Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Muesli Cookies

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Nut free muesli bars for schools are virtually impossible to find, and who doesn't like a cookie? Well if you don't like cookies your probably not my friend anyway.

Most recipes I found use pre-bought muesli which A. I never have and B. always seems to contain nuts - again a no-no for school. So my apprentice chefs and I made our own recipe with homemade nut-free muesli, making these great for the kids lunchboxes for school if they survive afternoon tea. They also store well for a few days in an air tight container... sheesh like anything lasts a few days in this house.

Muesli Cookies

Ingredients
125g butter, chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup golden syrup
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
handful of dried blueberries
handful of dried cranberries
8 dried turkish apricots, chopped roughly
6 dried pineapple chunks, chopped roughly
1/4 cup coconut flakes
3/4 cup self raising flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

In a small saucepan over a low heat, combine the butter, brown sugar and golden syrup, stirring until the butter has melted and all combined. This should only take about 2 minutes.

In a big mixing bowl combine the rolled oats, dried fruit, coconut, flour and cinnamon then stir through the melted butter mixture and combine.

Roll tablespoons of mixture into balls, giving them a squeeze as you roll helps a little in keeping them together, then place on the tray. Flatten them very gently, and sometimes another little shaping together is needed to help any of the "bits" that always fall out. The mixture is quite wet and crumbly, but they will hold together once they cool and then bake.

Pop in the oven for approx 18 minutes or until just golden. Let them cool for 5 minutes on the tray, then using a spatula (using hands always ends up in broken cookies when we do them as they will still be soft) gently place on a cooling rack until cooled down or the kids drive you crazy asking if they are ready yet.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

3..three..trois..tre..

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Little Miss Eva turned three last week. There was dinner with Nanny, Poppy and the Godparents, a mini party with her bestie who's birthday is the same week, and cake with us Monday night. Oh and singing herself
Eva's 3rd birthday Eva's 3rd birthday Eva's 3rd birthday Eva's 3rd birthday Eva's 3rd birthday Eva's 3rd birthday Eva's 3rd birthday

Monday, March 10, 2014

Our Bibimbap

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Rice, mince, vegetables are some of our kids favourites... throw them all in a bowl together from a mish-mash of recipes (certainly not authentic!) I found and they are happy as little piggies in mud. Properly known as Bibimbap or Korean Mixed Rice this is our version, which is a hit with the whole family.

This recipe involves cooking everything separately and setting aside then combining at the end. Grab yourself a medium sized frypan, a bunch of small bowls to put the vegetables and toppings in separately when they are done and some deep bowls for serving.

Bibimbap/Korean Mixed Rice
Serves 2 adults and 3 hungry kids

Ingredients
2-3 cups long grain rice (Use as much as you like.. my family loves rice!)

Toppings
2 lebanese cucumbers, julienned
1 tablespoon salt
2 carrots, julienned
200g baby spinach
1 teaspoon garlic
Sesame oil
4 eggs
Vegetable oil

Meat sauce
500g beef mince
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
3 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons minced garlic

Bibimbap sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon raw sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon apple vinegar
2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoon miso paste
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cooking wine

Method
Start with your rice, pop it on to cook then leave aside when done. Add all your meat sauce ingredients together in a bowl and leave aside to marinate while you prepare the vegetables.

Combine cucumbers and salt in a small bowl and cover with cold water. Leave for 20 minutes, then rinse and set aside.

Combine all the bibimbap sauce ingredients together, mix well and set aside. I use a jar with a screw top lid and give it all a good shake.

In a frypan on medium-high heat, add some vegetable oil and the carrots with a sprinkle of salt and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add a little more vegetable oil in the frypan and add garlic, baby spinach and a couple of drops of sesame oil and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

If needed, add some more vegetable oil and brown off the marinated meat for 4-5 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Lastly, fry an egg for each person. Sunny side up is good, but however you like them.

To serve, divide the rice into bowls and place the meat and vegetables on top. Top with the eggs and bibimbap sauce.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Date Loaf

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I love baking. Friday afternoons are one of my favourite times of the week; school is done, the weekend is here, Daddy is home for 2 days, there is no homework, and best of all once we are home there is no need to go out again. No activities. No daycare pickups. Nothing. So while I had no idea what was for dinner which is rare, I did know what was on the menu for afternoon tea, Date Loaf with smoothies.

The recipe is from BabyMac here, but while I only made one this time, once I stock up on more dates I will be making another batch of 2.. or even maybe 3! I plan on slicing it up, wrapping in baking paper and popping in the fridge for school lunches and easy afternoon tea.

The recipe is all on BabyMac's blog, but for just one loaf I used:

200g pitted dates (chopped)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup boiling water
60g butter
1 3/4 cups self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Poor Daddy didn't get much left for him... one loaf doesn't go far around this bunch!

Friday, March 7, 2014

The week that was

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It feels like it's been non-stop around here. Somehow it's March and we are on to our 5th weekend in a row of kids birthday parties with three more to go including Eva's 3rd. Last Sunday, once swimming was done our plans were... nothing. I was so looking forward to nothing. Maybe make some popcorn and watch a movie with the kids, or a walk along the esplanade with the kids on scooters and walking the dog.
We never got past swimming. Eva versus car door = 2 days at the Children's hospital including surgery on Monday to remove her thumbnail and repair her damaged nail bed. So much for our lazy Sunday.

I am grateful for the Sydney Children's hospital. The nurses. The surgeon. The anaesthetics team. Captain Starlight and the clown doctors for their distracting skills. Australia's Medicare service. Carers leave at Dean's work so he could stay home. Friends for caring to check in on us this week. So much to be grateful for. It could have been worse, but our happy chicken had no tears, 22 hours fasting without a trouble, being poked and prodded in her "ouchie". 9 hours she had to wait for her turn, but she played happily, content with just toys, colouring in, reading books and showing off for the the nurses.
My very brave girl got a couple of special treats this week after her eventful time... brave little monkey who now has a right thumb the size of her whole left hand thanks to the bandages!.

We have nothing planned for this Sunday... let's see how it goes!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Nut Free Bliss Balls

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I love me a bit of pinterest, but I try to restrain myself to pinning just the things I am actually going to try making, treating it as a bit of a to do list.

 Before school started back I went on a search for some new ideas for lunches and snacks. We buy very very little packaged foods, so I make most of their snacks and throw in some fruit and chopped vegetable sticks or cheese and biscuits each day.

I am very grateful we have three easy eaters... they are willing to try anything and most things are gobbled up, so I like to try new recipes for them. Trying to find healthy snacks, I am amazed just how many lovely recipes include nuts, a big no-no at our school and from talking to most other friends it is the same at most schools now, yet most "healthy" recipes have nuts in them...

I have made the kids (many many times) date and coconut balls, easy peasy, but after something different I came across a recipe for Nut Free Bliss Balls, full of dried fruit which the kids LOVE. I modified the recipe a bit, here is my version
Nut Free Bliss Balls

Ingredients
150g pitted dates
100g dried apricots
50g prunes
50g dessicated coconut
50g rolled oats
1 tablespoon tahini
2 teaspoons cacao nibs

Method
Place everything in a food processor with a blade attachment and process until everything is chopped up. The mix will still feel a bit dry but it comes together as you shape it into balls. You can make the balls however big or small you like, and they can be rolled in a little bit of extra coconut if wanted.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Quick baked beans

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On a rare day every now and again someone who won't be named decides that naps are not required. On these days, by the time the clock hits 4.30pm she wiggles herself onto my lap and refuses to move. Thankfully these nights don't happen often, but when they do it needs to be a quick dinner… something I can cook while a certain small person is attached to my legs.

Normally when I make homemade baked beans there is a bunch of ingredients, some sautéing here, simmer this, wait for something to boil etc. etc. enough to require actually moving around the kitchen which can't happen with my little concrete block weighing me down, so now I've come up with a  smokey baked bean recipe, a cheap and quick substitute that can be made in just under 15 minutes.

I used a can of cannelini beans and a can of red kidney beans, but you could just do 2 cans of cannelini if you have or 2 of red kidney beans.
Quick Beans
Quick Baked Beans

Ingredients
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Salt and ground pepper
1 can of cannellini and 1 can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup tomato ketchup
1/3 cup BBQ sauce
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/4 cup of molasses or if you don't have use 1/3 cup maple syrup mixed with 2 tablespoons brown sugar

Method
  1. In a medium saucepan, add the olive oil and garlic and cook over a medium heat for 2 minutes
  2. Add beans and 1/2 cup water to the pot and simmer for 6 minutes
  3. Add your maple syrup/brown sugar mixture or molasses, ketchup, BBQ sauce and mustard to the pot with some salt and pepper
  4. Simmer for approx. 5 minutes until sauce has thickened
We served ours up last week with some of Bill Grangers Sweetcorn Fritters (recipe)

Quick Beans

Friday, January 24, 2014

Coconut Berry Muffins

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Playdates at home this week meant a batch of muffins was required, so I went back to an often used recipe and thought I would share. I find muffins easy when you have a bunch of kids over, no need for plates, forks etc… just give them a muffin and send them in the direction of the yard to eat on the grass.
Coconut Berry Muffins
I never (ever) have buttermilk at home so make it myself but for these I wanted a little bit of coconut flavour so decided to try coconut buttermilk. Did you know why buttermilk is preferred for muffins? While reading up on making my own coconut buttermilk, a few sources said the acidity of buttermilk reacts with the raising agent (either in Self Raising flour or baking powder/soda) to get a better rise. Anyway, back to the recipe..

To make your own buttermilk you just need 250ml milk with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar. Plain milk + vinegar will make your normal buttermilk, but I replace the milk with coconut milk or coconut cream. Now coconut milk is probably a better substitute, but I had some leftover cream in the fridge to be used,  so cream it was this time. Mix the milk/cream and vinegar together and leave for 5 minutes and voila, buttermilk.

Coconut Berry Muffins
Makes 10

Ingredients 
300g (2 cups) self-raising flour
155g raw caster sugar or brown sugar
280g frozen berries
60ml (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
1 egg, lightly whisked
250ml (1 cup) coconut buttermilk or buttermilk (instructions above)

Method
  • Preheat fan-forced oven to 190°C and line your muffin trays with muffin papers
  • Combine flour, milk, berries, coconut buttermilk and egg and stir until everything is just combined.
  • Spoon batter into muffin papers and bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. 
  • Cool on a wire rack.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Holidays

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Holidays Summer 2013/2014
One week of holidays left and everyone is still being relatively friendly to each other. A few last playdates to squeeze in the last week and then it's back to school...

Plans for this last week; swimming for Eva starts again, a couple of playdates and maybe I will get some sewing done... maybe... ok probably not. Sheesh the days go quick in the holidays!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

New cookbooks

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We always end up with new cookbooks at Christmas, and a couple of days ago I broke them open for the first time.

I received Baking Day by Women's Weekly from my best friend. She knows me too well. Almost every page has something I want to make so I know it will be well used, but first up was a Caramel Apple Pull Apart.
Looks good right? I wasn't sure how the pull apart was going to turn out when it was at dough stage, I had terrible trouble rolling the dough with all the mushy apple inside and had to reduce the amount, but fresh out of the oven and oh my goodness it was good. So good I made another for a picnic with friends.
Sweet potato fritters and homemade chips
Sweet potato fritters and homemade potato wedges

And for dinner a couple of nights ago, we tried Jamie Oliver's Sweet Potato Fritters from Save with Jamie that I gave my husband. During cooking, I found the best results from using smaller fritters and on a lower heat than suggested and used coconut oil. I made homemade potato wedges from Allrecipes to accompany them. Definite winner.

Friday, January 3, 2014

1 Year

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Suburbia
Print by Burbia

1 year ago today our lives were in boxes... again. But we had just handed over copious amounts of money to real estate agents, removalists, banks, and lawyers and were on our way to our brand new home. 12 months later and I still love our new home as much as the first time I looked at it and went home to my husband and told him "love it, but there is no way we will get it"...

This week we have been doing a MAJOR clean. Christmas decorations and new presents are all in their places, kitchen cupboards have been tidied, and a full carload is ready for the tip as well as a (huge) pile to donate to charity. It feel so good to have it all done and start the year!

One of my favourite pieces at home, is the print above from Burbia that I gave my husband for his birthday that hangs above the dining table, but I put my DIY hat on to make something for him at Christmas.
Running holder Running holder
He has only been running for such a short time and we are so proud of him. With some supplies from Bunnings, a custom vinyl label and some crafting, he now has a place to hang all his bibs and ribbons proudly on the wall beside our bed instead of stuffed in a drawer. Hung up today, 1 year after we moved into our home.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year

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To everyone, wishing you a Happy New Year. We spent our night with our oldest friends and our combined 6 children... the parents were seriously outnumbered! Slip and slides, blow up pools, sparklers, fireworks, good food and lovely friendship... perfect way to end a great year and start a new.

We bought in the first day of the new year with requests for Mummy's pancakes, followed by Lucy's first trip to the local dog beach. A lovely start to the year and with Daddy home for 2 more weeks, perfect family relaxation time.
Pancakes with banana, honey and pomegrante
Pancakes are often requested for breakfast around here, and I keep a big glass jar in the cupboard of Nigella's Home-made Instant Pancake Mix, great for making quick brekky, although we do need a double batch to feed everyone. Recipe here.