Sunday, December 08, 2013

Get the gluten free cookies out… because Santa Claus is coming to town!

He's making a list, and checking it twice. He’s gonna find out who's naughty and nice. Santa Claus is coming to town!

Can you believe we are only weeks away from Christmas?! This year we have decided to do a round up of our favourite gluten free kids Christmas ideas, to help you keep the little ones entertained and happy which can sometimes be challenging around this busy time of year!

Start their day off with these super cute gluten free breakfast pancakes by Kitchen Fun With My Three Sons. Choose from either Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer Pancakes

We love the idea of sprinkling out Reindeer food the night before Christmas. Make these Reindeer Bags from Craft Buds. Alternatively use these bags to fill with gluten free Christmas treats as a sweet DIY Christmas gift.

With all the running around Santa does on Christmas Eve he will be hungry by the time he gets to your house, so prepare these yummy Gluten Free Christmas Cookies by Saveur with the kids a couple of days in advance.

We love these decorated Snowman Milk Bottles by Live Laugh Rowe! Perfect for Santa or for the kids on Christmas Day.

This cute gluten fre Reindeer Sandwich by Little Nummies will surely keep the little ones happy. For a savoury version we would use gluten free bread, bocconcini cheese and olives for the eyes, and a cherry tomato for the nose.

For a great nibbles plate try this Christmas Tree Relish Tray by Coupon Clipping Cook. Great fun for kids and it will surely be a hit with the adults too!

The kids will love this super easy gluten free Rice Reindeer Bowl by Cute Food For Kids. Just use gluten free sausages available in supermarkets and most butchers.

Or why not tempt them with this gluten free Christmas Pizza for lunch by Delia Creates? You could even use pesto, and basil or rocket to add green to your gluten free pizza.

If you prefer a healthy snack option try this Healthy Christmas Tree by Little Nummies.

For some novelty fun decorate the ice bucket as the North Pole Ice, as seen on Jacolyn Murphy.

This Non-Alcoholic Christmas Egg Nog by Jennies Kitchen can be drunk hot or cold.

How cute are these gluten free Edible Marshmallow Snowmen from Curbly?

If you are strapped for time you can make these Marshmallow Snowmen from Cute Food For Kids with store bought gluten free marshmallows. The kids will love to get involved in making these as well.

For a super cool icy treat give these gluten free Christmas Tree Cherry Ice-Creams by Yahoo Lifestyle a whirl!

If you want a healthier treat for the kids, these fruity Banana And Strawberry Candy Canes by Nourishing Minimalism will surely be a hit.

We absolutely LOVE the idea of these Novelty Christmas Photo Props by Paper And Cake! Fun for kids and adults of all ages!

And lastly but not least while you’re in the creative mood why not try these DIY Snow Globes from The Sweetest Occasion with the kids.

… He knows when you've been bad or good, So be good for goodness sake! So have you been good this Christmas?!

We hope these ideas have helped spread the Christmas cheer to you and your little ones!

If you enjoyed this you might also be interested in last years Christmas round up too. Click here to read.

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Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Jingle Bells and a Gluten Free Italian Christmas Cake

When I think of Christmas as a child, there is one distinct memory that comes to mind – my mum in the kitchen baking traditional Italian Christmas biscuits. She would prepare these for days, first making the filling and then making the little pastry cases to wrap around the fruit mince and sprinkling them with bright and colourful hundreds and thousands. The house would be filled with beautiful Christmas aromas… cinnamon, cloves and orange. And we would know mum was starting her Christmas baking. These Italian Christmas biscuits, traditional to mums hometown of Calabria, known as ‘San Martini’ are made with figs, almonds and walnuts. Sultanas are also used but I preferred when mum made them without.

With Christmas definitely in the air, I too wanted to get started on my gluten free Christmas baking. But I didn’t want to just make a gluten free version of these Italian biscuits. I wanted to encapsulate the aromas of Christmas and my childhood memories into one gluten free cake!

So I started to pick mums brain and ask her how her biscuits were made. All of mum’s traditional recipes are handwritten in Italian and are usually missing measurements. You know, add a pinch of this and a pinch of that. Add liquid ingredients until the mixture feels right. What is right?? This kind of measuring drives me mad, as I like to follow a recipe that I know is going to work. But back in mums day nobody had measuring spoons or cups so baking was done all by eye. I guess I have to give them credit for that!

Once I sorted out the basic idea of these Italian Christmas biscuits, I investigated possible solutions of putting them into some sort of cake or loaf. With Michael Buble’s Christmas carols playing in the background I began testing and experimenting. The result was this extremely fragrant gluten free and dairy free Italian Christmas Loaf. I even managed to impress both mum and dad, as they said it had the same flavours as the original biscuits!

{Gluten Free Recipe} Italian Christmas Loaf 
Gluten Free, Dairy Free
200g figs, chopped
1 teaspoon instant coffee
1 tablespoon cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup boiling water
Zest of 1 orange (approx 1 tablespoon)
Juice of 1/2 orange (approx 2 tablespoons)
100g almonds, roughly chopped
100g walnuts, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
150g gluten free flour, sifted
50g buckwheat flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg, whisked

1. Mix coffee, cocoa and 1/4 cup sugar (the rest will be used later) in a bowl and add boiling water. Stir until dissolved.


2. Place chopped figs in a medium bowl and pour coffee mixture over the top. Add orange zest and juice and stir well making sure figs are completely covered with liquid.

3. Soak figs for 1-2 hours

4. Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees and grease a 25cm loaf tin.

5. In the meantime mix together almonds, walnuts, ground cinnamon, ground cloves and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Add both flours and baking powder and mix well.

6. Once figs have soaked add beaten egg and mix.

7. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add wet ingredients. Mix thoroughly and evenly to remove all white flour patches. Mixture will be thick and sticky.

8. Pour mixture into greased loaf tin. Place in the middle rack of your oven for 1hr or until a skewer comes out clean.

9. Allow to sit before turning out onto a wire cooling rack. Dust with gluten free icing sugar to decorate if desired.

This loaf will last fresh 2-3 days covered tightly with cling wrap. Store in fridge and remove about 20 minutes before serving.

After a few days if the loaf becomes dry, slice and heat under the grill for a couple of minutes on each side. This will bring it back to life and be as delicious and moist as it was when first baked. Be careful when turning or removing from the grill. As this does not have bread like texture it will become too soft to remove with your hands and you may burn yourself. Use a flat spatula instead.

This gluten free Italian Christmas Cake can also be served with a spread of butter when hot (for an extra naughty treat)!

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