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The Valentine’s Day Bake-Off Guide

If you missed the BIG announcement yesterday,

let me recap for you:

Fork and Beans is sponsoring the 1st Annual

Valentine’s Day Bake-Off!

Come one! Come all!

It’s time to rev your ovens and get your buns in the kitchen!

3 Winners will be chosen from the sea of applicants,

each winning a $75 gift card to the store of their choice.

Anywhere they want.

Submissions are accepted from now until February 6th.


The rules are as follows:

  1. The recipe must be gluten-free and vegan: Raw desserts are absolutely acceptable too!
  2. It must be an original recipe: By all means, be inspired by what is out there! Just make sure you do your own twist.
  3. The recipe must be geared towards Valentine’s Day.
  4. You must submit a photo (it does not need to be professional, but it must be yours!) and a recipe to enter.
  5. Anyone is welcome to submit!
  6. Multiple submissions are welcomed.
  7. There are 3 categories that the recipes will be judged on:
  • The Most Creative
  • The Best Tasting Recipe
  • The Best Allergen-Free Recipe (free of Wheat, Soy, Nuts, Milk, Eggs, and Corn)

The following are things to avoid in gluten-free baking:

  • White flour
  • Wheat flour
  • Spelt flour
  • Rye
  • Barley
  • Semolina
  • Bran
  • Graham
  • Couscous
  • Kamut
  • Triticale
  • Farina

The following are things to avoid in vegan baking:

  • Eggs
  • Milk (from cows, sheep, goat, etc)
  • Butter
  • Honey
  • Cream cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Yogurt
  • Marshmallows
  • Gelatin
  • Half-and-half
  • Cream
  • Buttermilk

For a substitutes guide, see my Guide to GF/Vegan Baking guide here


When it comes to allergen-free baking, this is just the woman you want to call!  Extremely talented in the kitchen, Laurel has an extensive knowledge not only in gluten-free goodies, but vegan and allergen-friendly baking as well. You can even find some of her recipes in cookbooks that are out on the market today. Despite a long list of food allergies and health issues she battles with on a daily basis, Laurel still finds the energy to be a strong presence in the blogging world–always offering her wisdom, guidance,  and encouragement. Now if we could just convince her to start her own blog…



Jenn is the mastermind behind Gluten Free Feed (the FoodGawker for those who are unable to consume gluten) and her own blog, The Cinnamon Quill. You can also find Jenn as the gluten free expert/recipe developer over at Martha Stewart’s Whole Living. Diagnosed with Celiacs 10 years ago, Jenn has been determined to not let it keep her away from the kitchen. In fact, she has been on a mission to perfect the tastiest “sometimes vegetarian, sometimes vegan, always gluten-free” treats in town.  One visit to her blog and it is obvious that she is succeeding!



In comparison to these ladies, I’m the less-experienced newbie–having only been in the kitchen since July 2010, baking gluten free and vegan. I have absolutely no training what-so-ever in the departments of food, photography, and life. I am simply just trying to figure it out every day, while taking on the mission to show those with dietary restrictions that it doesn’t mean that they are resorted to a diet of only cabbage and figs.  Food *can* be fun!


If you have any more questions about the contest, feel free to email me at:

47 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sounds like fun!

    January 10, 2012
    • Are you going to join in on the fun? Eh? eh? *nudging you with my elbows*

      January 11, 2012
  2. This is such a fun idea! I haven’t had much experience in creating original dessert recipes, but I’d love to try to think of something…as I stare at my beet-covered hands right now, I’m thinking they might be a good candidate for something pink! Just wanted to check first though – are Canadians allowed to enter and choose either a store in Canada or an online gift card?

    January 8, 2012
    • Absolutely! I will figure out a way to translate it into Canadian money for sure!

      January 8, 2012
  3. Lou #

    Yes, yes and YES! This is awesome, thanks for putting on such a fantastic competition, I am so excited and also jealous that you get to taste test. You win big time 🙂

    January 7, 2012
    • I do it for the public, Lou. Selfless, really 🙂

      January 7, 2012
  4. So, if some of this is based on taste.Am I correct in saying that We must send the finished goods to these very nice and smart and extremely likable judges who will taste said goods and then they will hand us 75 bucks? I need to win a contest, Cara. I haven’t had many wins this year. or any year for that matter. I need a win!!!!!!!!


    January 7, 2012
    • HAHA! Then get yourself baking, girl-who-needs-a-win! All you need to do is send the recipe and the recipe will be judged by the judges while in Tahiti (it’s the official judging station this year) 🙂

      January 7, 2012
      • Oh, then I’d rather be a judge.

        January 7, 2012
        • Yeah, it is a pretty sweet deal. Will you hold on a second, GiGi–I’m trying to order a fruity cocktail at the pool bar–I’ll be right back…

          January 7, 2012
          • Laurel #

            Judging is sweet. We get to harass Cara just for the fun of it. Come to think of it nothing’s really changed except that we’ll all be Oompa Loompa’s by V-day.

            January 7, 2012
            • Do plan on turning yourself orange, Laurel?

              January 7, 2012
              • Laurel #

                It’s just the outer coating for the chocolate insis

                January 8, 2012
  5. u know what.. i woke up at 5, coz chewie(my fluffball pommie of the small bladders) got too cold and had to take a pee break. he wakes us up with a- shaking himself incessantly, b- sneezing c-bark if none of the other 2 work. so i sleepily let him out.. then i remembered that it was 5, so u must have a scheduled post up.. and i squinted and read it on my phone! see i told u.. curiosity kills me! it was just too much effort to write a comment then on the teeny keypad.. 🙂
    super awesome collection of judges! and that cute badge! i need some gf supplies this weekend!
    And congratulations on featuring on the ppk!

    and on another note.. u know what gifts i got on my first few vdays with hubbs.. a networking router, an ipod and a funky calorie counter, step counter watch!. i just threw a fit after the watch. i mean 3 years of nerdy techie gifts!. and now i get flowers and some sort of jewellery..:D

    January 7, 2012
    • HAHAHAHA!! A calorie counter???? Did you even *ask* for that?

      January 7, 2012
      • i did not ask for any of the gifts for those 3 years! after that, i started clearly mentioning my yearly list of things, no, not hints, like names with brands and stuff, which can gifted on occasions including birthdays and anniversaries.. now i am happy, and hubbs is less stressed. ha!

        January 7, 2012
        • HAHAHA!! One V-Day, Greg got me a crystal-encrusted pair of tweezers 🙂 Now, I LOVE plucking my eyebrows (I’m obsessed really) but he took that gift to a new level. It was even in a big block, velvet jewelry box too! HA. I told him, no more V-Day gifts after that. I’m not a big fan of that holiday either in terms of gifts, flowers, chocos, etc…
          Like they say, a happy wife is a happy life 🙂

          January 7, 2012
          • hehe, crystal encrusted tweezers.. that is genius!:)
            yeah we dont do anything on vday anymore.. too much stress to celebrate anything other than bdays..

            January 7, 2012
      • Laurel #

        i think almost all women have that same problem. The guys know we expect them to do something just not what or even why in lots of cases. LOL BTW, I probably need to go shopping too. I need to check my pantry. STAT!

        January 7, 2012
  6. yeee! excited. already planning.

    January 7, 2012
    • I CANNOT wait to see what brilliant creation you make! Now I’m excited 🙂

      January 7, 2012
    • Laurel #

      I think this means I’m going to have to stop just stalking your blog and drooling.

      January 7, 2012
  7. Even though this is “baking” contest, can the submissions be raw/high raw/not cooked? Ideas are spinning, and with my limited knowledge (although increasing everyday thanks for awesome bloggers like you) of GF baking, high-raw desserts seem to be the easiest (and tastiest) for me right now.

    January 7, 2012
    • YES, YES, and YES! Anything in dessert world is welcomed! And you are right, you really cannot go wrong with raw, Veronica 🙂 Good luck!

      January 7, 2012
      • Laurel #

        Ooh. Raw. Easy and Tasty are always good too. Good luck.

        January 7, 2012
  8. Let the games begin! I second Laurel on your brilliance, and she is pretty clever herself…glad to get to know you ladies, and can’t wait to see the entries!

    January 7, 2012
    • Can’t wait for the reunion of the judges, really! This is a must for 2012.

      January 7, 2012
      • Laurel #

        In Tahiti, right? We agreed. I’m sure we did. 🙂

        January 7, 2012
        • Tahiti or Florence. I wasn’t sure what we decided but from the sound of it, we chose Tahiti!

          January 7, 2012
  9. Yay for the three fabulous judges! I can’t wait! 🙂

    January 7, 2012
    • And I cannot wait to get a submission from the lovely and talented Nora 🙂

      January 7, 2012
      • Aww you’re the best Cara! My creative wheels are turning — I woke up this morning and my mind was racing with ideas…I get into these things you know 🙂

        January 7, 2012
        • I can SO see you being competitive! Makes my heart melt, really…

          January 7, 2012
          • Laurel #

            Makes mine palpitate. The waiting is killing me Nora.

            January 7, 2012
  10. Laurel #

    Thank you for the kind words plus, I have a sneaky suspicion you have quite a bit more kitchen experience than you’re letting on about. You’re a great contest thinker upper (like the way I coin catchy phrases?) this is going to be SO MUCH FUN!!! Thanks Cara. I’ll be going back to my cabbage and fig salad now.

    January 7, 2012
    • I could have written more but space did not permit it 🙂 And no, I’m totally serious. I started to really cook only about a year ago and got serious about it in July 2010. I’m a baby when it comes to this. Green. Newbie. Fresh off the non-baker train 🙂 Scout’s honor.

      January 7, 2012
      • Laurel #

        I think that’s what makes you so fantastic. No silly preconceived notions born out of ages old French recipes. Parlez vous francais, ma petite?

        January 7, 2012
        • Now you are making ME blush, silly. And speak English, will ya? I’m terrible at other languages 🙂

          January 7, 2012
  11. ok..i think i’m excited about this 😉

    January 7, 2012
    • Think? THINK? There is no thinking in baking…only doing! haha. xoxo

      January 7, 2012
    • Laurel #

      Yeah Caitlin, I can’t WAIT to see your submission. I’m hungry for some East Coast sophistication here in Texas. Help me?

      January 7, 2012
      • Word to that! No pressure though, Caitlin 🙂 hehe

        January 7, 2012
        • haha seriously, no pressure. my brain is all over the place and now you’re adding east coast sophistication to the mix. i’m not jewish, but i feel an “oy!” is appropriate 😉

          January 7, 2012

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