Happy National Pretzel Day!

Happy National Pretzel Day everyone! For us gluten free guys and gals, pretzels seems like a thing of the past. One of my favorite things to do when I was a little girl was to go to the mall with my grandma and get a warm pretzel from either Pretzel Time or Auntie Anne’s with butter (no salt) or cinnamon sugar mmm. That memory always makes me smile and now I can hold onto those memories and that delicious pretzel taste all at home!

Gluten Free Soft Pretzels

Recipe via Celiac.com 

If you want thick pretzel sticks, just cut your dough into the pretzel rods that you wand instead of forming the pretzel shape.

Ingredients

  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 
1-1/2 cups hot water
  • 
1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 
Dash salt
  • 
2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1 cup tapioca starch
  • 
1 cup potato starch
  • 4 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 
1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 
1 cup vegan butter, melted (Earth Balance)
  • 3 tablespoons sea salt or kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • Waxed or parchment paper
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the yeast, hot water, brown sugar and the dash of salt. Allow the mixture to rest for about five minutes.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch and xanthan gum. Add half of this mixture into the yeast mixture.
  3. Using an electric mixer on a low speed, blend all the ingredients together until mixed. Combine the remaining flour mixture. Blend until combined, but try not to over mix.
  4. Use the vegetable oil to lightly coat a bowl. Transfer the dough to the coated bowl and rub a bit of oil all around the dough. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and allow the dough to rise in a warm place for about an hour.
  5. Preheat your oven to 550ºF.
  6. In a small, shallow bowl, mix the baking soda with 1/2 cup of warm water.
  7. Divide the dough into eight equal pieces and lay out a sheet of waxed or parchment paper. Use your hands to roll each piece of dough into a rope. The dough will be fragile. If it falls apart, gently piece it back together.
  8. Shape the rope into a pretzel. If the dough of the pretzel feels dry, use a few drops of the water/baking soda mixture to moisten it.
  9. Gently dip each pretzel into the water/baking soda mixture; then place them on a lightly coated baking sheet.
  10. Bake for about seven minutes until the pretzels are lightly tanned (not brown).
  11. Use a pastry brush to gently brush the butter on each pretzel. Sprinkle with the salt and serve immediately.

Want cinnamon-sugar pretzels?! When the pretzels come out of the oven, coat with a generous helping of cinnamon-sugar!

ENJOY!

Kwegyirba Croffie is a freelance Associate Producer at News 12 Connecticut and a Special Events/Event Planning and Social Media Intern at College Lifestyles (TM). She is a Quinnipiac University alumni and a sister of Alpha Delta Pi. She enjoy cupcakes,Broadway musicals, Forever 21 ,giraffes, peacock feathers, orchids, lillies and anything Disney.

Easy Garlic Chicken

Looking for a quick dinner recipe that your friends and family will enjoy? This chicken has a touch of sweetness that is sure to please with ease.

Easy Garlic Chicken

These chicken breast get a touch of sweetness with a touch of brown sugar. Serve with white rice (or brown) and your favorite sides for a great dinner that doesn’t require a lot of kitchen time!

Via Food.com

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs (drumsticks work well too- use your favorite piece of chicken)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 500°F and lightly grease a casserole dish.
  2. In small sauté pan, sauté garlic with the oil until tender.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in brown sugar.
  4. Place chicken breasts in a prepared baking dish and cover with the garlic and brown sugar mixture.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste. (You can always add more after your chicken has cooked. It is very easy to over salt and pepper any dish so be careful. Salt lightly and then if you need more, add it)
  6. Bake uncovered for 15 to 30 minutes.

Didn’t I still you it was easy! This dish would go great along side Garlicky Baked French Fries! 

ENJOY!!

Kwegyirba Croffie is a freelance Associate Producer at News 12 Connecticut and a Special Events/Event Planning and Social Media Intern at College Lifestyles (TM). She is a Quinnipiac University alumni and a sister of Alpha Delta Pi. She enjoy cupcakes,Broadway musicals, Forever 21 ,giraffes, peacock feathers, orchids, lillies and anything Disney.

Banana Pudding

Banana pudding is a great snack for parties or any day really! This recipe reminded me of the delicious Banana Pudding from Magnolia Bakery and I have missed out on it since becoming gluten free and dairy free. Now I can make my own at home and you can too!

Banana Pudding

Adapted from Food Network.com 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large bananas
  • 6 gluten free cinnamon graham crackers, broken into 1-inch pieces – such as Kinnikinnick S’moreables Graham Style Crackers
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (Hershey’s is great)
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  1. Heat the almond milk in a saucepan over medium heat until almost simmering; remove from the heat.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch, salt, sugar and egg in a medium heatproof bowl. Pour about half of the hot milk mixture into the bowl and whisk vigorously until smooth.
  3. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking vigorously, until thick and starting to bubble, 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Whisk in the vanilla. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let cool, stirring occasionally. Cut the bananas into thin slices.
  5. Layer a few banana slices, a few pieces of graham cracker and 2 tablespoons of the prepared pudding in each of 4 glasses; sprinkle with cocoa powder and almonds, then repeat to make 2 more layers.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and chill 4 hours or overnight.

Serve chilled and ENJOY!

Kwegyirba Croffie is a freelance Associate Producer at News 12 Connecticut and a Special Events/Event Planning and Social Media Intern at College Lifestyles (TM). She is a Quinnipiac University alumni and a sister of Alpha Delta Pi. She enjoy cupcakes,Broadway musicals, Forever 21 ,giraffes, peacock feathers, orchids, lillies and anything Disney.

Oooey Gooey Caramel Popcorn

Food Network’s Tyler Florence is one of my favorite Food Network chefs. His recipe for caramel popcorn is perfect for a movie night, girls night in or just a little sweet snack!

Oooey Gooey Caramel Popcorn

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted vegan butter (Earth Balance)
  • Pinch cream of tartar
  • 1/2 (10-ounce) package marshmallows, about 4 cups
  • 10 cups hot, salted popcorn, uncooked kernels removed or if you do not have a popcorn maker or know how to pop the kernels – 10 cups of popped popcorn – kept warm
  1. In a saucepan, combine the brown sugar, water, corn syrup, vegan butter, and cream of tartar (fun food note – this bit of acid keeps the sugar from crystallizing)
  2. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon to dissolve the sugar. When thesugar syrup reaches a boil, stop stirring and swirl the pan around over the heat so it doesn’t burn.
  3. As the syrup reaches the caramel stage, the bubbles on top will become smaller, thicker, and closer together. Simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, until the caramel coats the back of the spoon. (If you have one -stick a candy thermometer in the pot and cook until the syrup reaches the “soft-crack stage”, which is about 270ºF. When you drop a bit of this syrup into cold water, it will solidify into threads that, when removed, are hard yet bendable.)
  4. Remove the caramel from the heat and stir in the marshmallows. Fold the marshmallows into the hot caramel so they all melt into a gooey caramel sauce.
  5. The caramel will coat better if the popcorn is hot, so make it while boiling the sugar or pop it first then keep it warm. Put the popcorn in a big bowl and pour the caramel marshmallow mixture over thepopcorn. Gently fold with a wooden spoon to coat each kernel.
  6. If you want to make this into popcorn balls, grab handfuls of the popcorn and squeeze it together to form popcorn balls; make them about the size of a tennis ball. Put the popcorn balls on a sheet pan lined with waxed paper to cool completely.
  7. If not, just spread the popcorn caramel mix onto a baking pan lined with wax paper and let cool then break into pieces.

ENJOY!

Coconut-Almond Popcorn Balls

Another tasty popcorn recipe! This coconut- almond recipe has some of the same ingredients as the Mexican Chocolate Popcorn Balls and is just as delicious! Coconut is one of my favorite flavors!

Coconut-Almond Popcorn Balls

Adapted from Food Network.com

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter (Earth Balance)
  • 1 cupconfectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • A pinch of salt
  • 12 cups popped popcorn until coated
  • Toasted shredded coconut
  1. Bring corn syrup, vegan butter, cup confectioners’ sugar, mini marshmallows and water to a boil in a large pot over medium heat, stirring.
  2. Add almond extract and a pinch of salt.
  3. Remove from the heat; using a rubber spatula.
  4. Stir in popcorn until coated.
  5. Butter your hands, then shape into balls
  6. Roll popcorn balls in toasted shredded coconut.
Don’t want to make popcorn balls? No problem. Instead of rolling the popcorn mixture into balls, spread out onto a baking pan and sprinkle shredded coconut on top. If your coconut it not already toasted, preheat your oven to 350ºF and place popcorn mixture with coconut on top into the oven until the coconut is a nice light brown.

Kwegyirba Croffie is a freelance Associate Producer at News 12 Connecticut and a Special Events/Event Planning and Social Media Intern at College Lifestyles (TM). She is a Quinnipiac University alumni and a sister of Alpha Delta Pi. She enjoy cupcakes,Broadway musicals, Forever 21 ,giraffes, peacock feathers, orchids, lillies and anything Disney. 

Mexican Chocolate Popcorn Balls

Food Network has great snack recipes that are easily adaptable to be gluten free/dairy free! The other day, I came across some great popcorn recipes and I thought HEY! I’ll do a little popcorn series! It first started with the Peanut Maple Popcorn. Today – Mexican Chocolate Popcorn Balls! Movie night snacks will never be the same!

Mexican Chocolate Popcorn Balls

Adapted from Food Network.com

Making these will be sticky but worth it! The mix of chocolate and spices is great!

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter (Earth Balance)
  • 1 cupconfectioners’ sugar
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (Hershey’s is great – you can use Toll House as well but I like Hershey’s cocoa powder way better)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt.
  • 12 cups popcorn – popped (I suggest using a natural or light butter popcorn or even Kettle corn (my personal favorite) )
  • Cinnamon Sugar for rolling
  1. Bring corn syrup, butter, sugar, 1 cup mini marshmallows, cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and cayenne pepper, and water to a boil in a large pot over medium heat, stirring.
  2. Add vanilla and a pinch of salt.
  3. Remove from the heat; using a rubber spatula, stir in popcorn and 1 more cup of mini marshmallows.
  4. Now for the fun and sticky part – yes it will be sticky! Butter your hands, and shape mixture into balls.
  5. Roll formed balls in cinnamon sugar.

Who said popcorn balls were boring!?! ENJOY!

Hummingbird Cake

Hummingbird Cake. A very traditional Southern cake – you can’t go wrong with good ol’ down home southern desserts! Did you know that the Humming Bird cake didn’t originate in the South?

Recent evidence suggests this confection descended from Jamaican roots. The hummingbird (aka Dr. Bird) is one of the national symbols.”When it comes to cake, the Dr. Bird or Hummingbird Cake recipe has been one of the most popular through the years. Originally the recipe came to me during the late `60`s, as I recall, from the Jamaican airlines…Ruth Threat of Matthews even sent a picture of a Dr. Bird, a national symbol of Jamaica “
—“HUMMINGBIRD CAKE FROM JAMAICA REMAINS POPULAR,” Helen Moore, Charlotte Observer, November 23, 1986. Hmmm we learn something new everyday don’t we!

I first had my taste of a hummingbird cake in the form of a cupcake from The Cupcake Truck when it had it’s very first visit to Quinnipiac University for a fundraiser. It was delicious! Usually, I am not a huge fan of nuts in my cakes but the combination of flavors just couldn’t be beat! Traditionally it is paired with Cream Cheese frosting but The Cupcake Truck allowed me to have it with Vanilla Buttercream because I’m not a huge cream cheese fan. I have found a great, easy Hummingbird cake recipe that is sure to be delicious!!

Hummingbird Cake

Don’t want to make a huge cake? No problem! Just pour the batter into to cupcake tins lined with your favorite cupcake liners!

Ingredients

For the Cake:

  • 3 cups gluten free flour (Better Batter or your favorite gluten free flour blend)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple, crushed
  • 2 cups roasted banana, mashed (approximately 4 large or 6 medium-small bananas with peel left on)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • Parchment paper to line bottom of the cake pan
  • 3 – 9 inch round baking pans

For the Cream Cheese Frosting: (NOTE: This frosting is NOT dairy free. You can choose to use this frosting or you can use a the frosting I made for my Coconut Snowball cake – the frosting recipe is on the bottom)

  • 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, chilled
  • 3-8 ounce packages of cream cheese, chilled
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 ½ cups finely chopped pecans
  1. Preheat your oven to 350º F.
  2. First roast your bananas. Place bananas on a cookie sheet with peels left on.  Bake in the oven for 12 minutes until the skins are black (the bananas may leak- don’t worry! It’s OK!).  Remove and let cool because they will be HOT! Peel bananas, place in a small mixing bowl and mash.  Set aside.  Leave the oven heated to 350ºF.
  3. Butter (use Earth Balance Vegan Butter) and flour 3 9 inch round baking pans.  Trace the bottom of the pan (for all three pans) onto parchment paper, cut out circle and place in the bottom of each pan.
  4. In a sifter over a large mixing bowl combine the gluten free flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.  Sift into the bowl. Set aside.
  5. In a second large mixing bowl combine the granulated and brown sugar; stir to combine.  Add the eggs and stir briskly by hand to combine all ingredients into a smooth mixture.
  6. Whisk the oil and vanilla into the sugar and egg mixture until combined and smooth.
  7. Add the flour mixture all at once and hand stir (do not beat) to combine the mixture fully.
  8. To crush the pineapple, place 1 cup of finely diced fresh pineapple in a medium mixing bowl and using a potato masher, (or if you don’t have a potato masher (because I do not – take your time and use a fork or a whisk (I’m a big improvisor when it comes to baking tools) ) crush the pineapple.
  9. Add the fruit and juice to the batter.  Also add the mashed banana and the pecans.  Stir just until combined. Be careful not to over stir.
  10. Divide the batter evenly between the three pans.  Tap the pans on the countertop to release any air bubbles and place in the 350º F oven for 25-30 minutes until cake bounces back to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.
  11. Allow to cool in pans on racks for 5 minutes then turn out onto cooling racks to fully cool before frosting.

Time to whip up some frosting!!

  1. Cut sticks of chilled butter into 1 inch pieces and place in the bowl of a standing mixer (can use a hand held mixer if needed).  Beat on low speed, gradually increasing speed to medium until the butter is still cool but has softened together (about 3 minutes).
  2. Cut the cream cheese into 1 inch strips and add to the butter.  Mix at medium speed until fully combined, and smooth.
  3. Add the pure vanilla extract and slowly add the sifted powdered sugar.  Beat until well blended, increasing speed to beat on medium-high for 3 minutes or until the frosting becomes light and fluffy.
  4. Fold in pecans by hand.

Finally time to build your cake!

  1. Place the first layer of cake upside down (the bottom of the cake will be frosted) on the serving plate. Cover with 2/3 cup of frosting.  This will be a thin covering.
  2. Place the second layer of cake right side up (flat cake bottom onto the frosting) and frost the top of this layer with 2/3 cup again or a little bit more.
  3. Place the last cake layer with cake right side up and use the remaining frosting to cover top of cake and the sides.
  4. Allow cake to stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving and store any uneaten cake in the refrigerator.
Cake best when made the day prior to serving!
There you go!! This is a GREAT cake (or lots of cupcakes) for a outdoor party! Pair with a great drink and good friends!!
ENJOY!!
Kwegyirba Croffie is a freelance Associate Producer at News 12 Connecticut and a Special Events/Event Planning and Social Media Intern at College Lifestyles (TM). She is a Quinnipiac University alumni and a sister of Alpha Delta Pi. She enjoy cupcakes,Broadway musicals, Forever 21 ,giraffes, peacock feathers, orchids, lillies and anything Disney.