baking · celebrations · food · recipes · Seasonal

Christmas Round-Up: Fun Ideas For Christmas 2020

It’s that happy season where everyone is posting about Christmas, Christmas, Christmas… In my house, the Christmas season doesn’t start properly until the 7th December, as my husband’s birthday is the 6th December and clearly takes precedence over the other festive season! But that doesn’t mean the preparations haven’t started, so I thought I’d share my Christmas round-up post, including ideas for festive baking, food and drink, gift ideas and family activities…

Christmas Round Up: Fun Ideas For Christmas 2020

Festive Food & Drink

Christmas is, of course, the season of food – and for those of us who love baking, it’s an opportunity to get into the kitchen and get creative! I’m planning on trying out this festive white chocolate rocky road traybake (complete with candy canes!) and this sticky gingerbread recipe. I’m not sure if I’ll get the time but I’m hoping to manage this impressive looking chocolate twist Christmas tree! Of course, in our house gluten free baking is pretty important, so I was also excited to find this recipe for gluten free mince pies. Let’s be honest… It’s not Christmas without mince pies!

Baking with kids at Christmas

If you have young children, the festive season is a lovely opportunity to get them involved in baking (and eating, of course!). These easy no bake sweet treats are just the right kind of safe and fun recipes to make with your kids at Christmas. Slightly older will love this Mars Bar fudge recipe for slow cookers, which is also a lovely, simple recipe that they can get involved in creating.

Christmas drinks and cocktails

Cranberries are one of those ingredients that I really associate with Christmas, but other than cranberry sauce with your Christmas dinner, it’s hard to come up with much to do with them… I’m planning on using cranberry juice and orange juice to make some tasty morning mocktails over the festive season – just what you want to wake up to!

On the alcoholic side of things, earlier this year I made some delicious hawthorn gin which should be ready for Christmas – I can’t wait to enjoy it in some prosecco in a festive hawthorn fizz. You can find my recipe for hawthorn gin here. I’ve also tried making some Christmas pudding vodka – so I’m pretty excited to see how that turns out!

Christmas Gift Guides

Buying presents can be so tricky, and especially this year when lockdown and the Covid tiers system means it’s not easy to get out to the shops and just browse.

If you’re buying gifts for kids, there are some great ideas in this Christmas gift guide for children, or why not consider a magazine subscription so they get a new gift every month?

In our house, we’re very much aware that food intolerances and dietary requirements can make Christmas gifting challenging – so I love this guide to buying gifts for vegans!

Moving away from food and drink gifts, this guide has some lovely homeware gift ideas, to or this weird and wonderful gift guide gives some quirky and different ideas for gifts your loved ones won’t be expecting. If you’re looking for super-specific gifts, I even found this gift guide for fans of the TV show Friends (I actually re-watched the entirety of Friends over maternity leave so it’s kind of perfect…)

If you’re buying gifts for a tea lover in your life, I have a guide coming soon on the blog – keep your eyes peeled!

Fun Christmas Activities

Christmas is definitely time for relaxing in front of the television… But it’s nice to use your time off over Christmas to do some other fun activities – and as we’re all going to be staying indoors this Christmas, I’m trying to plan some fun activities in advance.

Christmas Crafts & More

I’ve always vaguely wanted to try making my own decorative Christmas wreath for our house, so I was excited to find this guide to making your own natural foliage wreath – hoping to get the chance to give it a go this year!

I’m also planning to use the time to do some home improvements; we’ve got some old furniture that we’re hoping to paint and upcycle, and we want to put up a mural in Little Man’s room.

Your Ideas For Christmas

What will you be getting up to for Christmas this year? Let me know your ideas for Christmas and the festive season!

baking · food · gluten free · recipes

Gluten Free Chocolate Cappuccino Brownies Recipe

I love making brownies, and much though I love a simple chocolate brownie, I like experimenting with different flavours! As my husband is a total coffee nut, he suggested a marbled chocolate brownie/coffee blondie combination, and I think this recipe is a total winner! Plus, you’d never know it’s gluten free. The only point of debate is whether to call them “chocolate cappuccino brownies” or “mochaccino brownies”… Thoughts?

Gluten-free Chocolate Cappuccino Brownies Recipe

The ingredients for your gluten free brownies:

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 75g dark chocolate
  • 75g butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 75g gluten free plain flour
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 3 eggs
  • 1tsp instant coffee
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1/4tsp xantham gum (optional)
gluten free marbled brownie and coffee blondie mochaccino

How to make gluten free mochaccino brownies:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Grease and line the base of a 20cm X 20cm tin.

2. Melt the chocolate (I microwave it for 20 second bursts until melted, or you can melt in a bowl over a saucepan of hot water).

3. Beat together the butter and sugar until light and creamy, then beat in the eggs. Add the flour, xantham gum, baking powder and vanilla essence and mix until smooth.

4. Split the mix between two bowls. Mix in the melted chocolate to one bowl, and the coffee to the other.

5. Dollop the two mixtures into the tin and swirl together slightly. Don’t mix too much though, or you won’t get the contrasting flavours of the two mixes!

6. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes. 30 minutes will get you a more cakey texture, 25 minutes a more fudgey texture. Let the mix cool in the tin.

gluten free mochaccino brownies baked in tin marbled blondie

Tips and tricks for your gluten free chocolate cappuccino brownies:

This recipe will make 12 – 16 gluten free chocolate cappuccino brownies, depending on how you cut it, and it takes about 20 minutes to prepare, plus cooking time.

If you’re not bothered about being gluten free, substitute the gluten free flour for normal flour and leave out the xantham gum.

You want your coffee brownie mix to taste strongly of coffee in order for the finished product to have a good coffee flavour, so I recommend tasting the batter. If the uncooked mix doesn’t have a good hit of coffee flavour to it, add more instant coffee powder until it does!

gluten free chocolate cappuccino mochaccino brownies recipe sickly mama blog

More gluten-free baking recipes:

If you enjoyed these gluten-free mochaccino brownies, you might be interested in trying some of my other gluten-free baking recipes – check out these deliciously chocolatey gluten-free rocky roads, or this recipe for the best gluten-free oatmeal raisin cookies.

baking · food · gluten free · recipes

Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins Recipe

It’s autumn! The leaves are brown, the sky is grey, and going outside is starting to feel like a chore rather than a treat. But for me, one of the ways we’re compensated for the chilly weather and the shortening days is the delicious flavours of seasonal autumn cooking. And by that, I mean pumpkin! I absolutely love pumpkin as an ingredient in both sweet and savoury dishes, and I think these gluten free pumpkin muffins are a perfect autumn treat.

They’re made with tinned pumpkin puree, which isn’t always easy to find in the UK – although large supermarkets will often stock it in their international foods section. If you can’t find a tin of pumpkin puree, you can substitute it with homemade puree from a roasted pumpkin or squash – instructions here.

Okay, enough talk. On to the actual recipe!

gluten free pumpkin muffins recipe the sickly mama blog autumn

Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins Recipe

Ingredients for pumpkin muffins:

You will need the following ingredients for your gluten free pumpkin muffins:

  • 250g gluten free flour
  • 225g sugar (I split this between caster sugar, demerara sugar, and dark muscovado sugar – a mix with some darker sugar is ideal for a bit of extra flavour)
  • 2 eggs
  • 120g butter (salted)
  • 50g oats
  • 1/2 tsp xantham gum
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 can of pumpkin puree
  • 2 tsps cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
ingredients for gluten free pumpkin muffins recipe from the sickly mama blog

Method for gluten free pumpkin muffins

1. Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees C and line a muffin tin with cake cases.

2. Melt the butter. You can do this in the microwave in 10 second blasts, stirring in between, until fully melted.

3. Add all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl, and mix until thoroughly combined. Don’t worry if it’s a little bit lumpy though!

tinned pumpkin puree being mixed into a cake mix the sickly mama blog

4. Spoon the mix into the cake cases.

5. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes. You’ll know the muffins are fully cooked when a skewer or fork inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean.

6. Put the muffins on a cooling tray to cool. Or eat them straightaway – they’re delicious still warm from the oven!

freshly baked gluten free pumpkin muffins cupcakes fairy cakes straight from the oven

Tips and pointers for your spiced pumpkin muffins:

These bad boys will keep in a tin for 3 – 4 days, although they’re yummiest fresh from the oven! You can also freeze your gluten free pumpkin muffins for up to three months – here are some pointers on freezing muffins. So you can make them now and enjoy them later!

This recipe is gluten free, however if you’re not in need of gluten free muffins, you can make them with regular flour and leave out the xantham gum. They’re just as yummy when they contain gluten, but do be careful not to over-mix the batter, as it will leave you with tough, chewy little cakes. Over-mixing is not such a problem with gluten-free baking, which is one of the few benefits of cooking for the gluten intolerant!

You can also very much get creative with the spices you use in these gluten free pumpkin muffins. I love a pumpkin spice blend that’s heavy on the cinnamon and ginger and light on the clove (by which I mean has NO CLOVES in it, because they’re disgusting). But a traditional American pumpkin spice mix has a good dose of nutmeg and clove in it, so you may wish to go for maximum authenticity there!

More gluten free treats…

Looking for more gluten free recipes? Why not try this amazing gluten free Rocky Road recipe – no baking required!

recipe for gluten free pumpkin muffins cupcakes fairy cakes the sickly mama blog autumn
baking · food · gluten free · recipes

Gluten Free Rocky Road Recipe – No Baking Required!

Gluten free rocky road is one of my absolute favourite recipes! I don’t make it that often – because (as my husband says) it’s about as addictive as crack, but much more fattening. In fact, I made a batch of gluten free rocky road specifically so I could take pictures for this blog post, and we had already eaten three quarters of it before I had a chance to take photos of the finished product. That speaks for itself!

Gluten Free Rocky Roads – Overview

It’s a super easy recipe. This is a gluten free tray bake, but there’s no baking required! Instead of cooking the traybake, you just need refrigeration – so it’s a great one to make with kids.

It only takes about 10 minutes to prepare from start to finish, and will make about 12 – 16 rocky road bars, depending on how big you cut them!

Gluten Free Rocky Road Ingredients

You will need…

  • 200g butter
  • 6 tbsps golden syrup
  • 200g dark chocolate (you can use milk, but the end product will be VERY sweet)

Then for the filling, you can be super flexible, based on what’s in your store cupboard! You basically want about 350g of dried filling, which needs to be chopped or crushed into small pieces. For the bake in these pictures, I used:

  • 125g Crunchie bars (other chocolate-coated honeycomb is available)
  • 125g gluten-free Viennese biscuits
  • Handful of gluten-free pretzels
  • 3 handfuls of mini marshmallows
  • 2 handfuls of gluten-free cornflakes
the ingredients for delicious gluten free rocky road recipe

Gluten-free Rocky Road – The Recipe

1. First, line a 22cm square baking tin with tinfoil.

2. Take your Crunchie bars or other honeycomb, biscuits and pretzels, put them in a resealable freezer bag, and bash them with a rolling pin until they’re in smallish chunks. Keep back a few pretzels and marshmallows for decoration! Then add the crushed fillings to a mixing bowl along with your marshmallows and cornflakes.

delicious gluten free rocky road recipe with pretzels, marshmallows, chocolate and honeycomb

3. Next, put the butter and golden syrup in a small saucepan on a low heat. Heat them together until the butter is melted into the syrup. Mix them regularly and don’t let the mix come to a boil!

recipe melting butter and golden syrup in a saucepan

4. Remove the saucepan from the heat. It should be warm but not boiling hot! Add the chocolate and stir it in, until it’s melted into a smooth syrupy sauce.

5. Pour the chocolate mixture over your dry ingredients and stir gently until the dry ingredients are all totally coated.

6. Pour the mixture into the baking tray and pat down until the surface is roughly level. Press marshmallows and pretzels into the surface for decoration.

delicious gluten free rocky road recipe setting in the tin

7. Leave the tin out until it’s no longer warm to the touch, then pop into the fridge to finish setting your rocky road mix.

8. Refrigerate for a couple of hours at least. Then you can turn the rocky road out onto a plate, peel off the foil, and slice! Voila, your gluten-free rocky road is ready to serve!

Tips and Hints

The key thing about this is that you’ll want to store it in the fridge. This gluten free rocky road melts in your mouth… But also it melts in your hands, and all over your kitchen! It can be kept out at room temperature for a bit e.g. a party buffet, but I wouldn’t be taking it to a summer picnic.

If you do need it to last longer out of the fridge – or if you want to cut neat non-crumbly slices – the best way to do this is with a pure chocolate coating. Melt some more dark chocolate down and pour half over the bottom of the tin and leave it to set for five minutes before adding the main mix. Then once you’ve smoothed over the main mix in the tin, pour the rest of the chocolate over the top. It just makes it easier to handle.

delicious gluten free rocky road recipe with pretzels, marshmallows, chocolate and honeycomb

More gluten free baking recipes

If you enjoyed this recipe and you’re looking for more gluten free cake or cookies recipes, why not check out my gluten free brownies recipe, or this gluten free cookies recipe?

baking · food · gluten free · recipes

The BEST Gluten Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies Recipe

Today, I’m going to share my gluten free oatmeal raisin cookies recipe. I love baking, and as my husband is gluten intolerant, it’s hard to find fresh baked goods for him in the shops. So, whenever the opportunity arises (i.e. Little Man is in a good mood and happy enough on his play mat), I get baking.

Back at the start of lockdown, I was planning on baking some chocolate chip cookies one day, but asked my husband if he had any special requests. He asked for oatmeal raisin cookies. I’d never baked them before so I researched a bit online and made my own substitutions to make them gluten free. They’re actually an ideal cookie to make GF, because the oats help to bind them and reduce the floury/crumbly texture that you often get with gluten free baking. For the busy mum (or dad) on the go, the finished cookies can also be frozen and reheated later – see instructions further down this post.

Now, onto the important bit…

Gluten Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies Recipe

the best gluten free oatmeal raisin cookies recipe the sickly mama blog easy bake

The Recipe

Assemble the following ingredients:

  • 200g sugar (ideally a golden caster, or a mix of brown and white sugar also works well)
  • 150ml sunflower oil (or other veggie oil)
  • 1 egg
  • 100g raisins or sultanas
  • 120g gluten free flour
  • 300g oats (make sure they’re specifically gluten free oats if you’re baking for a coeliac)
  • 1/2 tsp xantham gum (not essential if you don’t have it, but helps with binding gluten free bakes)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Gluten Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies – The Method

These cookies are super quick and easy to assemble, because the oil base makes mixing them very simple.

1. Pour 50ml of boiling water over your raisins/sultanas and leave to soak.

2. Preheat your oven to 180 C.

3. Line two baking trays with parchment.

4. Mix the sugar, oil and egg in a bowl until well combined.

5. Add the water from the raisins/sultanas, the cinammon and the vanilla extract, and mix.

6. Add the flour, xantham gum and bicarbonate of soda and mix. Then, add the oats and mix.

7. Add the raisins and mix. Your cookie batter is now complete!

8. Dollop the batter into the baking sheets. Gluten free cookies never spread quite as much as regular cookies, so get them into roughly the thickness and shape you want, but still aim to leave a couple of centimetres gap between cookies.

9. Bake for 12 – 15 mins until golden brown, and cool on the trays. Voila! Your cookies are ready.

Freezing and Reheating Your Cookies

These gluten free oatmeal raisin cookies freeze really well! It’s perfect so that next time you can have that fresh baked cookie taste with even less effort. Ideally freeze them on a tray, before transferring into a bag or container for storage.

You can keep the cookies in the freezer for up to two months. To reheat, simply pop them on a baking tray (from frozen) in an oven pre-heated to 140 C, for 10 – 15 minutes. Everyone will think you just baked them!

mum and baby making gluten free oatmeal raisin cookies the sickly mama blog recipe

More Gluten Free Recipes

Looking for more yummy gluten free recipes? Why not try this recipe for (highly addictive) gluten free rocky roads? They’re perfect to make with kids as they don’t even require baking!