Sunday, 18 August 2013

Spinach and Mushroom Lasagne and Simple Chocolate Ice Cream

Looking at my past blog posts, I notice that we have been eating a lot of red meat.  Although there are reasons, Miss A is low in iron, I still felt that I needed to balance out our diet.  This prompted me to investigate some fish options and some vegetarian options.  The lasagne recipe below is not technically vegetarian, as I use beef stock in the sauce, but you can substitute that for vegetable stock if you prefer.  I also do not make my own pasta, I have not found a GF recipe that works for me, so I have used the San Remo GF mini lasagne sheets.  These have a fairly chewy consistency, so if you can get them, I recommend the frozen sheets that are fresher when thawed.  I have not included a bechamel sauce recipe as mine has failed the last 2 times I have tried to make it.  I will trial a new recipe and keep you posted.

I have also included a simple ice cream recipe.  I usually make the custard based ice creams, but these simple ones are great on the side of a nice dessert, and the kids love them in cones.  Mstr H will prefer these to the store bought ones, even though he has no dietary needs at all.  He just likes the taste!  Homemade ice cream has a freshness you just can't get in a plastic tub!

We have hit birthday season with Miss A's bday a few weeks ago, Craig's in just over a week and Mstr H's in 4 weeks.  I have decided to discard the idea of catering for Mstr H's party, and will just order in some pizzas for the boys, while taking Miss A to the movies.  Much easier than trying to make party food for a heap of 9 year old boys!  Although I am loving that I make the food my kids eat, there are times when I need to take a break and let someone else do the cooking.


GF lasagne sheets
1L bechamel cheese sauce
500g sliced mushrooms
500g baby spinach leaves
100g baby kale leaves
100g rocket, chopped finely
1 cup Nomato sauce
2 cups beef stock (optional - can be substituted for vegetable stock)
2 cups grated Colby cheese
Mixed herbs and spices
Knob butter, dairy free spread, or oil, as preferred

Melt butter, spread or heat oil in a large frypan.  Saute mushrooms lightly.  Add spinach, kale and rocket and cook until wilted.  Add Nomato sauce, stock and herbs and spices to taste.  Be aware that the rocket has a pepper taste, so you may not need to add more pepper.  Simmer until reduced and sauce is thick.

Preheat oven to 180C.  In a lasagne dish, put a layer of mushroom sauce, a layer of bechamel sauce, a layer of pasta.  Repeat.  Top with remaining bechamel sauce and grated cheese.  Bake for 45 mins.

SIMPLE CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM (from the Cuisinart Ice Cream booklet)

3/4 cup cocoa
2/3 cup granulated sugar
pinch salt
1 cup whole milk (I use skim)
2 cups thickened cream
1/2 tbsp vanilla essence

In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, salt and cocoa.  Add milk and whisk until sugar has dissolved.  Add remaining ingredients, and mix until combined.  Here, the recipe suggests refridgerating for 2 hours, but I put straight in ice cream maker.

Churn in ice cream maker until frozen, about 20 mins.  Will need to be put in freezer for about 20 mins to firm up.

Let me know what you think in the comments!  My next installment - Veal Scallopini Funghi!  Yum!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Old School Beef Casserole with Cheesy Polenta Dumplings and Simple Vanilla Ice Cream

It has been a while since my last post because my husband and I had a lovely weekend away in the Clare Valley.  The food and wine was spectacular and we had a great stay at the Clare Country Club.  I definitely recommend it.  Beautiful view of the lake, great food, great service.  Meanwhile, on the home front, the kids were sick, so we have had a busy few days with doctors appointments and just looking after little people.

I thought I would share with you this great casserole dish that I got from my Granny when she was still with us.  It is a lovely, homely recipe with the surprise of the cheese dumplings to soak up all the juices.  It is a complete meal in itself and needs no sides.  I have, of course, tweaked it a bit to make it allergy friendly.  Feel free to tell me what you think in the comments.  I believe it was originally published in a Readers Digest cookbook called One-Dish Meals, the Easy Way, but has been altered a few times since then.


1.5 kg chuck steak, cut into cubes
1/4 cup maize flour
generous pinch salt and pepper
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 leek, chopped
2 sticks celery
2 green capsicums, cored and sliced into rings
1 cup homemade beef stock (see previous post)
2 cups Nomato sauce (see previous post)
1/4 cup tamari soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
Mixed herbs and spices to taste

3 cups water
Good pinch salt
1 cup polenta
30g butter or dairy free spread
1 cup grated Colby cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
Paprika for garnish

Dredge the cubed beef in flour, salt and pepper.  In a frypan, heat the oil until smoking, add the beef and brown for 6-7 mins.  Place in a large casserole dish.  To the frypan, add the veg and cook for 5 mins, stirring occasionally.  Add the sauces, stock, herbs and spices and bring to boil.  Put into the casserole dish with the beef and mix to combine.  Place in a 180C oven and bake for an hour.

Prepare the dumplings.  Bring the water to a boil and add the polenta and salt.  Reduce to low heat and simmer for 15 mins stirring occasionally.  When thickened, remove from the heat and beat in the butter, cheese and egg.  Remove the casserole from the oven, and arrange the polenta in mounds on the top.  Sprinkle with paprika.  Return to the oven for 30 mins.

To follow and extravaganza of this nature, you need something simple.  Here is a really simple Vanilla Ice Cream recipe that I got out of the cookbook for my icecream machine.  I refuse to buy icecream for my kids as it is such a hotbed of additives, sugar and, unfortunately, wheat in that sneaky glucose syrup.  By making my own, which only takes a few minutes of prep, I know what they are eating, as well as the quality of my ingredients.  This recipe comes from the Cuisinart Recipe Booklet and it is really yummy.  It is smooth and creamy with a strong vanilla taste, perfect on a chocolate pudding or in a GF cone.


1 cup whole milk (I use skim and it is lovely)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
pinch salt
2 cups thickened cream (I use light)
1 tbsp pure vanilla essence

Whisk together sugar, salt and milk, until the sugar has dissolved.  Add the cream and essence and mix to combine.

Here, the recipe suggests you chill for 2 hours, but I have found pouring straight into the ice cream maker works fine.  Refrigerate if you like, or just churn until frozen.  This will be a very soft consistency, so you will need to freeze for a short time to firm it up.  Store in an airtight container in the freezer.

Makes 5 cups of ice cream.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Gluten Free and Fructose Friendly Coffee Scrolls

Day 2 of our influenza quarantine, and I got a little bit bored.  Miss A spent most of the day sleeping, not surprising considering she has a 40C temperature, and there is only so much television you can watch.  Mstr H was off at school, Daddy at work, so it was just me and Sleeping Beauty.  I decided to watch Great Australian Bake Off, to see dozens of golden, shiny, dripping in deliciousness coffee scrolls, and thought to myself, what a shame you can't make lovely bakes like that that are gluten free.  The sultanas rule out the fructose quota, and you just can't get gluten free dough that you can knead.

I sat there for a while, thinking about the deliciousness, and also contemplating the cruelty of no caramel ice cream, due to not being able to use brown sugar (high fructose), so I decided to play with a couple of recipes.  The ice cream was a disaster, it turns out I burned the caramel and it tasted wrong.  I will try again.  The scrolls are lovely.  With all this creative energy, I completely forgot to cook dinner, so Daddy came home and there I was, up to my elbows in baking, the kitchen looking like a war zone, and no dinner to be seen.  Oops!

Being a lovely guy, he whipped up some quesadillas while I finished up and we ate late.

Back to the scrolls.  They are not like the usual wheat scrolls, they are not as light and they did not rise like a normal scroll would.  Having said that, they are still soft and sweet and taste lovely with a cuppa.


1 3/4 cup warm water
1/3 cup white sugar
1/4 cup oil
3 tbsp dry yeast
sprinkle salt
2 tbsp GFG (gluten free gluten - available at any supermarket)
3 1/2 cups GF plain flour
2 cups rice flour

1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup melted butter

Place the water, sugar, oil and yeast in a medium bowl, mix and leave to activate for 15 mins.  Add the salt, gfg and flours and mix until smooth.

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead.  Yes, this dough will knead like a normal dough!  Knead for 10 mins and shape into a rectangle.  Roll out into a long rectangle, and cut off any messy edges.

Mix the sugar and cinnamon for the filling.  Brush dough with the butter and sprinkle liberally with the sugar mixture.  Starting with the long side of the rectangle, roll into a tight scroll.  Cut into 12 even scrolls.

Place on a line baking tray, and brush the tops of the scrolls with left over butter.  Bake at 200C for 15 mins.  Remove from oven and put on wire rack to cool.

When cool, ice with coffee frosting.  Dissolve 1 tsp of granulated coffee in a tbsp hot water.  Add icing sugar until desired texture is reached.  Drizzle if thin, or spread on scrolls.

Let me know what you think in the comments!  If you are wondering about the pink plate, we have a whole pink section in the house as a way to prevent cross contamination or diet errors.  If I cook something that is not ok for Miss A to eat, I will make her food on the pink plate, using pink utensils and she knows that is safe food.  Makes for less chance of mistakes at parties.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Coconut Frozen Yoghurt

Health update for today - Miss A has the flu!  She is quarantined until Sunday, meaning a missed birthday party, missing out on ballet and a miserable little girl.  She is fighting high fevers, grumbles and asthma attacks, pretty worrying actually.  So we are still in comfort food mode, leading to me posting about her favourite 'feel better' food, homemade coconut frozen yoghurt.

I have an icecream maker, thanks to Mum, and it is amazing.  We like to try different flavours, and all organic.  I love knowing exactly what is in it, without all the rubbish.  Icecream can be a lot of hard work, between cooking the custard mix, and the chilling time, but frozen yoghurt has none of that.  Mix and churn, baby!


1 1/2 cups coconut milk
1 1/2 cups greek yoghurt
3/4 cups caster sugar
few drops essence

If you have a normal icecream churner/maker, remember to freeze your bowl the night before.  These machines work by freezing the mixture as churning it, so have to be really cold.  If you are making by hand, freeze the mixture, beating every hour or so until frozen.

Mix together all the ingredients until the sugar is dissolved.  Place in churner until frozen.  As the yoghurt tends to set very hard, I freeze in individual serves.  After churning, the yoghurt will be very soft, so you need to freeze for an hour before it is completely set.  My kids love it soft so will usually eat it straight out of the machine!  Serve on its own, with fresh fruit or topped with toasted coconut.


Swap the coconut milk for greek yoghurt, omit the coconut essence, add 1 tsp vanilla essence.  For a more decadent yoghurt, add a vanilla bean to the mix.

Swap the coconut milk for greek yoghurt, add 1 tbsp cocoa powder, omit the coconut essence.  Add choc chips by grating some good quality dark chocolate, we like Lindt 70%.

Swap the coconut milk for greek yoghurt, add 2 tbsp prepared strong coffee (we use organic decaffinated), omit the coconut essence, add choc chips as per Chocolate Frozen Yoghurt.

I hope you enjoy this sweet treat as much as we do.  Let me know what you think in the comments.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Today was one of the worst days we have had with Miss A's health.  We had a long awaited gastroenterologist appointment.  We were so full of hope for some sort of answer or something we could follow up.  The only news we got was, that in his opinion, the diet revamp we have done, all our hard work, is for nothing.  He has no faith in diet remedies at all.  I was so angry and disappointed.  Of course I am not going to change how I treat my daughter, and will continue to give her foods that are high in nutrients, low in sugars and try to stick to the dietary guidelines we have been working from.  His narrow-minded opinion will not change that.  It is just so disheartening when every specialist we see has a different opinion and you have to mash all the advice together and hope you are doing the right thing.

To top this disappointment off, Miss A is very sick again.  Yet another course of antibiotics.  Last night she grabbed her head and started screaming that her head was falling apart.  It hurt so bad.  Sounded like a migraine to me.  She went to bed with some Panadol on board, and fell asleep, without dinner.  This morning she looked like a zombie so I took her back to the GP this afternoon.  Another sinus infection!  We are up to 4 days off of school in two weeks, and counting................

With all of this happening, and Mstr H feeling the brunt of it all, I have decided that some comfort food is in order.  This has prompted me to give you one of my favourite slow cooker recipes, Pot Roast!  Yum!  Great with fresh GF soda bread or corn bread, slathered in butter!  Yes, we are back on dairy, soy and egg!  Yay!  We also like to serve with fresh, green beans, steamed.  These are Miss A's favourite veggie as she can pull them apart, eat all the 'baby peas' and then the skins.  Hours of enjoyment!


2kg meat, roast (any red meat will do.  Corned beef is our favourite as it is cheap and tasty)
1 leek, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
1 zucchini, chopped
1 eggplant, chopped
250g mushrooms, quartered
1 green capsicum, chopped
2 cups Nomato sauce
1/2 cup Tamari soy sauce
herbs and spices to taste (I use Mixed Herbs and Seasoned Salt or SeasonAll)
2 cups homemade beef stock (beef bones boiled with leek, green capsicum, carrot, herbs and spices until aromatic.  Strain and store in freezer.)

Place all the veggies into a slow cooker, sprayed with oil.  Give them a stir and place meat on top.  Cover with sauces and stock and sprinkle with herbs and spices.  Place lid and leave for at least 6 hours.  All day is best.  Serve with steamed green veg, mashed potato and fresh GF bread.

See how easy that is?  My kids just love it.  Let me know what you think in the comments.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Vanilla Buttercream, Chocolate Cupcakes and Mocha Mudcake

Yesterday was Miss A's 7th birthday, and it was so busy!  By the time I made 36 mini vegan doughnuts (see my link to Chocolate Covered Katies blog in a previous post), topped with pink icing and sprinkles for school, 12 chocolate panda cupcakes and a large panda mocha mudcake, I was all worn out!  I was disappointed when the children who eat normal food did not like my creations, but most of the adults and kids who are used to GF did.  Proves that GF is an acquired taste.  It also meant that Miss A got to eat 10 of the doughnuts, so she was in heaven!  Surprisingly we didn't even get a full out for the amount of sugar she consumed, so I was really happy.  I felt renewed in my efforts that I could give my daughter a beautiful birthday, and not have a sick girl the next day.

Now, I chose pandas because they are cute, and really easy to replicate.  I cheated and bought some of the black candy melts (never again!  Really hard to work with compared to chocolate and the taste was not good either.  Normal dark chocolate next time!) and the ready-made candy eyes.  Now is the easy part, I drew a template of big, panda eye circles in biro on a white sheet of paper, a triangle nose piece and two half circles for ears.  Mstr H did the same, but smaller for the cupcakes.  Then I made a baking paper cone for piping and melted the black candy melts.  If you place baking paper over the templates, you can use it as tracing paper and the set chocolate/candy melts come right off with no fuss.  It also means you can use one template for many shapes.

I melted the chocolate/candy melts and piped the shapes and filled in, and while still wet, placed the candy eyes on top of the eye pieces.

You may think that mocha is a strange flavour for a 7 year old, but you need to understand that with the strict nature of Miss A's diet, her tastes are slightly different to most kids her age.  And yes, I use organic, decaffinated coffee in my cooking, so they get the taste, not the nasties.

The following cake recipes are not mine, they have come from cookbooks, but I am not sure which ones.  Since we started this diet, we have been copying and altering recipes to see us through from books from the library, so this is part of the collection.


1 1/4 cup gluten free SR flour
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup Sweet William dairy free choc chips

1/3 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
1 tsp vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 170C and grease and line a 12 hole muffin tin with patty pans.  Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.  Make a well in the centre and add wet ingredients.  Mix until they form a batter, but do not mix too much.  Spoon into prepared pans, filling close to the top of each case.  Bake for 15-20 mins, or until a skewer comes out clean.  Cool in tray for 5 mins before turning onto a wire rack. Top with chocolate frosting or vanilla buttercream when cool.


3 tbsp strong coffee
250g Sweet William dairy free choc chips
180g Nuttelex
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 cup caster sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup fine rice flour
1/4 cup potato flour
1/4 cup maize flour
1 tsp xanthan gum

Preheat oven to 160C.  Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin.  Place the coffee, chocolate, Nuttelex, vanilla and cocoa powder in a medium glass bowl.  Set over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure the base of the bowl does not touch the water) and stir until melted and well combined.  

Place the sugar and eggs in a large bowl and beat with electric beaters on high for 3-5 mins, or until light, fluffy and doubled in volume.  Gradually fold in the chocolate mixture, stirring gently with a metal spoon to combine.

Sift the flours and xanthan gum three times into a large bowl.  Gradually fold into the chocolate mixture with a metal spoon.

Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 50-60 mins.  Remove from oven and allow to cool in the tin for 15 mins before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.


500g pure icing sugar, sifted
250g Nuttelex
1 tbsp vanilla essence

Beat the butter until light and fluffy.  Add half the icing sugar and the essence and beat until all the sugar is combined.  Add the remaining icing sugar and beat til light and fluffy.  Add colouring of choice or leave white for a fluffy look.  

To create the panda look, I covered the cake completely in the buttercream, topped with a sprinkle of dessicated coconut for fur and added the chocolate shapes.  Voila!  Easy cake decorating!  haha

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Slow Cooker Split Pea and Ham Soup

Yum!  This is Miss A's favourite thermos lunch!  She loves to open this up at school and munch on it.  Also a favourite on a Monday night, which is music night.  I put it on in the morning and come home to house smelling like soup.  A loaf of fresh soda bread and some home made soup, too good to be true!

It is coming up to Miss A's birthday, so my next post will be about allergy-friendly cakes.  Stay tuned!

2 cups split peas, rinsed
1 ham hock, smoked
2 carrots
2 celery sticks
1 leek
herbs and spices
10 cups water

Put all ingredients into slow cooker, adding water last.  Just add enough water to cover, between 8 and 10 cups.  Add lid of slow cooker and cook!  Just before serving, remove ham hock, and cut off the meat, adding back to the soup.  Serve with your favourite bread.  Hmmmm.