A Gluten-Free Baking Day

Last Saturday, I had a couple of friends over for a fun day of baking together.  I had promised Kat a few months back that we would make cookies together.  I finally delivered.

We began our day of craziness with Harvest Chicken and Rice Soup from Mixes from the Heartland (they sent me a few things to try).

The soup was pretty easy to prepare – boil some water (and maybe some chicken broth) and add some cooked chicken.  For those of you with other allergies, Mixes from the Heartland’s facility is “free of wheat, soy, barley, oats, rye, eggs, nuts, and by products.”

The consensus was that the soup was good, but missing just a little something.  Kat, Regina, and I agreed that it needed a little more seasoning, but at the time, we couldn’t figure out what.  I later decided it needed a small dash of paprika, Andy said salt (but I thought it had plenty of salt), and Braden said garlic salt.  It had a nice light, clean flavor.

This is a good shelf-stable soup mix.  The package I have has a date of May 2011 on it, so it would also be good for a food storage-type of need.  You could use canned chicken, if needed, or for easier preparation.

We also had some Spinach-N-Chives Dip Mix from Mixes from the Heartland (made with sour cream) with some Kettle Brand (I think) potato chips.  None of us are really dip eaters, but we found it to be pretty tasty.  Andy, who loves to eat dip, told me (after making it late one night) that “it’s good… has a light flavor… not overpowering” (he texted me the next day).  I’m actually surprised at how much of it I ate.

After finishing up, we perused the cookbooks to see what we wanted to make.  Regina was a bit in awe of my collection.  Her husband had just told her she had too many gluten-free cookbooks.  She took home pictures to prove she didn’t, lol.

We  actually decided on making a recipe from an upcoming cookbook that I had tucked away to try.  Upon looking at the recipe, we didn’t believe it would come out well.  But it did!  Regina said she would definitely use that recipe when the book comes out (and I’ll tell you what recipe and where it comes from when the book does come out :)).

Kat, who is 11, was just too cute.  I think every baker needs an apron, so I had my mom embroider one for Kat.

She was really excited about decorating the cookies, and was getting a little fancy with the colors.  Braden later joined her.

Then we made pudding cookies, using vanilla pudding, raspberry flavoring (with a bit of vanilla), and dark chocolate raspberry creme baking pieces.  That was a good use of raspberry filling.  I only baked a dozen of these, and the rest of the tripled batch got rolled into logs, in wax paper, and stuck in freezer bags (some for them and some for me).  This way, we can quickly have freshly-baked cookies without all the fuss, whenever we want.

By this time, we were nearing a sugar coma.  Kat was in “desperate need” of some cheese crackers.  We made a ton of cheese cracker dough (most of it went into freezer bags for later use).  We found that using the Rumford baking powder is very important in this recipe to get the crispy cracker texture (which I can’t find anywhere anymore!).  Also, separating them on the sheet is quite helpful (but we were way too lazy to do that by that time of the day).  The majority of our crackers ended up just a little puffy and soft (but if you follow the recipe exactly, using Rumford, they come out just right).

Oh yeah, that's gonna make a lot of crackers.

We had had to run to Kroger to get some cheese, and while perusing the shredded cheeses (because I don’t own a food processor with a grater and I’m not about to shred, by hand, 3 pounds of cheese), we came across some habanero cheese and just had to have it.  It’s like trick-cheese: you don’t feel the heat until after you swallow.

Carter sneaked a cookie... or 4

All in all, it was a wonderful day, spent talking, laughing, baking, and just plain enjoying ourselves.  We ended up with a bunch of tasty treats and a bunch of dough, too.  I highly suggest having one with a gluten-free friend or two.

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