Pumpkin Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

It was a dark and spooky night…all around the cottage nothing could be heard but the rustling of cupcake papers….

Halloween is almost here! Halloween isn’t a big thing here in Australia, but my family and I love any excuse to decorate the house (Dad has been working hard on decorations all year), dress up in silly costumes, and share a few sweet treats. These gluten free pumpkin cupcakes made an early appearance to get us in the Halloween mood last weekend – spicy, sweet, and with some cute and spooky sprinkles they were a Halloween hit.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

When I saw these pumpkin cupcakes on Jen’s blog I knew it wouldn’t be long until I needed to bring them to Thoroughly Nourished Life and give them a little gluten free makeover. You all know that I love spiced baked goods and the heady aroma of these cupcakes is delightful mix of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cardamom. The butternut pumpkin (squash) I used added a sweetness to the cupcakes, and the brown sugar ensures that the cake stays soft and sweet. These are a very tender cake so they might appear a little crumbly. Just remember to cook them for the correct amount of time and allow them to cool completely before frosting and eating. The inclusion of ground chia seeds helps bind the gluten free flours without any strange tasting vegetable gums.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Cream cheese frosting with cinnamon is the perfect tangy-sweet topping for the fluffy cupcakes. I used the same recipe as the frosting on my Chai Spiced Cake. It’s the perfect frosting to pair with anything filled with any of your spiced baked goods. I use it on cakes, cupcakes, and even baked doughnuts (coming soon to Thoroughly Nourished Life) – sometimes it’s a little too tempting not to just lick it straight off the spoon!

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

I love Halloween even though I am not a fan of scary movies, scary stories, or those weird plastic costume masks. I love a mild spooky night filled with shrieks that border on delight and fear, with a sweet reward at the end. This Halloween Chris and I will be spending the night with Mum and Dad taking part in the Haunted Driveway that my Dad has created. Although Chris isn’t too keen on Halloween (don’t worry, he’s learning) we have our costumes picked out (ghost bride for me, Dread Pirate Ginger Beard for Chris) and I can’t wait to spend the night tricking and treating the little (and big) kids in our neighbourhood.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from Milk and Honey | Makes 12 cupcakes | Gluten Free

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes

  • 40 grams brown rice flour
  • 40 grams white rice flour
  • 40 grams almond meal
  • 50 grams buckwheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon chia seeds, ground
  • 115 grams butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree

For the frosting

  • 125 grams cream cheese (full fat is best), softened
  • 50 grams butter
  • 3-4 cups icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom (a decent sprinkle)
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • Sprinkles for decorating (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F) and line 12-hole cupcake pan (1/4 cup capacity) with cupcake papers.
  2. In a medium size bowl whisk together brown rice flour, white rice flour, almond meal, buckwheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  3. In a small jug combine buttermilk and ground chia seeds. Allow to sit until required.
  4. In a large mixing bowl use a hand mixer to beat together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  5. Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined.
  6. Turn mixer speed to low and beat in half the flour mix until just combined. Add buttermilk and pumpkin puree and beat until incorporated and then mix in the rest of the flour until just combined.
  7. Divide batter evenly among cupcake papers.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when lightly touched.
  9. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
  10. To make frosting: beat together cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add 3 cups of icing sugar, spices and milk. Beat until combined. You want a slightly stiff mixture. If frosting is too loose add extra cup of icing sugar.
  11. Spoon frosting into a piping bag fitted with your choice of tip. Decorate cupcakes as desired and then sprinkle with decorations (if using). You could alternately use a knife to frost the cupcakes.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Tell me, dear readers, how do you celebrate Halloween? Is anyone else dressing up?

Mocha Banana Muffins

I believe that if you can eat chocolate for breakfast you should, and if that chocolate happens to be healthy, paired with coffee, and baked into soft muffin-y form then all the better. If you have bananas languishing in your fruit bowl at the end of the week, some cocoa powder, and a few eggs, then you are well on your way to a healthy weekend breakfast treat.

Mocha Banana Muffins | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

This weekend I am going to the Good Food and Wine Show with my friend Casey, but beforehand we are meeting with my Mum, sister, and friend Bree at the Farmer’s Markets for breakfast and coffee – you know, to pre-fuel for our day of eating samples of myriad delicious things. So, healthy, gluten free, chocolate and banana muffins were my pick for a breakfast treat. Paired with a cappuccino from my favourite coffee shop we will be ready for a day of touring the halls of the convention centre in search of nibbles of cheese, and new gluten free products.

Mocha Banana Muffins | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

You are going to love these muffins. Quick to assemble and put in the oven, you can make them in the morning and serve them fresh to your family for breakfast, or you can mix them up while dinner is cooking and have fresh treats for the whole family’s lunch boxes. This recipe would make a great baking project to make with little ones who are just learning to bake. A few simple steps, some measuring (a great way to learn maths – it certainly helped me), and a delicious result! All you need to do is mash bananas (a great job for little kids too), mix in yoghurt and eggs, and add to some gluten free flour with a handful of chocolate chips (because, sometimes you need chocolate chips in your breakfast). Bake them for 20 minutes and voila! Mocha Banana Muffins for the whole family to enjoy.

Mocha Banana Muffins | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

 

Mocha Banana Muffins

Makes 12 muffins | Gluten Free | Leftovers will keep 3 days at room temperature in an airtight container or wrapped tightly frozen for up to 2 months

Note: if you don’t need these to be gluten free, use 210 grams (1 1/2 cups) plain flour in place of the hazelnut meal, sorghum flour, and white rice flour.

Ingredients

  • 2 large bananas, well mashed
  • 2/3 cup non-fat Greek yoghurt (or plain natural yoghurt)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoon rice bran oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee powder
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup hazelnut meal
  • 1/3 cup white rice flour
  • 2/3 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200C (400F) and line a 12-cup muffin pan with muffin papers.
  2. In a medium bowl mix together mashed bananas, yoghurt, eggs, oil, and vanilla essence until thick and smooth.
  3. Dissolve coffee powder in water and add to banana mixture along with brown sugar. Whisk until smooth.
  4. In a large bowl whisk together hazelnut meal, white rice flour, sorghum flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and whisk until just combined.
  6. Add chocolate chips and stir gently until well distributed.
  7. Divide batter evenly between muffin papers.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops bounce back when gently touched.
  9. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then remove from the pan and cool to room temperature.

Mocha Banana Muffins | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

10 Gluten Free Sweet Ideas for Father’s Day

Recent weekends with my Dad have included both of us romping with the dog Molly, putting our heads together to design a bar cabinet for the new house, the whole family shovelling dirt to help with my parent’s backyard renovation, and watching Monster Trucks or Austrian detective shows. You could say we are an eclectic pair. (Rocking it old school in the photos below – I would still wear that dress actually…)

Dad and I

Growing up, my Dad was the perfect father for two daughters. He taught us how to make shortbread and how to hold a hammer. He (and my Mum) was a great example of feminism: he taught my sister and I that there is nothing you can’t do as a woman, or as a man. He told bedtime stories (my favourite was Stuart Little); sang us songs that he made up on the spot (I still think of them when I can’t sleep); and fixed everything from broken jewellery to broken hearts. My Dad is my friend as well as my father, and I only hope I can live up to the example of being a great person with big ideas, big love, and a big heart that he has set me. Love you Dada, and Happy Father’s Day.

Another thing my Dad and I have in common is a huge sweet tooth. Put a bag of freckle chocolates in front of us and the only thing that will stop us is the bottom of the bag!

So when it comes to treating Dad for Father’s Day I know that sweet baked goods are the way to go. I’m working on something new for this weekend, but here are ten of my favourite gluten free ideas to help you treat your Dad to something this weekend.

When my Dad says something is ‘terrible’ it means he loves it. These Oatmeal Caramel Cookies earned that label and the batch disappeared very quickly.

Oatmeal Caramel Cookies | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Want to give your Dad something he can enjoy for breakfast the whole week long? Try my fruit studded Breakfast Bread. Perfect with a man-size cup of tea in his new ‘Best Dad’ mug.

Breakfast Bread | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

You might not be able to send Dad away on a tropical vacation, but you can give him all the flavours of a beachy cocktail in Banana and Coconut Doughnut form, which makes it even better in my opinion.

Banana and Coconut Baked Doughnuts | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

My Dad loves coconut (can’t you tell) – definitely where my sister and I get it from, and we used to buy him coconut ice every Father’s Day. No need to buy it anymore though with this super special Sprinkled Coconut Ice (Dad tested and approved).

Sprinkle Coconut Ice | Thoroughly Nourished Life | Gluten Free

My Dad and I can easily inhale a bag of Peanut m&ms while watching car racing, and these Chocolate Peanut Cookies are the spirit of Peanut m&ms in a cookie.

Chocolate Peanut Cookies | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Now, take that Peanut m&m and turn it inside out. Add a little extra crunch and now you’ve got these Peanut Butter and Millet Cookies. I ate a whole batch on my own. You need to remember to share with your Dad this weekend!

Peanut Butter and Millet Chocolate Chip Cookies | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Are you having an extra special morning tea for Dad? These Beetroot Chocolate Cupcakes with Golden Syrup Buttercream are a perfect treat for the whole family and there are plenty to share!

Beetroot Chocolate Cupcakes with Golden Syrup Buttercream | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Dad and I love to share a pot of coffee sometimes when I am home on the weekends. These Espresso Hazelnut Flourless Chocolate Cookies are perfect for the coffee and chocolate loving Dad and are so easy to make!

Espresso Hazelnut Flourless Chocolate Cookies | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Speaking of coffee, these Coffee-Vanilla Sandwich Cookies are an extra special treat if you have a little more time. Bonus points if you find an awesome biscuit tin to present them in!

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And for the grand finale, this is definitely what you should bring to the big family party. Impress them with your skills (but keep it a secret that this is super easy), and treat Dad to the perfect springtime flavour combination with my Citrus Poppyseed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Citrus Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (gluten free) | Thoroughly Nourished Life

I hope I’ve given you a little gluten free sweet treat inspiration for treating your Dad this Father’s Day weekend!

Tell me dear reader, what are some of your favourite memories of your Dad? Anyone else have a special ‘Footloose’ dance or is that just us?

Sprinkle and White Chocolate Cookies

Some of my earliest memories are of making cookies. Four year old Amy standing on a stool watching Mum make her famous chocolate chip cookies after she had put Jessica down for a nap; seven year old Amy and four year old Jess getting their hands dirty rolling dough into balls while making melting moments with Dad from his old Navy cookbook. Staying overnight at our Mormor’s house the scents of a faraway Denmark would be conjured as we made biscuits whose recipes were only carried in Mormor’s memory. As we got older we took over the kitchen in the afternoons and made the classic cookies and biscuits that had become a tradition in our biscuit tin. Perhaps that is why cookies are the first thing I want to cook when I step into the kitchen. When I am sad a batch of chocolate chip cookies is the cure. When I am happy whipping up delicate sandwiched creations are a celebratory experience.

Sprinkle and White Chocolate Cookie | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

These cookies are a celebration: of Easter, of time with family, and of chocolate and sprinkles and the fact that it’s okay to be frivolous sometimes. These are chewy cookies studded with sweet white chocolate chips and showered with a confetti of coloured sprinkles. The dough is rich with vanilla and almond extracts. One request: remember to chill the dough because this stops the butter from melting as soon as it comes into contact with the heat from the oven and therefore prevents the cookies from spreading too much. It seems like a pain, but really it gives you time to clean the kitchen so that you can enjoy your cookies without having to worry about the dishes. These are also great to make with the little ones. Soon enough they’ll be grown and making them for you!

Sprinkle and White Chocolate Cookie | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Sprinkle and White Chocolate Cookies

Gluten free. Makes at least 24 cookies. I used ‘Dollar Sweets’ Sprinkles because they are gluten free!

If you do not require these to be gluten free you can use a total of 2 cups of plain flour in place of the almond meal, brown rice flour, buckwheat flour, and sorghum flour.

Ingredients

  • 125 grams butter, softened
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 70 grams almond meal
  • 70 grams brown rice flour
  • 75 grams buckwheat flour
  • 75 grams sorghum flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup multi-coloured sprinkles
  • 200 grams white chocolate chips

Method

  1. Line two large baking sheets with baking paper and set aside until needed.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together almond meal, brown rice flour, buckwheat flour, sorghum flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl beat butter, sugars, vanilla and almond extracts until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs and beat until smooth.
  5. Add flour mixture and stir until a soft dough forms. Stir in sprinkles and chocolate chips until completely distributed.
  6. Cover bowl and chill dough for at least 30 minutes.
  7. Place heaped tablespoons of dough onto the prepared baking sheets. Leave at least 6cm between the balls of dough as these cookies will spread during cooking.
  8. Once you have used up all the dough return the trays to the refrigerator for another 20 minutes. This is the time to preheat the oven to 160C (320F).
  9. When the oven has heated to the right temperature bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes. Rotate trays halfway through baking time.
  10. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
  11. The cookies will keep for four days in an airtight container.

Sprinkle and White Chocolate Cookie | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Cookies always feature at our family celebrations. Do you have a family cookie recipe that is handed down through the generations?

Ten Recipes Perfect for Easter Baking

We are planning a quiet Easter weekend filled with family and friends and feasting. Luckily I come from a family of cooks and bakers so I know there will be plenty of delicious dishes filling the tables at whichever house we are at. I am crossing my fingers hoping that my little sister makes her chocolate caramel slice on Saturday night and I know that my Aunt will have a table groaning with salty antipasti, hard boiled eggs, fresh fruit and oh so much cheese for Sunday lunch. The most nourishing thing about each of these occasions will be the company surrounding me.

I will be bringing baked goods to these occasions (did you really expect anything else?), so if you are looking for a little inspiration, here are my top ten recipes perfect for Easter baking (and sharing), and come back tomorrow for a quick, cute gluten free cookie recipe that will be welcome in any Easter basket.

Ten: Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake – this bundt is simply stunning displayed as the centerpiece of your Easter brunch.

Nine: Coffee Banana Date Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream  – pack a basket of these and share the happiness.

Banana Cupcakes 1

Eight: Peanut Butter Lindt Ball Filled Chocolate Cakes – a sweet and salty surprise inside!

Seven: Violet Crumble Brownies – oh do make these. Better than a Crunchy Easter egg in my opinion…

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Six: Coconut Blondies (gluten free) – these tummy friendly treats will disappear very quickly, trust me…

Coconut Blondies (gluten free)

Five: Chocolate Chip Doughnuts with Chocolate Glaze (gluten free) – miniature doughnuts perfect for some Easter fun. Try using pastel sprinkles on top!

photo 1 (8)

Four: Espresso Hazelnut Flourless Chocolate Cookies – not easy to say, but easy to make and super easy to eat!

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Three: Ricadonna Cupcakes with Ricadonna Buttercream – add a little sparkle to your Easter lunch with these bubbly cupcakes!

Ricadonna Cupcakes

Two: Citrus Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (gluten free) – this tall pretty cake looks impressive but is simple to make and the bright cream cheese frosting is worthy of licking the bowl.

photo 1 (5)

One: Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream – dress yourself up in your fanciest Easter bonnet and bring along some fancy cupcakes too!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

 

Plenty of sweet inspiration for your Easter baking. Come back tomorrow for some pastel sweet treats, perfect for last minute baking, or making with kids!

Tell me dear reader, what are you making for Easter? Or have you been cooking up a storm for Passover instead?

Oatmeal Caramel Cookies

I gave you a smoothie on Monday and a confession of my gluttony over the weekend. These cookies are the reason I needed to start the week on a lighter note. Not too long after they had come out of the oven I had already greedily gobbled one down while the caramel chips were still slightly molten. Then of course, I had to try one when they were cooler and I was taking photos, which turned into two because I had crowded the photos and I needed to keep my strength up while shooting (obviously).

Then there was the cookie that I had to eat later in the afternoon just to see if the crunchy, sweet, snappable texture was good enough to share with all of you. And, it was.

Oatmeal Caramel Cookies | Thoroughly Nourished Life

These cookies taste like comfort to me. They taste like rainy days and big cups of tea and thick delicious books and woolly socks. They aren’t delicate, lacy, fancy cookies. These are nubbled with caramel chips and oats. They are the size of the palm of your hand (or bigger if you’d like). They are a cookie to dunk into a cup of tea, to hold in one hand for nibbling while the rain pours down outside and you snuggle under a blanket on the couch.

That’s how I plan to eat them next time anyway. This time I gobbled them greedily. I snapped each biscuit into thirds and ate them while standing over the kitchen counter while I was making a salad for lunch. It’s not irony, it’s reality, balance. Next time I plan to be more restrained, but this time, greed was good. I have also heard reports that these are delicious with a scoop of ice cream on top (note: this wasn’t me, I didn’t have any leftover to experiment with).

Oatmeal Caramel Cookies | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Oatmeal Caramel Cookies

Note: I used Freedom Foods Quick Oats in this recipe. They are guaranteed wheat free, which works for my belly. If you are a coeliac, please consult your doctor for advice on whether oats are appropriate for you, or simply leave the oats out. If you do not require this smoothie to be gluten free, you can use traditional rolled oats in this recipe for the same flavour.

Wheat-free. Makes 18-20 cookies.

 Ingredients

  • 100 grams butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 large egg at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 50 grams sorghum flour
  • 50 grams buckwheat flour
  • 40 grams white rice flour
  • 1 cup wheat-free quick oats
  • 3/4 cup caramel chips

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and line three cookie sheets with baking paper.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together baking powder, baking sodar, salt, cinnamon, sorghum flour, buckwheat flour, and white rice flour.
  3. In a medium size mixing bowl beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. I used a wooden spoon, you could use a handheld mixer instead.
  4. Beat in egg and vanilla until well combined.
  5. Dump in flour mixture and beat until just combined. Add oats and caramel chips and mix until distributed.
  6. Chill dough for approximately an hour. This makes all the difference to the final product.
  7. Drop rounded tablespoons of chilled mixture onto prepared cookie sheets. Leave about 5cm between each mound because these biscuits will spread.
  8. Place cookie sheets into the preheated oven and bake for 12-15 minutes or until the cookies are golden around the edges. Swap position of trays half way through baking time.
  9. Remove from oven, place cookies on a wire rack to cool completely (if they last that long).

Oatmeal Caramel Cookies | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Gluten Free Christmas Baking and Gifting

Tis the season to be baking! And giving away baskets and bags and tins and tinsel wrapped parcels of our baked goods. There is nothing I love more than giving gifts from my kitchen. Brownies for a work morning tea, jars of biscuits to our head office, spice biscuits for neighbours, and some special treats for my nearest and dearest (no sneak peeks here guys, sorry). But what about the intolerant or allergic among your friends and family? Never fear, I have compiled a list of gluten free friendly recipes that are perfect for gifting. So spread a little Christmas cheer without worrying about causing sore tummies or rashes. Bake something up today that the whole family can enjoy.

christmas tree

Firstly, a few tips for gluten free safety. I live in a household where I am the only one who cannot eat gluten (this doesn’t stop the cookies from disappearing into gluten-able mouths though…) and my grandmother is a diagnosed coeliac so whatever I bake, I like to make sure she can eat when she visits, so I take extra care in making sure I keep gluten free goods completely gluten free. (Disclaimer: these are my personal tricks for keeping the kitchen safe, but should not replace advice from a registered professional or professional organisation.)

  1. Wash all utensils carefully before you start using them to make gluten free food. There is no need to buy a completely new set, but make sure that you scrub them thoroughly. Check crevices carefully.
  2. Wipe down you bench and other cooking surfaces with disinfectant spray and paper towel.
  3. Only use products that are labelled gluten free. Wheat free does not mean gluten free so check carefully.
  4. Be wary of hidden sources of gluten: cornflour, icing sugar, pre-packaged sauces, and chocolate are some that I have been caught out by recently.

Now, onto the baking! Cookies are a perennial favourite at this time of year and some of my favourites that could easily be made into holiday gifts are:

Almond Butter Shortbread cut into seasonally appropriate shapes. Little gingerbread people, reindeers, Christmas trees – your choice!

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Coffee-Vanilla Sandwich Cookies would be a sweet and fancy surprise inside a festive biscuit tin.

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If you bring a warm plate of these Chunky Dunkers as a gift for your gluten free hostess/host they will invite you back again and again.

Quick breads make a great gift to bring with you when visiting someone’s house for a Christmas party. This way they have something they can eat for breakfast the next morning, or serve to their next guests. Or perhaps as dessert, lightly toasted with some ice cream…

Coconut Banana Bread is a staple in our home all through the year, and if the recipient can’t eat it now, it freezes and defrosts brilliantly.

This Zucchini, Hazelnut and Cranberry Bread blends the best of the season here in our summery Christmas and the spices evoke calm as their scent wafts from the oven.

Blood orange cake

A wreath-shaped Blood Orange Poppyseed Cake is festive in so many ways try other citrus fruits if blood oranges aren’t available.

For something extra decadent try these treats:

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Laced with white chocolate chips and spiked with Frangelico and spices these Spirit of the Season Blondies ‘taste just like Christmas’ as my friend Melissa said in her review.

This Sugary Chocolate Fudge is just as it says: sugary. Be careful to brush your teeth carefully after a piece of this.

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These Honey Caramels entice even the most reluctant dessert eaters like my boyfriend’s father who had more than one piece as soon as he realised their sweet appeal. I hope this list will help with your baking and gifting.

It really is the most wonderful time of the year, so why not spread a little joy with homemade treats. The most important ingredient of course is your love.

For more information on gluten free safety have a read of this quick guide from Cooking Light about how to make a safe gluten free kitchen and this resource from the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness.

Violet Crumble Brownies

You might hate me after I show you these brownies. In fact, maybe you shouldn’t scroll down too far, just in case.

Reasons you might hate me? Let’s make a list:

  1. Brownies, on a Friday (and I’ve been so good all week Amy – why did you show me these now??);
  2. You have the insatiable urge to push yourself away from your computer and run to the nearest providore of Violet Crumble and then rush back to your kitchen and make them – but you can’t because you are most likely at work (or in school, or taking care of little ones, or maybe in outer space, I don’t know, maybe); or
  3. You didn’t get one when I brought them into work today…

Oh, what the heck, scroll down and we’ll take our chances shall we?

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Any haters? Whew, that’s a good feeling.

These brownies came to mind when I was thinking about my favourite chocolate bars while simultaneously doing some extremely boring paperwork (you know, as you do). My favourite childhood chocolate bar has always been the Violet Crumble (followed closely by Picnic Bars – please, please make a gluten free version someday soon!). Some of you may contradict me – why Amy, what about Peanut m&ms? Surely they are your favourite chocolate bar? My reasoning: they are my favourite chocolate and candy coated vegetable. Hear me out – peanuts are not nuts, they are legumes, legumes are a type of vegetable – see, sound scientific reasoning!

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Violet Crumbles will always hold a special place in my heart (even though they aren’t currently Amy friendly) because they are not only delicious, musical to eat, and can devoured slowly while reading a good book, but also because they helped me survive my final year of high school. High school Amy study food: Violet Crumbles and strawberries…

It’s all about balance, right?

So, instead of hating on me, love on these brownies. Remember, it’s the way it shatters that matters.

Violet Crumble Brownies

Makes 30 decadent brownies. Of course, you can cut this into larger or smaller squares at your own discretion. They will keep for 4 days in an airtight container in the fridge , or about 30 minutes on an office kitchen table.

Ingredients:

  • 200 grams dark chocolate, chopped
  • 175 grams butter, cubed
  • 125 grams plain flour
  • 50 grams cocoa powder
  • 230 grams brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 250 grams Violet Crumble (5 x 50 gram bars), or other chocolate-covered honeycomb

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (356F) and line a 8 x 11 x 1-inch baking tin with baking paper.
  2. Place butter and chocolate in a small heavy-based saucepan and melt together over a low, low heat. Stir frequently with a metal spoon until just melted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  3. Sift together plain flour and cocoa powder and set aside.
  4. In a medium-size mixing bowl beat together brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla essence with a hand-held mixer until light and creamy. This will take about 4-5 minutes.
  5. Fold melted chocolate into egg mixture. Then fold in flour and cocoa.
  6. Roughly chop Violet Crumble and fold 200 grams into brownie batter.
  7. Spoon batter into prepared baking tin and smooth top with a spatula. Sprinkle reserved Violet Crumble over the top.
  8. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out with only a few moist crumbs clinging to it.
  9. Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely before slicing up and serving.
  10. Enjoy.

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Okay readers, tell me, what is your favourite chocolate bar? Any interesting discoveries?

 

Sweet Potato, Pecan, and White Chocolate Cookies

I have dreams about a little cottage built just for two. A place where a common dream, our extraordinary shared dream, can take root and with the nourishment of time, hard work, and patience, reach into the sky with strong branches. He will keep us safe and entertained. I will stand at the stove and transform the harvest into the bounty of the table. He will roll up his sleeves and plunge his hands into the hot soapy water cleaning up after me. We will lie in our feather bed while the starlight streams in and talk, laugh, and dream late into the night. I will leave early on weekend mornings and return to his side sweaty and smiling. We will invite the crowd and company of friends and family. Fill the rooms with chatter and laughter and big ideas in the celebration of the small, exquisite, fragile things. The door and our hearts will always be open to those who call. Our little corner of the world dedicated to creating a future together. Our space to grow, learn, work, become, rest, share, shelter, and love.

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There will be clinking plates and crystal glasses as our friends crowd into the house and pile around a table groaning with good things to eat. We will share what we have been given, and take pleasure in the food and our family of friends and loved ones. Laughter, and noise, and sharing, and ‘oh did you taste this yet?’ will fill the little space with the sweet music of familiarity.

We will feast together: I will grill salmon; cover the kitchen in mess while making pasta by hand; we will stand side-by-side sneaking the last bites of stir-fry from the wok after licking our own plates clean; in the midnight munchies hours fuelled by too many glasses of wine we will clandestinely feed each other scoops of cold creamy ice cream.

And sitting on our bench will be my favourite symbol of a home filled with love: a never-empty cookie jar. These gluten free Sweet Potato, Pecan, and White Chocolate Cookies are the perfect post-work, post-gym, pre-dinner snack; or perhaps a sneaky before-he-wakes-up-for-Sunday-lunch-reading-my-book breakfast with a cup of fresh-brewed coffee; or for sharing with a loved one in the midnight hours after getting home from a dinner party.

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Sweet Potato, Pecan, and White Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients

  • 140 grams buckwheat flour
  • 60 grams brown rice flour
  • 60 grams almond meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 1/3 cup rice bran oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 215 grams (scant 1 cup) sweet potato purée
  • 100 grams toasted pecans
  • 2/3 cup white chocolate chips

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (356F) and line two large cookie sheets with baking paper.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl whisk together buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, almond meal, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom.
  3. In large bowl beat together the eggs, caster sugar, and golden syrup with electric beaters until smooth and light.
  4. Measure in rice bran oil, vanilla, and sweet potato. Beat until well combined.
  5. Stir flour mix, pecans, and white chocolate chips into the egg and sugar mixture. Beat thoroughly.
  6. Measure mounds of cookie batter onto the lined cookie sheets (I used an ice cream scoop). Leave 5-6cm between cookies for spreading.
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the tops of the cookies bounce back when lightly pressed.
  8. Allow to cool completely and serve to your friends and loved ones, or store them in your cookie jar for up to 4 days.

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Tell me, dear reader, what does your dream of home look like? What are the little rituals that mean home to you?

 

Nourished Life Gratitude List Week Twenty-Six

First this week I have to give a congratulations to my blogger friend Kate who ran the Blackmores Sydney Half Marathon. Congratulations Kate on your awesome time – you deserve that great looking medal. Also, my real life darling Casey, adopted a new member into her household, and he shares the same name as my kitten. Meet the other Toby.

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Monday: Grateful for my Mum and Dad having a wonderful holiday in Cairns and arriving home safe and sound. I am getting jealous of their adventure though, so perhaps a tropical sojourn could be on the books sometime in the future…

Tuesday: I enjoyed a lunch time walk with a new office friend; we even managed to time it perfectly between the spring showers. Then I had a short, sweaty workout after work and Chris and I had a wonderful evening of tacos and Stephen Colbert.

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Wednesday: Today was one of those days. You know, the day where nothing seems to go your way, say, you left an important section out of a document that your boss was delivering in a another state, the spreadsheet you worked on for five hours suddenly had to change at the whim of someone else, and then when you were out for a run you got chased by two magpies and fell over in sight of home and grazed your knees and elbows and ripped your $90 exercise pants. You know, one of those days. I was super grateful for a hot shower, Mum telling me she could mend my pants, Dad checking my wounds, and a phone call from Chris that was better than a band-aid.

Thursday: I’ve never been so happy to have someone laugh at me. My boss chuckled about my lost sleep over the missing section of the report. Grateful that my anxiety was unfounded. The day got even more awesome because I went for a walk and didn’t fall over, and then my beautiful sister and her husband came over for dinner. I am grateful that they live so close.

Friday: I saw the sunrise on my run, ate a huge breakfast of strawberries and Greek yoghurt, had a successful day at work, and then got to make chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream for a very special young lady’s birthday party.

Guylian chocolates

Saturday: The cool spring morning was perfect for a podcast fuelled walk. I was grateful for my thoughtful boyfriend who brought me beautiful flowers. I made some delicious sandwich cookies.Then I had a great sister date with Jess – we ate all the ice cream: cinnamon and pecan was definitely the way to go.

jess and sushi

Sunday: This was a take-it-slow day taken to the extreme, but I did get some writing done, and washed the sheets. Oh, and there were snuggles – a perfect end to the weekend and start to the next week.

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Tell me, dear reader, what are you grateful for this week?