Sunday, December 30, 2012

My Favourite Recipes of 2012

I feel like 2012 has been a year of changes for us, both personally and in terms of the types of food we have been eating. Not sure if this has really been reflected on the blog but I have big plans for 2013 in that regard so stay tuned!

The end of a year is always a time for reflection though so I have been trawling through the archives to choose my favourite recipes of the year. Perhaps they were some of your favourites too?

Vegetarian Sausage Rolls © food-baby.blogspot.com All rights reserved
Vegetarian Sausage Rolls
While we've always tried to have a balance of meat and non-meat meals, this year I really got into Meatless Mondays. My family's absolute favourite vegetarian meal of the year were these sausage rolls. My boys always go back for seconds and even thirds. Make a double batch and stash some in the freezer.



No-Bake Chocolate Chip Cheesecake © food-baby.blogspot.com All rights reserved
No-Bake Chocolate Chip Cheesecake
Well this one doesn't need much explanation. It's cheesecake, with chocolate in it, and you don't even need an oven. This beauty is so simple but will really impress.



Peanut Sesame Noodles © food-baby.blogspot.com All rights reserved
Peanut Sesame Noodles
Another Meatless Monday recipe, this is the meal that converted my husband to a satay-lover. Yay! Filled with ginger, sesame and of course peanuts, it makes a substantial meal that is somehow not too heavy with the addition of lots of crunchy fresh veges.



Best Ever Custard © food-baby.blogspot.com All rights reserved
Best Ever Custard
So 2012 was the year I finally figured out how to make good custard! This makes the smoothest, most luscious vanilla custard ever. Perfect to serve with pudding but good enough to eat with a spoon straight from the pot.



Milo Muffins © food-baby.blogspot.com All rights reserved

Milo Muffins
Another thing I really tried to do this year was bake especially for lunchboxes. I love having a stash of freshly-made treats ready for my husband and kids to take when we're out and about. The benefits of course being I know exactly what's in it and we save some money too. With my eldest starting kindy in 2013 this will something I'll really be focusing on next year.

So that's it! My 5 favourites of 2012. I'm planning big things for the blog in 2013 so make sure you come back and check it out!

I wish all my readers a very happy and prosperous 2013 :-)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas Rice Salad

Christmas Rice Salad © food-baby.blogspot.com All rights reserved

I know I said I wasn't going to post any of my Christmas recipes but I made an exception for this salad. Because it is exceptional!

The original version was supposed to be made with quinoa rather than rice. We had the quinoa cooked on Christmas day but with all the other food we had, we totally forgot about it sitting there in the pot and ended up having to throw it away.

So a couple of days after Christmas I decided to make it with rice and use up all the yummy herbs etc that I had bought specially for it. While the nuts and cranberries do make it very festive and therefore perfect for Christmas, I guarantee it will be welcome at any BBQ anytime!

Christmas Rice Salad
Recipe by me

4 cups cooked brown rice
1 red capsicum, diced
1 green capsicum, diced
3 shallots/spring onions, finely sliced
100g cashews, roughly chopped
100g dried cranberries, roughly chopped
1 bunch mint, chopped finely
1 bunch parsley, chopped finely
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tbs soy sauce

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Serve warm or cold. Especially good served with leftover ham or roast turkey. Serves 8-10 as a side dish.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Day Recap

Well another Christmas over. It seems like the build-up to Christmas is getting longer but then the actual day is over so quickly!

We had a really lovely day at home. We all slept in until 7 (amazing) and then came downstairs together for the kids to find their stockings full of lovely things. My dad arrived before the kids were up which meant he got to see them open their presents and have breakfast with us.

Here is my favourite pic of my 2 big boys with Oscar's new bike:


We took our tree down yesterday but still have presents in boxes and a fridge full of leftovers. Speaking of which we had way too much food. My 'simple' menu could have fed 20 people as it turned out, instead of just the 4 adults and 2 kids that we actually had. Oops.

Here's what I loved about our Christmas meal:

- mango smoothies for breakfast (a real hit with the kids and filled them up for the morning)

- prawn and avocado salad (loads of fresh king prawns, diced avocado, crisp iceberg lettuce and a homemade seafood sauce. Just delicious)

- roast turkey on the BBQ (a fresh turkey with a herb butter under the skin and wrapped in bacon. Cooked and then rested for 2 whole hours it was the moistest, most flavourful turkey we have ever done. Just make sure you have enough gas. We ran out half way through and hubby had to dash to the service station to buy a new bottle!)

- frozen christmas pudding for dessert (cool and refreshing but still with all the flavours of Christmas)

I didn't really get any good photos of our food so I won't post any of the recipes.  Some of them will definitely be made again next year so I will be sure to post then.



Also speaking of food, there were hot cross buns in Woolies this morning! Craziness!

So that's Christmas 2012. Full of family, food and lots of fun. Just as it should be :)




Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Menu 2012

Source
I though today I would share our Christmas menu seeing as we are now only hours from the big day!

We are having Christmas at home for the first time since having the boys and it is going to be wonderful for all of us not having to pack up and leave for the day. Much less disruptive for the kids. We will have my dad and N's mum with us so it will be a lovely family day.

As there will only be 6 of us I have kept the menu pretty simple. I will post recipes and photos after Christmas but I have my fingers crossed all will go smoothly tomorrow and everything will taste as good as I hope!

Breakfast
Mango smoothies
Cinnamon toast

Nibbles
Roasted Pumpkin Hummus
Pistachio Cheese Log
Assorted nuts, crackers and cheeses

Entree
Prawn cocktail (very retro but so yum!)
Salad

Main
Roast turkey (on the weber)
Ham on the bone
Pork and sage stuffing muffins
Gravy (Jamie Oliver recipe)
Christmas tabouli with quinoa
Warm potato and macadamia nut salad
Broccolini with almonds

Dessert
Pavlova with berries and cream
Frozen Christmas pudding

We have chosen to decorate with lots of purple this year, both on the tree and for the table. I love the photo above but I can guarantee our table will not be so elegant!

I wish you all have a very happy and safe Christmas! xx

Friday, December 21, 2012

Cranberry, White Chocolate & Pistachio Cookies

Cranberry White Chocolate and Pistachio Cookies © food-baby.blogspot.com All rights reserved

These cookies just shout Christmas to me! They're red, white and green and packed with Christmassy flavours. I always make cookies to give as Christmas gifts because they are so transportable and always so well received.  Every year I say I should make more cookies and fewer chocolate-y things because of the heat but it never happens!

These are the sort of cookies with so many mix-ins you wonder how they will stay together. Then you make them and they're perfect, crunchy on the outside, chewy in the middle and packed with little surprises. Oh and they make the house smell amazing :)

Cranberry, White Chocolate and Pistachio Cookies
Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

1¼ cups plain flour
½ ts baking powder
½ ts baking soda
¼ ts salt
120g butter, at room temperature
½ cup light brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 ts vanilla extract
½ cup rolled oats
½ cup roasted salted pistachios, chopped
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 190 / 170 degrees fan-forced. Line 2 trays with baking paper and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl.

Using an electric mixer beat the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until well combined. Carefully mix in the dry ingredients then using a spatuala, fold through the oats, pistachios, cranberries and white chocolate.

Roll the dough into balls and place onto prepared trays, allowing room for spreading. Flatten the top of each biscuit with your fingers then bake for approx 10 minutes or until slightly golden on top. Allow to cool on the trays for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container.

Makes approx 30.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cranberry & Cream Cheese Strudel

Cranberry & Cream Cheese Strudel © food-baby.blogspot.com All rights reserved

I love all the free Christmas magazines put out by supermarkets at this time of year. I mean I love food magazines any time but you gotta love free stuff! While there is a lot of advertising you can find little recipe gems and some great ideas for menu plans, table settings and gifts.

This recipe came from a freebie booklet from Coles called Recipes for Christmas Baking. I've no idea whether it is still available but just check your local Coles.

I made this intending to take it to our mother's group Christmas breakup but after baking I realised it is actually more of a dessert than a morning tea treat. No worries, I made a batch of brownies to take and saved this strudel for us!

It has gorgeous Christmas flavours with cranberries, almond and nutmeg but it would make a lovely dessert any time of the year. While it is meant to be served warm with ice cream, we ate most of ours sliced and cold from the fridge and it was delicious that way too.

Cranberry & Cream Cheese Strudel

250g cream cheese, softened
1 large egg
1/2 cup cream
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 ts ground nutmeg
100g dried cranberries
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/2 cup almond meal
6 sheets filo pastry
75g melted butter
1/4 cup flaked almonds

Preheat oven to 200 / 180 degrees fan-forced and line a baking tray with baking paper.

With an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, cream, egg, sugar and nutmeg until smooth and well combined. Fold in the cranberries and set aside.

In a small bowl mix together the almond meal and breadcrumbs. Lay one sheet of filo onto your prepared tray and brush with melted butter. Sprinkle over 1 tablespoon of the almond/breadcrumbs mixture. Lay another sheet of filo on top and repeat until all filo and almond mixture is used.

Spread the cream cheese mixture over the filo stack, leaving a 4cm border around all edges. Fold in the short sides of the pastry, then with the long side facing you roll up tightly into a log. Brush the top with remaining melted butter and sprinkle over the flaked almonds.

Bake for 5 minutes at 200 /180 degrees fan forced then reduce the temperature to 180 / 160 degrees and bake for a further 25-30 minutes or until crisp and golden on top and firmish to the touch.

Serve warm with ice cream and cold from the fridge. Serves 8-10.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tim Tam Balls

Tim Tam Balls © food-baby.blogspot.com All rights reserved

It seems I have been missing out because I hadn't even heard of these little beauties until last week!

Apparently they are the most popular recipe on the Stay At Home Mum blog and I can see why. I mean everyone loves tim tams and having them in ball form makes them even more appealing. But be warned, you won't be able to stop at one!

These are just one of the tasty little homemade morsels our family and friends will be receiving this year. I will also be making my famous Rum Balls, mini Christmas Cakes and Peanut Butter squares as well as a few other things which I will post soon.

This is half the original recipe which you will find here on Stay At Home Mum.

Tim Tam Balls

1 packet of Tim Tams, any flavour
125g cream cheese (1/2 a block) at room temperature
1 cup dessicated coconut OR hundreds & thousands

Place the tim tams into the food processor and blitz until they turn into crumbs. Add the cream cheese and pulse until the mixture forms a clump around the blade. Roll teaspoonfuls of mixture into balls and then roll in the coconut or hundreds & thousands (I did 1 batch of each). Makes approx 20. Chill until ready to serve.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Baking with Julia - Finnish Pulla Failure


I feel like I have lost my baking mojo these last few weeks. Which is scary to admit considering how close to Christmas we are and just how many things I am yet to bake!

Today's Finnish Pulla takes the cake for disasters. It just didn't work. I'm partly blaming the weather (very hot) and my being distracted and leaving it too long in the second rise (because of a screaming 2 year old refusing to nap).

My bread was flat and mishapen and tasted strongly of yeast. I'm positive I measured correctly so not sure what's going on there. The end result was ugly and inedible and so very disappointing.

 
Our host this week is Erin of The Daily Morsel. I'm hoping she had better luck than me!


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

No Baking with Julia this week ...

So I didn't get around to making the Gingerbread Baby Cakes for Baking with Julia. I was kind of leaving them until the last minute but it was a scorching 38 degrees here in Brisbane today and the oven is staying off!

If it's cooler where you live and you love gingerbread check out our host Karen of Karen’s Kitchen Stories for the recipe and some gorgeous photos.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Baking with Julia - Best-Ever Brownies

Best-Ever Brownies © food-baby.blogspot.com
It's no secret I fell in love with brownies through baking with Tuesdays with Dorie. Before that I thought they were chocolatey but kind of blah. So I was really keen to see how a recipe called 'Best-Ever Brownies' would compare with what I had made previously!

Whether they were amazing or not we definitely didn't need a whole batch sitting around, especially so close to Christmas, so I made 1/4 of the recipe in a mini loaf tin. My altered recipe is below.

The taste test ...

While I wouldn't say it's the best ever, it was pretty good! I overcooked my little brownie but the very middle was perfect - fudgy and gooey and just divine with a dollop of double cream. The ends were a little drier but still in a good dense chocolate cake kind of way. My photo in no way does it justice but at 8pm under fluorescent light that's the best I'm going to get!

Best-Ever Mini Brownie

1/3 cup plain flour
pinch salt
60g unsalted butter
45g dark chocolate
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 ts vanilla extract
1 large egg   

Follow the method as per Baking with Julia p 331. Bake in a mini loaf pan at 180 degrees celsius for approx 16 minutes until firm around the edges and squoodgy in the middle. I gave mine 20 minutes and it was overdone so a few minutes less ie. 16 mins should be pretty close.

Our host this week is Monica of A Beautiful Mess so make sure you check out the original recipe!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Happy Birthday Charlie!

Digger Cake © food-baby.blogspot.com All rights reserved

Hard to believe but my baby turned 2 last week! Quite honestly it has been the fastest 2 years of my life and my boys are growing up so very quickly.

To celebrate we had a party on Sunday for friends and family. It was supposed to be at the park but rain the day before (the first real rain in months) put an end to that. I had visions of muddy toddlers sliding all over the place! So Plan B was at our place and amazingly we fit 19 adults and 13 children in our lounge/dining room and little backyard. We must live in the Tardis.

Here is the birthday boy checking out his new cubby and opening his presents ...


And onto the important stuff, the food!

As you will have seen above I made Charlie a digger cake. He is obsessed with all things truck and I just I would have to do some sort of truck cake for him. I have 3 kids birthday cake books but unfortunately there was nothing quite right. I was thinking I would have to just wing it (a dangerous idea because cake decorating is really not my strength!) when I came across a digger cake on Cake 2 the Rescue.

This is a local business which sends out cake kits complete with everything you need to make a brilliant cake - cake mix, icing mix, pre-coloured fondant icing in the right amounts, food colouring, a rolling pin, cake lifter and cake board. While I wouldn't normally go for something so pre-packaged it was a real time saver and a lot of fun! And just for the record this is not a sponsored post, I paid for own cake kit and just wanted to give them a shout-out.

Digger Cake © food-baby.blogspot.com All rights reserved

Here is the finished cake with M&Ms 'dirt' and lots of little fingers waiting (or not) to dig in! It was a real hit on the day and Charlie loved it. Everyone loved the taste of the cake but as the decorator I found the cake a bit too spongy. Despite being in the fridge first it still crumbled in parts when I iced it whereas a slightly denser buttercake may have held together better. No big deal really but still.

Keeping with the truck theme I also had a go at decorating some biscuits. I found this cute cutter at Matchbox and used Charlie's favourite colour orange to decorate. This was my first ever attempt at decorating biscuits and I think I did ok. My only real issue came with the tyres. I completely underestimated how much black food colouring I would need to make a real black and of course my icing was far too runny by them and began to ooze and run off the edges of a few of the biscuits. Luckily no one cared!

Truck Cookies © food-baby.blogspot.com All rights reserved

I used a sugar cookie recipe from Sweetapolita which you can find here and an icing recipe from I Am Baker which you can find here. I was really happy with both of these and would definitely recommend them. I also used Wilton gel colours.

So that's it! Another birthday done and dusted. Oscar is already asking for a dinosaur cake for next year so I will have another opportunity to work on my cake decorating skills.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Christmas Baking with Lucky Nuts

Recently I received a lovely gift bag of nuts from Lucky courtesy of Product Talk by Nuffnang. Just look at that haul! As a baker it made me very, very happy especially in the lead-up to Christmas which is the time of year when I cook with nuts.

I grew up watching my mum use Lucky nuts in her Christmas baking and they are what I turn to for special occasion baking too. I didn't actually realise it but Lucky almonds are all grown in Australia and in fact Lucky is the leading cooking nut brand in Australia, so they are definitely doing something right!

In case you can't see well enough I received a bag each of blanched, slivered and flaked almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, almond and hazelnut meals and 2 new products which I was very excited about.

Firstly was a bag of Easy Chef Oven Roasted Almond Meal, which as the packet says it basically a cheesecake base in a bag. So of course I had to make a cheesecake!

Secondly was a bag of Easy Chef Almond Crumble which is a mix of almond meal, flaked and slivered almonds with oats and again as the packet says, is a crumble topping in a bag. Perfect.

The walnuts didn't make it into my baking but I enjoyed them as a tasty mid-morning snack during the week. The pine nuts are set aside for pesto and the almond meal will be used in a gluten free almond shortbread recipe I am working on for Christmas. The blanched almonds will of course be decorating the tops of my Christmas cakes which aren't ready to bake yet.

I ended up making 4 desserts, perfect for Christmas for anytime really - some moist Choc Hazelnut Cakes, a Panforte Ice Cream, Almond Cheesecake and Blueberry Crumble Pie.I'm trying to cut back on sugar so some of my recipes use Natvia.

I hope you enjoy these recipes and if you would like to try any Lucky products for yourself, the full range is available in Coles with a smaller range available in Woolies and independent grocery stores.

Almond Cheesecake




Adapted from Lucky

For the crust
125g unsalted butter, melted
250g packet Lucky Oven Roasted Almond Meal
1 tbs Natvia for Baking (or 2tbs brown sugar)

For the filling
500g cream cheese
3 eggs
3/4 cup Natvia for Baking (or 3/4 cup caster sugar)
2 ts vanilla extract
1/2 cup pure cream
1/2 cup Lucky Flaked Almonds, toasted*

Lightly grease and line the base of a 23cm springform pan.

Mix together the Lucky Oven Roasted Almond Meal with the melted butter and Natvia. Spoon into the prepared tin and press over the base and up the sides. Place in the freezer to chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius (160 degrees fan-forced).

In a food processor or electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and Natvia until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla and cream and beat for 3 minutes. Pour the mixture into the prepared base and bake for 35-40 minutes or until cheesecake is lightly golden and just set in the middle.

Remove and allow to cool to room temperature before chilling in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Decorate with toasted almonds. Serves 8-10.

Panforte Ice Cream

Panforte Ice Cream © food-baby.blogspot.com All rights reserved
Adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz, p68

1 cup full cream milk
1/3 cup Natvia for Baking (or white sugar)
1/2 ts cinnamon
1/4 ts ground cloves
1/4 ts ground nutmeg
Zest of 1 orange
2 cups pure cream
4 large egg yolks
1 x 110g pack Lucky Slivered Almonds, toasted*

Warm the milk, Natvia/sugar, spices and orange zest in a medium saucepan. Remove the pan from the heat, cover and leave to steep for 30 minutes. Add the cream and rewarm the mixture.

In another large bowl whisk the egg yolks.

Pour the warm milk/cream over the yolks, whisking constantly, then pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Cook the custard over medium heat, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until it thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer into the cream. Mix thoroughly.

Place the bowl into an ice bath and stir the custard until it is cool.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the fridge before churning in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Add the toasted almonds in the last few minutes of churning.

* To toast almonds place them on a large ungreased oven tray and bake at 170 degrees celsius for 10-12 minutes, stirring several times. Leave to cool    

Makes approx 1 litre.


Moist Choc Hazelnut Cakes

Moist Choc Hazelnut Cakes © food-baby.blogspot.com All rights reserved
Adapted from Curtis Stone

90g Lucky hazelnut meal
125g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa)
125g butter
pinch of salt
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
65g caster sugar
Plain flour for dusting (can use gluten free flour)
Butter for greasing
Raspberries for serve

Place a baking tray in the oven and preheat to 180 degrees celsius fan forced. Grease the inside of 6 metal dariole molds with butter and dust with flour. Set aside.

Melt the chocolate in a small bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Stir in the butter and remove from the heat.

Place the whole eggs, egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 5-7 minutes or until light, pale and foamy. Fold the melted chocolate into the eggs and then the hazelnut meal, mixing gently until well combined.

Spoon evenly into the prepared molds, place on the baking tray and bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 1-2 minutes, before turning out onto serving plates. Dust each one with icing sugar and serve with fresh raspberries. Makes 6.


Blueberry Crumble Pie

Blueberry Crumble Pie © food-baby.blogspot.com All rights reserved
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Double Crusted Blueberry Pie in Baking from My Home to Yours, p361

Crust
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbs sugar
280g salted butter, very cold and cut into tablespoon size pieces
68g coconut oil, cold
About 1/2 cup ice water

Put the flour and sugar in a food processor and pulse just to combine the ingredients. Add the butter and coconut oil and pulse only until the butter and coconut oil are cut into the flour. Gradually add the water, a few tablespoons at a time, until the dough is moist and clumpy. You want to see some pieces of butter. Check to see if the dough will stick together if pinched, and keep pulsing until it does.

Tip the dough out onto a piece of cling wrap, bring it together into a disc and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before rolling out.

Roll out the dough on a floured work surface or in between 2 pieces of baking paper. Lay the dough out into a greased 9 inch pie pan and trim the edges. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Blind bake the pastry shell for 20 minutes, then remove the lining and bake for a further 5 minutes.

Filling
1 x 500g pack frozen blueberries
2 tbs sugar
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 tbs cornflour mixed with 2 tbs water

Place the blueberries, sugar and lemon zest and juice in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the blueberries have thawed. Add the cornflour and water and cook for a further few minutes until the liquid has thickened and is clear and syrupy. Remove from the heat and cool for 10 minutes.

Crumble
1 pack Lucky Almond Crumble
80g unsalted butter
2 tbs raw sugar
1/2 ts ground cinnamon

In a medium bowl mix together the Almond Crumble, sugar and cinnamon. Rub in the butter using your fingertips until well combined..

To assemble
Spoon the filling into the prepared pie shell. Sprinkle over the crumble topping evenly over the filling leaving a small gap around the edges to show the gorgeous colour of the blueberries.

Bake in a preheated 180 degree oven (160 degrees fan forced) for approx 20 minutes until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving with a big dollop of cream.

This recipe makes 1 large 9 inch pie or 4 smaller pies.

Note - this is not a sponsored post however I did receive product for consideration. For more information see Product Talk by Nuffnang.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Baking with Julia - Buttermilk Crumb Muffins

Buttermilk Crumb Muffins © food-baby.blogspot.com All rights reserved

A homemade muffin, warm from the oven and fragrant with cinnamon and nutmeg. Is there anything better on a blah Monday morning?

I made quite a few substitutions with these and will do a full post on why and what I used instead, but that will have to wait until tomorrow. In the meantime make sure you visit our host Alisa of Easier Than Pie for the recipe!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Banana Bread

Banana Bread © food-baby.blogspot.com All rights reserved

Fellow Aussies will remember the Great Banana Shortage of 2010 when Cyclone Larry destroyed up to 90% of Australia's banana crops. I think I actually got hubby a banana for his birthday that year!

What a difference a few years makes, because I recently bought a ton of them at 99c/kilo and we've been eating bananas every way you can think of since then. Which brings me to banana bread ...

Nothing beats homemade banana bread. Not only does it taste great but when you've got cheap bananas you can almost make a loaf for less than you can buy a single slice of it at some cafes ($4.75 at Gloria Jeans on the weekend).

I'm still trying to cut back on wheat and dairy but in a way that's not particularly noticeable to the rest of the family. Here I swapped out half the wheat flour for white spelt and used non-dairy milk and butter. You can of course use any flour, milk and butter you like.

This made a lovely moist loaf with a heady banana flavour and gorgeous aroma from the spices. Normally I would use dark brown sugar in something like this but had run out so I made do. As you do.

I froze most of the loaf already sliced so that's this week's lunchbox treat sorted. Or maybe my breakfast!

Banana Bread
Adapted from Taste.com.au

1 cup plain flour
1 cup white spelt flour (or plain flour)
1 tbs baking powder
1 ts cinnamon
1/4 ts allspice
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tbs golden syrup
2 eggs
1/2 cup oat milk (or any milk)
50g nuttelex (or butter), melted
3 medium overripe bananas, mashed

Preheat oven to 180 degrees (160 degrees fan forced). Spray a loaf tin (approx 11 x 21cm) with oil spray and line the base and 2 sides with baking paper, allowing it to overhang.

Place the flours, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, salt and brown sugar in a large bowl and whisk to combine. In a separate bowl mix together the mashed banana, eggs, milk, melted butter and golden syrup.

Add the banana mixture to the dry ingredients and mix gently until just combined. Spoon into the prepared tin and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

This cake will keep for 3 days in an airtight container on the bench or slice and freeze for up to 1 month.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pumpkin, Banana and Date Muffins

Pumpkin Banana and Date Muffins © food-baby.blogspot.com All rights reserved

I've been on a real pumpkin kick lately, it's just such a versatile ingredient. Coming into summer here I foresee lots of roast pumpkin and feta salads, while from the northern hemisphere there is sure to be an abundance of pumpkin pie and cake recipes. Bring it on!

Ever on the hunt for healthy lunchbox ideas for hubby and the boys, I came across these muffins in a healthy lunchbox post on Fig & Cherry. I made a few small changes to the original recipe - using all wholemeal flour instead of half and half. I also added a mashed banana simply because I didn't have quite enough leftover pumpkin and wasn't keen to cook any more.

All my boys loved these. I think the banana upped the sweetness a bit and helped them to not be quite so pumpkiny (a bonus for my pumpkin-hating husband).

We took these for morning tea on our day trip to Underwater World last weekend and they felt like a real treat! Definitely made me feel better about the fish and chips we had for lunch later that day :-)

Pumpkin, Banana and Date Muffins
Adapted from Weight Watchers via Fig & Cherry

2 cups (300g) wholemeal self-raising flour (or 2 cups plain flour plus 4 ts baking powder)
2 ts ground cinnamon
1/3 cup (80g) brown sugar
1/2 cup (125ml) oat milk (or any milk)
1/4 cup (60ml) rice bran oil
1 egg
1 cup (250g) cooked mashed pumpkin
1/2 cup (100g) mashed ripe banana
1/2 cup (80g) dried dates, chopped
1 tbs raw sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (160 degrees fan forced). Line a 12 hole muffin tray with paper liners and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, cinnamon and sugar in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the milk, egg and oil together. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir until just combined. Fold through the pumpkin and dates being careful not to overmix.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tray, sprinkle the tops with raw sugar and bake for 18-20 minutes or until cooked. Stand in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

Makes 12 muffins.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Finger Buns


Another trip down memory lane with these! I can vividly recall being in a particular bakery as a child - rows and rows of sweet treats, the smell of sugar mixing with fresh bread and piping hot sausage rolls. What always caught my eye though were the finger buns with their vivid pink icing and sprinkles. What could be more attractive to a little girl?

Although I have boys I knew these would go down a treat. The buns themselves are made from a simple sweet bread dough with some dried fruit. Nothing wrong with that! Add some pretty icing and sprinkles and you have something really special.



Finger Buns
Recipe from Frills in the Hills

475g plain flour
35g milk powder
75g caster sugar
2 1/2 tsp instant dry yeast
1 egg, lightly beaten
150ml lukewarm water
40g butter, cubed
1/2 cup currants (or sultanas or cranberries)

Place the flour, milk powder, sugar, yeast and currants into the bowl of your stand mixer and mix to combine. Add in the water and egg and mix using the dough hook for about 4 minutes. Add in the butter, one cube at a time, and mix for another 6 minutes or until the dough is sticky and elastic.

Remove the dough from the mixer and place into a large greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for 1 hour until the dough has doubled in size.

Punch down the dough, give it a quick knead by hand and divide it into 12 even pieces. Roll each piece into a sausage then place them on a greased or lined baking tray. Leave to prove for another hour or until doubled in size.

Bake the buns in a preheated 190 degree oven (170 degrees fan-forced) for about 12-15 minutes. The buns should be risen, golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.


I find most food colourings pretty scary in terms of both the colour and ingredients, so for these I used some all-natural colours. They made some lovely pastel shades which is just what I was after. I guess to get the really bright colours you need the nasty stuff.

Icing

1 cup pure icing sugar, sifted
2tbs soft butter
Few drops of food colouring
Coconut, sprinkles, nuts etc to decorate

In a large bowl beat together the icing sugar and butter until smooth. You may need a teaspoon or so of milk to get the consistency you want. Divide the mix into small bowls and add a few drops of food colour to each. Mix well to incorporate the colour evenly. Spread over the top of the cooled finger buns and top with decorations of your choice.

with slivered almonds

with cachous

with coconut

with chopped walnuts

Making these would be a great rainy-day project (not that we've had any rain much for months) and kids would have lots of fun decorating their own!

This recipe is a keeper.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Baking with Julia - Bagels


Bagels © food-baby.blogspot.com All rights reserved

Bagels have been on my must-bake list for years so I was really happy they were picked for this week!

The recipe seemed long and a little daunting but there was nothing particularly complicated about it, just a lot of steps and long wait. After reading the P & Q I decided to split the batch and do each half a little differently.

For my first batch I shaped the bagels after the first rise and then rested them in the fridge for 4 hours. The instructions for shaping the bagels were a little vague. I really didn't get the whole 'draw up and pinch the dough' thing (hope it wasn't just me) so I made up my own technique. Which could be why I ended up with this:

Bagels © food-baby.blogspot.com All rights reserved
Ahem.

So they look more like rolls than bagels. The holes almost completely disappeared during baking (clearly they weren't big enough to start with) and the end result was a little doughy. I'm guessing because there was no air circulating through the middle. They tasted pretty good though and we had bacon and egg bagels for dinner. Yum!

Bacon and Egg Bagel © food-baby.blogspot.com All rights reserved

I made the second batch the day after, so the dough had a full 24 hours in the fridge before I shaped it. It seemed easier to shape this time and I made sure the holes were the right size before boiling them. Both times I used sesame seeds and caraway seeds on top which we loved. I dropped the oven temp by 10 degrees this time but they still got a little darker than I would have liked.

But look! I made bagels!

Bagel © food-baby.blogspot.com All rights reserved

My only negative is that I found these really salty. Like REALLY salty to the point of having to guzzle water for a few hours after eating. So if we make these again I would definitely want to reduce the salt. Anyone know if that amount of salt is important for the texture etc?

I'm also keen to try a sweet version with cinnamon and raisins and if any of this batch lasts long enough I will make bagel chips and update this post.

Our host this week is Heather of Heather's Bytes so make sure you check her blog the recipe and some great photos.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Cocoa, Cranberry and Almond Balls

Cocoa, Cranberry and Almond Balls © food-baby.blogspot.com All rights reserved
 
After completing my 3 day juice cleanse I was on the lookout for some snacks that were in line with a detox, that is, no wheat, dairy or refined sugar. What I found online was a veritable treasure trove of vegan treats. Call them truffles, bliss bombs or whatever you like, they taste amazing and are a brilliant portable snack.

This is my version simply based on what I happened to have in the pantry, but the possibilities are endless!

Cocoa, Cranberry and Almond Balls
Makes approx 20

2 cups raw almonds
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 tbs cocoa
1 tbs rice malt syrup
1/2 cup dessicated coconut for rolling (optional)

Place the almonds in the bowl of your food processor and blitz until they form chunky crumbs. Add the cranberries, cocoa and rice malt syrup and process until you get a sticky and cohesive mix. You can made the mixture as smooth as you like but I prefer to see the ingredients in the finished product so didn't over-process them. Roll into balls, using coconut if you wish. Stored in an airtight container in the fridge they will keep for up to 2 weeks.

The taste test ...

Absolutely delicious! I'm already planning on making these, as well as a few other variations, at Christmas time. They make a great alternative to sugar and saturated fat filled chocolate truffles. Both the boys loved them too which makes for a happy mummy!

This post is linked to Veggie Mama's Meatless Mondays:

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Waffles

Pumpkin Spice Waffles © food-baby.blogspot.com All rights reserved

Brinner (aka breakfast for dinner) has become a regular feature on our weekly meal plan. And why not?! This week I decided to make waffles, and having a lot of pumpkin to use up, went searching for pumpkin waffles. I think I've said it before but pumpkin based sweet dishes really aren't popular in Australia which is such a shame as they're so good!

I actually felt great about the boys having these for dinner. They're dairy free, low in sugar, use wholemeal flour, eggs for protein and of course pumpkin for veggies. Topped with a little crispy bacon and a generous slug of maple syrup they were the perfect dinner for all of us. You could of course leave off the bacon to make them vego.

Pumpkin Spice Waffles
Adapted from Food.com

1 cup plain flour
1 cup wholemeal flour
2 ts baking powder
1/2 ts bicarb soda
Pinch salt
2 tbs brown sugar
3 ts cinnamon
1 ts ginger
1/8 ts ground cloves
1/8 ts nutmeg
3 eggs
2 tbs melted butter (I used nuttelex)
1 1/2 cups milk (I used oat milk)
3/4 cup mashed pumpkin
Maple syrup to serve

Preheat waffle maker.

Combine the all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs, milk, pumpkin and melted butter. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and mix well to combine.

Place 1/3 cup mixture into the waffle maker at a time and cook until firm and crispy, about 2 1/2 minutes. Keep warm in a low oven until ready to serve.

Makes 8 waffles.

We will definitely be making these again!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Slow cooked pulled pork roll with coleslaw from www.mywholefoodfamily.com


It's funny how tastes change. Up until a couple of years ago I had a major sweet tooth and really wasn't a fan of chilli. Now though, give me spicy food any day, and I can take or leave dessert (although I always have room for ice cream!).

In fact I'm getting hungry just thinking about this amazing pulled pork! And on a rainy cool day like today I'm wishing this is what we were having for dinner tonight.

This  is such an easy and budget-friendly recipe. While the pork shoulder may cost a bit it will feed an army and I tend to have all the other ingredients in the pantry already. You can add as much or as little chilli powder as you like or use fresh red chillies if you have them.

The house will smell amazing during the day and the end result is the most succulent, flavourful, amazing piece of meat. I like it served on a roll with a really fresh and zingy coleslaw to balance out the richness of the meat. It will be messy but it's so worth it!

Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork

1 x 1.5kg pork shoulder, skin and excess fat removed
1 onion
6 cloves of garlic
2 ts - 2tbs chili powder
1 tbs paprika
2 ts pepper
1 ts cumin seeds
2 ts salt
1/4 cup coconut sugar
3 tbs Worcestershire sauce
2 tbs dijon mustard
3/4 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup homemade tomato ketchup
1 bay leaf

Combine all ingredients except the pork and bay leaf in the food processor and blitz until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Place the pork into your slow cooker, pour over the marinade mix and add the bay leaf. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

To serve - remove the pork from the slow cooker then pour the liquid into a saucepan. Bring the liquid to the boil then simmer for 10-15 minutes until it has reduced by at least half.

Using 2 forks, pull the pork into shreds then add the meat to the reduced sauce and stir to combine.

Serve on top of a hot buttered roll with plenty of zingy coleslaw. Devour.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Zingy Green Juice

Super Green Juice © food-baby.blogspot.com All rights reserved
After thinking about it for probably 6 months, I completed a 3 day juice cleanse last weekend and afterwards felt pretty damn good (longer post to come about the cleanse). In an attempt to keep that good feeling I have been detoxing my diet since then and just eating a bit lighter overall. Part of that process has been to keep up the juice.

I adore fresh juice and as we already had a juicer it's such an easy way for me to get a hit of nutrients in a tasty way. This green juice is really fresh and zingy and no one would ever know they were drinking 1/2 a cucumber and some lettuce leaves!

I watered some down and gave it to my boys who both loved it and wanted more!


Super Tasty Green Juice

3 large green apples
2 kiwi fruits
1/2 medium cucumber
6 large cos leaves
1 small lemon
2cm piece ginger

Juice all ingredients in your juicer. Serve immediately over ice. Serves 2.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Easy Nutella Brownie Bites

Nutella Brownie Bites © food-baby.blogspot.com All rights reserved
My husband (aka the chocolate fiend) loves nutella and will quite often be seen eating it out of the jar by the thick, fudgy spoonful. Having just bought a few jars on special I was determined to actually make something with it this time. And then I stumbled across these incredibly decadent but oh so easy brownie bites.

They were originally called 3 ingredient brownies with just nutella, flour and eggs, but I can't help tweaking so I added some salt and also vanilla extract to round out the flavour.

The verdict? 10/10. These would be up there with some of the best brownies I've made and for a lot less effort. I managed to freeze a few and after a quick zap in the microwave they were back to brownie perfection. They would be sensational smooshed up through vanilla ice cream as well. Yum!

Nutella Brownie Bites
Makes 12. Adapted from various sources including Laura's Sweet Spot

1 cup Nutella
1/2 heaped cup plain flour
2 eggs
1 ts vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius (160 degrees fan-forced). Line a muffin tray with paper liners and set aside.

In a large bowl mix together the nutella, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Sprinkle over the flour and salt and mix until just combined. Spoon evenly into the prepared tray and bake for 12 minutes.

Allow to cool to room temperature before removing from the tray and the paper cases. Just try to stop at one!
Oscar has definitely inherited his father's sweet tooth and couldn't wait for a taste.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Baking with Julia - Cranberry and Pumpkin Loaf


Pumpkin and Cranberry Loaf Breadmaker © food-baby.blogspot.com All rights reserved

Just wondering, is there anyone else out there who completely missed the mark with this recipe? I somehow had it into my head that this was a quick bread, more of a cake even. Imagine my surprise when I go to make it and not only is it a proper bread, it has to rest in the fridge overnight! Aaaah!

Now I could have just made it properly another day but I was psyched for pumpkin and cranberries and knew I wouldn't get another chance before posting day. I even had steamed pumpkin leftover from the night before ready and waiting to be mashed. (We can't buy canned pumpkin or pumpkin pie filling in Australia).

So instead I pulled out my trusty bread maker and made it in there. 

Granted it's not exactly the same as in the book, but the basic elements are all there - pumpkin, cranberries, spices. Yum! I didn't use any walnuts as I didn't have any on hand and I wanted to make it child friendly.
 
Pumpkin and Cranberry Loaf Breadmaker © food-baby.blogspot.com All rights reserved

Luckily my breadmaker cookbook had a recipe for pumpkin bread already so I just had to tweak it slightly. Let me tell you, the aroma wafting through the house as this was cooking was to die for! And it was ready in just 3 1/2 hours!

Pumpkin and Cranberry Bread in the Breadmaker

200ml water
1 tbs melted butter
1/2 cup mashed pumpkin
1 ts salt
1 tbs brown sugar
100g wholemeal flour
350g white bread flour
2 ts ground cinnamon
1/2 ts ground nutmeg
1 tbs milk powder
1/2 ts bread improver
1 1/4 ts instant dried yeast

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Add all ingredients except the cranberries to your breadmaker in the order listed above. Select the 750g loaf size, basic bread setting and medium crust. If you have a fruit and nut dispenser, add your cranberries in there and make sure you select 'Nuts - Yes' so they will be added automatically. Otherwise add in your cranberries after the first mix. Press start and wait just a couple of hours for your delicious bread to be ready!

The taste test ...

Pumpkin and Cranberry Loaf Breadmaker © food-baby.blogspot.com All rights reserved

Just gorgeous! It was amazing fresh out of the 'oven' but sliced up the next day and toasted it was possibly even better. There wasn't much pumpkin flavour but it did add a lovely colour and helped to keep the bread  moist. My boys loved it toasted for breakfast with a big glass of milk and my pumpkin-hating husband had a taste before he knew it contained pumpkin and declared it 'really good.' Success!!!

Our host this week is Rebecca at This Bountiful Backyard. Make sure you check her blog for the proper recipe or give mine a go if you're time-poor.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The HULK Green Smoothie

Hulk Green Smoothie © food-baby.blogspot.com All rights reserved
Why the Hulk? Because it's green of course!

I know I am a little late jumping on the green smoothie bandwagon but it wasn't from lack of interest, rather from lack of equipment. While I am the queen of kitchen gadgets one thing I don't have is a blender (well actually I do have one that fits on top of my 35 year old Kenwood Chef mixer but it's pretty much useless so it doesn't count).

I saw this gorgeous green smoothie on The Healthy Chef blog and was immediately inspired to try it. I loved the tip she had about replacing the fresh spinach leaves and ice with cubes of frozen spinach. Genius!

I first attempted to make it in my food processor. It blitzed all the ingredients quite well but I was still left with lots of large spinach flecks. I then tipped the mix into a jug and tried to blend it with my stab mixer. It frothed up a bit more but still left lots of green specks.

Despite the fact it looked more like a herb bechamel than a smoothie I drank it anyway. It was AWESOME.

My 3 year old who watched me make it also had a taste and then begged to lick the spoon, the glass and anything else this smoothie may have touched. It was that good.

I took a pic of my now empty glass covered in spinach flecks just to have some sort of photo to accompany this recipe. Hopefully it doesn't put you off your breakfast.

Blender or no blender I will be making this again (and again, and again ...). Such a fantastic way to get in some extra greens and even better that it tastes so good. And no you can't taste the spinach at all!

Hulk Smoothie
Adapted from The Healthy Chef

As with most smoothie recipes this is very adaptable. You can use plain or flavoured yoghurt, any type of milk you like and any kind of sweetener. What you see here is what I used and really enjoyed but the possibilities are endless ...

1/2 cup almond milk
100g good vanilla yoghurt (I used Jalna)
1 ts rice malt syrup
1 ts white chia seeds
1 banana
3 cubes frozen spinnach
generous pinch of cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth and serve immediately.
Serves 1.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Baking with Julia - Whole Wheat Bread

Whole Wheat Loaves © food-baby.blogspot.com All rights reserved
Umm not sure if anyone noticed but I completely forgot (and I mean completely) about the last Baking with Julia recipe. It was for an Upside-Down Nectarine Chiffon Cake and it sounded delectable. But I forgot. So it's now on my to-bake list and I will get to it eventually.

This week was another bread recipe which I was really happy about. Bread in general makes me happy! As with the White Loaves recipe from way back in February this was an easy to put together loaf which baked up perfectly.

I knew I wouldn't be using molasses or malt extract (I'm trying to avoid buying ingredients that won't get used regularly) but didn't worry because I always have treacle in the pantry. Except this time I didn't. Oops. So I subbed golden syrup for both the honey and the malt extract and got a gorgeously golden and slightly sweet loaf that we all loved.

As usual I snagged the crust while it was still warm and enjoyed it with a smearing of butter. You really can't beat homemade bread fresh from the oven!

I cut and froze most of the 2 loaves, using most of it for toast and it was fabulous.

This recipe is definitely a keeper!

Our hosts this week are Michele of Veggie Num Nums and Teresa of The Family That Bakes Together. They will post the recipe for this lovely loaf so make sure you check it out!
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