Party Time!!

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My son’s 4th birthday party this year was inspired by Thomas Trainsformers…a crazy mash up of Thomas the Tank Engine and Transformers (check out the cartoon on YouTube). I decided to make a cake for the party based on the symbol for Trainsformers. My son and I did some sketches to plan the cake.

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I made the cake two days ahead and decorated the cake the day before the party. I decided for the party to do a mix of Thomas, train, vehicles and robot type things to pad out the theme.

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I used a train-shaped biscuit cutter to make shortbread and chocolate shortbread biscuits, as well as melon trains cut from watermelon and rockmelon. I used lots of primary colours for decorating, as these colours match both the Thomas and Transformers themes. I made a craft area with wooden robots and trains to decorate, colouring in pictures that were both Thomas and Transformers themed, and stickers for decorating.

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Birthday Cake Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 440g white rice flour
  • 220g tapioca/arrowroot flour
  • 10 Tbs Cacao powder
  • 440g caster sugar
  • 3 tsp bicarb soda
  • 2 tsp guar gum
  • 580ml rice milk (or other suitable milk)
  • 220g margarine, I used nuttelex (melted)
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste

Method:

  1. Line and spray oil a deep round spring base tin (I used rice bran oil)
  2. Sift together in a large bowl the flour, cacao, guar gum, and bicarb
  3. Stir in the sugar
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, melted margarine, and vanilla
  5. Gently fold and mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix gently until well combined. If you think the mixture is too dry add more milk or melted margarine until it is a cake batter consistency (I find different milks and flours absorb differently)
  6. Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a wooden sewer comes out clean
  7. Cool in the cake tin
  8. I turned the cake upside-down and stored in a cake box until it was time to decorate

Buttercream Icing

Ingredients:

  • 155g margarine
  • 90g icing sugar or icing sugar mixture- sifted. Most icing sugars in Australia are suitable but I have only found ‘Bundaberg Icing Sugar Mixture’ to be top 8 & corn free

Method:

  1. Add all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix until smooth

Fondant Icing

Ingredients:

  • 4 ½ cups of icing sugar or icing sugar mixture- sifted. Most icing sugars in Australia are suitable but I have only found ‘Bundaberg Icing Sugar Mixture’ to be top 8 & corn free
  • 1 level tsp gelatine
  • 2 Tbs golden syrup or honey
  • ¼ cup boiling water
  • Vanilla paste to flavour (if desired)
  • Food dyes to colour (I used Hopper food dyes) http://www.hopperfoods.com.au/Products/NaturalColours.aspx
  • Extra sifted icing sugar to use when kneading

Method:

  1. Sift icing sugar into a medium sized mixing bowl
  2. Dissolve gelatine in the boiling water, add golden syrup and stir
  3. Add wet mixture to the icing sugar
  4. I sifted extra icing sugar onto a plastic chopping board and then kneaded the fondant and added the colourings slowly during the kneading process until the desired colour was achieved.  Because Hopper dyes are natural and chemical free the colours are different to commercial dyes. I did a test run and divided the mixture into four portions and did a test dye to decide what colours I would work with.
  5. Fondant can be stored wrapped in baking paper in zip-lock plastic bags at room temperature (I covered them with icing sugar before wrapping them to store).
  6. When ready to roll and decorate knead again on a mat with icing sugar (to prevent sticking). Use to decorate as you would regular fondant

Putting the cake together

I covered the cake with a layer of buttercream, then froze the cake to get the buttercream to set. I then rolled out the green fondant into a large circle and covered the cake, trimming the edges and smoothing the fondant until I was happy. I made a stencil of the Trainsformers symbol and cut it out of baking paper. I rolled out the blue fondant and cut the stencil shapes out. I kept a master copy of the design so I would know where to place the shapes. I arranged the shapes to make the symbol. To finish the cake I made lots of little balls of fondant and arranged them around the base of the cake, alternating blue and green the whole way around.

I was really pleased that the cake was adored by the birthday boy! Young and old said it was delicious and the mini balls were a big hit with the kids. I sent some home in party bags and we got to enjoy it for a few days after the party as well.

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Salt Dough

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From being very young my children have always loved play dough. But with each subsequent allergy or other diagnosis the ability to let them play with ‘regular’ play dough (even homemade) became impossible. After the Coeliac Disease diagnosis, I used to make my own gluten free play dough, and they loved that. Then came the corn allergy news…all gluten free flours and regular play dough, shop bought or homemade has gluten and corn and maybe even soya in them. So, I tried really hard to make a workable play dough that could be stored and re-used…sadly, without the corn it just never worked or stored well. So, I changed direction and tweaked salt dough recipes and now we have a recipe that we use. It stores well between uses and as a bonus you can bake and keep what you make if desired! Great for making things like medallions to give away at birthday parties, Christmas decorations, or even homemade Mothers or Fathers Day gifts. My children’s daycare make this throughout the centre so all children, no matter what sensitivities they have, can use dough together. When they first made the change I talked them through cross-contamination of old cutters and rollers and even the bowl for mixing it in. They’ve been very willing to ensure everything was put through a dishwasher and cleaned thoroughly, and threw out any wooden rollers and replaced with plastic (the porousness of wooden rollers and chopping boards can retain allergens even after thorough cleaning). I hope this recipe brings you and your children the creative freedom it gave our family.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca/arrowroot flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp guar gum

Method:

  1. Combine all ingredients into a bowl and stir well. Add additional rice flour until a non-sticky dough consistency is reached. I flour the surface the dough is  being used on with rice flour also. You could add food dye to the water before combining all the ingredients; Hopper food dyes are great for food allergy sufferers.
  2. If desired bake on a tray lined with baking paper for 1-3 hours at 150 degrees Celsius (baking time depends on thickness and size of the project you are baking). Bake until hard.
  3. Cool on a wire rack. They can be painted if desired.

If you give this recipe a try please let me know how it turns out. I’m happy to troubleshoot or discuss how you could substitute these ingredients if some of the ones I’ve used aren’t suitable for your family’s sensitivities. I can be contacted through this blog or via email: freefromfamily@gmail.com

Bangers & Mash

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I developed this recipe for my husband, who is English, and my daughter, who loves sausages and is very proud of being half English! My daughter thinks no sausages are good enough for her to eat unless they are PORK.  This recipe serves 4 people.

Ingredients:

  • 8 Pork Sausages (you could use beef, chicken or even turkey sausages)
  • 1 kg of potatoes
  • 2 Tbs Sunflower oil
  • 2 Tbs Margarine
  • 1 brown onion
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar (or any vinegar suitable to your dietary needs)
  • 700 ml stock (I use my bone broth recipe, you could use chicken, lamb or beef broth)
  • 4 tsp tapioca/arrowroot flour
  • 4 tsp cold water
  • Salt and pepper (I use Himalayan salt)
  • Rice milk and margarine to add to the mash potatoes to make them yummy and creamy
  • Frozen peas (enough for 4 people)

Method:

  1. Cook the sausages until cooked through and lovely and brown. I cooked them in an electric frying pan with baking paper under them. When the sausages were finished I just lifted them in the baking paper into a baking casserole dish and put them in the oven (180  degrees Celsius) to keep them warm.
  2. Peel and chop the potatoes and cook them ready to mash (I cooked them in the microwave)
  3. I then put the amount of peas I wanted into a microwave dish and covered them in water so they were ready to steam at the last minute before serving
  4. The gravy sauce is a bit more involved but so yummy and makes this dish like proper Bangers & Mash. Start by chopping the onion in half and then into crescents. Melt the margarine and oil together in a large saucepan. Add the onion and stir. Cover with a lid and cook slowly over a gentle heat for 10 minutes (onion should be translucent when cooked). Add the sugar and vinegar and stir well. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add the stock and cook uncovered for 5 minutes. In a heatproof dish or jug mix the flour and cold water into a paste and then add a few large spoons of the hot gravy mixture. Once combined pour the flour mixture into the saucepan with gravy and stir well. Heat on high heat and boil for 10 minutes to thicken the gravy.
  5. Meanwhile, drain and mash the potatoes and add a dollop of margarine and mash together. Then add the rice milk until to turns into the creamy mash consistency you desire.
  6. Quickly steam the peas and drain.
  7. Plate the sausages, mash and peas; then pour the gravy sauce over it all to serve.

If you give this recipe a try please let me know how it turns out. I’m happy to troubleshoot or discuss how you could substitute these ingredients if some of the ones I’ve used aren’t suitable for your family’s sensitivities. I can be contacted through this blog or via email: freefromfamily@gmail.com

Oriental Honey & Lemon Chicken

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We have been missing Chinese and Thai foods so I decided to create our own Honey & Lemon Chicken. I thought it would be nice served with coconut rice and some Chinese style vegetables. My husband has reserved the left-overs for him and wants it again asap! This quantity serves 4 people.

Ingredients:

  • 8 chicken legs or thighs
  • 2-3 Tbs honey
  • The rind and juice of 1 lemon (medium to large sized lemons)
  • 3-4 Tbs Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste (I use Himalayan Salt)
  • 1 cup Basmati Rice
  • 1 tin of coconut milk (400ml)
  • Extra water if needed to cook the rice
  • 2 Florets of Buk Choy

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (fan forced)
  2. Spray oil the baking dish (I used rice bran oil)
  3. Place the chicken pieces in the dish
  4. Mix up the marinade in a bowl and stir together (honey, olive oil, lemon & rind, and salt & pepper)
  5. Pour the well mixed marinade over the chicken
  6. bake for 45minutes-1 hour (I turned them about 3 times throughout the cooking)
  7. About 20 minutes before the chicken will be ready get the rice and vegetables organised
  8. I cooked the rice using the absorption method using the rice milk and some extra water. I then rinsed the rice using boiling water before draining and serving (this gave the rice a hint of coconut milk but it wasn’t overpowering
  9. I chopped the Buk Choy and steamed it lightly
  10. To serve plate the meat, rice and vegetables; then drizzle the remaining sauce from the baking dish over the meal before serving (the flavours of the sauce work well with the meat, rice and vegetables!)

If you give this recipe a try please let me know how it turns out. I’m happy to troubleshoot or discuss how you could substitute these ingredients if some of the ones I’ve used aren’t suitable for your family’s sensitivities. I can be contacted through this blog or via email freefromfamily@gmail.com

Muesli

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When my children had corn eliminated from their diet, basically all breakfast cereals went with it. My daughter used to love cereal but it has taken me a long time to find suitable cereals for them to have again. I have managed to find a safe puffed rice and crunchy rice flakes. Since I mixed up this muesli I have even found safe sunflower seeds and pepitas!!! Adding the seeds to the mix is a great way of adding protein to breakfast cereal. Also, since my Easter Hot Cross Bun post I have found some safe sultanas that my daughter doesn’t react to – it’s all progress and exciting. This can be a breakfast or a great afternoon snack to keep the kids, and grown ups, going.

Ingredients:

  • Puffed rice (in Australia the brand I use is Nature First Organic)
  • Crunchy rice flakes (in Australia the brand I use is Nature First Premium)
  • Sultanas and/or other dried fruits (in Australia the brand I use is Woolworths Select  Aussie Sultanas)
  • Sunflower seeds and pepitas [pumpkin kernels] (in Australia the brand I use is Coles own brand from the health section range)
  • Honey, golden syrup, or maple syrup
  • Banana (or other fresh fruits)
  • Suitable milk (we used Rice Milk)

Method:

  1. Decide on the quantity you are mixing up; if it is just a bowl to serve straight away or a week’s worth for the family
  2. In a mixing bowl (or the bowl you are serving in), add equal parts of puffed rice and crunchy rice flakes (this makes up the base of the cereal. So, you could either combine two whole packets, add a cup of each or just add a bit of both to the bowl you are about to serve.
  3. I then add the sultanas to make a nice amount through the dried muesli. Next time, I will try the sunflower seeds and maybe pepitas at this stage as well. You can add anything you think will work for your dietary requirements.
  4. To serve I chop a ripe banana over the muesli, drizzle with honey, and add milk.

If you give this recipe a try please let me know how it turns out. I’m happy to troubleshoot or discuss how you could substitute these ingredients if some of the ones I’ve used aren’t suitable for your family’s sensitivities.

Roast Chicken – French Country Style

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I love two things about this meal. Firstly, it is very rustic and reminds me of a wonderful French summer I shared with some dear French friends in Brittany. Secondly, it is so quick and simple! I can’t remember where I read about putting a lemon inside the cavity of the chicken when roasting, but since I have tried it, I have never roasted a chicken any other way. The lemon makes the chicken deliciously succulent and flavoursome. We have this meal weekly, and I can then make a weekly batch of our chicken bone broth.

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 lemon (holes pricked with a sharp knife all around the lemon – this allows the flavour to be released)
  • Margarine
  • Spray oil (I used rice-bran oil)
  • Salt & pepper (I use Himalayan salt)
  • Fresh herbs (I used rosemary, sage & tarragon)
  • Mixed root vegetables (I used carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes and butternut pumpkin)
  • 1 brown onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic – crushed
  • Your choice of a side of green vegetables to serve (peas, green beans, broccoli, buk choy, etc)

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
  2. Spray the roasting tin or casserole with oil
  3. Insert the pre-picked lemon into the chest cavity of the chicken and fold the skin over the opening to secure the lemon
  4. Place chicken in the middle of the casserole dish
  5. Place chunks of margarine over the chicken (see first picture – I used 5 chunks)
  6. Salt and pepper the chicken
  7. Chop the root vegetables and arrange around the chicken
  8. Chop onion into crescents and arrange with the root vegetables
  9. Add garlic to the casserole
  10. Spray vegetables with spray oil
  11. Sprinkle herbs, salt & pepper over the vegetables
  12. Roast in oven for 1 1/2hrs – 2hrs
  13. Serve with a side of steamed green vegetables. I cover the chicken with any juices from the casserole
  14. After the meal I strip the chicken carcass and use any leftover chicken and/or roasted vegetables to make sushi, or add to salads, etc. I then use the carcass and any leftover onion and garlic pieces to add to my bone broth (see previous recipe)

If you give this recipe a try please let me know how it turns out. I’m happy to troubleshoot or discuss how you could substitute these ingredients if some of the ones I’ve used aren’t suitable for your family’s sensitivities.

Sausage Casserole

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This is one of my favourite meals . It is so quick and hearty and makes great left-overs in a salad or as a spare ready meal. I used to add a splash of balsamic vinegar to it but now leave that out for my very sensitive children- you could easily add some when you splash the olive oil over the casserole before it goes in the oven.

Ingredients:

  • 6-10 Sausages (whatever sausages suit your diet)
  • 1 can of chick peas (rinsed and drained) [I buy organic with no preservatives]
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes [I buy organic with no preservatives]
  • 1 red onion chopped into moon crescents
  • 3 cloves of garlic – crushed
  • 2 sweet potatoes [chopped into rough 2cm cubes and pre-steamed]
  • Salt  & pepper to taste [I use Himalayan salt]
  • A sprinkle of dried herbs of your choice [I used Oregano]
  • A splash of olive oil over the dish once assembled
  • Baby leaf spinach
  • Basmati rice

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
  2. Spray the casserole dish with a spray oil [I used rice-bran oil]
  3. Separate sausages and place in the casserole
  4. Add to the casserole: chopped tomato, chick peas, sweet potato, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, dried herbs and olive oil.
  5. Mix together and place in the oven for 45 min-1 hour
  6. Cook rice
  7. Serve the casserole on a bed of rice and baby spinach leaves

If you give this recipe a try please let me know how it turns out. I’m happy to troubleshoot or discuss how you could substitute these ingredients if some of the ones I’ve used aren’t suitable for your family’s sensitivities.