Change it Up



I am always on the look out for ways to up-style family favourites and while Spaghetti Bolognese    Pie and Mexican Lasagna are not new,these recipes torn out a Woolworths Fresh Food Magazine, reminded me of simple ways to change up old recipes. If you want to be more adventurous then you will find that Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson also have a few creative variations on this theme.

Spaghetti Bolognese Pie =  cooked gluten free spaghetti combined with 2 whisked eggs and 1/2 cup grated parmesan which has been pressed into the base and sides of a greased pie dish +your favourite spaghetti bolognese sauce layered over spaghetti base + topped with whisked egg and 1/2 cup smooth ricotta + topped with 1/2 cup grated mozzarella + bake for 30 minutes

Mexican Lasagna  = (gluten free corn tortillas + Mexican meat sauce+salsa + grated cheese) layered into a greased round pan + top with tortilla and grated cheese + bake for 30 – 40 minutes

Chickpeas -4 Variations on a Theme

Sherry Glazed Chorizo and Chickpeas 1


We have a family favourite chickpea dish that connects us to our roots in Catalonia Spain: Cigrons. Unfortunately, our recipe has two complications: we prepare dried chickpeas by soaking overnight and then cook them in a pressure cooker and the recipe is difficult to commit in the written form.  The quantities of olive oil, vinegar, bacon, garlic and salt and pepper all rely on taste and feel and sight and smell. Those who have shared house with me always reminisce about Cigrons and it is one of those meals that is prepared for when all the family is home.

You can however make chickpeas your way or try one of the recipes below.  Canned chickpeas doesn’t have to only be used for Hummus.

Be adventurous.

Sherry-Glazed Chorizo and Chickpeas


2 teaspoons olive oil

125 g dried chorizo, sliced

1/3 cup dry sherry* for extra depth of flavour use a Sherry Vinegar

400 g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Chopped flat leaf parsley to serve


Heat oil in fry pan over medium to high heat.

Add chorizo and cook, turning for 3 – 4 minutes or until crisp.

Add ¼ cup sherry, then cook, stirring occasionally for 3 minutes or until chorizo is glazed and the liquid has evaporated.

Add chickpeas and remaining 1 tablespoon sherry then cook stirring occasionally, for a further 5 minutes or until chickpeas are warmed through.

Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Smoky Chicken, Chorizo and Chickpeas


600 g chicken thighs, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon cumin

250 g chorizo, sliced

400 g can chick peas, rinsed and drained

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tomato chopped

1 long red chilli, sliced

¼ cup chopped parsley


In a bowl, combine chicken, 1 tablespoon oil, garlic, paprika and cumin.  Toss to coat.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a frying pan over high heat.  Cook chicken for 2 -3 minutes each side or until golden.  Remove from pan.

Cook chorizo and chickpeas in same pan, stirring for 2 – 3 minutes or until golden.

Return chicken to pan with any juices.

Drizzle over balsamic and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked and heated.

Stir through tomato, chilli and parsley

Louise’s Chickpeas in Spanish Sauce


2 cans drained chick peas

1 green capsicum

1 red capsicum

1 onion

1 clove garlic

1 red chilli

1 tablespoon parsley

2 cans tomatoes


Chop the capsicums, chilli, onion and garlic.

Lightly fry in olive oil for a few minutes.

Add the parsley, tomatoes and chick peas.  Season.

Cool on a low heat for about half an hour, stirring occasionally.


Chickpea and Chorizo Hotpot


4 chorizo, sausages, thickly sliced

100 g jamon Serrano, diced

100 g salami, diced

100 g pancetta, diced

5 pink eschallots, quartered

5 garlic cloves, sliced

1 bunch of thyme, leaves only

2 x 400 g chickpeas, drained

500 ml chicken stock

1 bunch parsley, chopped


Heat a large saucepan. Add all the meats.  Cook stirring occasionally, over a medium heat for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned and fat in the meat has started to break down.

Add eschallots, cook stirring occasionally until soft (5 minutes).  Add garlic and thyme.  Cook for a further 2 minutes.

Stir in chickpeas.  Cook stirring occasionally for 5 minutes so chickpeas can absorb the flavours of meats and herbs.

Stir in stock.  Bring to boil.  Simmer for about 20 minutes until slightly thickened.

Garnish with parsley.




Gluten Free English Muffins

GF English Muffins


We have settled into a routine of what gluten free supermarket products are acceptable or ‘passed’, so I haven’t looked for new products for taste testing.

These Coles Gluten Free English Muffins looked worth sampling so into the trolley they went.  They are dusted with a polenta (maize) semolina and the texture, taste and smell passed my gf son’s scrutiny: toasted of course.

My only wish is for producers of gluten free products to package items in smaller quantities.  If you are the only gluten free eater in the house, then a packet of four muffins locks you in to having to eat muffins every morning. And for products which are brought into store frozen and then defrosted for placement on shelves, one can’t re-freeze the extras.

A two pack would be perfect: less waste and gluten free-ers would be more likely to sample new products.

In an ideal world…..







Little Box of Yum

Little Box of Yum (2)

My husband noticed a small article in the “Courier Mail” a couple of weeks ago about Little Box of Yum a gourmet food subscription box, but more importantly, that their August box was going to be a ‘gluten free’ box.

A great way of sampling new products on the market, my box arrived this week with a number of new products I haven’t seen here in Townsville.  While not all products are targeted to my teenager’s tastebuds, this would be a great gift for the adult gluten free-er.

I am not sure if there is a cut off date for the August Gluten Free box, but the concept is a great way to sample different products. I do notice a comments box for subscribers to make note of any food allergies, so you might be able put in for a special order box.

Australian Gluten Free Life as well as their magazine subscriptions, also have a “The Box” subscription of gluten free goodies.


(GF) Words of Wisdom

I was meeting up with a mum of a teenage daughter who was newly diagnosed with coeliac disease. Before our rendez-vous, I asked my gf son for some words of advice for me to take along, which he gave candidly and quickly:

  1. You do get used to it
  2. Baking paper… lots of it
  3. The mums get more stressed than you do

So there it is in a nutshell.  My son’s words of wisdom were spot on and I haven’t taken the third point too much to heart.

While it is now four years since KJ was diagnosed, I totally understood the place this mum was in : overwhelmed and devastated.  At the time of diagnosis, I didn’t know what to expect, how to do what we needed to do, who to talk to. Nor did I know how to calmly deal with this change.

Over  a cup of coffee, this mum and I chatted: about the lead up to diagnosis; a rather unhelpful visit to the dietitian;  how to convert eating patterns and change cooking preparation routines; the best biscuit recipe,store bought bread and pasta brand. I loaned her some recipe books, I took along the packaging of some of our favourites, I bagged up biscuits and snacks for taste testing.

And in a nutshell, it is the mothers (or main care givers) of children with coeliac disease who need support and age specific advice on products, recipes and  school lunches.  Additionally, as a parent of a teenager,  one might be tip toeing through the emotional minefield of the teenage years and then a coeliac disease is like a bombshell that one didn’t see coming.

So today is my blog anniversary.  My focus is still the same: to give help and advice to other parents of teenagers with coeliac disease and to make the blog my box full of goodies to share.


Ricotta Recipes

Gluten free cooking and baking makes us better cooks.  

Gnocchi ..

We learn to seek out new recipes, try out new meals and experiment with new ingredients.

Ricotta is one such ingredients and it can be used in sweet and savoury dishes.  It is easy to handle and forgiving so if you are looking to broaden some of your meal choices, then give ricotta a go. Here are some of my favourite ricotta recipes:

1. Honey Lemon Ricotta Cakes

2. Ricotta Gnocchi


3. Pancakes


4. Baked Ricotta

5. Savoury Fritters

Ricotta Fritters

6. Passionfruit Ricotta Flan


7. Ricotta Dumplings

Ricotta Dumplings 2

8. Dark Chocolate Coconut Cheesecakes

Chocolate Coconut Cheesecakes (3)

9. Red Velvet Cheesecakes

Red Velvet

10. Ricotta, Raspberry and Passionfruit Curd Terrine

I am yet to find time to try this recipe, but it is oh so tempting.

GF Snacks and Treats

What are the popular gluten free snacks in my house?

If you would have asked me this question three years ago or three months ago, I might have given you a different answer.  There are many reasons for a change in eating patterns and habits but gluten free eaters are like the mainstream eaters, they like to have a change.

Gluten free eating is restrictive by its very nature and so an important lesson this mother has learnt is that you have to vary what snacks you have on offer in the house.

So this month Carman’s Greek Yoghurt and Blueberry Bars are disappearing quickly out of the cupboard.  Liked by gluten free and non gluten free eaters alike.

Frugo’s had lost ground in my house for a few months, but they are popular again as a ‘grab a packet while heading out the door’ snack.

Mini Snickers and Turkish Delights have also come back into vogue.  It might be that they have been a  recent ‘special’ and therefore cheaper or it might be because I have a weakness for Turkish Delight and I’ll use any excuse to have them in the snack basket.

Menz Gluten Free Honeycomb available in The Reject Shop and Coles is a handy item to know about.  With few chocolate products gluten free or without a warning statement about gluten, this one is worthwhile knowing about.  A friend will be having her two grandaughters (both coeliac)  visit over the school holidays, so I made sure I put an extra packet in my shopping trolley so that she would have a gluten free treat for them.


Italian Almond Bread


Gluten Free Almond Bread is a bit of a challenge especially if you have made it pre-gluten free days but this recipe was on my ‘to do’ list.

It is one of those gluten free baked products that as long as you don’t expect it to be exactly like it used to be, then all is good.

It is more difficult to slice thinly so my first effort is a bit clumsy.


3 egg whites

210 g caster sugar

205 g plain flour

120 g flaked almonds


Preheat oven to 180C (160C fan forced). Grease and line a bar cake tin (8 cm x 26cm)

In a bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.

Gradually add sugar, one tablespoon at a time, beating until sugar dissolves firm peaks form.

Fold in sifted flour then nuts.  Spread into pan.

Preheat oven to 150C (130 C fan forced).

Bake for 30-40 minutes.  Cook in pan. Wrap bread in foil and refrigerate overnight.

Using a serrated bread knife, cut bread into 3 mm slices, place slices onto baking trays lined with baking paper.

Bake for 15 minutes or until crisp.

Online Gluten Free Shopping


Q: Where do I shop?

A: Depends….

Yes gluten free shopping depends on likes and dislikes, price, accessibility and convenience

While Coles and Woolworths are my main two supermarkets, I have a couple of online shops that I buy from as well.  I might pay a little more for freight, but if you find a product that works for your gluten free eater, then it is worth it.  In those early days of diagnosis, when gluten free was so overwhelming, I visited every possible local shop and deli searching for gluten free products.  This was part of my research, to find out what our options were.  In time, I have settled into a routine.  We have in our minds, our ‘gluten free’ shopping list with where to buy the relevant product.  Why is it that Woolworths only sell Burgen Gluten Free White Bread and Barilla Gluten Free Pasta whereas Coles only sells Jase’s small Gluten Free Pizzas. And sometimes it is easier to order my  ‘Well & Good ‘ gf flours and bread mixes from Gluten Free Direct rather than have to make a special and inconvenient trip to a health food store inside our largest shopping centre.

I’d like to think that there is merit in the concept of  gluten free shoppers in small towns/suburbs  forming  co-operatives and buying online in bulk.

Here a a couple of  places for online gluten free shopping:

El Cielo – an online Mexican shop with tostadas, corn chips and corn tortillas

Live Free Gluten Free – offering bread, pastry and chicken seasoning mixes

The Gluten Free Shop – is the perfect online gluten free shop for people living regionally or remotely

Absolutely Gluten Free – for a range of products including Schar Pizza Bases

Gluten Free Direct – online supplier of ‘Well & Good’ gluten free products: bread, cake, biscuit mixes and Pudding in a Mug

House of Biskota – order online from a range of 11 gluten free biscuits

Gluten Free Triple Chocolate Cookies

Buckwheat Triple Choc

Another good reason to love the blogging community

None of us like waste, so when you make a dessert that only uses egg yolks, one must also make something to use up the egg whites.  If you need 1/2 cup Buttermilk, then you go looking for another recipe using Buttermilk.

I take this approach with a number of ‘gluten free’ ingredients I keep in the pantry and Buckwheat is one of these ingredients.  I like making Buckwheat Bread but because a small quantity of buckwheat is used, I look for other recipes using Buckwheat. More importantly, I try to limit the number of single origin gluten free flours in my pantry so as to limit waste.  In the main I use a blended plain and self raising gluten free flours and also keep almond meal, cornmeal and buckwheat flour in the pantry.  Unless you are baking on a large scale or unless you are in the catering industry, then I think it is more practical to keep things simple.

Thank you Amy from Buckwheat for your Health who posted a link to HayleyEatsBlog for Nigella’s Triple Chocolate Cookies  because I now have another great reason to use buckwheat  flour.  So many great reasons  to  love the blogging community.

Here are just a few recipes using buckwheat…

  1. Nigella’s Triple Chocolate Cookies   A brownie come cake come biscuits and absolutely yummy and decadent
  2. Galettes 
  3. Buckwheat Bread
  4. Buckwheat Blinis
  5. Gluten Free Crackers




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