Soaked Gluten Free Chocolate Cake.

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Please pardon the baking tray in the background, we frosted the cake during the party so the meatball trays were still out.

When the wee one told me he wanted to have a train party for his birthday I got a crazy idea about making a 3-D train cake. So, I took to the interwebs to see if this was something I could do on my own and of course Pinterest was the place I found the answer. I found these instructions there and decided I’d give it a whirl.

When it came time to bake a test cake I realized my original plan to bake in a coffee can was foiled because the coffee can we had on hand was not actually metal, but cardboard. So I tried using a quart mason jar. That worked just fine, so I’ll include the directions with the recipe.

For the actual cake recipe I knew I’d need to make adjustments, but I’ve never done a sculpted (if you can call this sculpted) cake before so I wasn’t sure what kind of adjustments to make to the batter. I’d read to reduce the oil, but that was for regular cake batter, not gluten-free. Gluten-free cake is a whole other beast. So I talked with my sister-in-law and she suggested adding eggs. I combined the two adjustments for the practice cake and hoped for the best.

What I ended up with was a chocolate cake that was slightly more dense than usual making it very similar to a cake brownie. This cake was like a compromise between chocolate cake-dom and brownie-hood. It held together very well and it tasted great, so I ditched my back-up plan of buying a train shaped cake pan and decided to make the 3-D train for the party.

To bake a cake in a mason jar you’ll need to thoroughly oil the inside of the jar and cut out some parchment paper to line the bottom. Then oil the parchment for good measure. I filled the jar to the 1 cup line and set it in a water bath (a loaf pan works really well for this) and baked at the normal temperature. The water bath makes it take a bit longer, so start checking on the jar cake 5 minutes past the normal baking time.
To remove the cake from the jar, slice a little piece off of the bottom, taking it out with the knife. Shake the rest of the cake out.

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake (for “sculpting”)

1/4 cup coconut oil
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 ounces (2/3 cup )unsweetened cocoa powder
7 ounces (1 1/3 cups plus 1/4 cup) GF flour blend
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
5 1/4 ounces (3/4 cup) sucanat
1 cup whole milk
1 Tablespoon whey or other acid
4 cups frosting

  1. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, milk and whey/acid in a glass bowl. Mix well, cover and let sit on the counter overnight.
  2. In the morning, melt the chocolate in the oil and set aside to cool. In a separate bowl, mix baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt together. Adjust the oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 350°F.
  3. Oil two loaf pans (and a mason jar) and line the bottoms with parchment, oiling the top of the parchment as well.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk eggs and vanilla. Whisk in sucanat until well combined (it won’t be smooth). Whisk in cooled chocolate mixture until combined. Mix in the dry ingredients then add the flour/cocoa/milk mixture and whisk until the batter is smooth.
  5. Divide batter evenly between the loaf pans, leaving enough to fill the mason jar to the 1 cup (or higher) line. Put the mason jar in a water bath. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 30-32 minutes, rotating pans halfway. Check the mason jar and add extra time as needed (about 10 minutes).
  6. Let cakes cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edges and remove the cakes from the pans, allowing them to cool completely on the rack before frosting or storing in an airtight container on the counter (DO NOT refrigerate).
  7. Frost the cake before serving.

You can make this cake dairy-free by using water kefir instead of milk. Or water with lemon/vinegar instead of whey. The acid you use doesn’t particularly matter because the chocolate masks the acidic flavor really well. No one will ever know.
The cupcakes in the picture are made with water kefir, and they turned out awesomely!

Party Prep When Preggo.

IMG_0277I have a limited amount of energy to draw from on a daily basis and being pregnant just exacerbates that. When I want to host something, I try to give myself plenty of time to work so that I won’t be running around like an angry chicken the day of the event. My goal is to make the hour or two before the first guest arrives as stress-free as possible.

We also had guests stay from Saturday to Sunday, which added extra prep so I was more diligent about my cleaning schedule and it really paid off: we thoroughly enjoyed their visit because I didn’t have to stress about party food prep.

It helped that my parents came to town for the wee one’s birthday and my mom cleaned the kitchen/breakfast bar for me, but with this schedule I think I could have pulled it off. I would have been a little more stressed, but I think getting the kitchen done would have been possible.

Here’s what I did for the little one’s birthday:

Monday. Clean the upstairs and downstairs bathrooms. This includes toilets, sinks and sweeping. The upstairs bath tub was clean from the week before, and if it hadn’t been clean, that’s what the shower curtain is for.

Tuesday. Laundry. This meant sheets in the guest room and clothes. Also tidying the bedrooms in general. I also added the T.V. room to the day because there were toys scattered all over.

Wednesday. Living room and errands. We have a giant fur factory of a dog, so cleaning the living room means spraying down the rug under our piano with vinegar water and actually brushing the fur out of it with one of those plastic bristle brushes because vacuuming doesn’t touch the hair. I started sprouting chickpeas for hummus in the morning, we also swept, tidied the toys and other surfaces like the piano and roll-top desk. I picked up all the party foodstuffs and general grocery needs. Then we went to dinner with an old friend of hubby’s, which was a nice break.

Thursday. Kitchen time! This is the day I did all of the food prep I could do ahead of time: I made the deviled eggs without filling them, mixed up 4 pounds of bacon meatball goodness and made 6 cups of coconut milk for tapioca pudding. I also cleaned the kitchen a little, but you really couldn’t tell by the end of the day. Part of the reason the kitchen didn’t get cleaned that day was that I discovered our wonderful cat had revenge peed on the wall in our craft room, so we spent a good portion of Thursday cleaning out the craft room.

Friday. On Friday I made the tapioca pudding, cooked the chickpeas and generally sat around after revisiting some places for cleaning. That evening we went out to dinner with my parents for the little one’s actual birthday. After dinner I started the cake batter (for soaking) and fed the sourdough starter for Sunday pancakes.

Saturday. I baked the cake (recipe next week!) while my mom cleaned the kitchen the rest of the way and I made hummus. Our company arrived around 5, so I spent the rest of the day visiting. In the evening I started the pancake batter.

Sunday. The day of the event! Pancake breakfast and then church. My mom got balloons and cleared off the breakfast bar while we were at mass, which was super helpful. When we got home we had an hour and a half to put everything together and we almost made it. The second round of meatballs were baking by the time the second round of guests arrived. My sister-in-law made frosting, so we frosted the cake when she arrived.

Overall everything went very smoothly. I had help which reduced the stress level by a lot, but the largest factor in stress reduction was definitely splitting up the chores throughout the week beforehand. I definitely recommend doing that for any event you’re planning!

Paleo Bacon Meatballs.

IMG_0278These meatballs are amazing. The one thing that’s not so amazing is that you need a food processor with a shredding blade attachment to make them. You could give them a shot with super finely chopped bacon too, but shredding the bacon makes them awesome. Another thing you could use is a meat grinder. I saw one at the thrift store the last time I went, now I’m kicking myself for not grabbing it.

Every time I host something I think of making these. Depending on what the event is, it’s more than likely these delicious morsels will make an appearance. As a bonus you can stick them on toothpicks with lettuce and a cherry tomato for something resembling a bun-less burger. I bet you could wow guests if you turned these into actual burgers too. I’m going to try that after the wee one’s birthday party.

Bacon Meatballs

1 pound ground beef (preferably grass-fed)
1 pound nitrate-free bacon (or largest package you can find)
1 egg
1 Tablespoon chili powder (mild if serving to children)
Salt and pepper to taste
Cherry tomatoes and lettuce for garnish

  1. Set up your food processor with the shredding disc and shred the bacon. Do not separate the bacon slices: put the whole brick of bacon through at once.
  2. Mix the shredded bacon and ground beef. Add the egg and spices and mix thoroughly.
  3. Use a cookie dropper to drop meatballs onto a preheated pan and cook for 3 minutes before turning them over with tongs. Cook another 3-5 minutes, or until you cut the largest one in half and there is no pink.
  4. If you’re making a lot of these preheat your oven to 350° and bake portioned meatballs on a rimmed baking sheet for 20 minutes.

Probiotic Deviled Eggs.

deviled.eggs.blog It’s getting to be barbeque season and, for some reason, I associate barbeques with deviled eggs. These are my go-to appetizer to bring to any function and I make a batch every time we host. The secret to awesome deviled eggs is mayonnaise. You can’t make stellar eggs without good quality mayo, it’s just not possible. I make my own mayo using an awesome recipe by my friend Melissa at Dyno-Mom. I make the second recipe in that post and it is always amazing!

I usually hate mayonnaise, so when I tell you that homemade mayo is the best, I’m not joking around. Not only is it delicious, but the fermented mayo is good for your gut bugs too, which is an added bonus.

The things next to the eggs in the above picture are bacon-beef meatballs which deserve their own post. I was a little stunned to discover that the only picture I have of deviled eggs is from our little one’s first birthday party. I make them so often I just assumed there would be a larger selection, but there ya go. So pardon the quality.

Deviled EggsIMG_0653

6 hard-cooked eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon mustard
1 teaspoon vinegar
Paprika for garnish

  1. Peel your eggs and cut them in half, putting the yolks into a large bowl.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients except for the paprika and mix well. You can use a fork or a hand mixer.
  3. Pipe or spoon the filling into the egg halves. Sprinkle paprika on top and serve.

If you need to make this ahead (I usually do) just do the first two steps, cover the bowl -or choose a mixing bowl that has its own lid- and stick it in the fridge. Load the egg halves onto the deviled egg plate and cover them tightly with plastic wrap. I’ve tried tossing them into a bowl before and I ended up with misshapen eggs at party time, which was no fun.

A variation you can do with these is use horseradish mustard, or any other flavor mustard, instead of dijon or yellow.

These are always a hit. This recipe is, by far, my favorite recipe for deviled eggs. But it doesn’t work without the mayo.