squeeze, keep separate, add sugar, add boiling water. Cool, then mix. That's the short form version. It's a smooth lemonade, perfect for summer or the base of other citrus drinks. It's really not like any other lemonade you've had. It's been up for over 1 1/2 years but only viewed 23 times. Wonder how many of those views were me?

Post You're Most Proud Of

Lattice. On a Gluten Free Pie. Gluten Free Caramel Apple Pie Two recipes in one. Fantastic workable pie crust and my favourite caramel apple pie. It doesn't get any better than this.

I hope you've enjoyed some of these recipes and I hope you'll stick around. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Summer Fresh Berry Steak Sauce

They say a good steak doesn't need any steak sauce. For the most part, that's true. There aren't a lot of options out there for a great steak sauce. The sauces are usually based on a brown-sauce style and include malt vinegar as one of the main ingredients. I usually only use salt and pepper lately and follow the Serious Eats philosophy for salting steaks at least 50 minutes before grilling. In addition, I love their Importance of Resting Meat  article as well.

Last week, I was out for dinner and I normally don't use steak sauce but the steak didn't have much flavour. So I had some HP sauce which is a British brown sauce-style steak sauce and it really didn't add much to the steak. So I'm sharing one of my favourite recipes. It's been modified from this recipe.  It's so simple yet so good.

Summer Fresh Berry Steak Sauce

  • 1 pint raspberries, washed and dried
  • 1 pint blackberries, washed and dried
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup GF Worcestershire sauce ( US- Lea and Perrins or Canada-Heinz London Style)*
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 20 drops hot pepper sauce ( or more to taste. the longer it sits, the hotter it gets, I use Frank's Red Hot)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1.  In a saucepan over medium heat, combine raspberries and blackberries and cook down for approx 10-15 minutes until berries have liquified and lost their shape. 
  2. Strain berries through a fine mesh wire strainer until you have all of the berry juices that you possibly can. You will have a lump of thick berry residue in your strainer after this.                   
  3. In a saucepan over high heat, blend berries,  brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, cider vinegar, hot pepper sauce, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to low, and simmer 10 minutes, or until thickened.               

I pour this into a few old sauce jars and it makes about 3-4 cups.
*Ensure you are using a Gluten Free Worcestershire Sauce. Look under SAUCES for Lea and Perrins and Heinz which will be the London Recipe version.  Both are gluten free depending on where you are.

Slowly cooking berries down

Pour into strainer/sieve and press berries through. Scrape underside of mesh occasionally.

The remains

Nearly a cup of puree

Made over 1 3/4 bottles of sauce

Usually I buy a nice large tenderloin and cut it into smaller pieces to freeze or buy thick 16 oz steaks at the butcher and this sauce just compliments the beef so well. Sometimes, the heat of the sauce increases over time as you store it. It's perfect since berries are in season and it's the best time of year for grilling a nice juicy steak.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Gluten Free Niagara

Where to eat gluten free in Niagara?

It's a bit of a tough one. Sure, there are restaurants who do rice pasta. It seems to be the most frequent offering on menus.

I don't eat out a lot here and there are restaurants that I eat that probably don't have a clue what gluten is and yet, I feel comfortable eating certain items. I have a restaurant to eat chicken wings, nachos and french fries at although they are a pub with probably no concept of gluten free. I just know that the wings are fried separately and they aren't breaded.

Breakfasts are often easy... Bacon, eggs and possibly the homefries depending on the spices. Some places will substitute a fruit cup for you instead of toast.

I work in a place that has a very nice restaurant and they make gluten free bread on site. I get a lot of phone calls from people who almost sound stressed when talking about it. " Well, we'd like to stay but I'm celiac"  or "My daughter is celiac and we need to bring food for her"  It's nice to reassure people that we can take care of them.  On a recent weekend, I went to this restaurant for breakfast and enjoyed eggs, bacon and toast. The toast was grilled over an open flame as they don't have a separate toaster and this is how they do their GF toast for breakfasts. I've also heard that they will substitute the same bread for lunch sandwiches.

For dinner, I've always liked The Keg Steakhouse. There is one in St Catharines as well as two in the Fallsview area of Niagara Falls, Ontario which are a little more expensive than the St Catharines restaurant. I've enjoyed the prime rib ( no au jus), baked potato and on a more casual evening, nachos, bacon wrapped scallops and garlic and cheese shrimp. They do bring sourdough bread to the table and the shrimp does come with more bread on the side but I forego that.  Margaritas or red wine may accompany these meals as well. For a short while, they did have a gluten free menu but they have since removed it.

There are a few restaurants that do rice pasta as I mentioned. Johnny RoccosCafe Amore - where the local Celiac group has dined and they have desserts and rolls available, and for a small intimate venue, La Scala Ristorante  which is a 30 seat restaurant. I don't usually go out for pasta since I prefer La Veneziane Corn Pasta

 There is a fantastic website called Gluten Free Ontario which lists all areas of Ontario as well as  different chain restaurants as well. It is frequently updated to reflect new establishments.  A few of the stores on the Niagara Falls and St Catharines sections do receive products from a local bakery which unfortunately I find extremely overpriced and the quality dismal.

The Celiac Scene has another list of restaurants that offer GF however I've looked up some of them and haven't really seen any information online regarding their offerings.

Pizza can be ordered from a couple different locations. Pizza Pizza has a gluten free crust and although it's a thin mostly rice flour based crust, it's great if you and your friends all want pizza. You do need to ensure you order the proper kind of pepperoni if you do order as the classic pepperoni contains gluten. Gluten free Ingredients at Pizza Pizza

You can also visit Boston Pizza. They feature gluten free pizza with crusts from Kinnikinnick . All the toppings that are GF are marked with a little star. At my restaurant I had pepperoni and bacon which is my favourite. Ask for it extra crispy so the crust is nicely cooked through.

You can also check out Roberto's Pizza  in St Catharines for a gluten free crust.

One of the local restaurants I often go to  is M.T Bellies  in Welland and they have just put out their new menu which does have some items listed as GF on it. One thing to stress is that you need to ask questions since this is new for them. I've enjoyed the pizza with chicken and bacon and I usually have the Centre Cut steak with garlic smashed potatoes and broccoli. To be perfectly honest, I often have the nachos and the potato skins which are fried and I haven't had any problems. One of their servers has a child with celiac and she helped me when I ordered my pizza.

Another local place I used to go to quite a bit is Jack Astor's. They've just come out with a gluten free menu as well. They have a few options that I would like as well. Definitely somewhere to go back to although I can't have any of their delicious Garlic Pan Bread any longer.
On the American side, you have a lot more options with all the national chains creating gluten free options and/or gluten free menus.

You can also look at the Gluten Free in Western New York website and the Buffalo Gluten Free website for even more places.

Back on the Canadian side of the border, one classic chain is Swiss Chalet. A 1/4 rotisserie chicken with chalet dipping sauce and salad is a great choice. The salad are never packaged with croutons so there is no worry there. Although they hand cut their french fries every day, they do occasionally deepfry breaded items in the same fryer so it is not a safe option. They also serve their meals with a bun and I ask not to have it added to my meal.

Overall, there still aren't a lot of places because there are a lot of chain restaurants and they are the type of restaurant that only has sauces and condiments listed as gluten free. Not much help there. But with a little research, you'll find something. Otherwise come on over. I'll BBQ!.