Dark Chocolate & Macadamia Cookies – (Gluten & Dairy Free)

Dark Chocolate & Macadamia Cookies - (Gluten & Dairy Free)

With the school holidays upon us, the FHC household had lots of big plans – all of which have been thwarted by illness the entire week.  Somewhere between chest infections, sore throats, school sores and snotty noses we have all succumb to one ailment or another, leaving us all quite miserable and depleted, but trying to make the most of the time together without the rush and bustle of getting up and going in the mornings. 

As we have been somewhat housebound, the kids wanted to do some baking, which I am always up for, so we threw these gorgeous treats together before snuggling on the couch with hot chocolates and warm cookies to watch Frozen for about the trillionth time – but I am not complaining, baking and snuggles are two of my favourite things to do!

Thankfully, we are all on the mend now, for which some credit must be paid to these toasty treasures I am sure, and looking forward to some fun activities in week two of the holidays.

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Spelt Chocolate Swirl Buns & a journey to Voices of 2015

Spelt Chocolate Swirl Buns

In my last post – you can find here – I mentioned how ‘routine’ life has been of late.  Not that it was, or is a bad thing, there are just times when you need to break the monotony of it all; don’t you think?  Anyway, my chance to shake things up a little came last weekend when I was able to wave see-you-later to the family and head off to the ‘big smoke’ of Melbourne to attend the launch of Kidspot Voices of 2015 Masterclass.  The whole trip I was excited, but a little nervous, so I cranked up the music and ‘Journey‘d’ my way down the highway – refusing to Stop Believing I was in for anything other than a great day – (if you are a teen of the 80’s or a fan of Scrubs, this reference should not be lost on you.  If not, then do yourself a favour and click the link.  Go on now, I can wait).
 
My in car warm up held true and I did indeed have a great day, I might even venture towards fantastic to be truly accurate.  While I was a little pensive at first, wondering how many and who would be there, as crowds are not really my thing, my concerns soon melted away, as I started to see lots of familiar and friendly faces, all just as nervous and excited as me.  It was like going to a work conference, except, well, I actually wanted to be there and you know, learn stuff!
 
As well as catching up with and meeting new bloggy friends, there were a lot of valuable take homes from the Masterclass – the main ones for me being – be authentic, be engaged and be consistent as a blogger.  I need to work on my consistency, my approach to blogging has been conflicted at times, just like my good self, but I can and am working on that a little each day.
 
The extremely amazing Michelle from An Organised Life has written the most incredible wrap up of the event here if you want all the deets.  So impressed Michelle!
 
What I loved most about the day was being among so many like minded folks, who are all so invested and passionate about what they do, working hard to achieve whatever goals they have set and enjoying the journey (boom-tish) along the way.  The atmosphere was inspiring and has given me more tangible thoughts and ideas on what I can do to find that consistency I want from myself and my blog.  A great day well spent indeed!
 
As for the naming of the Top 100 – wow, what a task it must have been for the Kidspot team – so much creative talent to choose from!  I am in awe of those named as finalists and congratulate them all on their achievement as part of this event!
 
Spelt Chocolate Swirl Buns
From left to right:  Bec from The Plumbette and Styled by Bec and I.  Soapbox bloggers giving us their insights.  Em from Have a laugh on me, Amanda from Cooker and a Looker and oh look, that’s me.  Lucy from Bake Play Smile and, ahhh me, again.  Lunch – gluten free & delicious – and not me for a change!
 
Now … let’s talk sweet bread!

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Spretzels! (Spelt Flour Pretzels)

Spretzels (Spelt Flour Pretzels)

It has been a little on the routine side in the Fresh Home Cook household of late.  Life is pottering along day-by-day with each day much the same as the one before.  Having little people sure eats into your ‘you’ time!  Not that I am complaining, we have a lovely little life most of the time and I feel fortunate to have my family and the life we have.  In a (rare) moment of down time recently, I got to thinking about life B.K. (before kids) – how did I spend my time, who I did I spend it with and where did I spend it?  Suddenly memories came flooding back, the good, the bad and the ugly, but each with experiences I know helped make me the woman, partner and mother I am today.  

I got to thinking about my travels, my first overseas jaunt was to the United States in my mid-twenties – so many firsts on that adventure I can tell you!  I ‘Contiki’d’ my way across the country, got to hike the bottom of the Grand Canyon, experience the surrealness of Las Vegas, the haunting beauty of Graceland and Memphis, the intensity of New Orleans, the formality (and seediness) of Washington and these days, somewhat chillingly, wander through the Twin Towers in New York.  There was so much to love about this trip – including, of course, the food!  

Now, travelling Contiki means travelling on a budget, so while I do recall some extremely dodgy fast and infested food stops (*SHUDDERS*), there were also some amazing places and food experiences you just can’t get anywhere else.  A stand out for me was New York – what an incredible and diverse city – there were times I felt like I was on a movie set the landmarks were so familiar, including Central Park, Times Square, The Statue of Liberty and Wall Street just to name a few!  One cold and snowy evening we were wandering around Rockafella Centre enjoying the Christmas lights and watching folks ice skate when we came across a wonderfully chatty street pretzel vendor.  It was like the stuff of dreams, standing there white flakes falling around my head, the enticing smell of fresh baked bread luring us in, the vendor’s recognisable ‘Brooklyn’ accent selling us on the significance of eating an authentic “Noo Yawk City Pretzel”, served warm with lashings of honey mustard and that signature lip smackingly good, rabid thirst inducing hit of salt.  We ate with gusto while he regaled up with stories of “his city”  – it was an unforgettable evening and remains one of my favourite eating experiences ever.  So simple, yet so satisfying.  

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Allergy Friendly Choc Chip Cookies

Allergy Friendly Choc Chip Cookies

I think any home cooking foodie will tell you it is important to have an awesome go-to choc chip cookie recipe in your repertoire.  Since being diagnosed with gluten and lactose intolerance, I had all but given up on the idea of eating these decadent treats with the same appetite and satisfaction again.  There are times when it is great to be proven wrong and this is one of those times.  These gorgeous treats are just as rich, just as moreish and dare I say even more delicious than I could have hoped or imagined.  Crispy around the edges, chewy through the middle, packed with gooey chocolate chips and the freshness of lime, these cookies are the BOMB!  Perfect for any belly, these biscuits are a fantastic snack to have on hand, with no gluten, dairy, nuts or eggs, but full of the intensity and flavour reserved for only the best choc chip cookies.  

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Karaage Chicken Bites feat. Roza’s Gourmet Sauce

Karaage Chicken Bites
 

So, last week I received a lovely surprise email from the gorgeous folk at Roza’s Gourmet Sauces  asking me if I would like to be their featured blogger for May and could they gift me some sauces to use in a recipe.  Of course I accepted without hesitation as I already LOVE the sauces and am more than happy to showcase any of them!  In my case, I was sent the scrumptious Wasabi Sichuan Mayonnaise, featured here, and a gorgeous Bearnaise I will use for another post down the track.  

I have to say it is a bit exciting to receive such an email, it has never happened to me before and then being a product I already use and enjoy, well, it felt a bit like Christmas when the parcel arrived on the doorstep!  I still feel all warm and fuzzy inside when I open the fridge and there are the sauces sitting there waiting for me to use again.  One very happy Fresh Home Cook here folks, let me tell you!  

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Almond Milk

Almond Milk

I can’t begin to tell you how much the humble little almond has changed my life in the last year or so.  Like many, I grew up with the message that nuts were ‘bad’ because they contained large amounts of ‘bad fat’ and would make you fat if you ate too many of them!  Fast forward 20-something-something years and I now understand this is not the case and that these little morsels are in fact incredibly healthy and more over, one of the ‘good’ things that I should have been eating all along.  While I am regretful to have lived with that false truth for so long, I am so very glad I know differently now and no longer fear that which I need and love to consume!

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Gluten Free Anzac Biscuits

Gluten Free Anzac Biscuits

I love a good Anzac Biscuit.  Mum used to make these big flat ones that were rich with oats and golden syrup, crunchy round the edges and chewy through the middle, with just the tastiest hint of fresh rosemary to excite the palate and cut through the sweetness.  She is a clever cook that mum of mine – I used to (and still do) love getting in the kitchen with her when she was baking – such a treat!  I have made them many times over the years, but have never quite captured the classic taste and texture of mum’s recipe.  I often wonder if that is all but a trick of the mind though, a longing for times past and reminders of mum’s fabulous home cooking.  Probably a little of both I suppose. This recipe was born out of desire to pay homage to the past, and to start a new tradition that fits with life as we know it now.  I had some left over almond pulp in the fridge just waiting to be transformed in to something else, when it struck me that I could use in place of flour for some gluten free baked goodness perfect for the whole family.

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