Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free)

Recently some good friends of ours discovered they have a plethora of food allergies to challenge them, including allergies to gluten, dairy and eggs.  After having baked a bunch of goodies for my husbands work, including a few great gluten-free recipes that I had some help finding, I had a few ingredients leftover and decided to try making a dessert my allergic friends could enjoy as well.  I used a gluten-free chocolate chip cookie recipe I'd tried before and make a few changes.  The cookies turned out so soft and moist and delicious that I was asked to share the recipe, and decided I should probably share it with everybody!

Gluten-free, Dairy-free and Egg-free Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Land O'Lakes Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

2 1/4 cups Gluten-free Flour Blend (I used Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Baking Flour, which is a pre-done blend, but people used to baking gluten-free usually find making their own flour blend to be easier on the wallet)
1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
3/4 cup vegan margarine (I use Becel Vegan Margarine which is lactose-free and gluten-free)
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg substitutes (after a little online research I decided to use 2 different easy egg replacers to make up each egg; the first I replaced with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in 2 tablespoons of water, the second I replaced with 1/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce)
1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla (pure vanilla extract is gluten-free)
1 package (12 ounce or 2 cups) gluten-free dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate chunks or chips (I used Enjoy Life Mega Chunks)

Heat oven to 375°F.  Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and xanthan gum in a bowl.  Set aside.
Beat butter, brown sugar and sugar in a large bowl at medium speed until creamy.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour mixture until well mixed.  Stir in chocolate chips/chunks.
Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls, 2 inches apart, onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 9-12 minutes or until edges start to brown (do not overbake).  Let stand for 1 to 2 minutes before removing from cookie sheet.

Recipe yields 3 1/2 to 4 dozen cookies.  Store in an airtight container (if you don't eat them all first!)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Lego Party, Maui Vacation and Halloween

i know it's been a very (very!) long while since i've posted anything here.  all has been very well, but very (very!) busy, and i wasn't sure if anyone was even reading my blog anymore, until someone commented that she enjoys reading my blog and checks in sometimes to see if there's anything new (thank you for the love, angela, your comment made my day!)  my friends and family, who were my original inspiration for starting this blog, are all facebook friends and know all my business anyway, but then i started catering to a different audience, and haven't yet decided what kind of blog this should be, so it's a little bit of everything and, sometimes, a little bit of nothing.
since my last post we've had some babies born within our extended family, we celebrated my son's 5th birthday, he started kindergarten, my family went on a vacation to maui, i started babysitting my friends daughter again two days a week for the school year, i started a new business that's still sort of in the trial period (mary kay), we battled colds and a stomach flu, i'm currently making more jewelry for my sister to sell in her spa, and i've had so many side-projects going on i wouldn't know where to start telling you about them all!
and to catch up, this post may get a little photo-heavy so hopefully it won't take too long to load.

elliott turned 5 and asked for a lego party.  colin and i made this lego character stand for the kids to have fun with.  he built the structure, i painted the figure.
the goodie bags had homemade lego cookies (sugar cookies with royal icing and smarties for the dots on top), personalized laminated bookmarks (each with a picture of their own lego-self that i made with's mini-mizer 3.0), and a lego mini-figure.
i learned how to make the lego cake from a betty crocker video tutorial.   i was very excited when i finally found the lego candles at target!
there were also colouring pages for the kids (and a couple of the adults) to have fun with.
my little guy is suddenly so big!
here are the kids on the third of three flights (we got rerouted due to unexpected airplane technical difficulties) on our way to maui, hawaii, where we took a 10 day vacation with my parents, my sister and her husband, and my brother and his wife.  the kids were absolutely dreamy on the flights, i did a lot of research for ways to keep them comfortable and entertained.  my favourite advice was to make take-off's and landings a game, upon departure asking the kids if they could tell the moment the plane left the ground and was in the air, and the moment the wheels landed back down on the tarmac.  we also gave them gum for the pressure in their ears, lots of water to drink out of cups with straws, and made sure to pack our tablet, portable dvd player with their favourite videos, colouring books, crayons and stickers, and elliott's nintendo ds.  the two biggest hits were the airplane pillows my husband found at the airport (the fishie in the picture above and a froggie for my son) and wikki stix that the kids received at restaurants during the trip.  they now live in my purse for boring moments.
we stayed at makani sands, a beach-front condominium in honokowai (about 15 minutes north of lahaina).  my parents, my sister and her husband, and my husband, kids and i all stayed together in one of their 3 bedroom rentals very comfortably.  there was also a hide-a-bed that my brother and his wife slept on a couple of the nights we were there (most of the time they stayed at her uncle's house).  we all loved having a kitchen to share, it saved us a lot of money so that we didn't have to eat out for every meal.  we took turns making dinners on the nights we didn't go out, which was really fun.  our unit was on the 3rd and 4th floors, the views were incredible.
the condo pool was such a big hit with the kids, there were no waves and water didn't taste like salt.
thanks to the life jackets we bought for the kids before the trip, elliott was able to swim on his own (with close supervision, of course) in the ocean and the pool.  he loved the independence and we loved not having to hold him the whole time.  we haven't exactly had much time in the water at home, we don't swim much, nor has he taken lessons, so it was a life-saver.  literally ;)
of course molly would find the sliding doors most exciting part of staying in the condo.  silly girl.
i easily got used to witnessing these incredible sunsets every single evening.
me and my (very sunburnt) husband <3
on our "girls day" visit to lahaina we made sure to hang out under the banyan trees where molly put on an impromptu modelling show for us.
all 4 of us in a picture together.  for some reason this doesn't happen very often.
the maui ocean center is a must to visit if you're in maui with kids.  it's gorgeous.
if you ever find yourself in maui, a meal (or two, or three) at cheeseburger in paradise in lahaina is A MUST.  my husband, a connoisseur of burgers, claimed his bbq bacon burger was "the best burger he'd ever had in his life".  it might have had a little to do with the great beer and amazing ocean views, but mostly it was just that delicious.
elliott taking a moment to chill out between swims
we waited an hour in the pool-side line-up for the gazebo restaurant in napili.  again, the kids were champs.
they served the kids mickey mouse pancakes with whipped cream :)
and my banana macadamia nut pancakes with whipped cream and coconut syrup were out of this world!  i couldn't finish them, the portion was so big.
it was pretty awesome to see the very beautiful napili beach, the same beach my dad and i would gaze longingly at in the months before our trip on the napili sunset resort webcam.
it took a few days but finally the water suddenly making its way up the shore didn't freak molly out.
elliott loved it right off the bat.
we had some amazing food while we were in maui, including coconut shrimp at bubba gump shrimp co., the burgers at cheeseburger in paradise, the absolute most incredible ahi poke tacos i've ever had in my life at lahaina fish co., those awesome pancakes at the gazebo restaurant, pasta, burgers, pizza and pulled pork with rice at the maui brew pub, and the best ever flatbread blt (pictured above) at the hula grill barefoot bar, with it's applewood bacon, spinach, tomatoes, and goat cheese.  so good i would have eaten it all over again. 
molly enjoying yet another beautiful maui sunset from our lanai (the hawaiian word for balcony) with her super curly hair (it's usually just wavy, but it curled right up in all that hawaiian humidity).
after some heavy meals it was refreshing to have a simple, healthy breakfast at moose mcgillicuddy's (a bar by night but a fun place to grab breakfast by morning). 
my sibs and our spouses and i went back to cheeseburger in paradise together for happy hour, where everything on the happy hour menu was $3 each at 3:00 and $4 at 4:00pm, including chips and salsa, sliders and fries, a couple different beers on tap, mai tai's, and pina colada's (yum yum!)  that hour was indeed very happy.
even i think a cold beer on a hot day looks refreshing and i don't even like beer.
we visited the maui tropical plantation and took the tram tour, which was fun for the kids and very informative.  i learned more things about pineapples, coconuts, coffee, mangos, bananas and macadamia nuts than i ever thought i would.
aren't my island kids just the cutest?  i love this picture of them together.
baldwin beach in paia was a fun beach to visit, since it's on the north side of the island the waves were much bigger than the west side where we were staying.  we found a section nicknamed "baby beach" on the west end where the waves were blocked by a reef, making the water a little calmer to swim in for the kids.  molly still preferred to play in the sand instead.
before our trip i sewed molly this towel dress to hop into after a swim to help dry her off and keep her warm.  i adapted my pattern using ideas from both crafterhours' "beach towel dress tutorial-ish" and a little inspiration from MADE's "beach robe".  i'm super happy with how it turned out, my mom asked if i'd make one for her ;)
all good things must come to an end, and we had a tearful goodbye with my parents and sister and her husband (they were still staying for another week after we left).  the trip home went so smoothly, though it was a very long day of travel that direction since we essentially lost 3 hours with the time difference.
for this years (very dark and rainy!) halloween the kids wanted to be jake and izzy from disney junior's "jake and the neverland pirates" cartoon.  i wasn't about to spend $50 for a jake costume and $30 for an izzy costume from the disney store, so we figured out ways to make our own with some clothes we already had, some fabric, a horrible wig (haha!) and a little imagination.  most people who opened their door for them while trick-or-treating had no idea who jake and izzy were, but they said they were the cutest buccaneers they'd every seen, and my kids' great manners charmed them all.  i'm so proud of those two!