Top Ten Gluten Free Treats For Your Sweet This Valentine’s Day

Florists are hurriedly filling their shelves, rose petals dripping to the floor; chocolatiers present rows of gleaming handmade creations for lovers to gift to each other; and restaurant staff starch tablecloths, polish cutlery until it gleams, and cook plates of perfect aphrodisiacs. These are all beautiful ways to show your love on Valentine’s Day, but I’ve always been more of the homemade type. Something made with hand and heart for the one you love. The time is the gift, and love is a verb.

Here are my Top Ten Gluten Free Treats for Your Sweet this Valentine’s Day from Thoroughly Nourished Life:

Two forks and a plate with a massive slice of my Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting would be a sweet end to Valentine’s Day.

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeOr how about two spoons and a tub of my Irish Coffee Ice Cream? Chris and I bonded over our love of whisky, so this would be a perfect Valentine’s Day treat.

Irish Coffee Ice Cream | Thoroughly Nourished LifeNeed a vegan salty sweet treat for your beloved? Tahini and Peanut Butter Cookies would be welcomed by anyone – bonus points if you wrap them up in a cute little box with tissue paper!

Peanut Butter and Tahini Cookies | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished LifeNeed a little spice in your life this Valentine’s Day? (Don’t worry, this isn’t about to turn into that kind of blog!) Try my Chai Spiced Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting!

Chai Spiced Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeChocolate and Peanut Butter, not since Romeo and Juliet have there been two more meant for each other. Here in my Peanut Butter Doughnuts with Chocolate Peanut Glaze, rather more successfully than those teenage lovers, chocolate and peanut butter are united in heavenly doughnut form.

Peanut Butter Doughnuts | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeOh so you aren’t going away to a tropical island with your lover for Valentine’s Day? Neither am I, but I’m tempted to bring the tropical home with a batch of Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Buttercream. These gluten free cupcakes are also perfect for a Gal-entine’s Day celebration too! Perfect for that Sex and the City / Friends marathon!

Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Buttercream | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeHow about some pure, lustful, lush chocolate indulgence? My Frosted Peppermint Brownies are an aphrodisiac for sure….(leave out the mint and candy canes for pure chocolate sin…)

Frosted Peppermint Brownies | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeIs your sweetheart a cookie monster? I’m lucky that I have found a fellow cookie monster to love, and my Even Better Chocolate Chip Cookies are one of our favourite indulgences. Best when paired with binge watching Parks and Recreation.

Even Better Chocolate Chip Cookies | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life | thoroughlynourishedlife.comBreakfast in bed, or maybe brunch in bed in your plans for this weekend? My Zucchini, Carrot and Walnut Pancakes (with plenty of maple syrup) are a sweet and wholesome start to the day.

Zucchini, Carrot, and Walnut Pancakes | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeAnd now, for the pull-out all stops, don’t bother going out for dinner, just grab a fork and your stretchy pants and let’s eat in bed, piece de resistance – Chocolate Brownie Cookie Dough Layer Cake. It’s over the top, it’s more than over the top. It’s magnums of champagne, 25 carat diamond, a thousand red roses strewn on white silk sheets over the top, but sometimes, that’s exactly what love needs to be.

Chocolate Brownie Cookie Dough Layer Cake 3

And a few more love-ly links from around our internet world:

  • Just in time for our Lady and the Tramp Valentine’s Day re-enactments, Not Quite Nigella gives us perfect Bean and Quinoa Vegetarian Meatballs. The call it bella notte….
  • Red Velvet is Chris’s current love language, and doughnuts, well of course, doughnuts are the ultimate symbol of love – they look like a hug after all. Lynn from Fresh April Flours combines the two in her delightful Baked Red Velvet Doughnuts.
  • If a jar of Nutella is one of your ultimate couple foods (just add two spoons for happiness) – this Hazelnut Chocolate Cheesecake from Urban Bakes is the perfect up-your-game treat for Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! And even if Valentine’s Day isn’t your thing, I hope you have an extra sweet weekend too!

Irish Coffee Ice Cream for St. Patrick’s Day

Do you have a favourite day of the year? One that isn’t your birthday or Christmas?

For me, St. Patrick’s Day has always been my favourite day of the year. I love the green and the glitter, the shamrocks and the leprechauns, the Guinness (not the taste but the cooking possibilities) and the music, not to mention that I have a long lived obsession with Ireland, and…ah…Irishmen. It’s the accent and it’s genetic.

When I was in school the tale of St. Patrick enthralled me, and pictures of the emerald green isle where the sea crashes harshly against sheer rock faces and the hills roll down and around and gently cup charming farmhouses stood in sharp contrast to the wide golden land of my reality.

Ireland has long been on my list of places to go and I will get there someday. For now, I stick to celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with all my might and reading Maeve Binchy  novels.

DSC01666

Now, I know St Patrick’s Day is still a week and a bit away, but sometimes you make something and you just can’t wait to share it – this Irish Coffee Ice Cream is one of those recipes. And when it comes to ice cream, a little forethought and preparation goes a long way to ensure the end product is successful.

Irish Coffee Ice Cream | Thoroughly Nourished Life

This ice cream is rich, thick and smooth and all-encompassing. This is not ice cream that you eat while sitting on the couch watching ‘Leap Year’. This ice cream demands attention. The coffee comes through strongly, so if you aren’t a huge coffee fan you could reduce the amount of beans to one or even half a cup. The whisky here is non-negotiable if you want to call it Irish Coffee (as defined by the National Standards Authority of Ireland), but if you choose to leave it out, you could increase the vanilla to 2 teaspoons and have a very decent coffee-flavoured ice cream instead. Use good whisky here too. You don’t need a lot, but use something that you like to drink because you will taste the whisky in the finished product.

This only makes a small batch, but you only need a dainty scoop of this smooth, thick cloud of creamy frozen custard to feel satisfactorily indulged.

Irish Coffee Ice Cream | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Irish Coffee Ice Cream

Slightly adapted from Simply Recipes

Note: This recipe provides the instructions for making ice cream with an ice cream maker. If you do not own an ice cream maker, never fear use these instructions from the King of Ice Cream David Lebovitz (http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2007/07/making-ice-crea-1/).

If you are using an ice cream maker, remember to place the ice cream maker bowl into the freezer 24 hours in advance.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups milk (I used 2%)
  • ¾ cup raw sugar
  • 1 ½ cups coffee beans
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 ½ cups cream
  • 5 egg yolks at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons Irish Whisky

Method

  1. Heat milk, raw sugar, coffee beans, salt and cream in a sauce pan until warmed through and letting off steam – do not let this come to the boil.
  2. Remove from the heat and allow to steep for one hour. If you want a less strong coffee flavour, steep less beans for a shorter amount of time.
  3. After steeping has occurred fill a large bowl with ice and a bit of water and settle a medium size bowl into the ice. Place a fine metal sieve over the medium bowl.
  4. In a separate medium size bowl whisk egg yolks together.
  5. Reheat milk mixture until warm again. Do not boil.
  6. Slowly, whisk a small amount of heated milk into the egg yolks. Continue whisking and pouring heated milk mixture into egg yolks. We want to keep whisking pouring slowly to prevent the yolks from cooking.
  7. Pour this mixture back into the saucepan. You are now halfway through making the custard!
  8. Place saucepan on a medium heat and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens. This can take up to ten minutes. Just keep stirring. The mixture should coat the back of the spoon and you should be able to draw a clear line through the coating that doesn’t disappear immediately.
  9. Once your custard has thickened, remove mixture from the heat.
  10. Pour custard through the strainer to remove the coffee beans. Discard the beans.
  11. Stir in vanilla and whisky.
  12. Keep stirring until the mixture has cooled down.
  13. Wrap bowl tightly and chill in refrigerator overnight.
  14. The next day, remove custard from fridge and freeze as per ice cream maker’s instructions.
  15. After churning the ice cream, freeze for about four hours (if you can wait that long!) then scoop into bowls and garnish with shaved dark chocolate and some whipped cream if you are feeling extra naughty!

I know this seems a very long process, but the end result is extremely rewarding.

So dear reader, how do you plan to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? I’ll be wearing green and cooking colcannon for dinner, oh, and listening to Westlife on my morning run…

Irish Coffee Ice Cream | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Nourished Life Gratitude List 2014 – Week Nine

This week has passed so quickly, but was filled with important and wonderful moments. I really felt like I took charge of my time this week and lived in the present. My interactions with the people around me were valuable as well and I was grateful to be able to sit back and enjoy the richness of conversation and the freedom of being the listener.

Here it is, the Nourished Life Gratitude List 2014 Week Nine:

Monday: I am grateful for my local GP office. I have two lovely, caring doctors that I see when I need to, and I am grateful that I have found people I trust with my health. The relationship you have with your doctor or any health practitioner is so important and finding the right one is essential.

Tuesday: This afternoon on my way home the traffic was awful. A trip that usually only takes 40 minutes took over an hour. I was grateful to have interesting podcasts to listen to (my new car syncs with my iPhone!), and to arrive safely home and into the arms of my beloved. It doesn’t matter how long the road home has been, stepping onto the carpet in my bare feet while Chris tells me about his day is guaranteed to relax me.

photo 1

Wednesday: I am grateful to have such wonderful colleagues. One of the ladies at work today walked up to me and told me how awesome she thinks I am, and that she had been speaking to a few other people about how awesome I am and what a great job I do and they all agreed. I am not trying to toot my own horn here, but merely say that sometimes you think that the work you do doesn’t get noticed or you beat yourself up for not being in the job you thought you would be, and then something like this happens and it makes your week. I am grateful that she took the time out of her day to make mine.

photo 2

Thursday: Tomorrow we are celebrating two birthdays at work and tonight I made chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting. I also started work on an ice cream for tomorrow night. It was a busy night in the kitchen but I was grateful to spend some time there and to try a new recipe that seemed a challenge to me (making the custard base for ice cream always scares me).

Chocolate Cupcakes

Friday: Today I was grateful to make it out of the office for lunch with a friend and have deep conversations over sushi. I was also grateful that my Irish Coffee Ice Cream (recipe coming up this week) worked out really well. Jess came over for an impromptu ice cream party and as we all sat around the table I realised how grateful I am for the rhythm of my family. It doesn’t matter that we aren’t all under the same roof any more because it feels like nothing has changed.

Friday

Saturday: I escaped to one of my favourite exercise spots this morning – our local wetlands, and I had a great workout in the heat of the sun. Afterwards Chris and I went out for a delicious lunch and then picked up the contract for our new home! I will share more details as we get them, but wow, things are getting real now! I am so grateful that we are able to make a home together and create our own little kingdom. Tonight Chris’s family gathered to celebrate a birthday and I was grateful to catch up with everyone and to meet some new and very fascinating people.

Saturday Saturday (2)

Sunday: Today Mum, Jess, and I are off to the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art to see some of the exhibits and to see Ladyhawke, which is playing as part of their ‘Fairytales and Fables’ exhibit. We are going to lunch alongside the river and enjoy each others company and some classic 80s cinema.

Also this week:

So, I better be off to get ready to meet Mum and Jess. Tell me, dear reader, what are you grateful for this week? 

Thoroughly Nourished Finds: February Edition

Thursday has long been my favourite day of the week. When I was little, Thursday was the day my primary school class would trek up to the library and listen to a story and then pick out our books for the week, which meant I had the whole weekend to read them. As a teenager Thursdays went through a difficult period (as did I) because I worked every Thursday night for about seven years. Then, I got a grown up job and realised that I never had to go to the shops on a Thursday night again if I didn’t want to! And so Thursdays regained their favourite day status. Tonight I will be baking for a local café and for a work celebration and while I do so, why don’t you pull up a chair and browse the Thoroughly Nourished Finds February Edition.

Reads:

Because I just can’t leave my ‘To Read’ list alone until it has whittled down a little, I was super excited for more recommendations when I saw that The Stella Prize Long List had come out. I am especially excited to read: Boy, Lost by Kristina Olsson; Madeleine: A Life of Madeleine St John by Helen Trinca; The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka by Clare Wright; and All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld. Have you read any of these?

Notes from a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider is on my birthday wish list (next month!). I love Tsh’s podcast and this book sounds like it has a lot of Nourished Life lessons for me to learn.

Eats:

Still hot here in Australia (Think 30C at 8pm last night) and this Coffee Ice Cream looks like a perfect weekend pick-me-up and this Roasted Apricot and Honey Ice Cream takes advantage of our summer bounty in delicious perfection.

I know these cups are supposed to be for espresso, but I think they’d be just darling for single scoop servings of ice cream.

I made a new blog friend and her recipes and photography are amazing. I am particularly smitten with this Olive and Rosemary Quick Bread; Leek, Crème Fraiche and Goat Cheese Tart; and can we pause for a moment in the wonder that is this Dark Chocolate Mousse with French Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Caramel Puffed Rice – uh huh.

Moves:

In celebration of the fact that I am allowed to work out properly again (yay!) I have been trawling through some new workouts that I would like to try. The road back will be slow and steady but I am so happy that I can pick up my weights again (also, I am going to need to work out to balance out the ice cream, mousse, and tarts that will be coming out of the kitchen soon).

I love workouts that use just one tool and this medicine ball workout from Lorna Jane caught my eye looks tough but quick and awesome.

Moving is my Medicine ball

I love me a home workout, especially in the colder winter mornings, and especially when the cost of a monthly pass is equal to a new handbag (the good type), so with my frugalness in mind I buy DVDs instead. I took an adult’s ballet class for a while and found it to be complimentary to my running so theses X-tend Barre and Cardio Barre DVDs will be finding their way into my DVD player soon.

Adventures:

While watching the Sochi Winter Olympics I have become completely enchanted by the idea of a holiday in the snow. Wouldn’t this Mirrorcube at the Treehotel in the Boreal Forest, Sweden be an amazing place to stay?

A little closer to home, I can’t help but get swept away by QAGOMA’s Fairytales and Fables exhibition. Mum, Jess, and I have a lady date coming up soon to view one of the films being played as part of the exhibition.

Thinks:

Becoming Minimalist has become one of my favourite blogs to read of late. This article on decluttering  your schedule so that you can live your desired life is an important message for someone like me who tries to do it all. I need to step back and simplify. (I think this is something that Chris tells me all the time…).

The Kauffman family’s story of helping their young transgender son on his journey to live in the world as a male was heart-warming, tear jerking, and a lesson in how to really love someone. Listen here.

Well, plenty to keep me reading, eating, moving, adventuring and thinking this month. Any Thoroughly Nourished Finds that you would like to share? Anyone stayed in a treehouse hotel?