Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Gluten Free Holiday Play Date

Norah is a sweet girl and gets along with others just fine.  She is a kind, a good friend, and genuinely likes being around other kids.  However, she is still really shy (sometimes painfully) and it takes her a while to warm up to people. She tends to be quiet and reserved and lets other kids take the lead.  This is good because it makes her a bit more reflective than other kids her age and she is very cognizant of others' feelings.  This is also bad because it typically means she lets other kids take the lead and either ends up doing something she might not have done otherwise (like running around being obnoxious) or lets the alpha girls boss her around a bit.

She asked if she could have a play date at our house with the girls from her class (there are only seven of them--out of 19 kids total), and I figured it would be good for her to initiate something on her own turf.  I also wanted her to have the chance to enjoy serving her friends gluten free food and having it be a totally normal thing.  Five out of the six girls invited were able to attend and Norah also invited the little girl from two doors down (she is also in kindergarten but in a different class).  I had a lot of lofty, Pinterest-worthy goals for the play date, but like usual, most did not actually get accomplished.  What we ended up with was fun and I was totally fine with it.

Popcorn cups (if I had time I was going to make the snowmen ribbon scarves.  Clearly that did not happen):

Gluten free mini cupcakes from a box (well, actually bag).  I am not into Bob's Red Mill line of GF mixes anymore.  They end up tasting too eggy to me and require too many extra ingredients.  Adding five more things in addition to the mix defeats the purpose of using a mix.  I piped the canned (GF) frosting with a pastry bag and was pleasantly reminded that a pastry bag makes everything look one million times better.

There was a hot chocolate station and I made homemade cocoa in the crock pot.  It is an ingenious way to do it because the cocoa stays warm the entire party but there's no chance it will burn.  It was really simple--a cup and a half of heavy cream, six cups of milk, a can of sweetened condensed milk, and two cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips.  Whisk, cook on low for two hours or so, turn to serve. Whisk every once in a while when you remember.  It is basically type two diabetes in a cup.

I used a GF brownie mix to make these chocolate "crinkle" cookies but something went horribly wrong and they looked awful.  Tasted delicious, but looked not delicious at all.  I stuck them in the Santa cookie jar and they were a big hit.

Since the play date was from 2:00 to 4:00 on a Sunday afternoon, I figured I did not have to serve real food.  In addition to the treats I just put out tortilla chips, hummus, veggies, dip, cheese and crackers.  

The main activity was cookie decorating.  I baked gluten free sugar cut-out cookies the day before in four or five different shapes.  Listen up, Cup4Cup people--you need to either make your product more widely available or give me a lifetime supply for my non-stop promotional activity.  I finally ran out of my 25 lb bag of flour and did not have time to order online or trek down to Williams Sonoma.  Plus, I discovered a GF substitute flour at Costco that is about a fourth of the price of my beloved Cup4Cup. Let me tell you, you get what you pay for.  It isn't the same.  I love you, Cup4Cup.  Please stop being so expensive and hard to get.

Anyway, the girls started arriving and immediately loaded up on cocoa with unlimited mini marshmallows.  They then proceeded to ingest 300 lbs of sugar in the form of spoonfuls of frosting directly to the face.  The rest of the afternoon was a blur of running around like crazy and some Christmas/Kwanzaa/Hanukkah Bingo thrown in.  Most of the moms stayed, and I enjoyed getting to know them.  Best of all they are all women who agree wine should be served at these kinds of functions.  Next time, for sure.

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