Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Gluten Free Almond Cake

Mckay's birthday was at the beginning of September. I think he's 27. We've stopped counting.
His parents made their yearly visit to Indiana the same weekend as Mckay's birthday, so he had a birthday "week" celebration.

We chose one day (Sunday) to eat cake and open presents. For his birthday dinner, I made BBQ Beef brisket. I forgot how delicious this recipe is. I don't usually buy brisket because it's pricey, but I found a local restaurant supply store that sells huge 13 lb slabs of it for $30. That's still a lot of money, but only $2.30/lb. I cut it into quarters before cooking and froze most of it. Now I just need to remember to use it before that beautiful brisket gets freezer burn.

Mckay's requested cake was a Gluten-free Almond cake. 
Mckay's mom has Celiac disease. As much as I love her and happily make gluten free dinners when they visit, I've never attempted a gluten free cake or other baked goods. I made a delicious almond cake a month ago and we fell in love with it. So moist! So flavorful! And it only calls for 1/2 cup of flour. We figured it would be easy enough to alter and make it gluten free. And it was easy! And still so heavenly!

After talking it up so much, I guess I should share the recipe of deliciousness with you. Here is the original recipe, with a note at the end for how I made it gluten free.

Almond Cake with Strawberries

3/4 cup sugar
8 ounces almond paste
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened**
zest of 1 orange
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1/2 cup flour*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups sliced strawberries
2 Tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
powdered sugar for dusting

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 inch by 2 inch round cake pan. Line the pan with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit the bottom and butter and flour the paper.

2. Place the sugar and almond paste in a food processor and pulse until it's blended, about 40 seconds. Add the butter, zest, and vanilla extract and pulse until smooth, about 40 seconds. With the processor running, add the eggs one at a time. Remove the lid and add the flour, baking powder, and salt, then pulse a few more times, just until blended, about 15 seconds. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

3. Bake the cake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Meanwhile, place the berries, honey, and vinegar in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Refrigerate at least one hour or until the berries are juicy.

4. Cool the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes, then loosen the cake's sides with a knife, invert it onto a serving plate, and peel off the parchment. Serve the cake dusted with powdered sugar and topped with berries.

*I used a slightly mounded 1/2 cup of Pamela's gluten free baking and pancake mix in place of the flour, baking powder and salt. It's essentially a self rising flour and can be found in most grocery store's gluten free sections. 

Also, if you're making the cake gluten-free, don't "flour" the cake pan. That would kill all your hard, gluten-free work. I just used lots of cooking spray. I suppose you could use a little of the baking mix. I haven't tried it though.

**I used salted butter and it was no big deal.

You must try this cake. Seriously. It's simple yet elegant. It comes together so quickly and looks like you spent hours on it. Make it. Eat it.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

First day of the last year of Preschool

Dallin is back in Preschool. This will be his last year in preschool before starting Kindergarten next year. I can't imagine this child ever being big enough to be in Kindergarten.

We did a little photo shoot before Dallin's bus came. He was hamming it up for the camera.

First day of school shoes:

Connor was also very excited to see the bus.
He would have liked it even more if he had gotten a ride on it.

Here is a video right as the bus was pulling up to our house. They boys could see it off in the distance and got very excited. Dallin calls it "Dallin's bus."

Dallin was very excited to be back at school with his friends. He had a rough first week with making it to the potty in time at school and had several accidents. I think it was just the excitement of a fun place and friends and learning a new routine. He's been doing much better at staying dry now.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Potty Training

(Disclaimer: This post is about potty training. I realize some people might think this is boring or TMI, but I'm writing it anyway for our family members who love to hear about every little thing we do, and for my special needs moms, because we like to celebrate our children's accomplishments, whether huge or small. And this one is HUGE to me.) 

I mentioned earlier that we potty trained Dallin this summer. He was trained after one week and even stayed dry through the night! Even though it went really quickly, it actually took us over a year to train him. I'll start at the beginning...

It all started when Dallin got a potty chair for his 3rd birthday.
We just started by getting him used to sitting on the chair and talking about what it was for. But he was still so little then! And he could hardly talk. To give you an idea of how young he was (and Connor too), this video shows the early stages of potty training. 

We were watching General Conference and the urge hit him.

A few months later, we tried full on potty training. I sat him down on the potty at regular intervals and got him training underwear. He had some successes and several accidents. We spent a lot of time and energy but he wasn't really getting it.
Not even sitting on the potty chair with a laundry hamper worked. (Do other families not do that...? ...oops...)

After two very frustrating weeks, we decided to go back to diapers until we felt he was more ready. Normally, I would say that a three year old would eventually learn, but Dallin was not a typical three year old.

He would still sit on the potty occasionally (we're talking once a month) but we did very little until one year later (this year) when Dallin was four. I "planned" to potty train him this summer but didn't actually have a plan for it. But I woke up one Friday in July and decided it would be a good day to potty train. So we did it! The first few days had several accidents, but by Sunday, he had it down! He stayed dry all through church. He was amazing. He would tell us when he had to go or he would even go into the bathroom all by himself. By day 5 he was dry through the night. I still put diapers on him at night for a week after, but when he kept waking up dry, we ditched diapers completely. 

Dallin isn't big on m&ms, jelly beans, or other oft used potty training reward treats, so we did a sticker chart. Dallin LOVES stickers.

After a week of staying 99% dry and filling in his sticker chart, we took him to Target. He got to pick out his own big boy underwear (he chose a Mickey Mouse pattern) and a toy as a reward. After looking at all the toys and a little suggestion from us, he chose Legos.
These are the regular little legos, not the Duplo blocks. Grown up legos for a grown up boy!

Dallin absolutely loves these Legos. He asks to play with them every single day as soon as he wakes up. Even now, 2 months later, he still plays with them everyday.

 Sometime he separates the bricks by color.

 His potty training journey was a long one, but once we really felt he was ready and went full speed ahead, he amazed us.