Cooking with kids Archives

Marble cupcakes

Yep, it’s cupcake time again.  Still.  Abby had a vision of what she wanted to make … and this is the result!

I had made a raspberry marble cake once, I think.  It was for my mother-in-law’s birthday many years ago (and I think I gave a slice to one of my friends who had their birthday on the same day – you know who you are!).  It was a chocolate-raspberry-vanilla cake, with raspberry puree through it and a chocolate buttercream frosting.  And it was yummy, but I remember it as being a little dry, so I haven’t really made it again since.  

The recipe is definitely not in the realm of my recent baking exploits.  It is NOT gluten-free, dairy-free OR refined sugar-free, but I’m sure it could become so if I tried hard enough.  But I don’t really want to – I’ve got so many other things I want to try!

But Abby had a dream, and I tried to help her accomplish it.  And her dream was to change it up a bit (I think she’s been spending too much time in the kitchen with me and my experimenting!).  So instead of a brown-red-white marble cake, she wanted a green-blue-yellow one.  Hmmm … And she had all the flavors worked out as well.  The blue would be blueberry flavored, the yellow would be lemon flavored and the green would just be a food coloring for the vanilla cake.  And it would be blueberry puree through it all.  And it would be in cupcakes, rather than a full cake.  And she wanted to have a white chocolate ganache topping, followed by a pink buttercream frosting.  Good to have a dream, I guess – it’s not unusual for me to come up with weird and wonderful combinations (cough!!).

So, here’s how they turned out:

2015-09-03 Marble cupcakesThey look pretty good, don’t they?  I must admit, I was a bit skeptical of the whole buttercream frosting on top of a ganache, I thought the frosting would slide off!  But Abby had seen it a number of times on Cupcake Wars and she was determined to try it.  And she did.

The verdict?  Grant said there was a lot of flavors going on in a little cupcake.  Abby said they were a little more dense than what she expected, but she still liked them, and so did all her friends that she gave one to.  I didn’t try it – it was a good practice for me to be in the kitchen and not be sampling everything all the time … this time it was because I didn’t want to get sick from the gluten and the dairy, but it was still fun hanging out with my awesome daughter.

Stay tuned for the next installment of changing my cake and bread recipes into cupcakes … I’m sure there will be more!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home … with kids!



Polenta cupcakes

Apologies for those of you who have signed up to get updates and haven’t received anything from me for a while.  Be assured that I’ve been busy in the kitchen, there was just a glitch in the add-in that sent out the automatic e-mails.  As always, please feel free to comment whenever and wherever you would like – I’d love to hear from you.

So this weekend, we had another Mummy-Abby time where cupcakes were made (and eaten).  This time, it was based off my lemon polenta cake recipe (see here) but as I didn’t have any lemons on hand, and I did have 2 oranges that were on their last legs, I thought, why don’t we just substitute oranges for the lemons?  Well, here’s the result:

2015-08-29 Polenta cupcakesAbby had a great time measuring out all the ingredients and helping mix it all together.  Then she got to use my brand new cookie scoop to dollop the batter into the pan (just like on Cupcake Wars).  The cupcakes rose really nicely to form the dome on top.  And once cooled, we made some buttercream icing (with vegetable shortening instead of butter) and got it just about the right consistency so Abby could pipe them onto the cupcakes (just like on Cupcake Wars).  Do you see where this has been heading?

Every cake recipe I have made, Abby is thinking of turning into cupcakes … stand by for strawberry bread cupcakes, chocolate cupcakes, etc.  She’s already made the banana bread recipe (see here) into cupcakes with a white chocolate frosting and they turned out well.  Amazing what a little determination can do!

We had some friends over for dinner where I made Aji de Gallina, with these polenta cupcakes for dessert, along with a banana custard pie, using the winner of the snickerdoodle challenge as the crust, and some dairy-free, gluten-free custard powder that my in-laws brought over with them from Australia on a recent visit.  Everything worked out really well, but I’d like to say the cupcakes were the highlight.  So proud of you Abby!

Thanks for reading about our adventures in the kitchen.  Until next time, enjoy cooking at home … with kids!




S’mores mini cheesecakes

Abby and I have been creating in the kitchen again.  Well, this time mainly Abby dreaming up the recipe and wanting to try it.  You may recall we tried to make a gluten-free dairy-free mini caramel cheesecake a while ago (see here) and while the cheesecake worked ok, the caramel topping was definitely not worth it.  Abby has been enthralled with Cupcake Wars, and when she remembered the mini cheesecakes, made in cupcake pans, she wanted to try it again, but with a twist.

Enter the s’mores cheesecake.  Same almond meal base as before.  The cheesecake part we made into chocolate by adding cocoa (Grant and Henry both said it wasn’t ‘chocolate-y’ enough) so either we need to add way more cocoa, or some dark chocolate to get the right taste.  And the topping, we made out of melting some mini-marshmallows with some corn syrup and dolloping it on top.  Very gooey.  Very yummy, but not the marshmallow frosting that everyone else seems to know how to make.

2015-08-23 S'mores mini cheesecakes #1


Ok, so Abby had another reason for the three layers, not just the s’mores lookalike.  She calls them her ‘Trinity S’mores’ – God is the base, the foundation of everything.  Jesus is the marshmallow frosting because it was poured into the cheesecake and Jesus poured his heart out for us.  And the chocolate cheesecake was the Holy Spirit because, well it was the third part of the trinity.  Three parts to one dessert – the trinity!

2015-08-23 S'mores mini cheesecakes #2


So the verdict was – yummy, but still needs some work before adding the recipe to this website.

Both Abby and I would love to read any comments you may have – any encouragement would be greatly appreciated!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home … with kids!



Flourless ‘molten’ cupcakes

It’s been a while since Abby and I have spent much time in the kitchen together.  Our Mummy-Abby time has been more about going for walks, watching movies etc, but she really wanted to make these cupcakes after she was inspired from watching a number of episodes of Cupcake Wars on Netflix.

Molten flourless chocolate cupcakes

The original recipe came from a friend of ours who put together a whole pile of gluten-free recipes for me, just after I found out that I was gluten-intolerant.  I looked at the recipe in preparation for spending time with Abby in the kitchen and realized it used milk chocolate AND white chocolate.  As most of you may know, it’s pretty difficult and expensive to get dairy-free milk chocolate and almost impossible to get dairy-free and gluten-free white chocolate.  I tried to think of a way I could make these dairy-free without it costing an arm and a leg, including trying to use peanut butter chips instead of the milk chocolate for the cupcake, and then dairy-free chocolate chunks for the inside.  But then Grant just convinced me to take a Lactaid and make it with ‘normal chocolate’ considering I probably would only eat one and leave the rest for other people.  So that’s what we did.  

We followed the recipe to the letter – including the ‘real’ cream instead of coconut cream, and butter instead of margarine or coconut oil.  Abby was very helpful in making the batter, and pouring into the prepared pans (and licking the bowl – I didn’t think it was worth taking another Lactaid just to lick out the bowl!).

2015-08-08 Abby pouring lava cupcakes


Fortunately we had Grant’s parents to help us finish the cupcakes – we made about 20 of them and they were very yummy.  I took some to work as well … and they went like hotcakes.  I wonder, can cupcakes go as quickly as hotcakes?  Sorry, digressing there for a moment!

2015-08-08 Lava cupcakesSo, everyone was happy.  Abby was happy because she got to make these awesome cupcakes.  I was happy because I got to spend time with my amazing daughter.  The family was happy because they got to eat something yummy.  The guys at work were happy because … well, they love everything I bring in for them – it’s free food for them, after all!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my adventures in the kitchen with Abby.  I’d love to hear any comments – feel free to add comments below or e-mail me.  Or send me any suggestions for something you’d like to see me try.  Or just give me some encouragement!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home … with kids!



Banana custard pie and another FISH lunch

This weekend we hosted another FISH lunch (Fellowship in Someone’s Home).  We had an awesome family of four join us for lunch where we served turkey burgers (recipe here) and chicken sausages (bought from Costco), followed by lemon polenta cake (recipe here) and a banana custard pie.  Grant has been asking me to make a banana custard pie for ages, and I tried a few weeks ago and failed (read here) so was reluctant to try it again, but this pie was our Mummy-Abby time for the weekend, and we had great fun making it, which is all that matters really!  

2015-06-28 Banana custard pie

Nothing really exciting or difficult about the recipe, so I can’t direct you to a website or a page here so you can make it yourselves – sorry!  

I used leftover graham crackers from our adventurous camping trip (originally designed for s’mores), cut up a banana and then added a custard made from a packet mix we found at a local Latino market … not keen to try to make custard from scratch again after my last disastrous effort!  And I made it full of stuff I couldn’t eat – ‘normal’ graham crackers containing gluten and ‘normal’ milk in the custard containing lactose.  Just meant that I couldn’t eat it, but I have had quite enough of eating my baked goods recently … I made some sugar cookies (recipe here) and some peanut butter s’more cookies (recipe here) to take into work this week … and ate a lot of the dough while making them.  I did have some of the lemon polenta cake and that was very yummy, so all works out well in the end.

Our guests went home with full tummies, which was great, and we had some awesome conversations getting to know each other, which was even better – thanks Andrew and Cara!

Oh, and last weekend for Father’s Day, we did have Worms in the Mud (recipe here), but learnt a little about instant pudding mixes and non-dairy milk … we ended up making it with a Hershey’s white chocolate pudding and soy milk combination, with some non-dairy cool whip equivalent and non-dairy cream cheese equivalent.  Along with my yummy chocolate peanut butter cookies (recipe here) and it was one of the most awesome Worms in the Mud we’ve had.  Unfortunately I made it all by myself as Abby was having a baking-free weekend … but Grant enjoyed it and that’s what mattered most.

So, until next time, enjoy cooking at home … with kids!


Chocolate orange cake (Jaffa cake)

First of all, the reason why I didn’t post anything last week was because our Mummy-Abby time was spent on a camping trip, rather than baking.  Abby and I climbed up some mountains and had some good chats while trying to figure out how to get down again!  This is a picture of us at the top in the middle of nowhere, but lov2015-06-09 Sarah & Abby at MoabAnd now, for our cooking adventures this weekend – we went with a chocolate orange cake.  For those of you in Australia, you will remember the Jaffa chocolate balls, that we used to roll down the aisles in the movie theaters … or was I the only one that seemed to have that happen to them?  Grant can definitely remember doing that,  being around those who did that when he was a kid!  This is a really easy cake – the hardest thing is worrying that you’ve put on the oranges in the saucepan and either forgotten about them and the pan’s boiled dry, or put too much water in the saucepan and it’s boiled over.

Simply put, take 2 oranges and place in a saucepan of water.  Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for about 2 hours.  After cooling, put the oranges in a food processor and blend until just a few chunks remain.  Add the rest of the ingredients (almond meal, cocoa powder, eggs and a few other things) and blend further.  Then pour into a cake pan and bake.  Simple!  I topped ours with some powdered/icing/confectioner’s sugar and then some orange zest for decoration.

2015-06-14 Chocolate orange cakeWe had some friends over for lunch – one was an Australian (hi Graham!) and he remembered the whole Jaffa thing.  The other friends (hi Leslie and Mark!) are American, but they loved the cake as well.  And you too can make this cake – just let me know if you want me to put the recipe on the website in the comments below and I will!

I also made a dairy-free gluten-free lemon cheesecake with the ginger cookies as a base (recipe here) using a few packets of tofu and all natural, no-refined-sugar as an experiment and it worked ok.  Not good enough yet for the website, but definitely something to continue trying out!

Next weekend is Father’s Day, so Grant has requested Worms in the mud (recipe here).  Again, I’ll be trying to make it yummy but still gluten and dairy-free.  If this one works out – I’ll post a separate recipe for you all to try!

Remember you can subscribe to get my latest recipes (like oat balls, banana bread and soft-baked oatmeal bars to name a few), you can comment on anything on this website – basically I’d love to hear anything from you guys!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home … with kids!




Chocolate peanut butter pie – take 2

For those of you keeping up to date with my adventures in the kitchen with Abby, you will remember that we made a chocolate peanut butter pie for Mother’s Day (read more here).  And that it wasn’t the greatest because I played around with the recipe a lot to try to get it a little more healthy.  Don’t get me wrong, I still liked it – it just wasn’t the same as other chocolate peanut butter pies I’ve made before and eaten, and enjoyed more.  So this week, Abby suggested (!) that we follow the recipe a little more closely, and make it like I used to.

However, when I have made this recipe before, that was before all the gluten and lactose intolerance discoveries, so I did have to change it … slightly!

For the crust: Chocolate peanut butter cookies (see recipe here) – we baked the cookies as per the recipe, than Abby had great fun squishing them in a ziploc bag to make the crumbs.  We then pushed the crumbs into a greased pie tin (with our fingers of course) and tried to get it as even as possible.  And the fact that there were some cookies left over?  Well, they didn’t stay left over for long, if you get my drift!

For the peanut butter layer: Creamy peanut butter mixed with icing/powdered/confectioner’s sugar (depending on which country you are in).  Mixed together very well with Abby’s fingers, until it resembled coarse cornmeal, or breadcrumbs.  Oh yeah, that was also yummy when we taste-tested, just to make sure it was worth using!

For the chocolate layer: Basic cream pie filling (see recipe here) with an additional 3 tablespoons of cocoa to make it nice and chocolate-y.  Substitutions so I could eat the finished product: almond milk, my gluten-free flour mix (see conversion table here), and dairy-free shortening.

And the end result?

2015-05-31 Chocolate peanut butter pieLooks pretty good, if I do say so myself!  And the cream on the side was from a chilled tin of coconut milk, then the solid parts whipped in an electric mixer with a bit of vanilla. 

Overall, if you didn’t know it was gluten and dairy free, it was pretty good.  Grant could tell the difference based on previous times I’ve made it with all the gluten and lactose-containing ingredients, but it was still not a bad effort to make it so I could enjoy it!

And Abby and I had lots of fun making it, eating during making it and eating after it was made.  And that’s all that really matters!

Hope you had fun reading about my adventures in the kitchen with Abby.  Remember you can comment on anything you see here on the website, you can subscribe to get updated recipes (watch out for a few new ones coming your way in the next few weeks) and follow me via Twitter (@sarahcookathome) – I love hearing from you!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home … with kids!



Leftover chocolate muffins

In a similar manner to when we used up the cinnamon rolls that I didn’t really like the taste of. this week we used up some bought chocolate chip muffins.  I really should learn from previous experiences, but maybe I need to stop experimenting in the kitchen for a while.  Maybe I should just follow the recipes without adapting for a while.  Nah!

This week’s recipe was based on our famous cookies and cream cheesecake slice (recipe here), but here are all the changes we made:

  • instead of a full recipe, we only made a half recipe (so we didn’t have leftovers)
  • instead of Oreo cookies, we used the leftover chocolate chip muffins
  • instead of cream, we used chilled coconut milk/cream
  • instead of white chocolate, we used dark chocolate

Unfortunately, since we were only making a half cheesecake, I put in a whole amount of gelatin, so it was very gelatinous … that was my mistake, not Abby’s calculations!  But this is how it turned out:

2015-05-22 Chocolate cheesecake

It looks ok.  It tasted … ok.  Not great, not terrible enough to throw in the bin, but ok.  I think if we had put in a chocolate fudge swirl or something like that, it may have tasted a little more interesting.

Oh yeah, and for those of you curious as to how my current dairy-free diet took the milk contained in this recipe into account?  Well, I tried having some Lactaid – but since I had the cheesecake I’ve been rather toxic at both ends of my body (sorry if that’s too much information!), so I’m not sure whether the medicine worked or not.

I asked Abby what she wanted to make next week – she said chocolate peanut butter pie …  the way I used to make it … without trying to be healthy or experimenting with other ingredients.  I think I’ll take her advice … just this once!

Let me know what you think!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home … with kids!


Pumpkin pie

This week, we finally got to make the pumpkin pie that Abby wanted to make a few weekends ago.  But the last time I had made pumpkin pie, it wasn’t very tasty and I wasn’t impressed.  Mind you, that was also when I had bought some gluten-free graham crackers to make into a crust, and they burnt in the oven, so it wasn’t a great product even without the filling.  I managed to get the recipe from a colleague, who I won the ‘no refined-sugar’ challenge against back in January – he gave me a piece of his pumpkin pie as my winnings and, while the crust wasn’t that great, the filling was really nice. So we decided to give it a go.

And, me being me, decided to change it up a bit anyway.  Instead of my never-fail ugly crust recipe (see here), I thought I could use some granola and crush that up fine with some dairy-free shortening.  You know when you get to the bottom of a granola container and it’s just crumbs, that doesn’t taste that good?  Well, we were there with some of my granola that I’d made (based on my 5P’s granola, see here for recipe) and I didn’t feel like forcing myself to eat this granola for the rest of the week.  So we got out the trusty Ninja, and ‘wazzed’ it into crumbs, melted some shortening and then mixed it all together.  Abby and I had a great time pushing the mixture into the pie tin with our hands, a spoon, a cup, anything we could think of since I had read that this had to be really compacted.

And then we made the filling – pumpkin puree, almond milk, maple syrup, raw sugar (see, no refined sugar in this!), corn starch, and of course pumpkin pie spice.  And the result:

2015-05-16 Pumpkin pieLooks pretty good, doesn’t it?  We couldn’t wait for it to cool completely, so we all had a piece while it was still relatively luke-warm.  Grant’s comment was that he tasted too much pumpkin in it (sigh!), Abby said it rocked.  I’m going with Abby’s reaction!  Anyway, I thought it tasted really good by itself but the rest of the family had some ice cream with it as well.

And then Abby and I got to go clothes shopping together – ah, the life of a teenager!  We had a good time and profitable too with no arguments and three items of clothing purchased all within about 10 mins of entering the store.  That’s my type of shopping!

Anyway, back to the cooking bit – if you’d like me to post the recipe for this no refined-sugar, gluten and dairy-free pumpkin pie, please let me know in the comments below … or I may just have to keep the secret all to myself!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home … with kids!



Mother’s Day weekend

Happy Mother’s Day!  Especially to my mum …

I got thoroughly spoiled this weekend, with lots of kids in the kitchen time.  Let me take you through a run-down of how it all went:

Saturday breakfast (in bed):

2015-05-09 Pancakes

The kids found some gluten-free pancake mix on special at the local grocery store while they were out shopping for other presents and decided to make some for me.  I wanted it slightly healthy so requested some blueberries and strawberries with some 100% maple syrup.  So both kids were involved in the cooking of these …  And Henry made it into a smiley-face – how sweet!  Unfortunately, with the fruit cooked into the pancakes, they didn’t cook all the way through so I ended up eating some dough … things we do for our kids!

Saturday lunch: we went out to an Indian buffet restaurant where I knew I could get some really good gluten-free stuff.  And the kids and Grant could eat to their hearts content.  I’ve learned to stay away from the buffets due to the possibility of contamination with gluten-containing foods, but the food I got off the menu was great!  And Abby and I had made a chocolate peanut butter pie for dessert, adapted from this recipe (here).

2015-05-09 Chocolate peanut butter pie

Looked impressive, and no refined sugar as well!  Unfortunately the peanut butter layer was a little bland and there was too much of it in proportion to the rest of the ingredients, so it wasn’t really a winner.  I’m still learning about all this stuff, so I guess I should expect some failures!

Sunday lunch:

Abby wanted to cook lunch for me, so she chose my favorite creamy broccoli and bacon pasta (recipe here), with all the substitutes to make it gluten and dairy-free.

2015-05-10 Bacon & broccoli pasta

I liked the pasta – Grant was concerned that there wasn’t enough sauce since we had to use the coconut milk ‘cream’ instead of actual cream, but I thought it was great.  Abby did a great job mostly cooking it all by herself, with a little help from Grant of course!

And Henry REALLY wanted to make a cake for me – so when they were out shopping he found a gluten-free chocolate cake mix that he made with Grant.  

2015-05-10 Henry's chocolate cakeThis actually didn’t taste too bad.  And we found some 99% lactose free ice cream on special, so that just topped it off nicely!

I am so spoiled by my awesome children – and they had fun cooking in the kitchen this weekend too, so everyone wins.

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home … with kids!



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