Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Applesauce Bread

applesaucebread.resizedI love the simplicity of quick breads. They are perfect to whip up on days when you just want something sweet, but aren’t up for a lot of work. Like many of you, I’ve spent the last few weeks making lots of cookies so today I just wanted something homey but delicious. This Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Applesauce Bread is super easy with ingredients I already had in my pantry. Unlike a lot of Applesauce Bread recipes, it isn’t too dense or greasy. It is perfectly spiced with a touch of nutmeg and cinnamon. One of my favorite things about this bread is that freezes really well and makes two loaves; perfect if you want to save the second loaf for another day.

I also want to thank everyone for the Merry Christmas wishes and am so happy that many of you enjoyed an assortment of my recipes for the holidays. Nothing makes me happier than to know your families enjoyed traditional holiday treats that are also allergen safe. I promise I’ll keep working hard on new ones, and love your continued feedback and suggestions for variations. Enjoy your final week of 2009!

Happy Baking!

Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Applesauce Bread

2 c. granulated sugar

4 T. water

1 c. vegetable oil

1/3 c. soy or rice milk

2 1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce

4 c. unbleached all purpose flour

2 1/4 tsp. baking soda

3/4 tsp. baking powder

1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/2 T. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray two 8-inch loaf pans generously with dairy free baking spray.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachement, combine the sugar and water until mixed. Add oil, soy milk and applesauce and mix on low until thoroughly incorporated.

In a seperate medium bowl, combine flour through salt and mix with a wire whisk. Add to applesauce mixture and divide batter between the two prepared loaf pans. Bake 50 – 60 minutes or until golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool and serve.

One of my favorite little pre-Christmas projects….

christmastrees 001.resizedWhen my 9-year-old daughter was in preschool, her teacher had this wonderful and easy food project that all the children LOVED. They decorated their very own Christmas Trees: frost upside down sugar cones with green frosting and decorate with an assortment of candies, etc. Every year since we’ve done the same project over Christmas Break and each child of mine has grown to love these little trees as well.

I especially love to see how the kids try to eat their little creations. David, my 3-year-old digs right in, no hands and just starts eating the cone off the plate. My 4-year-old, however, didn’t really want to eat his work of art. He said it was “too pretty”. John and Chloe had no problem just picking up their frosted trees and devour them in about a minute.

If you are looking for something to do to keep your kiddos busy the next couple of days before Christmas I highly recommend you and your children decorate these fun and festive trees!

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Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Cinnamon Rolls

cinnamonrolls 004.resizedMy infatuation with cinnamon rolls began when I was in grade school. My mom adored cinnamon rolls, whether they were made fresh from a bakery, purchased from a store or even baked at home from a Pillsbury can. I think it was one of her favorite treats, and it became one of mine.

Later, when I lived in Chicago as a young college student,¬†I was turned on to Ann Sather’s¬†incredible cinnamon rolls. I lived down the street from their first location (before they expanded into other locations around the city). Ann Sather’s is a fantastic Swedish breakfast and bakery place, and has become a fixture in the Chicago area for making THE BEST cinnamon rolls. In fact, instead of putting bread on the table, Ann Sather waiters bring out piping hot cinnamon rolls to the table to munch on while diners wait for their breakfast. It is pure heaven.

For years, I thought making homemade cinnamon rolls was something that only should¬†be attempted by professionals in a bakery kitchen. Of course, my perspective changed on a lot of things when my son was diagnosed with food allergies. I thought, why not give it a shot? The end result is the recipe below. It is a very simple, straightforward cinnamon roll that easily rivals any professionally made cinnamon roll in even the best bakeries. I delighted seeing John eat this cinnamon roll, just like he would have if I ever took him to Ann Sather’s. The best part is that he loved it, along with my entire family. I think my mom would have been a fan too… :)

DAIRY, EGG AND NUT FREE CINNAMON ROLLS

1 c. soy or rice milk

1/4 c. dairy free shortening

1/4 c. granulated sugar

1 tsp. salt

2 T. water

3 1/2 – 4 c. unbleached all purpose flour (divided)

1 package active dry yeast

FILLING:

1/4 c. dairy free margarine, melted

1/2 c. granulated sugar

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 c. raisins (optional)

CONFECTIONERS’ SUGAR

1 c. confectioners’ sugar

1 1/2 – 2 T. Soy or Rice Milk

(Combine ingredients in a small bowl until mixture is of desired consistency.)

In a small saucepan, heat soy milk, 1/4 c. sugar, shortening and salt until just warm, about 115 degrees (use an instant thermometer).  Meanwhile, combine 2 c. flour and 1 package active dry yeast in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. When soy milk mixture is warmed through, add to flour mixture and mix on low for a few seconds. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula and add 2 T. water. Mix on high for 2 minutes. Add 1 1/2 Р2 c. flour ( a little at a time) and mix on low until dough is somewhat stiff. Transfer dough to lightly floured surface and knead about 5 minutes. Shape into a ball and place in a bowl sprayed with dairy free baking spray. Cover and let rise about an hour.

Punch dough down and divide into two balls. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest about 10 minutes. Roll each dough ball into a 12 x 8 rectangle. Brush each half with melted margarine and sprinkle evenly with cinnamon sugar mixture. Add raisins if using. Starting with the long side, roll dough up and seal edges with a little bit of water. Make sure the seam is closed tight. Trim ends with serrated knife and cut each roll into 10-12 rolls, depending on how big you want them. Place rolls, cut side down in 9-inch cake pan sprayed with dairy free baking spray. Cover with kitchen towel again and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake risen rolls for 18-20 minutes or until lightly browned.

While the rolls are still warm, drizzle confectioners’ icing over the top with a spoon. These are best eaten the day they’re made. Reheat by placing in microwave for about 10 seconds.

Happy Baking!

Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Molasses Cookies

molassescookies 004.resizedIn keeping with my theme of baking as many cookies as I can in the next two weeks, today I decided to make one of my favoriate holiday cookies; Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Molasses Cookies. Every year I try to make a special batch for my¬†brother-in-law in Kentucky. I pack a tin just for him, though I’m sure my sister would sneak a cookie or two as well!

These cookies are perfect to ship to loved ones because they stay fresh in an airtight container for at least a week, often longer. They are not too spicy and have the perfect balance of molasses, cinnamon, ginger and ground cloves. What I love about these cookies is that they are slightly chewy and have a gorgeous sugar surface that is slightly crackled. I particularily love them with a glass of ice cold soy milk.

Hope everyone is enjoying the cookie season!

Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Molasses Cookies

Yield: 2 dozen

3/4 cup dairy-free shortening

1 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/4 cup molasses

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

1/2 cup granulated sugar, for dipping

1/4 cup water

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, thoroughly combine the shortening, brown sugar, applesauce, and molasses. In a separate medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger with a wire whisk. Add to shortening mixture, and mix until combined. Chill dough in refrigerator for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375¬ļF, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Shape dough into 1-inch balls using your hands. Dip each ball into 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and sprinkle a couple drops of water onto each ball using your fingers. Place each ball on the baking sheet.

 Bake 12 to 14 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool completely on baking sheet.

Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Gingerbread Kids

gingerbread 011.resizedGingerbread cookies are essential to make during the holidays. They are fragrant, sweet and fun to decorate with your kids. There are so many variations of the basic gingerbread cookie recipe, but most include molasses, ginger, cinnamon and perhaps a touch of cloves as well. Some recipes produce a soft and chewy cookie and others are more crunchy. I like mine somewhere in the middle, and the flavor not too spicy. You can take my basic recipe and add a smidgen more spices to suit your personal taste.

One important trick with gingerbread cookie dough is that it must be chilled thoroughly in order for it to be rolled out properly. Keep a little cup of flour by your work space and be sure to generously flour your board and rolling pin. I also like to dip my cookie cutters in flour before cutting into the dough.

After baking and cooling the cookies, decorate away! Use confectioners’ icing to pipe little eyes and buttons. In fact, I love to bring these cookies to my children’s holiday parties and let them decorate the cookies as an activity. It’s a simple activity that doubles as a treat.

Happy Baking!

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DAIRY, EGG AND NUT FREE GINGERBREAD KIDS

 Yield: 2 dozen cookies

1/2 cup dairy-free margarine

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup molasses

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon cloves

1/8 teaspoon salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the margarine with the brown sugar, molasses, and applesauce. In a separate medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt with a wire whisk. Add to the margarine mixture, and mix on medium low for about 1 minute. Chill dough in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350¬ļF, and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough to a 1/4-inch thickness on a lightly floured board. Cut shapes out with cookie cutters dipped in flour, and place shapes on prepared baking sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool completely on baking sheets.

Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Rugelach and Hanukkah Sugar Cookies w/ Homemade Blue Sugar

hannukahcookies 002.resizedHappy Hanukkah to all my Jewish friends out there! Some of you may or may not know that even though I am Catholic, I am really a Jewish girl at heart and love to incorporate all the wonderful traditions and holidays into my own family’s. In fact, I lived on a kibbutz in Israel for a few months when I was 18, and was fortunate enough to learn the inner workings of how a real Jewish holiday is celebrated in the Holy Land.¬†

All of my recipes are Kosher Parve and Vegan-friendly, so they’re perfect desserts to make during the holidays. Some favorite Hanukkah cakes include my Emerald Isle Coffee Cake,¬†Gingerbread Cake and my newest recipe, Banana Chocolate Chip Cake. But if you’re looking to make Hanukkah cookies with your children, my Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Rugelach and Hanukkah Sugar Cookies are¬†delicious choices.

Rugelach means “little twists” in Hebrew, and the cookie is said to be originated from Jewish people in Poland. Interestingly, the recipe I use for the dough in Rugelach is a Kolache, courtesy of my mother-in-law who is a fabulous baker. These cream cheese cookies¬†resemble little flaky¬†danishes and can¬†be filled with a¬†thick fruit filling or cinnamon sugar.¬† I personally love the cinnamon sugar version, and instead of apricot I used red raspberry filling, just because I love the color and taste. If you are going to use apricot or red raspberry as a filling I suggest using Solo brand pie filling instead of preserves.¬†It is much thicker and holds up better in between the little layers of pastry.¬† For the cinnamon sugar filling, lightly brush the round pastry with melted dairy free margarine and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture. They’re all so easy and the end result is delicious.

In order to make Hannukah Sugar Cookies, simply make my Classic Sugar Cookie recipe (in the book and posted below) and use a variety of Hannukah-themed cookie cutters to make desired shapes. You could certainly use decorator’s icing as well, but I always favor the pretty look of sparkling colored sugar. One of my readers recently emailed and asked where I get all my sprinkles and colored sugar (so many of us are limited by what we can by because of cross contamination with nut and milk containing products, i.e. Wilton Brand). I actually make my own colored sugar often; it’s easy, fun and you can create a rainbow of colors by mixing different varieties of food coloring. The kids think it’s kind of fun to make their own colored sugar too!

Happy Baking!

DAIRY, EGG AND NUT FREE RUGELACH

1 8 oz. container of Tofutti Dairy Free Cream Cheese

1 c. (2 sticks) dairy free margarine

2 c. unbleached all purpose flour

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine all ingredients and chill for 3 hours. Then, preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide dough into four balls and roll out on a well floured board to 1/8 inch thickness. Spread the surface with desired filling, but don’t overdo it. Leave a 1/4 inch border filling free at the edges. Use a pizza cutter to divide each dough circle into eight triangles. Roll up from the edges to the center tip and place seam side down on baking sheet. Bake 12 minutes, rotate baking sheet, and bake another 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

CINNAMON SUGAR FILLING: 2-3 T. melted dairy free margarine, 1/2 c. c. sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl, and lightly brush pastry with melted margarine before sprinkling sugar so the mixture adheres to the dough.

APRICOT OR RASPBERY FILLING: 1 can Solo pie filling and spread a light layer over the pastry round. Note: Dust with confectioners’ sugar after baking.

CLASSIC SUGAR COOKIES FOR HANNUKAH WITH HOMEMADE BLUE SUGAR

3/4 cup dairy-free shortening

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 recipe Homemade Blue Sugar for sprinkling

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, thoroughly combine shortening, sugar, applesauce, and vanilla. In a separate medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt with a wire whisk. Add to shortening mixture, and mix on low until combined. Chill dough in refrigerator for 1 hour or more.

¬†Preheat oven to 400¬ļF, and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. Roll dough to a 1/4-inch thickness on floured board. Dip cookie cutters in flour, cut out desired shapes, and place on baking sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until very light golden. Cool completely on baking sheets.

HOMEMADE BLUE SUGAR FOR SPRINKLING

1/2 c. granulated sugar

3-5 drops blue food coloring.

Put sugar in small zip lock bag and drop food coloring directly into bag. Zip up bag and shake vigorously, until mixture is thorough combined and the sugar crystals have become desired color. Store in airtight container or clean salt shaker.

Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Banana Chocolate Chip Cake

bananacake 001.resizedAs a preggo mama, I find myself wanting to snack a lot more lately, especially as I’ve hit the third trimester. I literally wake up in the morning and wonder what I am going to bake next. This recipe came out of a desire to use brown spotted bananas and a need for a good snacking cake. This cake perfectly fits that need as it’s¬†something you can cut into and nibble on throughout the day. My kids have been been clamoring for it after school or¬†after playing outside in the snow. It’s wonderfully moist and has just the right amount of chocolate chips in it. If you love my banana chocolate chip muffins, you’ll love this cake, which is a slightly different recipe than the muffin one. It bakes perfectly in a 9-inch glass baking dish.

Enjoy and Happy Baking!

DAIRY, EGG AND NUT FREE BANANA CHOCOLATE CHIP CAKE

1/2 c. dairy free margarine (1 stick, I use Fleischman’s Unsalted)

1 c. granulated sugar

1/3 c. soy or rice milk

1 1/2 c. mashed ripe bananas

1 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

2 c. unbleached all purpose flour

2 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1 c. dairy free chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life or Divvies)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9 inch glass baking dish with dairy free baking spray. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine dairy free margarine with sugar until light and fluffy. Add soy milk, bananas and vanilla and mix well.

In a separate medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt with wire whisk. Add to margarine mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips with rubber spatula.

Pour batter into prepared baking dish and bake 40-45 minutes or until light brown and toothpick tester comes out clean. Cool 10-15 minutes and serve warm or room temperature.

Happy Birthday to Me: Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Red Velvet Cake

redvelvet 003.resizedWe celebrated my 35th birthday yesterday by decorating our tree and house, eating homemade ravioli and having Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Red Velvet Cake for dessert. There’s something spectacular about the Red Velvet Cake. Whenever I’ve been to a party, and little gourmet red velvet cupcakes are served, the response to these little delights always involves some oohs and aahs. How DID those little cakes get red? What IS it about that frosting that is so addictive? I’ve always loved the red velvet cake (and cupcakes), and thought this would be the perfect dessert to make.

Old cookbooks say the cake’s vibrant color comes from the natural¬†red tint created by mixing vinegar, buttermilk and cocoa powder. Most recipes call for¬†additional red coloring to truly bring out the cake’s bright color. I’ve played around around with the amount of food coloring needed, and find that it really is a personal preference (as evidenced by my family). Use anywhere from 2-3 tablespoons red food coloring to achieve the level of redness you desire.

Red velvet cake is¬†traditionally served with cream cheese frosting, and I think there is no substitute. I’ve also eaten some cakes with regular buttercream, but there is something about the cream cheese frosting that really takes the cake (pun intended!). And don’t be fooled into thinking this is a “chocolate” cake, even though it does have a hint of chocolate flavor. The cocoa’s main function is to react with the vinegar to help produce that wonderful red color.

I made this cake as a 13 x 9 sheet cake (my favorite type of birthday cake), but you could certainly vary the recipe by making 24 red velvet cupcakes, or about 48 mini cupcakes. Just line your 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners and bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven. Cool completely and frost with my dairy, egg and nut free cream cheese frosting.

Enjoy and Happy Baking!

DAIRY, EGG AND NUT FREE RED VELVET CAKE

1 1/2 sticks dairy free margarine (I use Fleischman’s UNSALTED)

1 1/2 c. granulated sugar

1 c. dairy free buttermilk (1 c. soy or rice milk mixed with 1 T. vinegar, let sit for 5-10 minutes)

1/2 c. silken tofu

1 T. vinegar

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

2-3 T. red food coloring

2 1/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

3 T. cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s)

Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Cream Cheese Frosting (below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 13 x 9 glass pyrex baking sheet with dairy free baking spray. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the dairy free margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. In a large glass measuring cup mix together “buttermilk”, silken tofu, vinegar, vanilla and red food coloring with a wire whisk until combined. Add to margarine mixture and beat on low until thoroughly incorporated.

In a medium seperate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder with a wire wisk. Add to margarine and “buttermilk” mixture and stir on low until slightly combined, scrape down sides and turn mixer on medium high. Beat for about two minutes, making sure the red food coloring is evenly distributed throughout the batter.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick tester comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on wire rack and frosting with Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Cream Cheese Frosting. Store tightly covered in refrigerator.

DAIRY, EGG AND NUT FREE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

Yield: 2 cups

 1/2 cup dairy-free margarine

3/4 cup dairy-free cream cheese

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the margarine, cream cheese, salt, and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Slowly add confectioners’ sugar, and mix on low for 1 minute. Increase speed to medium, and beat 4 to 6 minutes, until light and fluffy. Chill before using.

“I wish…”

Christmastime is fully of merry wishes. For weeks my children speak of what they “wish” for. Today my 7-year-old John had somewhat of a different wish. After picking him up from school he¬†said “Mom, I really wish I could order more lunches from school. I’ve only gotten to order¬†a couple times this year.” Sigh. Today was Chicken Tender day, the infamous tenders that were safe to eat last year, but not this year because the brand that is ordered has changed and now contains milk. I suppose it was a bittersweet reminder to him of what he was missing out on.

Such a bummer. I know to the average Joe it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but for us food allergy mama’s, it brings up that whole inclusion thing again. Our kids routinely miss out on the simple things of childhood; walking through a lunch line at school AND being able to eat it, going out for hot cocoa when out shopping on a cold winter’s day, etc. So much in our lives is food-centered, and when you are dealing with life threatening allergies, well, it just doesn’t feel like “eat and be merry”.

I apologized to John for the lack of choices in his lunchroom this year (as opposed to last year). I tried to highlight the positive; there is now soy milk being being offered in his cafeteria whereas before his only option was water and sugary apple juice. He still wasn’t buying it. I guess some days he’s just sick of bringing in a turkey sandwich on allergen-safe bread.

So when John asked for an extra big slice of pumpkin bread for his after school snack, I happily obliged. I guess that’s what drives me so much to make yummy treats all the time. I love to eat sweets like the next sugar addict, but nothing makes me happier than seeing John indulge in something that would off-limits anywhere else. I guess you could say in the war on food allergies, it’s the way I try to win the little battles.