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
cocktails · food · food storage · recipes

How To Make Hawthorn Berry Gin – Foraging Recipe

Basically, foraging is like shopping – except everything is free, so it’s better. As I’m on maternity leave, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to pick berries this year, so I wanted to share some of the recipes I’m trying out. I’ve heard that hawthorn berry gin has a taste a bit like sherry, so of course that was first on the list to try. Whether you live in the town or the countryside, chances are you’ll have a hawthorn bush nearby, as they’re one of the most common types of plant used for hedges in this country.

This is a great way to transform a bottle of cheap £10 supermarket vodka into a bottle of gin you’d pay at least £25 for. Because yes – gin is basically just vodka that’s been flavoured either during or after the distillation process. Who knew?

Fair warning: this is my first time making hawthorn gin, so it’s not exactly a tried and tested recipe just yet! I’ve tried to read through a number of different recipes and select the “average” set of instructions to follow…

Hawthorn Gin: The Recipe

1. First, pick your hawthorn berries

It’s the perfect time of year for picking hawthorn berries! They’re also a great thing to forage, because unlike blackberries or even damsons, they’re not that popular, so it’s unlikely that other people will get there before you and pinch all the ripe berries.

The berries are ripe when they’re a lovely bright red, from late August through to October depending on where you live. If you’re not confident identifying hawthorn, you can find a guide here. It’s not likely that you’d mix it up with another plant, so it’s a pretty safe bet for a new forager! Remember not to pick all the berries you find – they’re important food for wildlife too.

Some people say you should wait for the first frost to pick hawthorn berries, but it’s not really necessary for making gin. If you want, you can freeze the berries and defrost before using them, to achieve the same effect.

foraging for hawthorn berries to make hawthorn gin uk

2. Prepare your hawthorn berries

Sort through the berries to remove any that are discoloured, and give them a wash.

Ideally at this point you want to top and tail the berries, cutting off the stems and the little brown bit at the bottom. You don’t have to, but apparently if you remove these parts, it reduces the amount of sediment that you have to strain out later. Some recipes leave the berries whole – others cut out the stone in the middle (but that seemed like too much effort to me) – this seems like the most popular approach though.

preparing hawthorn berries to make hawthorn gin recipe

3. Bottle it

Pack the berries into a sterilised bottle or preserving jar, adding sugar between the layers as you go. I find a lot of homemade gin too sweet, so I’ve not been over-generous with my sugar, but done recipes recommend vast quantities of the stuff. It’s basically just there for flavour, so you can add it to taste.

Leave a space at the top of the jar so you can give it a good shake. Then fill the jar or bottle with cheap supermarket gin or vodka.

making hawthorn gin at home recipe with hawthorn berries

4. Wait for hawthorn gin

And now… We wait! Leave the gin for about a month, giving it a shake every few days. Then, strain your gin. You can do this the traditional way through a muslin, or through filter paper.

Next, let it mature for 2 – 3 months before drinking. It will keep for about a year after that, so make sure you label the bottle.

how to make hawthorn gin at home with hawthorn berries

Now, I can’t report back on the flavour just yet because my gin is still infusing, but I will let you know how it turns out when we crack it out in the winter!

baking · food · gluten free · recipes

Gluten Free Rocky Road – No Baking Required!

This 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, no baking required just 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 Roads – The Method

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

2. Take your Crunchie bars, 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. It 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
food · recipes

Lazy Mama’s Quick Noodle Soup Recipe

I made this quick noodle soup for lunch the other day and thought I should share the recipe. It’s so great if you don’t have much time but you want something homemade, nourishing and pretty healthy! It’s vaguely Japanese-inspired, while being 100% inauthentic, and the ingredients are pretty flexible.

This is a generous single helping for one, and it takes about 5 minutes to cook (yes, it really is that quick!)

lazy mama's quick noodle soup recipe the sickly mama blog

Lazy Mama’s Quick Noodle Soup

Ingredients List

If you tend to eat stir fries and cook Asian food, you’ll probably have most of the ingredients in your store cupboard, like we do. However the whole point of this soup is that it’s quick and easy, so I’ve also given some substitutions you can use instead, if you don’t have the right ingredients.

You will need…

  • Sesame oil (you can use regular vegetable oil, but sesame oil tastes best)
  • Soy sauce
  • Teriyaki sauce (if you don’t have this, you can replace it with a dash of extra soy sauce and a spoon of honey)
  • Mirin or rice wine (optional – you can leave this out entirely or use sherry instead)
  • Miso soup made up from a packet or paste, OR bouillon powder OR in a pinch, a vegetable stock cube!
  • 2 spring onions (or a small handful of finely chopped white onion)
  • Vegetables of your choice! I love chestnut mushrooms in this – but pak choi, cabbage, spinach etc. all work great, as would pumpkin or squash. Or you can have it plain with just noodles and soup!
  • One pack of wok- ready noodles. I think udon noodles is best, but it depends what type of noodle you prefer!

How To Make Your Quick Noodle Soup

First, fry your spring onions and mushrooms in sesame oil, in a small saucepan.

Make up about 400ml of miso soup or vegetable stock. When the onions are soft and the mushrooms cooked, add the stock.

Add about a tablespoon of teriyaki sauce, the same of mirin, and a generous dash of soy sauce. Bring to a simmer.

Add the noodles and cook until done, as per the pack instructions – usually a couple of minutes.

And you’re done! It really is that easy. This is my go-to dish when Martin is out, as he’s usually head chef in our household except where baking is concerned.

More easy recipes

Looking for more easy to cook, quick recipes? Why not check out my recipes page!

quick noodle soup recipe the sickly mama blog japanese chopsticks
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!

food · recipes · tea

How To Make Fresh Mint Tea Recipe

Peppermint tea is one of my favourite herbal teas (and I love tea!). It’s great if you’re feeling a bit bloated after a big meal, or have a bit of a sad tummy. Mint tea is also caffeine free, and it smells amazing as the process of brewing the tea releases essential oils. But did you know it’s super easy to make fresh mint tea at home?

Lots of us have mint plants in our gardens… They tend to go rogue and take over half your shrubbery. But if you don’t have a garden, or somehow have the only garden in England not infested with mint, you can of course buy it at the supermarket too (or alternatively, it will grow very happily in a pot, so you’ll have it handy whenever). Here’s the recipe:

Fresh Mint Tea Recipe

Grab a generous handful of fresh mint leaves for each person you want to make tea for, and gently crush the leaves a little in your hands to help release the oils.

Put the mint in a teapot or straight into a cup, and pour boiling water over the leaves. Leave it for 3 – 5 minutes until the water changes colour to a pale yellowy green. You can add a little sugar or honey to taste if you prefer a sweeter flavour, or even some lemon peel for a hint of citrus.

And that’s it! It’s super easy and very delicious, and it helps tackle the mint problem in your garden (without taking a toll on your liver like a mojito does…). It’s really easy to make this tea your own, by playing with the ingredients and adding your own spin on it. If you fancy a caffeine hit, you can even mix your mint tea with green tea, for a beverage with a little bit more of a kick to it!

how to make fresh mint tea recipe the sickly mama blog tea o clock
coronavirus · food · Just for fun · lifestyle · recipes · top tips

Dalgona Coffee – Fun Korean Coffee Drink You Can Make During Lockdown!

So my awesome husband came across this great recipe for an awesome chilled coffee drink you can make at home. It’s called Dalgona coffee, it’s Korean, you can make it with ingredients you already have, and it feels like something super fancy you need to go to a coffee shop for!

He got the recipe from this website and I’ll direct you there as well for the full details. Essentially you make a meringue-style coffee foam by whisking equal quantities of good-quality instant coffee and sugar with a little bit of water, until it forms stiff peaks just like a meringue. Then you dollop it into cold milk. You can either mix it in with the milk or leave the foam on top and drink the milk through the coffee foam – I recommend the latter option because not only does it taste great, but the velvety texture is very satisfying.

It’s very quick and easy, and you can make a large amount of coffee foam and refrigerate it for a couple of days to use later. We made dalgona coffee over lunch one day and it was a great afternoon treat and something a bit different to do during quarantine.

A picture of our dalgona coffees is below…

cocktails · coronavirus · food · Just for fun · recipes · Uncategorized

Lockdown Fun: The Quarantini Challenge

So lockdown is boring (have I mentioned that?), and we have to find ways to make it more fun. My awesome husband came up with the idea of inventing a cocktail with just ingredients we already have in the house (although, fair warning, we do have two shelves of booze in the pantry, so it’s not a particularly heavy restriction). Clearly this would be named… The Quarantini.

I suggested we should each separately come up with a recipe and swap. Originally we were both going to make our drinks on Sunday evening, but after Martin made his drinks, it rapidly became clear that having another cocktail each would result in a much higher level of inebriation than intended or appropriate for a Sunday night. So I made mine on Monday instead.

Read on for the recipes…

Martin’s Quarantini: The Dirty Artini

Named after Dirty Arty, a video game character notorious for eating tinned peaches and leaving the cans behind (among other things). Martin went with the base of a classic Martini, and a quarantine twist straight from our cupboard of canned goods. His recipe:

  • 50ml gin (he used Roku gin, a Japanese brand)
  • 10ml Marsala wine
  • 10ml peach liqueur (or umeshu)
  • 15ml tinned peach juice

The above to be stirred over ice, strained into a cocktail glass and garnished with a slice of tinned peach (lockdown bonus: you get to eat the rest of the tin afterwards).

My Quarantini: The Jumbletini

Named because it was made of a total mish-mash of random booze from the store cupboard, I proudly present my recipe for a quarantini:

  • 25ml spiced dark rum (I used Kraken rum, our favourite)
  • 25ml lemon gin (Sipsmith Lemon Drizzle)
  • 10ml pink grapefruit gin (from the Ely Gin Company)
  • 10ml umeshu (Japanese plum wine which I’m obsessed with, I used The Choya Single Year)
  • lemonade to taste
  • mint leaves from the garden

I smushed up the mint leaves (technical term) and served the above over ice in our favourite sparkley whiskey glasses.

The Quarantini Challenge: Who Won?

Obviously it pains me to admit it, but Martin’s quarantini was better! My cocktail was pretty nice actually, and I would drink it again, but Martin’s was delicious, plus you got to eat the boozey peach slice at the end, which was awesome.

Have you made a quarantini? What was your recipe? I’d love to try other people’s store cupboard cocktails too!

coronavirus · food · food storage · recipes · top tips · Uncategorized

Lockdown Larder: Kitchen Tips and Tricks for Food Shortages and Limited Shopping Trips

Hi guys! I thought today I would share some of my best tips for cooking and stocking your kitchen during lockdown.

My husband is the chef in our household, while I do the baking. As I’m on maternity leave though, I’ve done most of the organising of food shops and storage.


I’m currently sat in our living room with my three month old son, who is busy doing a poo. This is a rather involved process requiring a lot of concentration, so I guess we could be here a while. I might as well do something useful with the time…

1. You Can Freeze Milk


I was surprised how many people don’t know this! But you can totally freeze fresh milk. My mum has been doing this for years to ensure the house never runs out. I currently have four spare bottles of milk in the freezer for the times when we can’t get hold of it at the supermarket. Obviously if you’re going to do this, be considerate – don’t buy up loads of milk at once, as that’s what leads to shortages. Buy a little extra and set it aside over several shopping trips. Also, fair warning: frozen milk does turn yellow, which looks slightly horrifying, but it goes white again when you defrost it.

Bonus tip: you can also freeze butter.

2. You can make bread without yeast.


I know a lot of places are experiencing shortages of baker’s yeast, but you can make delicious flatbread without yeast, such as Indian naan bread (click for the recipe) or, if you prefer something that’s a more traditional loaf, you can make Irish soda bread.

However, in actual fact you can make a lot more kinds of bread because…

3. You don’t need yeast to make yeast


You can make your own yeast with just flour and water, by capturing natural yeast from the air to make a sourdough starter. Once your sourdough starter is going, you can bake all kinds of yeasted breads and cakes from it. Plus, if you’re homeschooling kids, it makes for a great home science project!

Speaking of which…

4. You don’t need eggs (or flour) to make cake


Obviously a lot of cake recipes require egg, and there seem to be a lot of shortages of eggs at the moment. Local farm shops/veg box delivery companies are a good alternative source to the supermarket, if you live somewhere a bit more rural.

However, if you can’t get eggs there’s still plenty of easy bakes you can do without them (and if you have kids, they’ll enjoy making them too). Try making scones,* or flapjacks are a great bake if you can’t get hold of eggs or flour. You can even make meringue without egg whites. There are also lots of vegan recipes online that are egg free, so get a’googling!

5. Green lentils bulk out meat dishes


If you are trying to ration what’s in your freezer, but want to make dishes such as cottage pie or spaghetti bolognese (really anything involving minced meat), you can make your mince go further by bulking out with green lentils. Cook your ragu or sauce, add the lentils about fifteen minutes before the end, and your meal will go much further, still taste deliciously meaty, and actually be healthier as well. Triple win! Plus, kids will not notice that you’re secretly feeding them veg. Quadruple win?

6. Freeze freeze freeze


Obviously you want to be making best use of your freezer right now, and minimising the number of trips to the supermarket wherever possible. There’s a lot of stuff that you can’t just freeze – lots of fresh vegetables need blanching before freezing, which is a total pain. On the other hand, I hear that scurvy is worse.

If you’re lazy like me, you can straight-up freeze onions and peppers (chop them first) without blanching, which is handy for making fajitas and stir fries etc. Then put other veg in sauces, soups, ragu etc. which can be frozen once cooked and make for an easy ready meal for your future self.

…And that’s me pretty much done on the top tips front, so let’s finish up with a few wise words from Ryan Gosling.


* The recipe I’ve linked to suggests using egg to glaze, but you can substitute milk, or just not bother glazing!