Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting | Gluten Free

Fluffy and moist with just a hint of chocolate and deep red colouring, this gluten free red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting is the perfect special treat, especially when topped with vanilla-laced cream cheese frosting.

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeRed velvet cake is a little like love itself. When you first come across it, you don’t know how to categorise it. You can appreciate its beauty, the feeling of sinking into it, but try to examine it more closely and it flies apart into elements so disparate that you can’t fathom how they come together to form the wondrous whole. Luckily for us, red velvet cake proves a lot easier to examine and recreate in our own kitchens. The recipe for love, I leave to you all to figure out for yourselves. Mine involves 1 tall, geeky ginger + 1 nerdy, cookbook obsessed brunette = love. The recipe for a lush, gluten free red velvet cake with tangy, vanilla scented cream cheese frosting, that, I can help you with.

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeI wanted to give you a red velvet cake for Valentine’s Day. To show my love for you all, and your support here on Thoroughly Nourished Life. Like any project of love, it took some experimenting. Third time round, I figured out the formula for a fluffy, moist, tightly crumbed cake with a stunning deep red hue. Red velvet isn’t a cake for everyone. This cake walks the line between chocolate and vanilla. You will keep going back for slice after slice just to try and figure it out. I’m okay with that.

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeThe secrets of love, those I also have no idea how to solve, the secrets of the perfect gluten free red velvet cake, those I can decode. It starts with creaming butter and sugar to pearled perfection. To that we add eggs, a decent dose of vanilla, and pillar box red food colouring. This cake uses a simple mix of three gluten free flours, and these are added to the mix along with cocoa powder, and the key ingredient in red velvet cake’s moist and moreish texture – buttermilk. Buttermilk, combined with baking soda and a touch of lemon juice, gives this cake it’s lift and the tender crumb that defines red velvet cake from merely a red-coloured vanilla cake.

After your cake is baked and cooled, then the magic happens: you whip together cream cheese, icing sugar, vanilla essence, and lemon juice to create dreamy cream cheese frosting. Cream cheese frosting is the perfect dancing partner for red velvet cake. The tangy, smooth cream cheese contrasts with this cake and highlights the balance between vanilla and chocolate to perfection, like a delicious, velvety tango for your taste buds.

From me, to you, this Valentine’s Day. Red velvet perfection.

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeRed Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Gluten Free | Makes one 7-inch (18 cm) cake

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon ground chia seeds
  • 80 grams buckwheat flour
  • 80 grams white rice flour
  • 80 grams brown rice flour
  • 125 grams butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon liquid red food colouring
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Butter and line on 7-inch (18 cm) round cake tin with baking paper.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the warm water and cocoa powder. Allow to cool and then mix in the buttermilk and chia seeds. Set aside until required.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together the buckwheat flour, white rice flour, and brown rice flour. Set aside until needed.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl using a handheld mixer) beat butter and sugar on medium-high until light and creamy, about 3 minutes. The butter and sugar should be very pale by this stage.
  5. Beat in eggs one at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl between each addition.
  6. Add red food colouring, vanilla essence, and salt. Beat until completely incorporated.
  7. Turn mixer speed to low and beat in flour in three parts alternating with buttermilk and cocoa mixture. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as required. Beat until just combined.
  8. In a small bowl mix together baking soda and lemon juice so that it foams. Quickly mix into cake batter.
  9. Pour cake batter into prepared baking tin and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  10. Once the cake is cooked, remove from the oven. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from tin and allow to cool completely before frosting and decorating as desired. Use this time to make and refrigerate the frosting.
  11. To decorate the cake, split the cake into two layers. Use a serrated edge knife to make the job easier. Place one layer of cake on a plate and spread with half the frosting. Top with the second layer of cake and spread with the remainder of the frosting. Decorate with sprinkles, or as desired.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients

 

  • 175 grams cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 3-4 cups of icing sugar

Method

  1. In a medium size bowl beat together the cream cheese, lemon juice, vanilla essence, and 3 cups of the icing sugar until smooth.
  2. If your mixture is too runny beat in the extra cup of icing sugar.
  3. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before use.

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeTell me, dear reader, are you a red velvet fan? What’s your recipe for love?

Thai Red Curry Roasted Capsicum Soup | Gluten Free | Vegan

Rich Thai flavours bright enough for a summer’s evening pair beautifully with sweet roasted capsicum and coconut milk. I want to swan-dive into a vast sea of this soup and have to slurp my way out. It’s that good. Be prepared for big, bold bowls of thick, luscious, soup, so desirable you will hope your spoon never hits the bottom.

Thai Red Curry Roasted Capsicum Soup | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeI have been lusting after some deep, rich, Thai flavours after reminiscing with Chris about a Thai place that we went to early in our dating days. As well as making a killer chocolate thickshake (I know, weird, but it’s become our yardstick for thickshakes now), they made a rich red Thai curry. Plates heaped with fragrant sauce and colourful vegetables passed by our table multiple times while we were sipping on Chris’s thickshake and waiting for our dinner; unfortunately it wasn’t gluten free but out of curiosity (and lusty taste buds) I needed to experience red curry for myself. I instantly fell in love with the complex nature of red curry, and over the past few months it has been my comfort food of choice. During the long hot days of summer red curry is welcome for its bright, sharp relief and richness, without the cloying creaminess of other classic comfort foods.

Thai Red Curry Roasted Capsicum Soup | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeNow, I know turning the oven on in the middle of summer isn’t very attractive, and standing over a pot of simmering soup even less so. I am one of those people who doesn’t mind turning her oven on even on the hottest of days, and I am forever grateful we have a super air-conditioner. If you are not thus inclined (or blessed), you can take a short cut and use roasted capsicum from the delicatessen, and the soup only needs to simmer for about thirty minutes before you can take a break from the heat and let the soup, and your body, cool down. In those thirty minutes you can stand underneath the air-conditioning and become an icicle once more. When the scent of ginger, lemongrass, and chilli starts wafting from your kitchen, all you need to do is pour a glass of crisp white wine, and open the kitchen window a little wider to let the summer night breeze in.

Thai Red Curry Roasted Capsicum Soup | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Thai Red Curry Roasted Capsicum Soup

Vegan | Gluten Free | Serves 2-3 and is easily doubled

Note: to make this super quick you can use pre-cooked capsicum from the deli. You will need about 8 large pieces for this recipe.

WARNING: DO NOT BLEND HOT SOUP.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium red capsicums (see note)
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium brown onion
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 small washed potatoes
  • 1 long red chilli
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste (I use Ayam)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups salt-reduced vegetable stock
  • 2/3 cup light coconut milk
  • Coriander leaves for serving

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200C and line a baking sheet with baking paper.
  2. Cut out the core of the capsicums, chop into four slices, and lay each piece skin-side up on the lined baking sheet. Cook until skin starts to blister and pull away from the flesh, this should take about 20 minutes. Place capsicum in a plastic container and loosely cover with the lid and a tea towel. Allow to cool for 15 minutes. Once the capsicum is cooled, peel the skin off the capsicum pieces and chop roughly.
  3. While the capsicum is cooking, peel and dice the onion, carrots, garlic and potatoes. Finely dice the red chilli and discard the seeds.
  4. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan and add onion, carrots, garlic and potatoes. Cook, while stirring, until the onion is translucent. Add chopped capsicum, red curry paste and black pepper. Stir until coated and cook for a further five minutes.
  5. Add vegetable stock and bring soup to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer and allow to bubble away for thirty minutes, or until potato and carrot are quite soft.
  6. Remove soup from the heat and allow to cool completely before blending in batches, or using a stick blender to purée until smooth.
  7. Place soup back over a low heat and add coconut milk. Reheat until gently bubbling. Serve with extra coconut milk and a sprinkling of coriander leaves.

Thai Red Curry Roasted Capsicum Soup | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeTell me, dear reader, are you a fan of Thai food? Do you have any Thai dishes you like to make at home, or are your take-out menu favourites?

Nourished Life Gratitude List 2015 – Week Four

Sunday’s are a double-treat on a long weekend. All the pleasures of a normal Sunday (long, slow walks; visiting Mum and Dad; watching TV in bed) are combined with the knowledge that you don’t have to get up and get ready for work the next day – you get a whole other Sunday! And, you get to avoid ‘the Mondays’. Just one of the things I am grateful for this week. Here, for your reading pleasure is my Nourished Life Gratitude List 2015 – Week Four:

monday morning run

Monday: Today I started the week with a great run, and when I got to work my day got even better – my work friend Jess started back at work today! I am so grateful to have her back in the office and to hear her tales of her adventures in Burma (Myanmar).

Tuesday: Tonight when I got home from work I just needed to run – you know the feeling. I had some mad energy coursing through my veins and the distance just flew past – I even managed some sub-6:00 pace kilometers! I was grateful for such a positive run in the week before my first race of the year.

book and lunch

Wednesday: I started Andie Mitchell’s gorgeous memoir ‘It Was Me All Along’ today over lunch. I started reading her blog ‘Can You Stay for Dinner‘ nearly at the beginning and I am so happy that she is now a published author. Each post is straight from the heart, and so many times I have heard the whisper of my own soul in her words. I am grateful for her words being in our world.

walk with Chris

Thursday: Stormy Brisbane summer days were the norm this week and when the rain was pitter-pattering on the roof this morning I took the chance to turn my alarm clock off and snuggle in bed with Chris for a little longer. I was grateful for the slow start to the day. Sometimes you need to ignore the alarm clock for as long as possible and make the most of some snuggle time in the quiet of a rainy morning.

Friday: I love going to the movies and tonight Chris and I headed off to see ‘Taken 3′. Yeah, I know, not the most high-brow of films, but we are Liam Neeson fans, and both of us are suckers for action films. I was grateful for a night out with Chris watching a movie that we both enjoyed. There really is nothing better than watching Mr. Neeson kick some butt.

Saturday: Our usual trip to the markets was back on this morning, and Mum, Jess and I took our time lingering over breakfast and wandering around picking up fresh fruit and vegetables for the week. I went for a long interval run on the way home, and then had the opportunity to help out a friend on his exciting new project (details to come). Chris surprised me by taking me out to lunch at a new-to-us-cafe. While he went to get his beard trimmed (he’s so fancy) I sat and enjoyed Andie Mitchell’s heart-wrenching memoir. I was grateful for my surprise outing – an unexpected delight with my darling. Late in the evening Chris and I made a dash to the ice cream parlour for some summer evening sweet delight.

lunch with chris

Sunday: Bright blue sky walks are the best way to start a Sunday and I spent this one listening to the new NPR podcast Invisibilia – these ladies are addictive for sure. When I got home Chris and I went to visit my parents and share slices of a new cake recipe I am testing for you all (it was a success!). I was grateful to spend some time with three of the people I love the most – and get some Molly snuggles too. Tonight Chris and I are going out for dinner and drinks with some friends. I am grateful for the chance to get all fancied-up and spend some time with the beautiful people.

sunday morning run

Also this week:

  • This week Martin Luther King Day was celebrated in the USA. Dr King, we still have yet to achieve your dream, but we still have the hope.
  • I have always been, and will always be, a chocolate chip cookie girl, and these are my even better take on the original – it’s all about the rest time.
  • Tomorrow we celebrate Australia Day, but my gluten free lamingtons are perfect for any day of the year!
  • Medibank featured another of my recipes on their BeMagazine website – my Millet and Black Bean Stuffed Peppers – this is one of my favourite recipes and I’m so glad that Medibank shared it with their readers – I hope they enjoy it!

Tell me, dear reader, what are you grateful for this week? What has made your life bright and beautiful this week?

Lamingtons for Australia Day | Gluten Free

Lamingtons are an iconic Australian treat, and you are going to love my gluten free lamingtons. They are just like the treat you remember: a soft, vanilla sponge with a sweet and simple dark chocolate glaze and a coating of powdery coconut. It’s time to celebrate Australia Day with the sweetest of treats!

Australia Day Lamingtons | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life | www.thoroughlynourishedlife.com

Australia Day Lamingtons | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life | www.thoroughlynourishedlife.comLamingtons are an essential part of any Australia Day celebration. These little squares of vanilla cake coated in chocolate glaze and dunked in coconut might appear strange to visitors to our shores, but since 1896 they have been beloved by Australians, and as iconic on our dessert tables as Pavlova, custard slice and Peach Melba. Now, I present my gluten free lamingtons to you so that all your Australia Day guests can enjoy a true blue Australian treat.

Australia Day Lamingtons | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life | www.thoroughlynourishedlife.comAustralia Day is a time for us to celebrate our history as a nation, our heroes, and our villains. As is true of any country, there are parts of our history that we aren’t proud of and events that haunt us still, but to me Australia Day is a time to celebrate how far we have come in building our nation and the hope that lies in our better tomorrows. It’s also a day to gather round the barbecue with our families and friends, to play odd Australian bush games (two-up anyone?), make fun of our accents and strange words, call each other ridiculous Aussie nicknames, and just enjoy a public holiday in the beautiful summer weather.

The barbecue (that’s barbie in Australian) is the most common way to celebrate Australia Day along with sausages (Aussie: snags); steaks; salads (usually based on iceberg lettuce); and backyard cricket. When dessert time comes around the Pavlova (Aussie: Pav) is usually the centrepiece of the table; crowned with a thick draping of whipped cream and slices of kiwi fruit and strawberries it is a looker, but if you look off to the side there is always, always a packet of lamingtons – and they go fast!

Australia Day Lamingtons | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life | www.thoroughlynourishedlife.comMy homemade lamingtons take a basic gluten free vanilla cake recipe, dunk it in a thick chocolate glaze, and sprinkle it with desiccated coconut. These are the perfect treat to make with kids. Just prepare yourself for a messy kitchen, messy kids – and a delicious homemade treat! The most important thing about these lamingtons is to keep the cake in the fridge until you are ready to slice, glaze, and dunk them. This gluten free cake recipe is not crumbly, but it helps to make the cake a little hardier before it gets handled in this way (I would do this with non-gluten free lamingtons too).

They look a little strange when you first make them, but once you bite into the soft spongy, vanilla scented cake and get a lick of deep chocolate glaze with the tiniest hint of coconut you will understand the lamington’s allure. They are just the treat for long, hot summer nights; workplace morning teas; or for sneaking out of the fridge for a midnight snack. It is an Aussie truth that only the sneakiest gets the last lamington of the night – so be quick!

Australia Day Lamingtons | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life | www.thoroughlynourishedlife.com

Gluten Free Lamingtons

Makes 16 lamingtons | Gluten Free | Leftovers will keep in airtight container in the fridge for up to two days.

Note: if you want to dress these up you can try serving them with whipped cream and berries.

Ingredients

For the lamingtons

  • 80 grams butter, softened
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 55 grams white rice flour
  • 55 grams brown rice flour
  • 55 grams buckwheat flour
  • 55 grams almond meal
  • 2 teaspoons gluten free baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground chia seeds

For the frosting

  • 4 cups gluten free icing sugar
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup boiling water
  • 2 cups desiccated coconut

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F) and grease a 9-inch square pan with butter. Line the bottom with baking paper and set aside until needed.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together white rice flour, brown rice flour, buckwheat flour, almond meal, baking powder, and salt. In a small jug mix together milk, vanilla extract, and chia seeds.
  3. In a large bowl using a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat butter and sugar on medium-high until pale and fluffy. This will take about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add eggs one at a time and beat well to incorporate. Scrape down the sides and bottom between additions.
  5. Switch mixing speed to low and add flour mixture to the bowl. Beat until just combined.
  6. Add milk mixture and beat on low until well incorporated.
  7. Spoon batter into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top is lightly golden and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven, allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then remove cake from the pan and cool completely before decorating with frosting.
  8. Once lamingtons are cooled trim the sides of the cake so that they are even and then cut the cake into 16 equal squares. Transfer the cake squares to the freezer for two hours.
  9. Once the lamingtons are chilled you can decorate them. Combine icing sugar, cocoa powder, and water and beat until thoroughly mixed. Measure coconut into a large bowl.
  10. Using two forks dip one piece of cake into the frosting so all sides are covered. Shake off the excess. Place in coconut and toss until sides are covered completely.
  11. Place on a lined baking tray. Repeat until all cake squares are covered.
  12. Stand for an hour or until set. Store in fridge. Stand at room temperature for half an hour before serving.

Australia Day Lamingtons | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life | www.thoroughlynourishedlife.com

Happy Australia Day dear readers! What are your plans for the holiday long weekend? We are hosting a board games night and eating lamingtons and ice cream!

Even Better Chocolate Chip Cookies | Gluten Free

These are my desert island cookie. If I could eat only one dessert for the rest of my life (oh, the horror!) it would be these cookies. Butterscotch-y (now a word) dough, chunks of semi-sweet chocolate, crispy edges, and soft, under-cooked centres – I couldn’t ask for anything more. These are my Even Better Chocolate Chip Cookies, and you need to try them today.

Even Better Chocolate Chip Cookies | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life | thoroughlynourishedlife.com

Chocolate Chip Cookies are close to my heart. I have our family chocolate chip cookie recipe memorised after decades of making it with my family for every occasion (Wednesday nights are an occasion, okay). These gluten free Chocolate Chip Cookies are the best version I have made yet. Chewy, buttery, brown-sugar-heavy cookies generously packed with shards of dark chocolate, you won’t be able to stop visiting the cookie jar for ‘just one more’.

I already have a gluten free chocolate chip cookie recipe on this site. Made way back in 2012 when Thoroughly Nourished Life was but a fledging here on the internet. That recipe is good, but I’m here to tell you folks: this one is even better.

Even Better Chocolate Chip Cookies | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life | thoroughlynourishedlife.comMy Even Better Chocolate Chip Cookies have crispy edges and chewy centres because we are using both baking soda and baking powder in this recipe. I personally like to nibble around the crispy edges to start and then leave the ooey-gooey packed-with-chocolate centre for last. Because this recipe uses a combination of brown sugar and caster sugar, and chills in the refrigerator overnight, the butterscotch and vanilla flavour of the dough is well developed.

It might seem like a nuisance to chill your dough for that long but science tells us that chilling the dough for that little bit longer gives us an even better cookie – and I’m not one to argue with science. Chilling for 24 hours takes the flavour of this dough to the next level of chocolate chip heaven. Of course, if you would like, you can just chill the dough for an hour (both instructions included below) and still have delicious cookies.

Even Better Chocolate Chip Cookies | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life | thoroughlynourishedlife.comLook at that stack! Chilling the dough before baking also give us THICK cookies. These are substantial, weighty, bakery-style thick cookies. These are the cookies that you go to the gym for, in fact, I was glad I went for a run before baking them because I think I ate my own body weight in dough before it even made it into the oven!

My favourite part of these cookies is the large chunks of semi-sweet dark chocolate scattered liberally throughout the dough. I’m not against chocolate chips (there is always an emergency stash in our cupboard and at least two packets open in the fridge), but a hefty cookie calls for worthy chunks of chocolate. It’s your choice of course, but just look at the size of some of those chunks.

Now, let’s review. These cookies are:

  • Chunky
  • Chewy
  • Crispy-edged
  • Soft-centred
  • Butterscotch-y
  • Gluten free (yay!)
  • Filled with semi-sweet chocolate

In conclusion, grab your ingredients and a bowl and get to making these Even Better Chocolate Chip Cookies. Your cookie jar, and your taste buds, will thank you.

Even Better Chocolate Chip Cookies | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life | thoroughlynourishedlife.com

Even Better Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes approximately 24 cookies | Gluten Free | Cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to a week. Cookies can be frozen, well-wrapped for up to two months

Ingredients

  • 75 grams sorghum flour
  • 75 grams buckwheat flour
  • 75 grams white rice flour
  • 75 grams brown rice flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 150g butter, softened
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 200 grams dark chocolate, chopped

Method

  1. In a medium bowl whisk together sorghum flour, buckwheat flour, white rice flour, brown rice flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside until required.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed, or in a large bowl using a handheld mixer, cream together butter, brown sugar, white sugar, and vanilla extract until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs one at a time and beat well between additions. Scrape down the side of the bowl if required.
  4. Turn mixer speed to low and add dry ingredients. Beat until well incorporated.
  5. Using a wooden spoon mix in dark chocolate chunks until well distributed.
  6. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate dough overnight. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Alternatively, chill dough for an hour and then proceed to the next step.
  7. Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Line two baking sheets with baking paper.
  8. Roll generous tablespoons of dough into balls and place on baking sheets. Leave room for spreading.
  9. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are just getting golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature before eating (if you can resist a warm cookie straight from the oven!).

Even Better Chocolate Chip Cookies | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life | thoroughlynourishedlife.com

Nourished Life Gratitude List 2015 – Week Three

Back to work this week. The days grow busier and my calendar more full, but there is still so much to be grateful for. This year my focus is on decreasing my stress at work and focusing on the good things that happen throughout the day, rather than the frustrations. So far, so good. You have to choose the attitude you bring to your work whether you are doing your dream job or not. If you create an atmosphere of being happy at work then you will feel happier at the end of the day, and have more energy to focus on the other soul-nourishing things you get to enjoy in your own time. Here is my Nourished Life Gratitude List 2015 – Week Three:

Monday: I was up with the sun this morning and ready to start my work week with a run by the bay. It was a great decision and when I worked into work it was with a smile that lasted all day. I was grateful to make a positive step to start my day with a sweat session. Also, today was a Kiss a Ginger Day apparently, so I did :)

perfect vanilla cupcakes

Tuesday: Today I received some great news that I will share with you all soon! Chris and I also found out that we should be able to move into our house in July! I am grateful that we have the opportunity to buy our own little town house and I can’t wait to move in and be closer to my family, my workplace, and the city!

Wednesday: Chris had some important work stuff on today, but he still made time to send me a message and give me a call during lunch. I am grateful for these moments of connection throughout the day.

Thursday: We had quite a few documents due out at work today and I was grateful that my workmates had them to me in enough time for me to do my thing and then get them out right on time. When I came home Chris and I went for a walk along the water as the sun dipped into the ocean painting the sky in pastel fire. I was grateful to unwind with a walk and talk with Chris after a successful day at work.

sunset walk with chris

Friday: Tonight I had a sleepover with Jess! After work I headed to her place and we picked up sushi (and so. much. edamame.) for dinner. We curled up on the couch, watched ‘The Heat’ (love Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy), and feasted on sushi, watermelon, and peanut m&ms. I was grateful for some good quality time with my sister. I don’t think we stopped talking until we fell asleep watching the movie.

friday night with jess

Saturday: Jess and I woke up early to take Storm for a walk before the heat really hit, and then we headed over to Mum and Dad’s to wash my car. My Dad is such a sweet man, he and Jess helped me wash, vacuum, and polish my car until it was nearly as good as new! And, Mum fixed my new bikini for me! I am grateful for my generous and helpful family and the way they will help me with whatever needs doing just because that’s what you do for family. After our morning, Jess, Trent, Chris and I piled into the shiny car and headed down to Wet ‘n Wild for some water park fun! We slid, splashed, floated, and flailed (well, maybe that was just me with the flailing) and laughed our way through a long hot summer afternoon. On the way home we stopped for a Mexican dinner finished off with an ice cream treat (coffee ice cream with chocolate freckles for me). I was grateful to just soak in some fun time and some sun with three of my favourite people. I fell asleep with a smile on my face after spending so much time with Jess this weekend.

walks with storm

Sunday: Today we are off to a slow start (Chris is still safely in snooze-land) and I am enjoying a giant cup of chai tea before I get off to do some grocery shopping, some working-out, and some recipe creating. I am grateful for the big window in our kitchen that looks out onto a blossom filled tree and provides such a beautiful aspect to ponder while I am reflecting on my week and focusing my creative energy.

Also this week:

  • The week was off to a sweet start with my Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes – oh these are happening in my kitchen again soon!
  • I am taking lunch seriously this year and this massive millet salad nourished me for the whole week (apart from Friday Eat Out Day) – thanks to Kylie for her feedback about the salad. I am so glad you enjoyed it!
  • I’ve hidden my credit card at the moment because there are some very tempting cookbooks on my wish list currently!

Cookbook Wish List

I have a cookbook obsession. I’m not ashamed to admit it. Put pretty photos of food, lots of luscious food words, and sprinkle it with recipes onto some pages and I become entranced. Cookbooks are the reason I love blogs, and blogging. The book never ends; there is always a new post to read from one of my favourites.

But the original obsession remains. We have teetering towers of cookbooks in a pile in nearly every room of the house – kitchen, bedroom, spare bedroom (currently functioning as a library/wardrobe), dining room… The list goes on. Nothing comforts me, or excites me, as much as flipping through the pages of a cookbook – a new discovery or an old friend. I dream about meals I’ll cook when we move into our new house and can entertain our friends (our current house is a leeeetle too small); I get inspired to create recipes for the blog; or I just lose myself in the perfectly placed lettuce leaves or stacks of cookies. It’s my happy place.

So here is my current cookbook lust list – watch out credit card! (sorry Chris…)

Flavor Flours – Alice Medrich 

Alice Medrich - Flavour FloursAlice is one of my heroes. Each of her cookbooks is a masterful study of the subject she chooses, and I am so glad that her latest cookbook is focuses on all the flours I love to cook with! Recipes like ‘Brown Rice Sponge Cake with Three Milks'; ‘Buckwheat Sour Cream Souffles with Honey'; ‘Hazelnut Layer Cake with Dark Chocolate Frosting and Blackberry Preserves'; and ‘Nibbly Walnut Shorties’ have me hoping this book will be on my bookshelf very soon!

Baking Chez Moi: Recipes From My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere – Dorie Greenspan

Dorie Greenspan - Baking Chez MoiA Sunday in Paris with Dorie would be a dream come true for me. I have pored over ‘Baking: From My Home to Yours‘ so many times that I feel like I could be right at home helping Dorie make sables, or Katherine Hepburn Brownies. But, alas, I think I’m going to have to make do with baking a ‘Sunday in Paris Chocolate Cake’ to eat while reading her latest masterpiece, or perhaps whip up a batch of ‘Chocolate-Covered Toffee Breakups’, or share a ‘Berry and Pistachio Gratin’ with friends and create my own Paris moment.

Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day – Jeff Hertzberg, MD and Zoë François

Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois - Gluten Free Artisan BreadOh, bread. It’s not that I miss you everyday, but on a Sunday morning I would love a thick, yeasty slice cut fresh from a steaming loaf and spread generously with butter and jam, gold and scarlet bleeding down into fluffy white; or a luxuriously seeded wedge to pair with cheese and soup for a midwinter’s feast. Ah. Now, thanks to the genius pair behind the Bread 5-Minutes a Day series of books, we gluten-free peoples can live our bready dreams again. Also, gluten free Brioche filled with Chocolate Ganache – take me there.

The Einkorn Cookbook – Shanna and Tim Mallon

Shanna and Tim Mallon - The Einkorn CookbookShanna and Tim are the gorgeous couple behind the beautifully written and photographed website ‘Food Loves Writing‘ and this is their first cookbook (they are currently also working on a little Mallon to join the family!). Although I can’t eat einkorn, I am always looking for alternative grains to feed my friends and family and I just know they will love recipes in this book ranging from Cannoli Cupcakes to Lamb-Stuffed Peppers.

A Change of Appetite – Diana Henry

Diana Henry - A Change of AppetiteI love Diana Henry’s cookbooks they are filled with gorgeous photos and the recipes are saturated with flavour, but sometimes they can be a little too heavy for our hotter climates and my skinny jeans/bikini. This book is filled with what Nigella Lawson has deemed ‘templefood’ – a lighter, more wholegrain, more Thoroughly Nourished kitchen way of eating. I already love the cover of the book (artichoke art always gets me) and I can tell I am going to love the book with recipes like: ‘Red Lentil and Carrot Kofte'; ‘Berry and Hibiscus Sorbet'; and ‘Bulgarian Griddled Courgettes and Aubergines with Tarator’. Definitely a must for the Thoroughly Nourished Life kitchen.

At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen: Celebrating the Art of Eating Well – Amy Chaplin

At Home in the Wholefood Kitchen - Amy ChaplinAmy Chaplin is a vegetarian chef (and an ex-pat Aussie!) and this book is both an education and a celebration of the bounty a vegetarian diet offers. I can’t wait to try ‘Roasted Fall Vegetable and Cannellini Bean Stew'; or ‘Curried Socca with Cilantro Coconut Chutney'; or the decadent ‘Dark Chocolate Truffle Tart with Brazil Nut Crust’. Another must for my bookshelf – soon!

Flourless: Recipes for Naturally Gluten-Free Desserts – Nicole Spiridakis 

Nicole Spiridakis - Flourless

As you know, this blog focuses on gluten free baking using naturally gluten free flours rather than commercially-made gluten free flour. This book from Nicole Spiridakis (the talented writer behind the blog Cucina Nicolina) is centred on that very same ideal: using naturally gluten free flours to create stunning, tasty desserts for sensitive tummies. Nicole supplies such treats as: ‘Mexican Hot Chocolate Cake with Milk Chocolate Buttercream Frosting’ and ‘Salt-Dusted Lavender-Lemon Cookies’. Someone pass me my apron and some butter – stat!

There are so many more cookbooks that I am excited about, but these are the top on my list at the moment. I can’t wait to move into our new house and add them to my bookshelves (I’m going to have a special cookbook bookcase near the kitchen!) and then get cooking, sharing, and enjoying all the delights they have to offer.

Tell me, what is your favourite ever cookbook? One you are itching to get your hands on?

Capsicum, Zucchini, Chickpea and Millet Bowl | Gluten Free | Vegan

Bright, sauteed vegetables paired with mild and nutritious millet and bright herbs and spices makes for bowls of pure, gluten free, plant-based energy. Millet is a rich source of B vitamin, iron, and calcium making it the perfect seed (not a grain) for those who avoid meat, and it is naturally gluten free so it is gentle on tummies too.

Capsicum, Zucchini, Chickpea and Millet Bowl | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished LifeEnergy is a funny concept. We are taught in school that ‘energy can neither be created nor destroyed, just transformed from one form to another’. (Pardon my science-nerd ways.) And we memorise the different forms of energy recognised by physics theory and pray that we can remember all of Newton’s Laws and leave it at that.

As adults we learn the law of conservation of energy in different ways. Every day you have a certain allotment of energy to use during your waking hours. This precious, precious energy powers every situation, interaction, and move you make. I’m not talking about energy in the form of calories, but the deep down, soul-mined energy reserves that we have available to us when we open our eyes in the morning. Each situation extracts a certain amount from us: automatic tasks (cleaning teeth, showering etc) take very little; situations we enjoy can boost us up (snuggling with Chris in the mornings); and tense, stressful situations or people can drain us like energy vampires.

Capsicum, Zucchini, Chickpea and Millet Bowl | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished LifeOne of my goals for 2015 is to work out what my ‘energy vampires’ are and vanquish them for good. The Huffington Post had a great article that provoked this goal, and in turn, this post. As I was pondering this article the other day I started to list what saps energy from me the most: Fear of Missing Out (majorly when I am sitting at home looking at gorgeous photos of places that aren’t Brisbane); losing just a little more weight (because we are never satisfied are we?); trying to have it all ‘perfect and together’ all of the time (Type A, hello); and worrying about losing my job/disappointing someone (just an old ‘teacher’s pet’ hang up I suppose). After I had made this list I sat down and decided how to avoid/vanquish these situations because I want to use my time and space for good, not for feeling stressed out and ‘time poor’ all the time. It’s a work in progress, and it will take longer than a year because energy vampires will keep appearing in our lives throughout time. But here in 2015 I vow that my precious, precious energy will be conserved for making my life a happy, thoroughly nourished one.

Capsicum, Zucchini, Chickpea and Millet Bowl | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished LifeThese bowls of ancient millet, sauteed summer vegetables, and (my favourite) chickpeas are a boost to energy stores for sure, and because this makes enough for four servings, there are plenty of leftovers if you come from a small household, or you can make it ahead for work lunches (leftovers will last up to three days in the fridge) – stress-busting bonus! Millet has a mild buttery-sweet flavour, and I cook mine in vegetable stock to give it extra saltiness.

The farmers markets are bursting with fresh summer vegetables at the moment and in my Capsicum, Zucchini, Chickpea and Millet Bowls they are simply sauteed with chickpeas in olive oil, and dressed with balsamic vinegar, chili flakes, and dried thyme. Once the vegetables are silky soft, they are combined with the millet and tossed with summery basil and an extra glug of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. These bowls are filled with marinated summer night flavours. A smattering of olives doesn’t go astray as an extra topping here.

Make them, sit down with someone who boosts your energy and let the sunshine in.

Capsicum, Zucchini, Chickpea and Millet Bowl | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Capsicum, Zucchini, Chickpea and Millet Bowl

Serves 4 | Gluten Free | Vegan | Leftovers will last up to three days in an airtight container in the refrigerator

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup uncooked millet
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced salt vegetable stock
  • 2 small red onions (or 1 large)
  • 1/2 large red capsicum (bell pepper)
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 x 400 gram (14 ounce) tin of chickpeas, rinsed well
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Small pinch chili flakes (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch of salt
  • Handful of chopped fresh basil

Method

  1. Rinse millet well and then add to a medium saucepan with the vegetable stock. Place over a high heat and bring to the boil. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes, or until the stock is all absorbed. Then, remove from the heat and sit for 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork.
  2. While the millet is cooking: peel and thinly slice onions, slice capsicum into thin strips, and slice zucchini into thin rounds.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil over a medium heat. Add onion and capsicum and saute until both are softened. Add zucchini, chickpeas,  1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, dried oregano, and chili flakes (if using), and cook until zucchini is soft.
  4. Once millet and vegetables are cooked combine in a large bowl and gently toss with remaining olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pepper, salt, and chopped basil.
  5. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Capsicum, Zucchini, Chickpea and Millet Bowl | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Tell me, dear reader, what are your energy vampires? How do you boost your energy? Anyone love millet as much as I do?

 

Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream | Gluten Free

Fluffy, gluten free vanilla cupcakes crowned with a cap of fairyland pink vanilla buttercream. These are a classic treat that will transport you back to childhood delights and have been known to cure a case of the Mondays too.

Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

I know, its Monday, and we’ve only made it twelve days into the New Year and you’re all trying to be so good. Trust me, I’ve been salad crunching and smoothie sipping (and indulging in some chocolate to keep me sane), but today is my first day back at work and I think we need some cupcakes this Monday. Let’s make an exception, okay?

While we’re sitting here at our desks combing through databases and getting reports set up for the new year, let us indulge in some spun sugar childhood fantasy with these fluffy gluten free vanilla cupcakes and their pretty-in-pink vanilla buttercream frosting. These cupcakes take me back to baking cupcakes from Mum’s high school Day to Day Cookery Book. When it came to decorating our finished product, the frosting colour decision was always a unanimous cry for pink. From blush pink to the deepest magenta the cupcakes were always decorated in pink (Dad’s man enough to eat pink frosted cupcakes with the best of them) with multi-coloured sprinkles – and that kind of nostalgia is just what I need this first working Monday of the year.

Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

The perfect gluten free vanilla cupcake has been an elusive dream of mine these past three years, and now I can safely say that I have achieved my dream. The cake here is moist, tender, fluffy, and soaked in enchanting vanilla sweetness. A good buttery vanilla cupcake is the foundation to so many fantastic cupcake creations – be prepared Thoroughly Nourished friends! This cupcake is celebratory, a fantasy of sugar and sprinkles, the glitter bomb of nostalgic cupcakes sent to drag us out of Mondays in a cubicle and into a shower of happiness.

Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeMy vanilla cupcake experimenting took me through a lot of different combinations of wholesome gluten free flours (how much almond meal makes the crumb too soggy, how to balance the starchy rice flour with the protein-rich sorghum and buckwheat flours, etc) and methods (creaming method, or melt and mix?) before I landed on this combination.

There are five different flours in this mix, all of which are easily found at large grocery stores or health food stores, and all of which are integral to the perfect fluffy texture of these cupcakes. The other important ingredient for a non-crumbly cupcake is ground chia seeds – we’ve talked about the importance of these wonder seeds for elasticity in gluten free baked goods before. If you are serious about making the perfect gluten free cupcake it’s worth hunting down these different flours and the chia seeds. The results are worth it – buttery, intensely vanilla, and just like the wheat-based ones I’ve been missing.

Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeI’m so happy that I have the perfect gluten free vanilla cupcake recipe to share with you all. These cupcakes are a nostalgic classic that beats any commercial gluten free cupcake baking mix hands down. No chalky taste, no weird ingredients that you can’t pronounce, no gums, just good old-fashioned butter, sugar, eggs and wholesome flours. Time to create some new memories with this gluten free version of a classic childhood treat (that’s perfect for grown-ups too).

A tray of these is a sure way to bring a little sparkly, sprinkled happiness to a Monday, or to your next celebration in need of a perfect gluten free vanilla cupcake with fairy land pink frosting, also known as the glitter bomb of happiness cupcake.

Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

Gluten Free | Makes 12 cupcakes | Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Bring to room temperature before eating for maximum enjoyment

Ingredients

For the cupcakes

  • 80 grams butter, softened
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 50 grams sorghum flour
  • 50 grams white rice flour
  • 50 grams brown rice flour
  • 20 grams buckwheat flour
  • 20 grams almond meal
  • 2 teaspoons gluten free baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons ground chia seeds

For the frosting

  • 125 grams butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups gluten free icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • Few drops pink food colouring
  • Sprinkles (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F) and line a 12-hole cupcake pan with cupcake papers.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together sorghum flour, white rice flour, brown rice flour, buckwheat flour, almond meal, baking powder, and salt. In a small jug mix together milk, vanilla extract, and chia seeds.
  3. In a large bowl using a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat butter and sugar on medium-high until pale and fluffy. This will take about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add eggs one at a time and beat well to incorporate. Scrape down the sides and bottom between additions.
  5. Switch mixing speed to low and add flour mixture to the bowl. Beat until just combined.
  6. Add milk mixture and beat on low until well incorporated.
  7. Spoon batter into prepared cupcake pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the tops are lightly golden and spring back when lightly touched. Remove from oven, allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then remove and cool completely before decorating with frosting.
  8. While cupcakes are cooling prepare the frosting. In a large bowl using a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat butter on high speed until pale. This should take about 3 minutes and will make for extra fluffy frosting. Turn mixing speed to low and add remaining ingredients. Beat until just combined then turn mixing speed to medium-high and beat for a further 2 minutes or until frosting is extra fluffy and pale.
  9. Fit a piping bag with your choice of decorating tip, spoon frosting into bag and decorate as desired. Alternatively, you can use a knife to frost the cupcakes.

Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeAre you a pink frosting lover? What cures the Mondays for you?

Also, thanks Jennifer from Milk and Honey for the perfect name for this frosting colour ‘fairyland pink’!

Nourished Life Gratitude List 2015 – Week Two

My second week of 2015 was a complete relaxation indulgence. I was so lucky to have an extra week of holidays and to be able to spend it just nesting inside our house experimenting with food, doing some writing and reading, catching up on blog stuff, going for long walks and runs along the waterfront, and cleaning up the house ready for my step back into the real world on Monday. Nourishing for mind, body, and soul. I just feel so completely whole after this week – a good start to 2015 for sure. Here is my Nourished Life Gratitude List 2015 – Week Two:

Cupcakes for chris

Monday: Chris went back to work today. The house was lonely without him. After a workout I went out to pamper myself with some sales shopping. Though it is definitely shallow I had a great time trying on pretty things and buying a few new clothes for work and play. I was grateful for some selfish girly time and that I got to come home and make Chris a delicious dinner after his first day back.

Tuesday: Today I found out that Medibank’s BeMagazine featured another one of my recipes! I am grateful to their social media team for featuring Thoroughly Nourished Life’s recipes. I was also grateful to break out my new Christmas present – my KitchenAid! I whipped up a batch of cupcakes for Chris to take to work. I love my new mixer. I just need to find a perfect name for her (yes, I am an appliance namer. My laptop’s name is Ralph).

medibank featureWednesday: After a lazy morning making a start on my USA history reading list (gotta be prepared for our trip this year!) I went for a run (gotta be prepared for my upcoming race on 1st Feb) and then spent the rest of the day in the kitchen. I was grateful that my soft boiled eggs turned out for the photographs, and for the yummy lunch after I had finished.

eggs and salad

Thursday: I had a deliciously active day with a 30 minute interval workout in the morning and a long walk along the water in the afternoon. I was grateful to break a sweat because I spent the remainder of the day curled up with movies and some writing ideas. When Chris came home from work he brought me beautiful flowers and my favourite chocolate too. I am grateful for this man’s sweet gestures.

flowers from chris

Friday: Today I spent a pleasant walk to start the day and then got to work trialling a new cupcake recipe! I have finally created a fluffy, moist gluten free vanilla cupcake that uses all wholegrain flours! Then I enjoyed my sampler cupcake while I watched Frasier and planned blog stuff. Tonight Chris and I enjoyed a ‘Stay-cation Date’ with our favourite take-away choices (yay, sushi!) and more West Wing. My last day official day of holidays was lazy but I am grateful for the downtime before another busy year of work.

vanilla cupcakes

Saturday: First market trip for the year! Mum, Jess and I had a long catch up and I filled our refrigerator with lots of healthy, yummy seasonal fruits and vegetables. After the markets I went for an 11km run (long training run, yay!) and this afternoon Chris and I took in an afternoon session of ‘The Imitation Game‘. This movie, the man and the truth behind the story, fascinate me. The sad societal truths around the time that lead to the sad ending of Alan Turing’s life makes me so grateful to be able to love who I love, and pursue a relationship without being persecuted.

Sunday: Every weekend I take a walk along the bay on Sunday morning. I am so grateful for the opportunity to live in such a beautiful location while we are waiting for our home to be built. I am grateful for the scenery, and for watching the storms roll in and out over the water. A nice, slow, sky-watching end to my holiday.

Also this week:

  • Back-to-work quick breakfasts and snacks are easy, delicious and healthy with my latest muffin recipe
  • My latest nourished life bowl is filled with brown rice, summer vegetables, and rich soft-boiled eggs
  • BeMagazine featured my Shredded Vegetable Salad with Red Curry Coconut Dressing!

Tell me, friends, what are you grateful for this week? Any exciting happenings this weekend?