Nourished Life Gratitude List 2015 – Week Fourteen

The Easter long weekend is one of my favourites with four beautiful days to fill with family time, long walks, and extra snuggles. This year we are enjoying an endless summer; I can’t remember April being this warm for years. These unexpectedly hot days are sure to come to an end but I am enjoying them while they last. Here it is, the Easter long weekend Nourished Life Gratitude List 2015 – Week Fourteen:

rosesMonday: I’m going to miss afternoon runs bathed in sunset light when the days shorten for winter, but I am grateful for all the runs I have enjoyed this summer. Even though I am excited about our new home, and the exciting opportunities that it presents, I will miss our proximity to the water. Got to be grateful for these months by the water while they last!

Tuesday: There are days when you can run, and run, and run until you are breathless. Days when you can just keep going without concern for your body and mental health. Then there are days when you just need to slow down and really breathe in all that is going on around you and all that you have to be grateful for in your life. I am grateful for some time for reflection in the middle of my week. It makes finding the road ahead, and seeing the path you have already tread, so much easier.

Wednesday: The days when we have our quarterly reports due out are always a little bit more stressful than I would like, so I was grateful that today went so smoothly, and so grateful for my wonderful team ensuring that everything was ready and out the door on time so that we could all relax before our long weekend. And that’s my little cubicle-life fairy tale for the week.

brownie bites

Thursday: The last day of work before a long weekend makes me feel like a little kid awaiting that final bell before school holidays start. I was grateful to play Easter Bunny today with some eggs that my boss had generously bought for us all to enjoy. I was also grateful to enjoy a lunch treat with my friend Jess. What a great start to the long weekend.

Friday: Today Chris and I drove up to Toowoomba to visit with his parents. I really enjoy driving with Chris, we have time with no distractions to just talk about anything and everything. Ruth and Jim took us out for a delightful lunch at the lookout. The mountains were covered in mist and it was a magical view from our table. I was grateful for the time with Ruth and Jim and for a wonderful lunch.

misty mountainsSaturday: This morning I enjoyed a trip to the markets for breakfast with Mum, Jess – and Casey! We talked and ate our way around the markets and I was grateful for the time with my favourite ladies. The rest of the day was devoted to running, Easter baking, and watching more ‘House of Cards’. I cannot get enough! I was grateful to have a quiet night of baking treats and staring at the beautiful roses I found at the markets this morning.

 

Sunday: Happy Easter Sunday! This morning I went for a lovely walk by the water and then Chris and I joined my family to celebrate Easter Sunday with a family morning tea. There were treats galore and plenty of laughter too. I was grateful for some fun with my family, and to indulge in some delicious Easter treats (and so.much.cheese). Chris and I indulged in a long afternoon nap when we got home. I am always grateful for a Sunday afternoon nap – there’s just something so indulgent about sleeping while the sun is still up and knowing that you can leave your responsibilities behind for a few hours.

Monday: Today I greeted the day with a 12km walk along the harbour – and I got the great news that Yum. Gluten Free Magazine released their April edition today featuring three recipes from Thoroughly Nourished Life – I am so grateful to have the opportunity to collaborate with the Yum. team again.

yum gluten free

Also this week:

  • I am getting off to a healthy start with this week by making another Butternut Pumpkin and Zucchini Crustless Quiche – lunches solved for three days at least!
  • Last minute Easter treats were no problem with these intense little sweets – and they’ll be perfect for anytime you need a bite-sized indulgence.
  • Today the April issue of Yum. Gluten Free Magazine is available for download (or read it for free online), and it features three Thoroughly Nourished Life recipes – including one completely new recipe!

Sprinkled Coconut Ice

I know a sweet recipe is good when my little sister, who is usually collected, healthy and wholesome about her diet, loses her control and eats two or three pieces in one fell swoop. When I was thinking about an Easter gift for Jess I knew that chocolate eggs wouldn’t be her style, and then I remembered her delight over the presence of coconut ice at a wedding we attended recently – I knew what I needed to make immediately.

Sprinkle Coconut Ice | Thoroughly Nourished Life | Gluten Free

Coconut Ice has been a tradition in our family for a long time. Every Christmas as part of our huge Christmas dessert spread there is a crystal plate filled with little pastel squares. The same at Easter, and most other family gatherings. I must admit that we usually purchase our coconut ice, but after making this batch for Jessica’s Easter present I don’t think we will be buying it any more. Coconut ice is easy to make, no pots, pans or oven required. Perfect for making with little kids, especially since they can get their hands dirty while kneading the mixture together (this appeals to big kids too). This colourful offering is an old-fashioned sort of treat, but whenever you bring a dish people can’t help but smile.

Sprinkle Coconut Ice | Thoroughly Nourished Life | Gluten Free

The hardest part about making coconut ice is waiting for it to set, and I am not ashamed to admit that I did nibble at a few stray crumbs after I had pressed the majority into the baking tin. (I did go for a run beforehand, balance people). The addition of sprinkles here is entirely extraneous to the flavour, but it certainly adds a festive element. You can leave them out, but when given the opportunity to use sprinkles I think one should always seize upon it. Also, I just happen to be in a sprinkle mood: Exhibit A, my cookies from last week. Jess’s eyes lit up with delight and the jar was soon opened and shared. The sprinkles weren’t extraneous at all, not when I saw Jess’s smile.

Sprinkle Coconut Ice | Thoroughly Nourished Life | Gluten Free

 

Sprinkled Coconut Ice

Gluten Free – Check that your icing sugar and sprinkles are gluten free. I use Dollar Sweets Bright Sprinkles because they are certified gluten free. 

Makes about 64 pieces (2.5cm square)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups dessicated coconut
  • 1 x 390 gram can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut essence
  • 2 tablespoons milk (may be required)
  • 1/3 cup multicoloured sprinkles (see head note)
  • Pink food colouring

Method

  1. Line an 8-inch square cake tin or baking dish with baking paper.
  2. Sift icing sugar into a large bowl. Gently whisk in dessicated coconut.
  3. Add condensed milk, vanilla and coconut essence. Mix well until all dry ingredients are included. If your mixture is too dry and you can’t get everything to incorporate you may need milk. You may need to wet your hands and knead the coconut ice by hand.
  4. Divide coconut mixture in half. Knead sprinkles into one half. Colour the other half with pink food colouring to desired tint.
  5. Press sprinkled half into prepared tin/dish. I roll a flat sided glass across the top to banish my finger dents. Then press pink portion on top and roll glass across to flatten.
  6. Cover dish with cling wrap and place in refrigerator for three hours, or until set.
  7. When set remove from fridge and cut into small slices to serve. I cut mine into 2.5cm x 2.5cm.
  8. Coconut Ice will keep in fridge for up to three weeks.

This would make a lovely gift for Mother’s Day! Simply place in a jar and wrap with a big pink ribbon. This would definitely be welcomed by my Mum and Mormor.

Sprinkle Coconut Ice | Thoroughly Nourished Life | Gluten Free

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?

Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

The Easter Bunny is my spirit animal. I have sound reasoning for this proclamation. Firstly, he eats a balanced diet of carrots and chocolate – totally my style. Secondly, he hops around all the time burning off calories to make room for said chocolate. Thirdly, he shares his chocolate treats with others spreading happiness.

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

Okay, so maybe it isn’t quite sound reasoning, but I think if you are looking to a beloved holiday creature for guidance you could do worse than the big bunny. Also, if you are looking for a chocolate treat to make and share with your family and friends this Easter weekend you could do worse than these cupcakes.

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

These cupcakes are here to make your Easter delicious and easy. The crumb is fluffy and moist. The batter comes together easily. If you have school kids at home on holidays these chocolate cupcakes would make a great baking project, with adult supervision of course. If you have really little ones perhaps you could do the beating and the baking and then get them to help with the decorating.  The hidden beauty of these cupcakes is that they are gluten free, which means everyone at the table can enjoy them. I will be bringing a big batch of these to our family Easter celebrations and watching them disappear very quickly!

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

Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

Gluten free | Makes 30 small cupcakes (or 12 large cupcakes or 48 mini cupcakes – baking times will vary from those listed below)

Adapted from Hummingbird Bakery’s Cake Days

Ingredients

  • 70 grams butter, softened
  • 200 grams caster sugar
  • 100 grams light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 100 grams buckwheat flour
  • 100 grams brown rice flour
  • 55 grams almond meal
  • 50 grams cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoon gluten free baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk minus 1 tablespoon at room temperature

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and line 30 holes of three 12-cup (1/4 cup capacity) small cupcake baking tins with cupcake papers. See note.
  2. In a medium size mixing bowl whisk together buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, almond meal, cocoa powder, ground cinnamon, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a large mixing bowl beat together butter and both sugars until pale and creamy.
  4. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary.
  5. Beat in vanilla.
  6. Beat in flour mix in three additions alternating with milk and beating until just combined after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl between additions.
  7. Spoon mixture into prepared baking tins filling each cup 2/3 full.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the tops spring back into place when gently pressed.
  9. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before frosting and decorating (see below).
  10. Enjoy. These cupcakes will last about 3 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

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

Chocolate Buttercream

Ingredients

  • 120 grams butter, softened
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 4 cups gluten free icing sugar
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Method

  1. Beat butter until pale and smooth – about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until smooth and glossy. This should take about 3 minutes. Be patient and persevere because this will result in smooth, fluffy frosting that will have you begging for more.
  3. Spoon into piping bag and decorate as desired. Alternately spread thickly on top of cupcakes with a butter knife.
  4. Decorate with small candy-covered Easter eggs or other decorations.

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Tell me, dear reader, how are you celebrating Easter? Anyone else identify with the Easter Bunny as their spirit animal?