Monday, 29 November 2010

Christmas Spiced Snickerdoodles

I harked on about Snicker-doodles in yesterdays post, but actually failed to explain what they are. According to Nigella they're sort of like an oven baked doughnut and a cross between a cookie and sponge, they remind me of those massive sweet pretzels with the cinnamon sugar, and everyone knows I'm a slut for cinnamon. They're the sort of thing that could be varied in so many different ways, but for now I'm going to give you the original recipe without any variations. It's a nice Christmas type recipe, and I've already eaten my body weight of the batch I made yesterday, they are defiantly VERY morish, and something which look good without much effort (shame the same thing can't be said for my hair).

Makes around 24-32 
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Tsp vanilla essence or extract (I used essence here)
  • 125g Butter
  • 100g Caster sugar
  • 250g Gluten-free plain flour (Doves Farm, or a multi purpose plain mix)
  • 3/4 Tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • 1/2 Tsp salt 
  • 1/2 Tsp nutmeg (ground)
For the cinnamon sugar
  • 2 Tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

  • Pop your oven on lowish heat, at Gas 4/180c and grease and line a few baking trays.
  • Using a food mixer, whizz up the butter and sugar until its smooth and creamed together. Crack in the egg and add the vanilla and blitz for around 10 seconds.
  • Add in the flour, baking powder, nutmeg and salt and blitz until you have a thick mixture, which shouldn't be runny, but look almost like pastry and which can be handled without falling to bits or crumbling. 
  • Pinch off walnut sized balls and roll them around in your hand to make them smooth and even. 
  • On a dish or plate mix your cinnamon and 2 tbsp's of sugar together. Roll your 'doodles through the cinnamon/sugar mix until they're completely covered and place on your baking trays.
  • Pop in the oven for around 15-20mins, they should have coloured all over and be slightly hard on the outside.
  • Let them cool for a few minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling down. 
  • They'll last around 5 days in a jar or sealed Tupperware, that's if you don't eat them all within 24 hours of baking them...not that I've done that or anything...

Dreaming of a pink Christmas

OK so I've got to admit I'm a purist when it comes to Christmas, I like traditional colours and low key fairy lights, I loathe anything flashing, multi coloured or black (it ain't chic if your spruce looks like its been caught in a bush fire), upside down tree's get my hackles up (why mess with a winning formula?)  I don't like anything automated that when you walks past blasts 'hohoho' or sings Mistletoe and Wine (I'll tell you what you can do with that mistletoe Cliff). However, as you know I'm a sucker for anything  kitch and as much as the purist part of my brain says 'Kate? Pink Xmas dec's?' I desperately want to decorate my room from top to bottom with pink Christmas decorations, and as much as I feel like I'm committing an actual felony if I turned against my traditionalist Xmas decoration values I can't help but squeal excitedly at all the desperately cute pink (desperately tacky) Xmas decorations I see. Here are a few of my favourites.






Sunday, 28 November 2010

Jam, balls and Snicker-doodles.

Today I made strawberry jam. If anyone knows an easy way to making jam I want to hear it, because it was a total ball ache from start to finish. I shan't be doing it again, and I'm actually going to stop talking about it now, because I'm still terribly vexed about the whole thing.
However, my first attempt at the infamous Snicker-doodles turned out rather well, I was very pleased, and they were really easy to make, which as you know for me is a pre-requisite for any recipe. Rather stupidly I thought Snicker-doodles were THE new baking craze on the block (Nigella's in her Islington home wringing her hands at my total ignorance). I'd been having a research online for new baking fads, and came across Snicker-doodles, so in my defence I was mislead by the site on which I found this information, but also rather stupidly I hadn't noticed that the sodding recipe was actually in my Nigella How To Be a Domestic Goddess book (did I mention it's signed?). Didn't I feel like a pillock.
Anyway, my stupidity aside, Snicker-doodles (I'm going to call 'em Doodles because I'm getting irritated calling them by by the full name) are very very yummy, and because they have cinnamon and nutmeg in they're  a very christmassy type biccie/sponge hybrid which would make a nice pressie in a pretty bag, or you could keep them in a box under your bed and keep them for yourself. I know a lot of American recipes use vanilla ice cream to sandwich them together, and other recipes I've seen have used a cream or frosting but since this was the first time I made them I haven't made a butter or frosting or cream to eat them, but I can see why they would be even yummier with such an accompaniment, and it's something I'll probably do next time I make them.
In other news I got some really pretty vintage style baubles from Sainsbury's of all places and they're so lovely, very shabby chic. I used to have a lovely big hand painted bauble that I used to hang in my room, and then I had an accident and it smashed..OK that's a lie, my MUM actually broke it, but in her defence I had hung it on the back of the door, and hence when my bedroom door was open it would push against the side of my wardrobe, so upon an over zealous door opening from mother my poor bauble got crushed in between.
Crushed balls aside, I'm getting on with making my pressies now, I successfully made an owl a la Emily (at the moment sans wings) and I must remember to send her a pic of my (dire) attempt, I'm not sure its going to make the grade to be given as a present yet, but we'll see, I might get desperate.
I've managed to wangle an interview with one of Dietary Specials lovely staff, so that's coming up soon, probably in the new year when I pull my finger out. Also, I have a FACQ guide, (Frequently Asked Coeliac Questions) that you can pass on to family, friends and all those people who ask (stupid) questions about the ins and outs of coeliacs.

Awkward as arse jam.

P.s. Sorry for the crap title name, It's a constant effort to be witty. Stayed tuned for the 'Doodle' recipe tomorrow, if I haven't commited Jam-O-Cide and thrown the whole lot out the window.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Review: Tru Free Mince Pies

The low down
Established in 1999 Tru Free are considered one of the leading manufacturers of wheat and gluten free snacks and treats, as well as gluten-free versions of well known and favourite biscuits such as custard creams and digestives. Tru Free are relaunching their mince pies at ASDA for Christmas this year.

What Tru Free say
"Our delicious new Mince Pies are ideal for those following these special diets but are equally tasty for the whole family"

RRP £1.50 for a pack of 4

My take
In a word...yummy. The pastry has the same crumbly and soft texture as a non gluten-free mince pie (and dare I say, nicer than some non g/f mince pies) and isn't powdery and chalky like some gluten free pastries, the worst thing in the world is biting into gluten free pastry and feeling like you have a full of talcum powder, so I'm glad to report this isn't the case with these.
The mincemeat is moist, and doesn't have hard bits of chewy peel that you sometimes find. I know some people may like brandy or similar in their mince pies, but I often find it a bit overpowering and you can't taste the mincemeat properly, luckily the Tru Free pies had not even a whiff brandy, but still stayed lovely, moist and gooey.
The pies are a good size with none of those gluten-free mini portions you come across sometimes (very annoying!), I liked the shape and also the ratio of mincemeat filling to pastry.

As always Tru Free delivers on value, taste and quality. The easy recognisable packaging reminds you of how popular the brand has now become, and how trusted it now is. The mince pies are soft, buttery with a lovely moist filling, perfect for Xmas and delicious with a glass of mulled wine after dinner. Yum! They were gobbled down within 24 hours! I hope they come to Sainsbury's soon because they really are great value for money for one of the best gluten free products on the market.

Lassie Come Home

Some of you may remember a while ago I was complaining because Sainsbury's (the Judas') had failed to stock my local store with they're regular mince pies and have instead got an iced version on the shelf, which while others may like, I detest, what was wrong with the good old fashion version? If it ain't broke...
As luck would have it the ace team at Dietary Specials send me a box of their sister brand Tru Free's mince pies. As is generally the case with me, I promptly dropped them as I took them out of the envelope so they were basically smashed to bits when I came to eat them, but still really quite yummy. I've done my first mini review of them after this post, so I hope you enjoy it, I was a bit scared doing it, not that I wouldn't not say if I didn't like them, but I'm glad they were nice so that I didn't have to say anything mean!
Anyway, I went to see my doctor today, who is a total gem of a GP. She's a bit like Lassie, if she can't help, she runs off to find someone else to pull me out of the well (sort out my ailments, you know what I mean). I think she enjoys my visits, she looks at me with a long suffering expression mixed with amusement. I had my flu jab as well, which always makes me feel a bit invincible which is just ridiculous since it's not going to stop me getting hit by a bus.
Also, I wanted to say quickly before I dash hello to my new followers..'Hello!' and also to those who've left some lovely comments and those who's sent me some sweet emails, it's all really appreciated, I read every comment and I always always reply, it's nice to know people enjoy what I write and have taken the time to tell me, it always puts a smile on my face and makes me happy for the rest of the day (easily pleased me!).

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Dinky One-Person Apple Crumble

This recipe is so easy, and you can also triple the ingredients and make one big crumble if you wanted or even swap the apple for rhubarb (which I prefer) or cherries or pretty much anything you want really, it's quite versatile. Whether I make up a one-person crumble or not I always make a large batch of crumble mix and freeze it so I can just take it out of the freezer when I need it so below are the larger quantities (quarter them if your making a one person crumble).

  • One medium-large cooking apple
  • 1-2 tsp's Cinnamon (I use 2 tsp's because I love cinnamon)
  • 125g/50z Plain gluten-free flour
  • 75g/30z Demerara sugar
  • 50g2oz Butter
  • 2 Tbsp's demerara sugar
  • Peel your apple and cut up into smallish chunks and place in a medium sized pan over a low heat.
  • Throw in the 2 tbsp's of sugar and the cinnamon and give it all a good stir with a wooden spoon.
  • Cook over a low heat for around 15 minutes, you might be tempted to add water, but don't enough juice will leave the apple that it will stay moist without sticking to the pan. stir occasionally and take off the heat when the apple starts to turn mushy.
  • Spoon the apple into an oven proof dish (I use a large ramekin).
  • Now you can get on with making your crumble. Rub the butter into the flour, you aiming for a sandy/breadcrumb type consistency.
  • Pour over the sugar and mix through. sprinkle the flour/sugar mix over the apple mixture in the ramekin so theres' an even layer over the top.
  • Pop in the oven at Gas 4 for around 20-25 minutes. I usually finish it off under the grill for a few minutes until its golden and bubbling. Serve with a dollop of vanilla ice cream or gluten-free custard, with your oldest jogging bottoms on, and Midsomer Murders playing on the telly. Again.

A cold front

I've been spending my days researching all the new baking trends on the block so I can try and convert them to gluten-free for safe consumption. Not that I'm bored of cupcakes mind, but I wanted to try doing something that isn't run of the mill cupcakes and cookies. I think I've found something, so stay tuned in the next week.
I've been umming and ahhing for the past few days over whether or not to do a bio post. I was emailed and asked if I could possibly do one soon, and when I thought about it I realised my blog plays out like a diary and I tend to forget that the majority of my readers don't actually know me so I write as if your all omniscient! I feel really cringy about doing a bio post, there's something about it that seems a bit indulgent in my eyes, which is somewhat weird since I love reading other peoples bios (nosey cow), maybe it's because I feel like I'm flattering myself that people want to hear the ins and outs of me and my life. Who knows. It's something I might think about in the new year.
I've got a lovely comfort food recipe for you today which is much needed with all this sub-zero weather we're having. The weather woman said on the news last night 'You'll be needing your hot water bottle and thermals' but since I've been in my thermals for at least a month now and I have a hot water bottle year round I really don't know where that leaves me. I might have to light a fire in my wastepaper bin in the middle of my room.
I tried to buy another jar of manuka honey the other day, and by god its pricey, it's only going in my peppermint tea. I don't understand why is so expensive, they must hand feed every bee with a pipette.  I've started actually physically making my Xmas pressies yesterday at long last, and the first one has turned out quite well, despite not giving it my full attention as I was watching Vampire Diaries.
I had some nice feedback from various people about the Girls Guide to Dining Out, which was lovely to hear, and also great to know that it was a help to people. I always try my best to be honest about life as a coeliac, because in reality it isn't all cupcakes, understanding restaurant owners and easy to find gluten-free grub. I've struggled along with the best of them, and I still get upset and frustrated sometimes so please don't think think I'm serenely floating through my gluten free life with perpetual ease. I get quite narked at some blogs/websites/people who act like going gluten-free was a doddle and that they have breezed through the experience. I know that some people do find it relatively easy, and I myself have found it easier than some people I know but harder than others, but I really wish people would stop gloating and making out to everyone like its an easy transition to make.
Phew, now that I've got that off my chest I feel a bit better, I've been holding it in for a while!
Anyway, before I go to type up this recipe post here's a few things I'm loving this week! P.s. I'm now on twitter (!) @katieboobaker so feel free to follow me, twitter has always and probably will forever be a total enigma for me and I'm still trying to get my head round me so if you tweet me (is that right?) please do be patient!

My ace new leopard faux fur coat from New Look, steal of the century for under £30!

Kate H told me about this oh-so cute cupcake molds from

Check out Emily's blog at Handmade by Emily for her super duper sweet owl cushions, which will soon be on sale at Folksy.
Totally kitch, but completely sweet mug from dotcomgifts

I'm planning on buying a new beside table, but the one I've picked is a plain pine number so I'm going to spruce it up with some fab door knobs. dotcomgifts.

Hot water bottle dotcomgifts

Saturday, 20 November 2010

A Girls Guide to Gluten-Free Dining

 I often get asked by fellow coeliacs (and non coeliacs) about aspects of dining out, and in all honesty (and I speak for myself here) it's probably the most irritating aspects of having coeliacs, only in so much as to a certain extent you are putting your health in someone else's hands for a few hours and are trusting them to serve you a meal that isn't going to make you roll around on the carpet in agony for hours. I've been devising my 'guide' to eating out for a while because I really wanted to try and give advice that is truthful and frank, because as much as you try sugar coat it, eating out can sometimes be a colossal ball ache, its not simple and bloody well isn't easy either a lot of the time. I hope you'll find this guide helpful, if your an old time coeliac please don't feel like I'm trying to teach you to suck eggs, its merely my hints and tips on eating out so don't feel obliged to use them!

If your a gluten free nube or a you've a long time coeliac, your undoubtedly going to be faced with eating dinner out at some time or another. If your a gluten-freer new to the game it can be majorly daunting, and also lets face its, a tad frightening (who would want to eat dinner if there was a chance of being poisoned?!).
Let me get straight to the crux of it. Not everywhere will cater to a G/F diet. There will be restaurants and people who aren't helpful and who will know nothing about coeliacs and will think gluten is a type of breakfast cereal (yes, that has happened to me!).  As frustrating as this is, and as upsetting as this can be (I have cried quite a few times in restaurants out of frustration) its the truth. you may even be poisoned at some point or get a 'glutening' as Becky calls it. I know it sounds pessimistic but its the law of averages.
Never fear though!
There are some great places to eat, restaurateurs sympathetic to the coeliac plight and waiters so clued up on gluten that you'll be wondering if they're moonlighting as nutritionists.
While my tips are steadfast rules (I need to stress again, I am NOT a doctor, dietitian, nurse or health care professional), they're hints that will hopefully make dining out a far easier affair all round.

  1. Don't be embarrassed. You have a medical condition, that's the long and short of it, and you can't help it. You don't need to go into the ins and outs of what will happen should you eat gluten but you have to be prepared to explain to staff in restaurants, cafes or bars that you can't eat gluten and why.
  2. Ring in advance. This may sound obvious, and in reality it's not always possible to ring ahead to a restaurant, but if you can it's really worth doing to explain the situation. If they can cater to you it will give them time to prepare or buy food suitable for you. If they can't cater to you then it saves you turning up and drinking water while everyone tucks into food you can't eat. Not my idea of a good time.
  3. Be thorough. If you aren't able to ring in advance you need to be the Sgt Major of coeliacs and go through the menu with a fine tooth comb, checking every single dish. Avoid things like sauces, gravies and dressings. Ask the waiter, or better yet the chef what particular dishes contain. If they don't know, air on the side of caution, you don't want to risk it for a biscuit and eat a dish only to find out a few hours later that it had gluten in. It won't be the staff at the restaurant who will be up ill all night, it'll be you!
  4. Don't ever downplay coeliacs. Coeliacs is a serious disease which puts you at a higher risk of miscarriage, bowel cancer and osteoporosis. It is not a food allergy. It's an auto-immune disease which makes your body attack itself. I sometimes forget how serious coeliacs can be and I shouldn't and neither should you. If you eat gluten, short term you'll maybe be ill for a while, long term you could get anaemic, fatigued and all the time your eating gluten (accidentally or not) your putting yourself in a position where you more susceptible to the very nasty things coeliacs can entail. Express how serious coeliacs is to a waiter, if they know that they could potentially poison you if they're not careful they'll be a lot more vigilant. Nobody wants a phone call to the restaurant from a diner complaining of a gluten poisoning!
  5. Be doubly careful. So the restaurant has told you they can cater to you with a gluten free meal, fab, but then your chicken gets cooked in the same pan as a battered cod. Not so fab. It's all very well a restaurant serving you a safe meal, but you need to make them aware that food prep is vital, as contamination is a big issue for coeliacs, and the tiniest bit of gluten can make you ill.
  6. Research.Research.Research
  7. Don't sit back. It's very easy to let others do the dirty work, but if a restaurant doesn't serve gluten free food or aren't willing to the only thing for you to do is complain. While it's not illegal for a restaurant not to serve g/f meals, it's a pain in the arse, and down right ignorant. I've never been to a restaurant that doesn't serve vegetarian food, and while I'm a fair weather veggie, the last time I checked it wasn't a medical condition, yet it is widely catered for. It's a shame the same can't be said for coeliacs.  My advice? Go high. Email the CEO of the chain restaurant that wouldn't cater to you, ring the manager of your local cafe who refused to offer g/f meals. There's nothing like a good guilt trip!
  8. Be Cynical. Always think the worst of a restaurant, this might seem a bit harsh, but to be cynical is to be vigilant in this case. Go into every restaurant situation with a mind that you will ONLY be happy when the staff have reassured you in every way possible that your meal will be completely gluten-free, the chef will be hyper vigilant in the prep of your food and every measure will be taken on your behalf so that you feel happy and safe.
  9. Think Twice. Don't presume that because you ate at a restaurant and it was fine, that it will be the next time, go through the routine of explaining to the waiter and staff about coeliacs every time you go, you may be aware that you have coeliacs, but as soon as you walked out of the door after your last visit, they forget who you are. Take the time to remind them.
Well, I hope all that was clear cut and practical. If there's anybody who has any questions, or things to add to the list, just comment below.  Happy Dining!

Booty-ful Blogs

I had a really cruddy nights sleep last night and woke up this morning with a nagging feeling like I had something really important to do today. I still haven't worked out what it is! I had a lovely long lounge in bed though this morning with a lovely cup of coffee, reading and catching up on emails and blogs. I'm ever so slightly obsessed with Lily's blog LLYMLRS, you must have heard of her, its one of the most popular fashion blogs on the block on the moment, shes so cute I want to put her in my pocket.
I try and be as diverse with my blog reading as I can. As you know I love baking (doh!) and I follow quite a few cooking and baking blogs (The Pink Whisk and The Gluten Free Scallywag to name a few). I'm also interested in fashion and arts, and I follow a fair few fashion blogs including LLYMLRS and  style rookie , and I've already waxed lyrical about all the craft blogs I like!
You can't help be inspired and influenced by all the fab blogs out there, its a shame that blogs are only just getting credit for how influential they've actually become. I don't profess to be one of these influential bloggers, but I hope that what I write is interesting, helpful and informative enough to keep my followers and readers coming back again and again. I love reading blogs where the blogger gives something of themselves in the writing, whether its negative or positive, the worst thing is reading a blog written in an anonymously or superior tone, if I can't relate to the blogger in some way I don't go back to read their blog again. I'd hate to think that I was in any way unapproachable or aloof!
Anyway, I encourage you to find a new blog to read this weekend, there's some fab blogs under Booty-ful Blogs in the sidebar (yours may even be there!) and all of them are great in different ways, so get clicking.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Xmas Prep

My Dad and I went Christmas shopping this morning. We're ultra organised in this household, all of us hate being in the shops when its really busy, especially as I have the patience of a flea and am the most likely of the three of us to cause actual bodily harm to anyone getting in my way/pushing me/ treading on the backs of my shoes.
The town was (thankfully) not very busy, and I managed to squeeze in a Cinnamon Latte at Costa (poor competition to the might of the Eggnog Latte at Starbucks in my opinion). I got all the tags, and tissue paper and labels I need for my all handmade gifts, so that's another thing to tick off on my Master Xmas Plan.
I like rustic sort of shabby chic style Christmas decorations and wrappings so that's the sort of thing I'm going for with my homemade pressies.  I love all the Scandinavian style Xmas decorations on dotcomgifts at the moment, I'm trying to make my own using an old red and white checked pajama jacket!
I ordered a few Xmas pressies from Sunday Girl and they arrived a few days ago, I also got one of the signature 'Name Necklaces' that Stephanie (the girl who makes all the jewelery) does on the site, I might get another one with my alias Katie-Boo on it. Stephanie's site is great and well worth a look for lovely custom made jewelery and other super cute bits and bobs, I love it on there, I've had to resist the urge to buy more since we're so close to Christmas and I'm broke!
I've been compiling my Gluten-Free Eating Out Guide and also a special Gluten-Free Xmas Party Special about trying to eat safely at the mountains of parties during this time of year. I've nearly finished both guides and I'll post the Gluten-Free Eating Out Guide tomorrow and the other some time next week. If anyone has any questions about eating out, or any tips they might like to pass on just email me at or leave a comment, I really am very nice so don't ever be scared to email or comment.
I was dead crafty this year (it was almost like I could sense I was going to be cash strapped) and in January I bought some lovely Christmas cards in the sale, but as I manage to do every year I didn't buy enough cards (I'm a prolific card writer!) so I had to buy another pack, and I got some very sweet ones in Sainsbury's. I don't usually like cards with animals on, but I couldn't resist these, especially as the dogs are dressed up. My dog Rosie won't let me dress her up, but sometimes Poppy (my cat) will let me if shes feeling indulgent!).
I'm trying to bump out my (often very word heavy) posts with more pics, so today you can feast your eyes (lucky you) on my ace new necklace from Sunday Girl and also the bits and bobs I got today during my shopping trip.
Before I go..don't forget to email me or leave a comment with any questions or tips you might have! Have a fab night, I shall see you all tomorrow!

The tags and tissue paper for my pressies.

How cute are these pug cards?

My oh-so-ace Kate necklace from Sunday Girl.

My new H&M party frock.

Ideas and posts written up for 'A Girls Guide..'

Vintage Heart Christmas Decoration from dotcomgifts

Gingham Heart Decoration from dotcomgifts

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Juicy Jambalaya with Perfect Prawns and Paprika

Phil's original recipe contains chicken, while I have nothing against chicken, it sometimes doesn't agree with me, so I generally leave it out. I'll put the amounts and instructions if you want to add chicken to yours, or you can follow the amounts that I use and add extra prawns.

Serves 4
  • 2 Inch wedge or chorizo (you can get this cut to size at the Deli counter at your supermarket) cut into smallish chunks
  • 200g/7oz Prawns (if your omitting the chicken, 180g if not)
  • 1 Large red pepper diced
  • 1 Large onion (i use white, but red is fine) finely diced
  • 1 Crushed clove of garlic
  • A big glug of olive oil
  • 2 Tsp's of smoked paprika
  • 600ml strong stock (I use veggie stock, but feel free to use chicken)
  • 2 Tsp's tomato puree
  • Small bunch of spring onions
  • 160g white long grained rice (feel free to use brown rice if you'd like)
  • salt and pepper
If you want to add chicken  you'll need one large chicken breast cut into 2cm chunks.

  • Pop your oven up high to Gas 6/ 200c.
  • While the ovens warming heat your oil in a big flameproof casserole dish (I don't own one of these, so I cook everything in a large frying pan and ladle it all into a oven proof dish at the end, your welcome to do this too).
  • Fry your onions, pepper and garlic over a high heat for around 4-5 minutes until it all has some colour.
  • Next add your paprika and if your adding chicken you now need to pop that in too. Give it all a good stir and cook until the chicken is opaque, it will cook through the rest of the way in the oven. While the chickens cooking away, you can make up your strong stock. strong stock is made using half the water specified on the pack. 
  • Next you can throw in the chorizo, puree and the rice. Give it all a good stir and pour over your stock. bring the whole lot to the boil.
  • If you've done your cooking in a frying pan like me you need to ladle everything into an oven proof casserole dish with a lid and pop in the oven. If you used a flameproof dish to begin with pop straight in the oven.
  • The jambalaya needs to cook for around 18 minutes or until the rice has absorbed the stock.
  • With oven gloves remove the dishes lid and add the prawns and spring onions, give it all a big thorough stir and leave to stand for about 5 minutes for the prawns to warm through. 
  • Serve in big bowls on a windy, rainy evening, with the heating high and Strictly Come Dancing on the telly.

Pajama Party

This week has been rather slow. I've not been very well from the off so I really haven't felt like doing very much other than stay in my pajama's until lunchtime. I have enough pajama's that I could probably wear them instead of clothes, but even I wouldn't stoop that low.
It's given me time to catch up with all the blogs I follow and read them all properly and have a good old butchers at the snaps.
I mentioned Katie's blog at What Katie Found, and also Beth at Deer Little Fawn the other day, if you liked their blogs you should defiantly check out Sammy's blog The Cookie Button. Sammy makes beautiful and oh-so cute mittens and hats and all manner of lovely things that would be perfect for popping in a stocking this Christmas and are also something a bit different rather than the run of the mill Accessorize and Boot's gifts we tend to resort to for pressies.
I'm really starting to embrace the thought of a home made Christmas, although my talents don't lie in the stitching and sewing side of things, I'm giving it a go, plus using the baking side of my hobbies to bake homemade goodies. I checked in on my mincemeat in its cool dark place yesterday and it seemed alright, I can't wait to use it. Its funny, Christmas always seems to bring out the creative side of me, its a shame it was Christmas the entire time I was trying to do my Fine Art A level, that probably would have bumped my grade up a tad.
Anyway, back to the baking. I realised I've slipped in my pledge for this to be a girls guide to gluten free baking, but as I am said girl in the blog title I sometimes feel obliged to spread my wings some of the time and chat about other things otherwise it becomes a bit relentless. I'm sure Jamie Oliver doesn't come home after working at Fifteen all day and sit down with Jool's and the kids and start prattling on about all the vinegarette dressings he's made that day. I think in general I do an OK job of sticking to the theme!
Kath Kidson's mini Christmas magazine came with the post yesterday and I had a good flick through it with my coffee yesterday. The stuff is very sweet, while I wouldn't have my entire house decked out in Kath Kidson I'd love a few bits here and there. I love how twee all the patterns are, I'm such a sucker for everything kitsch.
Sadly everyone else seems to have cottoned onto Kath, so it's not as cult as it used to be. I saved a few pics of my favourite bits from the Kath Kidson site for you to a butchers at. I still reckon Katie, Beth and Sammy could give old Kath a run for her money!
The weather has been dire all week, I'm glad I haven't had to go out because I have that sort of hair that when it gets wet, it goes frizzy and curly and I get angry. This kind of weather always calls for something stodgy and warming, and while I love nothing more than a good stew I thought this recipe adapted from Phil Vickery's Seriously Good Gluten-Free Cooking would be a grand recipe for weather like this....see how I flowed from one subject to another there? Not tenouos at all!
If you already have the book, then you may have already tried the Jambalaya or at least seen it. It's a great recipe (despite sounding like a character from The Lion King) and its a nice little twist on a traditional stew, but no less tastier for it. My recipe doesn't differ vastly from Phil's original, but feel free to check out his recipe. I make this all the time at home, and its the sort of thing you can whip up for a small group of friends on a dark rainy evening.  My Dad and The Boyf love it and always clean their plates (not that they'd dare otherwise).

Mixing bowls from Kath Kidson

Flour Sifter Kath Kidson

Cherry dinner plate from Kath Kidson

Pin tin from Kath Kidson
'Stitch!' By Kath Kidson

Ps- Someone suggested to me today that I should make mini recipe books to give away on the blog featuring a few recipes that I havent posted before. Would that be something you guys would be interested in?

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Grand Give-Away

Yes folks, thats right 'A Girls Guide..' is having it's first give-away very soon indeed, it'll be open to any gorgeous follower of the blog (including those who follow through  Blog Lovin') so if your not a follower, get clicking, because you've gotta be in it to win it! Now, I've just got to find some prizes....

Katie-Boo's Coffee Cupcakes with Latte Frosting

Makes 12
  • 125g/5oz Butter (softened) 
  • 125g/5oz Caster sugar
  • 125g/5oz Gluten-Free self raising flour (Doves Farm, Glutafin)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Tsp's instant coffee + a few drops of water
  • 1 Tsp of vanilla essence (or extract, whichever your prefer)
For the frosting
  • 125g/5oz Full fat cream cheese (lite or half fat versions work just was well)
  • 50g/2oz Softened butter
  • 300g/ 10 1/2oz Icing sugar
  • 1-2 Tsps instant coffee

  • Pre-heat your oven to Gas 6/200c and line your  tray with your cupcake cases.
  • Whizz the butter and sugar together in your blender (or in a bowl if your working those guns again) until smooth.
  • With the blender running, crack an egg into the sugar/butter mix and keep blending, then add the other. blend until well mixed and smooth. 
  • So your cakes don't have nasty black granules of coffee in them (which are bitter when you bite in to them) you need to make a paste by mixing your instant coffee with a few drops of water until they form a smooth paste. Add to the mixture in the blender with your vanilla and give the whole lot a lovely big mix. 
  • Sift your flour and throw the whole lot into the blender with the rest of your (already blended) mixture and whizz it all until its a smooth, thick, runny paste.
  • Spoon into the cases. It might seem like there is too much mixture to fit in all the cases, but don't worry they wont morph into gigantic cupcakes.
  • Pop in the oven for a 20-25minutes, as always they should spring back to the touch when they're ready. Leave them to cool for a few minutes or so and them pop them onto a wire rack to cool.
For the Frosting
  • While your cakes are cooling and your children/dad/boyf is licking the cake bowl clean you can get on with making your frosting. Whizz the icing sugar and butter together in a blender until the mixture is well mixed and comes together in a lump. 
  • Add the cream cheese and the instant coffee into the blender and pulse together until everything is smooth and well mixed.
  • When your cupcakes are cool, feel free to ice and decorate as you like. 
  • Enjoy with a mega cup of coffee in your favourite mug whilst trying to flick through a book and trying not to get icing on the pages.

Make Mine A Large

There are three things that always bring infinite joy to my life.
And cups of coffee.
To say I'm reasonable without a cup of coffee would be fair. To say I'm a snappy moody psychopath would probably be more accurate. Coffee is my life blood and has served me well through early mornings, uni deadlines, hangovers, illnesses and many a energy dive.
However, I'm not one of these people who need twenty cups of coffee a day in order to function and are so jacked up on caffeine you can see their eyeballs shaking. I'm a one-big-cup-will-do kinda gal. I'm sure they must put mood enhancers in the coffee at Starbucks because nothing makes me as happy as a Skinny Caramel Latte, and now that red cups are back for Christmas with it has come my all-time-favourite-coffee, The Eggnog Latte, two cups of which I've enjoyed already since the start of red cups season. If Starbucks were a religion, id be the patron saint, I've never been let down by the coffee and to make life even better they do their own gluten free cakes and sandwiches. This folks, is what heaven looks like.
Anyway, This post isn't meant to be me waxing lyrical about S-bucks. Hey, I know not everyone likes coffee, some people like tea...I know a girl who doesn't even drink hot drinks (you know who you are you weirdo!) everyone has their poison and mine is coffee. I've got more coffee mugs than the queen has hats.
I'm very much from the school of thought that coffee can come in any guise as long as its a cup of coffee, because lets face it not everywhere has a Costa or Starbucks or even a decent peculator, some places only survive (god help them) on vending machine coffee. If the need is strong enough its any port in a storm.
However. There are several instances of coffee cruelty I can't abide, these include cold coffee (if I wanted a frappe I'd have asked for one), De-caff (I can sniff a placebo a mile off), Mocha's (the coffee wusses drink of choice) and the mother of all coffee insults...weak coffee. Ugh. Anaemic coffee is quite frankly an insult.
Back to the post. I've been making coffee cake and coffee cupcakes for a good few years now, and its always a crowd pleaser, but several weeks back I decided a good coffee cake shake up was in order and had a good scour of all my baking and cook books for some ideas. In the end, I thought of something all by myself (I'm like that sometimes, I'll have a flash of brilliance once a decade), Latte frosting, genius right? I'm sure its been done before somewhere out there, but I tried it using cream cheese and it was a hit, using the cream cheese does make for a sloppier runnier frosting which you can't pipe, but its so sticky and yummy and goes so well with the coffee cake that you won't care its running off the cake and up your sleeve. 

The heavenly Eggnog Latte

Just a fraction of my mug collection
L-R, Starbucks mug which I in no way pilfered, and my uber cute Paperchase mug

Monday, 15 November 2010

Best Laid Plans

Maybe because I am so utterly scatty and lead a life largely devoid of schedule or purpose I aspire to anyone who has a good work ethic. My grandad is one such person. His work ethic really is something to behold, and even now at 83 he's so purposeful and practical in everything he does it really is a marvel. Sadly my Dad didn't inherit this trait and neither did I, not to infer that either of us are lazy, far from it, but the dreamer gene is probably more predominant in us than any other member of the family, which in my eyes could never be a bad thing since being even a smidgen like my Dad could only ever be a good thing.
Right now though, work ethic is something I could really do with, hence my Master Xmas plan mentioned in a previous post, pic's of which I've posted at the bottom, just in case you didn't believe that I actually physically devised a wall plan, which turned out to be something akin to Kevin's Stop The Bad-Guys Plan in Home Alone.
I love making lists, even more pleasing to me is ticking things off my lists. So I was perhaps a tad more elated than was necessary when I got home from a shopping trip to Chichester with my cousin Tasha and could tick several things of on my master plan.
We had a lovely day in Chichester. We're really quite lucky where we live as there's some great places to shop and have nice days out which are all a train ride away, which is good for me since the train is basically the only form of transport other than Rollerblades that doesn't make me travel sick. It was a quite chilly day, but was deceptively sunny so I didn't wear a coat. Big mistake. As I am the No.1 most nesh person in the world (nesh=feels the cold easy). Anyway. Despite the cold we had a day of early bird Xmas shopping, Starbucks lattes and Gluten-Free cupcakes from the Swallow Bakery, yum.
I at last managed to get some fabric for my home made Xmas gifts, and its so pretty that I just want to look at it and admire it so I've been putting off using it for fear of cutting into its prettiness!
Last week was really quite slow on the cooking and baking front, although I have got some recipes backed up from a few weeks ago that I keep meaning to posts, but troublesome parents, and The Boyf's demands of my attention have put a halt to regular posts over the past few weeks, but hopefully this week I'm back on track and ready to roll. 
Today my Dad went back to work after his recent time off. I'm pleased that he's well enough to go back to work but I really quite missed him. As an only child I am capable of entertaining myself for hours on end and in total solitude, however I'm a creature of habit and I'd got used to having him around.
As I get older the parent/child roles seem to be slowly reversing and suddenly I'm wide awake worrying about my mum and dad, buying them vitamins and escorting them to their doctors appointments. Not that either of them warrant this level of overprotectiveness, both being in their 50's and on the whole fit and well, but I just cant help myself. When we went to visit my dad in hospital there was nothing I could do to help (what with me not being a cardiologist and all) and it was driving me crackers and I'd bitten all my nails down to the quick. The one thing I could do? Why, question the nurse on duty in a KGB style interrogation about dad's drugs, ECG's and blood tests of course.
Moving on.
I've been resisting the urge to post loads of cupcake recipes on this blog as it becomes slightly relentless, but I have one more and then that shall be it for a while, and I promise you its a corker.
I've been getting all inspired by the craft blogs on the block, including What Katie Found who I mentioned before and who makes some really pretty teacup candles, super cute brooches and earrings click here to see all the lovely things she makes.  My new obsession is Beth at  Deer Little Fawn's blog, I love her hand sewn cupcake embroideries.

My Xmas Plan

A few sketches to plan what I'm making, I'd forgotten how theraputic drawing could be.

So kitch, so twee, so very cute!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Tips for Dummie's: Sterilizing Jar's

For a long time I was terrified of sterilizing jars because, like the dope I am, thought it involved something really complicated like cleaning them with some sort of specialised cleaning product, imagine my surprise when I discovered its basically the same as sterilizing babies bottles! Which surely an ignoramus like me can manage.

  • Nigella regards a 'washing machine cleaned' jar as sterilized. If your going to use this method you have to use the jars while they're still warm. Place the jars with they're lids off face down into the dishwasher and put on for a cycle.
  • The easiest way to sterilize jars in my book is to fill your jar(s) with about an inch or two of water and pop in the microwave for 8-10 minutes on a super high heat. REMEMBER to take the lids off the jars or remove any metal parts on you jars before you put them in the microwave, I know this seems rather obvious but its easily done, the main aim is to get clean jars not to be piecing together your microwave when its exploded into bits. Remove from the microwave using a tea towel or oven gloves because the jars will be super duper hot. Set down on a folded tea towel and fill with your mincemeat/jam/curd while the jars are still warm.
  • For super sterilized jars, is what I like to call The Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall method as he always uses it on his TV shows. It's time to work your guns, give your jars a super scrub in soapy hot water and rinse off all the soap suds. Pop them into the oven on a lowish heat (140c/gas mark 1/2) so they can dry out, once they're dry remove from the oven and fill with your mincemeat/jam/curd.

Mesmerising Mincemeat

Before we get started you will need a sterilised jar or two to store your cooked mincemeat in. I used a Kilner jar with a one litre capacity.  if your new to sterilising jars I've included a Tips for Dummies guide just for you!

  • 250g Dark, soft muscovado sugar
  • 250ml Dry cider (I used Henney's)
  • 6 Tablespoons of brandy
  • Juice and rind of a small lemon
  • 1 kg Cooking apples
  • 1/2 Tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 Tsp ginger
  • 250g Currants
  • 250g Raisins
  • 80g Glace cherries quartered
  • If almonds don't make your toes curl, you might want to include 75g's of them finely chopped
  • Get yourself a whopping big saucepan. Dissolve your sugar and cider over a low heat giving it all a good stir with a wooden spoon.
  • Peel and roughly chop the apples and plop them into the saucepan with the sugar and cider mix.
  • throw in the rest of the ingredients, save the brandy and give it a good old simmer for 30-40minutes or until it looks almost like a very thick smoothie.
  • Take the pan off the heat, and let it all cool down for 3-4 minutes and then glug in your brandy (no drinking it yourself!) and give it a big lovely stir.
  • Spoon or ladle the mincemeat into your sterilised jar(s). 
  • Squirrel away for a time in the future when you come to make your mince pie's. Until that time smugly display your jar of mincemeat where people can see it and you can casually drop in 'oh that? that's my homemade mincemeat'.

Operation Mincemeat

When I boldly told the world in January that this would be the year I made my own mince pies I hadn't really given much thought to the actual baking of them. While I'm a semi pro at pastry I have no idea how to make mincemeat and had blithely assumed that I could probably buy a jar of gluten free mincemeat, but by the time October rolled round and I gave mince pie making more serious thought and some in depth research of Sainsbury's stock, I realised that 'oh bugger' they don't actually stock gluten free mincemeat. So the quest was then on to find a recipe for gluten free. Luckily for me I'd only been flicking through How to be a Domestic Goddess for a few measly minutes before I came across a recipe for suet-free mincemeat which proved yet again, that my signed (did I mention its signed by Nigella herself?) copy of Domestic Goddess is worth the 6quid I paid for it and so much more, whats more every recipe I've used and adapted from it has been successful, although I've yet to try the mincemeat as its luxuriating in its juices (as old Nige herself would say).
I cant help feel a bit smug that I've already got ahead with my mincemeat and a fair amount of my Xmas shopping, although the next hurdle will be to do all my handmade pressies so I shan't get ahead of myself and flaunt my smugness to everyone who leaves their Xmas shopping til Christmas eve because knowing my luck, I'll be running around like a blue arsed fly on Christmas morning frantically trying to finish it all off. So I'll save my supreme smugness for a later date.
What is really rather grand about this recipe for gluten-free, suet-free mincemeat is that as well as being both of the above is suitable for veggies, vegans, and anyone with a nut allergy as I have omitted the almonds from the original recipe as the texture and taste makes my toes curl, but I'll pop the amounts at the bottom of the ingredients for almonds if you want to include them. Ive also got a Tips for Dummies guide to sterilising jars.

International Woman of Mystery

The week with my beloved is now over and I waved tearfully from the platform as his trained rolled off into the distance. OK, that's a lie, I went back to the car and we drove home because it was freezing and I was wearing leggings and there's a hole in the sole of my Ugg's.
We had a great time as per, and had a lovely shopping day in Brighton where we discovered a bakery that does gluten free cakes, but more on that later.
People often ask me  how The Boyf and I cope when we live so far apart, especially after going from being at uni together and sharing a flat for 3 years to not seeing each other for weeks on end, but to be honest aside from the fact we miss each other and obviously would rather be together in one place we actually appreciate each other much more when we see less of each other, sort of like Carrie and Big's arrangement in SATC2.
They say spontaneity is the spice of life, but I tend to thrive on routine and predictability, probably because The Other Bowel Problems are anything but. The Boyf is much the same (good match us!), and his visits tend to run on the same vein of shopping, dinner, DVDs and cooking, and it suits us down to the ground.
We had dinner out on Tuesday night and I got to finally wear my leopard print asos top that Ive been squirrelling away for a nice occasion and then Thursday we had a long leisurely day in Brighton, trotting round the Laines, drinking coffee and having lunch at Donatello's, where The Boyf stole my after dinner mint and I went nuts much to the amusement of the french couple sitting on the table next to us.
Down the Laines we discovered a fab little bakery called Cloud 9. I'm not sure how long its been there because I have the attention span of a gnat so it could have been there since the dawn of time, but I suspect its new. It was so cute inside and they did the yummiest choccy cake/brownie thing I have ever tasted (and you know how I feel about brownies) and also a few other gluten free bits and pieces. The girl who served us kindly let me take some snaps for my blog,which I've posted at the bottom for you viewing pleasure.
Saturday I awoke to find the ever-so-lovely Becky at Dietary Specials had popped a box of Tru Free (Dietary Specials sister company) mince pies in the post for me, which couldn't have come at a better time really since I discovered that Sainsbury's have well and truly ruined Xmas this year by stocking icing topped mince pies instead of the usual pastry tops ones. That's killed Christmas. I've got a little review lined up for the Tru Free mince pies though so stayed tuned.
I'm finally getting into the swing of preparations for Xmas now, and have written up a Kate's Master Christmas Plan which will hopefully keep me organised and on track with all my present giving, food making and card sending. Not that I'm generally unorganised but I like to have a list to keep me on the straight and narrow when theres lots to think about. I've cleaned out the news agents buying foodie mags for Xmas dinner ideas as well as home made gift ideas, the only trouble is I flick through them and get all excited for Xmas and then I cant sleep and when I do sleep I have nightmares that its Christmas morning and I haven't done any Christmas shopping. Dreadful.
Sunday was dominated by Formula 1, Motor GP and Rugby, none of which I have much interest in, expect maybe Formula 1 but that's mainly because my dad conditioned me to like it from a young age.
So I decided to whip up a round of cupcakes (what else) and also brew up a batch of mincemeat for my homemade mince pies. Accordingly to Nigella (whose has signed my copy of Domestic Goddess  by the way, just in case you missed my first overexcited post on the matter) you should make your mincemeat a good few weeks in advance of when your going to use it so that the flavours can infuse and so everything can get all nice and syrupy and lovely. It's a majorly easy recipe (do I ever do anything but?) and only takes around 30-40minutes. So after you have perused this post and the accompanying pictures, one of which is an ACTUAL picture of me on our way out to dinner, which I included as I was starting to feel like the Scarlet Pimpernel, international woman of mystery.

The Gruesome Twosome.

Cloud 9

To the right, the yummy gluten-free choccy cake.

Cloud 9

Cloud 9. I was never going to resist a pink bakery.

Reading material for my Xmas prep

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Outrageously Oaty, Sultana and Cinnamon Biccies.

I adapted this recipe from ye old faithful Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook who's cakes and biccies are on a par with my one and only Nigella.

Makes 20
  • 270g Soft butter
  • 160g Caster sugar
  • 160g Soft brown demerara sugar
  • 2 Large eggs
  • 1/4 Tsp vanilla extract or 1 tsp of vanilla essence
  • 380g Plain Flour (as always Doves Farm are great, but any plain flour mix works just as well)
  • 1 Tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 Tsp salt
  • 1/2 Tsp cinnamon
  • 110g Rolled oats (omit if you can't tolerate oats)
  • 220g Sultana's 
Note: I use Sultana's in this cookie recipe becauseIi think they're not so shriveled as raisins and tend not to burn as easily either, but feel free to use raisins if you prefer.


  • Whack your oven up to Gas 4/180.
  • Cube the butter up and throw into a food mixer and blend with the caster and demerara sugars until soft, smooth and well mixed.
  • Mix in an egg at a time, making sure it's all thoroughly combined. next add your vanilla and give it all another good blitz.
  • With your wet mix done you can get on with the dry ingredients. Sift your flour, salt, bicarb and cinnamon into a large bowl and then adding the oats, giving the whole lot a good stir so the oats and raising agents are distributed well into the mix.
  • Stir the butter mix through the dry flour/oat mix and give it all a ruddy good mix, you don't want any dry pockets in the mixture where the flour hasn't been mixed through properly so give it some wellie.
  • Add your sultana's or raisins to the mix and give it all one final big mix.
  • Spoon onto baking trays lined with parchment, these babies spread faster than swine flu so make sure they're all evenly spaced so you don't end up one with big giant cookie.
  • I found that these cookies needed longer than Hummingbird's allotted time of 12minutes, it was more like 20-30 minutes and I had to up the temperature from gas 3 to 4. My advice would be to start off on gas three and check the biscuits after 12 minutes and go from there.  They should be firm, and golden (slightly darker round the edges) when they're cooked.
  • Once cooked, take them out the oven and leave to cool for 2-3 minutes before you pop them onto a cooking rack.
  • Enjoy with a glass of full fat milk or a hot chocolate with your feet in your favourite slippers, your nose in your favourite book and my favourite cookie in your mouth!