Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Pumpernickel Loaf (Baking with Julia)

Pumpernickel Loaf in the breadmaker © www.foodbabylife.com

So I had to cheat a little with this week's recipe. Seeing as I have no mixer and I had a baby 2 weeks ago (and am therefore not at all interested in kneading bread when it is compared with pumping iron!) I made my pumpernickel loaf in the breadmaker.

Luckily the recipe book which came with my breadmaker included a rye and caraway bread so I was able to simply adjust it to be more like this week's recipe. I added coffee, cocoa, yoghurt and molasses and was really pleased with the result. I was intending to just make the dough and then shape and bake the loaf in the oven but with 3 kids including a newborn demanding to be fed that just wasn't going to happen!

I loved the complex flavours in this loaf and it was fabulous slightly warm with lots of cream cheese. This recipe is definitely a keeper!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Chocolate Frozen Yoghurt with Caramelised Bananas (Secret Recipe Club)

Secret Recipe Club time! I really wasn't sure whether to participate this month or not as our baby's due date was 30th October. Luckily though I made a great call figuring he would be early and I was right! Our third gorgeous little boy arrived on Monday 21st October.

Noah Patrick, 3.85kg and 53cm long

I will be taking next month off so we can settle in without any pressure on me to cook but I will back with SRC in December/January. Meanwhile my hubby has really stepped up and made us some delicious meals including macaroni and cheese and a slow-roasted pork belly. Yum!

It feels like a lifetime ago when I made my pick for this month's SRC. I was assigned the Bewitching Kitchen by Sally and once again I was really spoilt for choice when it came to choosing a recipe. Sally is Brazilian and it was fascinating to read her story, explore her traditional Brazilian recipes and also read about her background in science (my husband is a microbiologist).

When it came to actually choosing a recipe though I couldn't go past ice cream, which has been my major vice this pregnancy. Interestingly enough as I write this after his birth my sweet tooth has virtually gone and I'm wanting smoked salmon, sushi and brie!

So for this month I chose Sally's Chocolate Frozen Yoghurt with Caramelized Bananas. This recipe is worth making just for sheer deliciousness but make sure you check out her post for a beautiful photo and story of her mother, the world's expert on caramelised bananas!

Oh and please excuse the terrible photo. It wasn't quite firm enough to scoop properly and it didn't last long enough for me to take another one!

Chocolate Frozen Yoghurt with Caramelised Bananas © www.foodbabylife.com

Chocolate Frozen Yoghurt with Caramelised Bananas
Recipe very slightly adapted from Bewitching Kitchen

40g butter
3 large ripe bananas, cut into thick slices
3 tbs brown sugar
2 tbs lemon juice
125ml plus 60mls full cream milk (divided)
2 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2/3 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 ts vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups Greek yogurt
60g dark chocolate, finely chopped

Melt the butter in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add the sliced bananas in a single layer and sprinkle over the brown sugar. Cook, turning once, until caramelised. This will take 5-8 minutes. Add the lemon juice and swirl the pan to completely dissolve the sugar.

Remove the pan from the heat. Scrape three-quarters of the bananas into a food processor, add the 60 mls of milk and process until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl and place in the freezer for 15 minutes or until completely chilled. Chop the remaining bananas and freeze until chilled.

In the same food processor bowl beat together the cocoa, sugar, salt, vanilla and the remaining 125 mls of milk. Add in the yogurt and then the banana puree and process until smooth.

Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and churn until nearly frozen. Mix in the chopped bananas and pieces of chocolate. Scrape the frozen yogurt into an airtight container, cover and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours.


Secret Recipe Club

Sunday, October 27, 2013

It's a boy!

We are thrilled to announce the arrival of our third beautiful boy!

Introducing Noah Patrick, born 7.33pm on Monday 21st October, 3.85kg and 53cm long...

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Date and Cashew Power Balls

Date and Cashew Balls © www.foodbabylife.com

It's baby month! Hard to believe but we are on the home stretch now with bub due in just a matter of weeks. So I thought I would dedicate this month to some recipes I've found that are perfect for pregnancy, labour and breastfeeding.

To kick things off, have you heard that eating dates during the last month or so of pregnancy can assist with labour? It's all come from a study in Jordan which you can find here but there seems to be lots of anecdotal evidence online as well.

Now since quitting (most) sugar, dates have been on my avoid list as they are incredibly high in fructose, the highest of any fruit in fact. According to the study you need to eat 6 dates per day to reap the rewards.That's a lot of dates and a LOT of sugar!

So I guess I am hedging my bets on this one. I can't commit to eating that many dates, and in fact if you have gestational diabetes I would steer clear of this completely, but I thought an occasional energy and protein packed snack wouldn't do any harm. I've been grabbing one from the freezer mid-afternoon to stave off the munchies and I'm sure they will be a great energy boost for labour and breastfeeding as well.

Date and Cashew Power Balls
Makes approx 30

2 cups raw cashews
2 cups dried dates
2 tbs raw cacao powder
2 tbs chocolate protein powder
1 ts vanilla extract
1/4 ts salt
2 tbs coconut oil

Place all ingredients except the coconut oil in the food processor and blitz until well combined and rubbly. Add the coconut oil one tablespoon at a time and process until the mixture comes together and clumps. You may find you need more or less coconut oil. Form dessertspoonfuls of mix into balls. Store in the fridge or freezer.

* This post is for your information only and does not represent medical advice!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Chickpea Salad with Curried Yoghurt Dressing (Secret Recipe Club)

Pan-fried Chickpea Salad with Curried Yoghurt Dressing © www.foodbabylife.com

For this month's SRC I was delighted to be assigned The Wimpy Vegetarian blog by Susan. I've been on a real mission this year to increase the veggies in our diet and have been searching for more creative meatless recipes that will keep my husband and kids happy.

I can really relate to Susan who says that while meat and fish will never be totally gone from from her diet they are now no longer 'the main event.' A few years ago I could have quite easily gone vegetarian. I rarely ate red meat and only ate chicken or fish very occasionally. I don't think I would have missed it in the slightest. But pregnancy certainly fixed that, and I have been particularly carnivorous this time around! It will be interesting to see whether my old eating habits reassert themselves afterwards.

I was really spoilt for choice with Susan's blog and there were literally dozens of recipes, both sweet and savoury, that I would have liked to make. However as long-time readers will know we love chickpeas and curry around here so her Pan-fried Chickpea Salad with Curried Yoghurt was really calling my name!

Susan said she likes this at room temperature or slightly warm but I made this ahead of time and had it cold for dinner and again for lunch the next day and it was amazing. Such a fresh, zingy blend of flavours and so filling. I would happily eat this for lunch any day of the week!

I made only minor changes to the recipe, using all lime juice instead of lime and lemon and I left out both the harissa and olives simply because I didn't have any. I also doubled the recipe and that's what I have included below. We are coming into Summer here and I can see this being a regular feature on our menu, particularly for my lunches when I will be home with 3(!) kids and needing a hearty meal to get me through the day.

Pan-fried Chickpea Salad with Curried Yoghurt Dressing
Adapted from The Wimpy Vegetarian

Chickpea Salad

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 x 400g tins chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
Juice and zest of 1 lime
3 cups rocket/arugula

Curried Yogurt Dressing
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 bunch chopped coriander
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium-sized pan over medium-high heat, heat up the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté until the onion starts to soften. Make sure the cooked chickpeas are dry, and add to the skillet along with the salt and pepper. If the chickpeas are wet, you can get some splatter with the hot oil.

Saute until the chickpeas begin to lightly brown and the onions are soft, stirring frequently – about 5-7 minutes. Stir through the lime juice and zest and remove from the heat. Immediately transfer the mixture to a bowl, and let cool to room temperature, or just a little warmer than room temp if that's how you intend to serve it.

While the chickpea mixture is cooling, make the Curried Yogurt Dressing by combining the yogurt, curry powder, lime juice, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

When the chickpea mixture has cooled, add about ¾ of the rocket and coriander and fold in half of the Curried Yogurt Dressing until the chickpeas are completely coated. Place remaining rocket and coriander over the top and drizzle with additional dressing as desired.

This salad can be served at cold, warm or at room temperature. Serves 4.

Secret Recipe Club

Monday, September 23, 2013

Banana Bread (Wheat, Dairy, Sugar and Nut Free)

Easiest Banana Bread (Wheat free, Dairy free, Sugar free, Nut free) © www.foodbabylife.com

I have been attempting to bake extra batches of things lately to stash in the freezer for after-baby. While I really should be focusing on dinners I can't seem to stop baking! I've had 2 very ripe bananas burning a hole in my fruit bowl (so to speak) so when I saw The Natural New Age Mum post a blog on not 1 or 2 but 8 different banana bread recipes, their fate was sealed!

The one I chose and adapted was from Mamacino, another favourite blogger of mine. While bananas are high in fructose I made it lower by using dextrose instead of regular sugar along with a few other little changes. It was absolutely delicious! Really moist and with a great banana flavour. The kids and I loved it and we still have over 1/2 the loaf in the freezer.

This one's a winner!

Easiest Banana Bread
(Wheat, Dairy, Sugar and Nut Free)
Adapted from Mamacino

1 cup white spelt flour
½ cup wholemeal spelt
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 mashed bananas
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Grease a loaf pan and line with baking paper.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, bananas and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until it is just combined. Pour the mixture into your prepared pan.

Bake for approximately 45-50 minutes or until the top springs back and a skewer comes out clean when you test it. Leave in the pan for five minutes and turn out to cool on a rack.

Lovely warm from the oven with a big smear of butter (if not dairy-free) or slice and freeze to make wonderful toast.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Profiteroles (Baking with Julia)

Profiteroles with Cinnamon Icecream and Chocolate Sauce © www.foodbabylife.com

I used to be obsessed with profiteroles and growing up I always wanted a croquembouche wedding cake. When it came to it we ended up having an awesome cupcake tower but I still love my profiteroles!

These were not my finest moment. In order to make them child and preggo friendly I left out the espresso and made regular profiteroles. I couldn't find a plain piping tip so had to use a star one and they came out a little odd looking (although they did puff up beautifully). I only used 1/2 ts cinnamon in my eggless ice cream and it had a really blah could-have-been-anything flavour, and then I decided to use a simple cocoa glaze rather than chocolate sauce and made it too thin.

BUT put those 3 less than perfect elements together and it was delicious. The fact that I immediately ate 2 with all the trimmings says they couldn't have been too bad!

To see what everyone else thought don't forget to check the LYL page!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sweet Berry Fougasse (Baking with Julia)

Sweet Berry Fougasse (Baking with Julia) © www.foodbabylife.com
Another choose your own adventure week at Baking with Julia, with a choice of Blueberry Muffins or Sweet Berry Fougasse. I was all set to make the muffins but then I actually read the other recipe and was intrigued.

So what is a fougasse? It turns out to be a sweet foccacia, this one topped with berries and a crumbly streusal topping. Sounds yummy right? I figured it would make a wonderful breakfast, so I made it for Fathers' Day on Sunday and it was a big hit.

I have made foccacia many times but had never rested the dough in the fridge for 24 hours first as per this recipe, so wasn't sure what to expect. I have to say I'm not sure it really made a big difference, apart from the yeasty smell of the fermentation turning my stomach a little (if you're not preggo maybe you wouldn't even notice that though!)

All 3 of my taste testers really enjoyed these warm from the oven, and after a quick microwave they were still really good the next day, although the streusel had lost some of its crispiness.

If you would like to bake your own Sweet Berry Fougasse (and you really should) you will find the recipe here.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Happy Fathers' Day + No-Bake Chocolate Cheesecake

No Bake Chocolate Cheesecake © www.foodbabylife.com

Happy Fathers' Day to all the dads out there!

This year Fathers' Day has fallen a mere 2 days after my and my husband's birthdays (yes we have the same birthday!). I wanted to make sure we celebrated both occasions properly without going overboard so I decided we would skip a birthday cake this year and just go with something extra yummy for dessert for Fathers' Day.

This has worked out perfectly as we went out for dinner at a lovely Italian restaurant for our birthday and between dinner and dessert we definitely didn't need cake as well!

I have been tossing up dessert ideas for weeks now but when it came to the crunch it had to be chocolate. My husband is a die-hard chocaholic and I'm known as the cheesecake queen around here, so really what else would I make? Ha!

This is an easy no-bake cheesecake which has a lovely creamy texture and a deep chocolate flavour. It is fructose free (as I am attempting to do whenever I bake these days) but you could easily substitute in regular sweet biscuits for the base and normal sugar for the filling, but maybe just cut it back a little.

I made this the day before and allowed it to chill overnight which I think gives the best results, although it would be set in as as little as 4 hours if you were pushed for time.

Served with fresh strawberries it was the perfect finish to our Fathers' Day lunch of Beef and Guinness Pie with mushy peas. Yum!

No Bake Chocolate Cheesecake Slice © www.foodbabylife.com

No-Bake Chocolate Cheesecake
Recipe by me

For the base:
150g plain sweet biscuits (mine were sugar-free from Aldi)
50g almond meal or LSA
50g dessicated coconut
1/4 cup raw cacao
110g melted butter

For the filling:
500g cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups cream
1 cup dextrose (or regular white sugar if preferred)
2 ts vanilla extract
150g dark chocolate, melted
4 ts gelatine
1/4 cup hot water

Extra chocolate to decorate, optional

Line the base of an 8 inch spring-form pan with baking paper and set aside. Using a food processor, crush the biscuits into a fine crumb. Add the other dry ingredients and pulse to mix. Add the melted butter and blitz until well combined. Pour the crumbs into the prepared tin and smooth over the base and about halfway up the sides. Place in the fridge to set.

Sprinkle the gelatine over the hot water and allow to bloom (it will become thick and lumpy). Microwave on high for about 20 seconds until it is fully dissolved then set aside to cool.

Wipe out the food processor bowl then add the cream cheese and whiz until smooth. Add the dextrose and process for another minute or so until it is dissolved. Scrape the sides then add the cream, vanilla and melted chocolate and process for another minute. Finally add the cooled gelatine mixture and whiz for 2 minutes until thoroughly combined.

Pour over the prepared base then refrigerate until set, a few hours at least or overnight. Decorate the top with extra grated chocolate and serve with sliced strawberries. Serves 8-10.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Chicken and Drop Dumplings (SRC)

Chicken and Drop Dumplings © www.foodbabylife.com

Yay Secret Recipe Club time again! If you're new here, each month SRC members are assigned a blog at random where they get to choose a recipe to make, keep it a secret and then all post on the same day. This month I was excited to be given Angel's Homestead by April who happens to be the fearless leader of SRC!

I really enjoyed taking the time to read through April's blog which is full of simple, easy to make and delicious recipes. I love her philosophy of frugal and sustainable living and this is really reflected in the food she makes for her family.

I don't have time for complicated meals at the moment. Life with 2 little kids is busy and in a couple of months, will be getting a lot busier with the arrival of #3! We're due at the end of October so only about 9 weeks to go.

Anyway, on to this month's recipe! Chicken and Dumplings...

I've made dumplings quite a few times, usually with a slow cooked beef casserole. They are such a great alternative to rice or pasta and so easy to whip up. My husband in particular is a big fan and really enjoyed these ones.

We've been having unseasonably warm weather for August so I was lucky that the day I had set aside to make this for dinner was cold and windy and just perfect for a warming and hearty dish like this.

April has several chicken and dumplings recipes on her blog so I decided to choose the simplest one and make a couple of changes of my own.

First I never use stock cubes because I am yet to find a good one without MSG and other yucky ingredients. So to boost the chicken flavour I browned the meat first and added some vegies to the broth while the chicken cooked. I also added some carrots and peas to the final dish for colour and because I can't help myself! I also used wholemeal flour because that's what I bake with most often.

Chicken and Drop Dumplings
Adapted from Angel's Homestead

4 chicken marylands (leg & thigh quarters)
1 litre chicken stock
2 cups water
1 medium onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic, peeled but whole
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 stick celery, roughly chopped
3 carrots, extra (sliced thinly)
1 cup frozen peas

For the dumplings:
2 cups wholemeal self-raising flour (or plain flour with 1 tbs baking powder sifted through)
1/2 tsp salt
50g butter
1 cup of milk

To make the broth, heat up a large pot over medium high heat and sear the chicken pieces, skin side down, until golden brown. Remove the pieces and any excess oil. Throw in the onion, garlic, carrot and celery and fry for a few minutes. Return the chicken to the pot and pour in the stock and water (the chicken should be completely covered). Reduce heat to medium, put the lid on and allow to simmer for around 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the meat is pulling away from the bones.

Remove the chicken pieces then strain the broth through a fine metal strainer, discarding the vegies.

Shred the chicken meat and return to the pot along with the sliced carrots, frozen peas and strained broth and place over medium-low heat. Check for seasoning and add salt if needed.

To make the dumplings, mix together the flour and salt in a large bowl and set aside. Place the milk and butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until the butter is melted. Once melted, pour the milk and butter over the flour and mix until just combined. Drop the dumplings into the pot, a tablespoon at a time until all the mixture is used. Cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes.

We all really enjoyed this, such a hearty and savoury meal for a cold day. Normally when I make chicken stock or soup I make it ahead of time so I can remove some of the fat. I didn't do that this time so there was quite a bit as you can see in the photo but I love that. It was a delicious dinner and one we'll be making again for sure.

Secret Recipe Club

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Johnny Cake Cobbler (Baking with Julia) + some news!

Johnnycake Cobbler © www.foodbabylife.com

This week we had a choice of 2 recipes for Baking with Julia and I chose the Johnnycake Cobbler over the Raspberry-Fig Crostata, mainly because neither figs nor raspberries are in season here and even when they are, they're prohibitively expensive.

Unfortunately it wasn't quite the success I had hoped.

I used 8 smallish apples and 2 cups of thawed frozen blackberries for my full-size cobbler which I thought would be plenty but it seemed to shrink down to nothing. Or maybe it was just that there was at least twice as much topping as was needed. What I should have done is just turn it out on to a platter and call it an upside down cake!

What I liked - the combination of fruits, their jewel-toned colour and the texture of the cobbler thanks to the cornmeal.

What I didn't like - the quantity of topping, the saltiness and fact it took over 90 minutes to cook through!

I'm really not sure why it took so long to cook. Our oven has been even more unreliable than usual recently so it could be that, or it could be that I just stuffed up somewhere. This is actually a distinct possibility as we are expecting baby #3 and pregnancy brain has well and truly kicked in!

Not sure why I haven't shared the news before now but given I'm 30 weeks tomorrow it's about time. So in 10 weeks or less there will be a new baby in the food.baby family. We haven't found out the gender this time so we'll be getting an awesome surprise on this little one's birth-day.

Back to the cobbler, I served it with lashings of cream (probably unnecessary given the huge amount of cream in the cobbler itself) and my 3 taste-testers all enjoyed it, but the fact is there is still a large chunk in the fridge and no one asked for seconds which is pretty telling.

You'll find the recipe for the Johnnycake Cobbler on page 389 of Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Eastern Mediterranean Pizzas (Baking with Julia)

So you know the saying 'if you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all'? Well that pretty much sums up my feelings about this week's pick, Eastern Mediterranean Pizzas. This will be a short post.

I thought I would love it but this was seriously one of the blandest things I have ever eaten. It's my own fault really, for not tasting and adjusting but I was in a hurry and thought I would just trust the recipe. Big mistake. It was bland to the point of being inedible, even topped with a dollop of greek yoghurt and a scattering of coriander. It also wasn't helped by the fact our lamb mince was incredibly greasy.

I can see the potential though, so if I were to attempt these again I would at least double the cinnamon and all-spice and also add some ground cumin and coriander and probably chilli flakes as well.

Hopefully others had more success!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

MyProsperity (Review)

Recently I was approached by Nuffnang to review an online personal finance platform called MyProsperity, as part of their Nuffnang Product Talk. Now I know at first glance finance has very little to do with a mostly food-based blog but bear with me!

As a stay at home mum of 2 little boys and (spoiler alert!) with bub #3 due in October, life is very busy! It's all too easy to rely on takeaways and cut corners to make things a little easier. However, I have found all those little things cost money and can add up very quickly. My solution has simply been to become more organised.

Over the past 12 months we have made lots of positive changes that are already having a great impact on our financial situation. Things like buying some of our basic food items from Aldi, making my own laundry powder and other cleaning products and cutting out most the processed (and pricey) food that we used to eat.

The bottom line is I want to be able to stay home with my kids, at least for the next few years, and keeping track of our money is a crucial part of that. MyProsperity is a free, simple and secure way to handle your finances.

So how does it work?

You visit the MyProsperity website and sign up for free, which only takes a few minutes. The hardest part was coming up with a complicated enough password (which is actually very reassuring as I know it will be secure).

You link up all your existing bank accounts, credit cards, loans, shares, super and property. The program finds your accounts, gathers all your transactions and even values your car and house to give you an up to date picture of your net worth.

What is especially useful for us is seeing exactly where we are spending our money.

Despite having made a budget some time ago, it required a fair bit of work to open up the spreadsheet and manually enter our purchases. MyProsperity does all of this automatically and even categorises your spending as groceries, petrol, entertainment, travel etc. I did find some of my purchases were wrongly categorised. Anything I purchased online for example, was listed under online services rather than clothing or healthcare. It took about 10 minutes to go through and correct these categories so they are ready for next time.

Will we stick with it?

Definitely. I feel like we have only just scratched the surface of what MyProsperity can do for us but already I am loving having all of our information in one place and being able to see at a glance where our money is going. Seeing it all laid out is a great incentive to try and spend less!

Image Source

My top 3 tips for spending less on food:

1. Make your own

Lots of basic foods can be so easily made at home - pizza bases, stewed fruit, granola, cakes/muffins/biscuits and even almond milk - all at a fraction of the price you will find them at the supermarket and much better for you too.

2. Plan your meals

We have started shopping fortnightly and writing out a complete meal plan for that time. I do mine in Excel but you can just write on a piece of paper if that's easier. I choose a main meal for each night, making sure there will be enough leftover for my husband to take for lunch the next day. I then check the freezer and pantry and list out any ingredients we will need to buy. I add in anything we need for breakfast, kindy lunches and to stock the pantry with essentials and then I'm done. I print the list and head off shopping. At the end of the fortnight the fridge is practically empty and we haven't wasted a thing.

3. Cut out the crap

As I have mentioned before, we have made a real effort to cut out snack, junky and processed foods. I am very proud of the fact that Oscar's kindy lunchbox has never contained anything in a packet. I buy yoghurt in 1kg tubs (and planning on switching to homemade soon) and spoon it into his own little container, I make wraps and sandwiches, cut up fruit and vegetable sticks, add a homemade treat like a muffin or just some rice cakes with cream cheese. I did a review of the lunchbox we chose for him here and it has been working brilliantly with no need for any extra packaging or even gladwrap.

Full disclosure - I received a $50 Myer giftcard for my time in reviewing MyProsperity. All thoughts and opinions are my own and I have published this review in good faith.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Spiced Apple Baked French Toast (Secret Recipe Club)

My blogging has been a bit sporadic lately but there is no way I would miss the Secret Recipe Club! This month I was assigned A Cook's Quest by Jenn. She and I seem to have a very similar outlook on food and what we like to feed our families. I love that there was a good mix of healthy and not-so-healthy recipes. Everything in moderation!

We love Mexican food around here so my first pick from Jenn's blog was going to be her Mexican Lasagne. But then I saw her Apple and Spice Baked French Toast and couldn't go past it!

Breakfast here tends to be pretty straight forward - lots of porridge, muesli and toast. On weekends we might do pancakes or bacon and eggs but that's about it. One of my favourite desserts is bread and butter pudding and this baked french toast is pretty much the same thing with the addition of apples and spices. Love it.

Spiced Apple Baked French Toast
Adapted very slightly from A Cook's Quest

1 loaf French bread
8 large eggs
2 cups milk
1 cup cream
1 cup sugar, divided (I used dextrose to cut down on the fructose)
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice
6 Granny Smith apples
2 tablespoons butter
Cream and maple syrup to serve

Grease a 9 x 13 inch glass pan with butter. Slice the bread into 1 inch slices and place in the dish, packing the pieces quite tightly together.

In separate bowl, use a whisk to beat together the eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, milk, cream and vanilla. Pour one-half of this mixture over bread.

Peel, core and thinly slice the apples and layer them over the top of the bread to cover. Pour the leftover milk mixture evenly over the apples.

In a small bowl mix the remaining 1/2 cup sugar with the spices and sprinkle evenly over the top of apples. Dot with small pieces of butter, cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/ 160 degrees fan-forced. Uncover the dish and bake for 1 hour. It should be risen and browned and smell amazing. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

To serve, slice into squares (and if you're feeling really indulgent drizzle with maple syrup and cream). Be prepared not to be hungry for the rest of the day!

We LOVED this. It was a bit like having dessert for breakfast so in future we will definitely be saving it for special occasions like birthdays or Easter!

I actually made only about 2/3 of this recipe and it made a huge amount which we ate over a couple of days. Half the recipe would be plenty for most families. My favourite bit would have been the sweet and spicy apples on top. Could not get enough! Next time I will layer some apple slices in amongst the bread and also add some spices into the custard mixture to really boost the flavour. Thanks for a great recipe Jenn!

Secret Recipe Club

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Sprinkles Biscuits

Sprinkles Biscuits Stack © www.foodbabylife.com
This is second of the yummy goodies I made for a cake stall at Oscar's kindy this weekend. You can see the Triple Chocolate Brownies here.

To me these biscuits/cookies just scream childhood. I mean, what kid doesn't love sprinkles??

These hundreds & thousands contained no artificial colours or flavours, and this is something I cam starting to notice more and more. Such a good thing although I know some kids (and adults) do react to natural colours and flavours as well.

I adapted the recipe for these beauties from Averie Cooks. Hers were for Chewy Sprinkles Cookies. They were much smaller and baked for less time so they come out of the oven very blond. However, my perfect biscuit is crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle so that's how I made them. I love the golden brown colour and their sweet buttery aroma was incredible.

I think I showed great restraint not tasting even one of these, but I gave one to my littlest taste tester Charlie and he gave it a huge thumbs up.

Why not make these this weekend? You won't be disappointed!

Sprinkles Biscuits
Makes 18 large biscuits/cookies
Adapted from Averie Cooks

250g unsalted butter
1 cup white sugar
1 tbs dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg at room temperature
2 ts vanilla extract
2 cups plain flour
1/2 ts baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup hundreds & thousands (plus 1/2 cup extra to decorate, optional)

Place the flour, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl and whisk together to combine. Set aside.

In a stand mixer or large bowl using a hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars at medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the egg and vanilla. Beat for 30 seconds, until just combined.

Switch to a spatula and fold through the flour and sprinkles until just combined. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or up to 5 days) before baking.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C / 160 degrees fan-forced. Line 3 baking sheets with baking paper and set aside.

Divide the dough into 18 balls (my batch of dough weighed 968g so I got 18 x 54g pieces from the batch). Roll each ball in the extra sprinkles and place on the prepared trays, 6 per tray leaving plenty of room for spreading. Use your hand or lightly grease the bottom of a glass to flatten each ball to about 1cm thick.

Depending on your oven size you can bake these all at once or in batches. I did 1 tray at a time, with the remaining trays waiting in the fridge.

Bake for 12 minutes, rotating the trays halfway. They will be just golden brown around the edges and pale golden in the middle. Remove and allow to cool on the tray for at least 5 minutes before carefully lifting them onto a wire rack to cool completely. They will firm up as they cool.

Store the biscuits in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. You can also store unbaked cookie dough in an airtight container or plastic wrap in the fridge for up to 5 days before baking.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Triple Chocolate Brownies

Triple Chocolate Brownies © www.foodbabylife.com

I love an old-fashioned cake stall and remember them fondly from childhood. There were always cupcakes, anzac biscuits, coconut ice and little toffees with hundreds and thousands on the top. A sugarholics dream!

There is an open day at Oscar's kindy on the weekend and I couldn't pass up the chance to bake something delicious to give to the cake stall. I'm not baking like this for us much lately but it was so much fun to do it and give it all away!

After much deliberation I decided on my Triple Chocolate Brownies and some hundreds & thousands biscuits, figuring they would go down a treat with the kids and parents alike. I will post the recipe for the bikkies later but today, it's all chocolate baby!

Triple Chocolate Brownies

1/4 cup plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
120 grams unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 large eggs at room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup white chocolate chips (reserve a few tbs to scatter over the top)
120 grams dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C / 140 degrees fan-forced.

Grease an 8-inch square baking pan with butter and line the bottom with baking paper. Butter the paper, dust the inside of the pan with flour and tap out the excess. Place the pan on a baking sheet.

Whisk the flour and salt together and set aside.

Place the butter in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat. Once the butter has melted, sift the cocoa over the top and stir until combined. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Using a whisk beat the eggs into the butter/cocoa mix one at a time. Next, whisk in the sugar and vanilla until smooth. Switch to a spatula and fold through the flour, salt, dark chocolate and most of the white chocolate chips. Scrape the batter into the pan. Scatter over the remaining white chocolate chips so it looks pretty.

Bake for 30 minutes. The brownies will still be gooey but the top will be dry and papery. Place the pan on a wire rack and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely. Cut into desired size (I do 12 pieces).

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

WINNER UPDATE - AntiOx Chocolate Giveaway!

Calling reader Merryl, you have now won an AntiOx Chocolate Gift Pack!

I am a chocoholic and I am always looking for new chocolate to try. This new Anti Ox sugar free dark chocolate sounds irresistable.

Please send your mailing address to food.baby.food.baby @ gmail.com as soon as possible to receive your prize.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

AntiOx Chocolate Giveaway winners!!!

Well the winners of the AntiOx Chocolate Giveaway have been drawn! Congratulations to:

I am currently trying very hard to be good and healthy and lose a little weight, but I miss my chocolate!


because these are high in anti-oxidants and will come under healthy snack category.

Could you please email your mailing address as soon as possible to food.baby.food.baby @ gmail.com and I will arrange to have your prize packs sent to you!


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Baked Yoghurt Tart with Cherries and an Oatmeal Crust (Baking with Julia)

Baked Yoghurt Tart © www.foodbabylife.com

I've never heard of a baked yoghurt tart before but when I read it was similar to a custard tart I got very excited! I love a classic custard tart (as I've made before here) but I'm always looking for healthier options. A tart filling based on natural yoghurt and flavoured with vanilla, fruit and almonds sounded perfect.

Fresh berries are ridiculously expensive here, even in season, so I chose to use frozen cherries instead. I thawed, drained and patted them dry before using and they worked really well. 

I also opted for a different crust. I found someone else's version of this yoghurt tart here and they had used an oatmeal crust which sounded delicious so that's what I used.  I made it fructose-free by using dextrose instead of brown sugar. It was more like a cheesecake base than a tart base and I loved it. In fact it could become by go-to cheesecake base instead of biscuit crumbs!

I'm going to blame my oven but this took more than double the stated time to cook, 1 hr 10 mins as opposed to 35-40 minutes.

Baked Yoghurt Tart with Cherries and Oatmeal Crust © www.foodbabylife.com

The taste test ...

We loved this! Much more similar in texture to a cheesecake than a custard tart. Which makes it even more of a winner in my book because I adore cheesecake! I loved the nuttiness of the base with the almonds and cherries, and the filling was smooth and only slightly tangy. Just delightful.

The recipe is available online (just google Julia Child Baked Yoghurt Tart) but I have included the recipe for the crust here. Click on the link below for the orginal recipe made on brown sugar.

For the Oatmeal Crust
Adapted from Wellsphere

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup dextrose
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
100 grams butter, melted and cooled
1 egg yolk

Lightly grease a 9 inch springform pan and line the base with non-stick paper.

Place all the dry ingredients in a food processor and blitz until the oats are finely chopped. Add the melted butter and egg yolk and process until combined. It should resemble damp sand and stick together when pressed.

Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and press evenly over the base and halfway up the sides. Chill for 30 minutes.

Place the pan on a baking sheet and blind bake at 170 degrees C / 150 C fan-forced for about 20 minutes, then remove the pastry weights and bake uncovered for another 10 minutes. (I put foil around the edges which were starting to get a little dark.

Cool to room temperature before filling.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Roasted Pumpkin and Apple Soup

Roasted Pumpkin and Apple Soup © www.foodbabylife.com

Winter has well and truly arrived this week. While we're still getting glorious sunny days, the nights and early mornings are absolutely freezing. We have so far avoided having heaters on but a few more days like this and that will change!

In our house cold weather is soup weather. I love the fact that both my boys love soup, especially my 4 year old. If you haven't tried soup with your kids yet it's really worth a go, just be prepared for some mess!

We've had pumpkin soup a few times recently and I've always stuck to my tried and true recipe which includes garlic, ginger and coriander. This time I thought I would make something a little lighter and sweeter, so decided to not only include some apple but also to roast all the ingredients first, something that really brings out the natural sweetness.

The taste test ...

Pumpkin and apple really are a match made in heaven! My kids absolutely devoured this for lunch. Both had seconds. You'll notice from the photo how thick this soup is. Not only does it make quite a hearty meal it also makes it easier for little kids to handle.This was a winner and will be added to our regular rotation.

Roasted Pumpkin and Apple Soup

1/4 large pumpkin (I like jap or kent for soup, my piece was 1.6kg)
2 small green apples
1 potato
1 large onion
1/4 ts cinnamon
1/4 ts cumin
3-4 cups stock (chicken or vege work well)
1 tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 190 degrees C / 170 degrees fan-forced.

Chop up the pumpkin into thick slices, removing the seeds but leaving the skin on. Wash and core the apples, leaving them whole with the skin intact. Wash the potato and chop into quarters, leaving the skin on. Top and tail the onion and remove the skin.

Place all veggies into a large baking dish. Sprinkle over the spices, drizzle on the oil and toss to combine.

Place in the oven and roast for 45 -60 minutes or until all the vegetables are soft, golden and cooked through. Keep an eye on the apples and onion as they will be done before the potatoes and take them out if they are getting too brown.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before scooping out the flesh of the apples and veggies into a food processor or blender. Leave any hard or overcooked edges and all the skin behind.

Blitz until well combined. Add the stock and blitz for 2 minutes or until completely smooth (if you want a thinner soup just add more stock now). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the soup into a large saucepan and simmer gently until warmed through. Serve with hot buttered bread rolls.

Serves 4.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Snow White Popcorn Treats (Secret Recipe Club)

Snow White Popcorn Treats © www.foodbabylife.com

SRC time again! This month I was assigned Life and Kitchen by Lindsay. I love that Lindsay posts so many veggie and meatless meals but after doing something savoury for the past few months of SRC I had already decided to do something sweet this month, and was delighted that she had so many to choose from!

The instant I saw these Snow White Popcorn Treats I was sold. It actually is winter here, but this is as close as my boys will get to snow!

We make popcorn a few times a week using our air popper. I like mine with a little melted butter and sea salt but the kids are totally happy having it plain. But let me tell you they were very excited about their special sticky popcorn!

The recipe called for 1 large or 2 small bags of popcorn but I have no idea what size that would actually be. I just did the usual 1/4 cup we always do and hoped for the best. It was pretty much spot on.

So how did it taste? Totally amazing as you would expect! I did find it VERY sweet though and added extra salt to mine (love that sweet and salty contrast). This would be perfect bagged up and given as gifts at Christmas and I will be doing just that this year.

Thanks for a great recipe Lindsay!

Snow White Popcorn Treats
From Life and Kitchen

1/4 cup popping corn
20 white marshmallows
2 tbs butter
1/4 cup white chocolate
sea salt

Pop the corn and spread it out on a lightly greased baking tray, making sure to remove any unpopped kernals.

In a medium pan over lowish heat gently melt the butter and the marshmallows, stirring constantly. Once they are completely melted and liquidy, add in the white chocolate and stir until smooth.

Quickly pour the mixture over the popcorn using a silicone spatula to toss it all together, coating as much of the popcorn as you can.

Sprinkle generously with sea salt and leave to set for about 10 minutes before devouring.

Secret Recipe Club

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Naked Chocolate Mini Cakes with AntiOx Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate Coconut Mini Cakes © www.foodbabylife.com

If you missed my review of the AntiOx Chocolate and Snack Bar range yesterday make sure you check it out. You could win a $30 chocolate gift pack!

While it has certainly been lovely having some chocolate in the pantry to nibble on, I wanted to showcase the chocolate in a recipe. Given it is a sugar-free chocolate I chose to make an equally healthy and allergy-friendly cake.

These mini cakes are gluten, dairy and sugar free but most definitely don't lack taste! They are rich and intensely chocolate-y and when paired with the chocolate ganache make a truly decadent dessert. Keep in mind they are not very sweet so you could add a little stevia into both the cake and ganache to up the sweetness or just serve with some lovely sweet strawberries. Yum!

Naked Chocolate Mini Cakes
Very slightly adapted from The Healthy Chef


1/4 cup raw cacao powder
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 1/2 ts baking powder
1/2 ts ground cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt
4 eggs
1/4 cup rice malt syrup
1 ts vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted


Preheat oven to 160 degrees C / 140 C fan-forced.

In a medium bowl mix together the cacao powder, coconut flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sea salt.

In a small bowl mix the eggs, syrup, vanilla and coconut oil.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and stir until smooth and well combined. Spoon into 6 mini cake moulds (mine were 2 inch square).

Bake for approximately 20 – 25 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before covering with the ganache. Makes 6.

AntiOx Chocolate Ganache


80 grams AntiOx Chocolate with Acai
40ml pure cream*


Finely chop the chocolate and place in a heat-proof bowl.

In a small saucepan heat the cream until very hot but not boiling. Pour over the chopped chocolate and stir gently from the middle until the ganache is smooth and glossy.

Allow to cool slightly before smoothing over the tops of the mini cakes.

Serve immediately or store in fridge until required.

* For a dairy free topping you could use chilled coconut cream and fold through the cooled melted chocolate.
And don't forget you could win your own gift pack of AntiOx chocolate. 

BWJ - Cheese and Tomato Galette

Cheese and Tomato Galette © www.foodbabylife.com
I actually wasn't really expecting much from this one but I was so wrong. We LOVED it! It was all the best parts of a pizza encased in a buttery flaky pastry. Just divine.

I knew we didn't have any cornmeal and couldn't be bothered searching for it so I used semolina instead for the dough and it worked brilliantly. I also just used regular tasty cheese and shredded mozzarella.

Originally I intended to make a sweet one as well but it actually didn't make as much dough as I thought. I used the full batch for this galette and it was the perfect dinner for the 4 of us with just one largeish piece leftover (for my lunch, yum!).

The dough was a little sticky but I didn't have any problems with it, possibly because it is winter here and quite a cool day?

This recipe is definitely a keeper and we'll be making it again.

Monday, June 17, 2013

AntiOx Chocolate Review + Giveaway!!

**This giveaway has now ended. Congratulations to Rockn and Sapna! Click here to find out how to claim your prizes**

Recently I was sent a lovely pack of chocolates to try thanks to Product Talk by Nuffnang. And these weren't just any chocolates but the new AntiOx Chocolate and Snack Bar range from Vitality Brands.

As I've mentioned before we have been cutting out refined sugar which has meant chocolate has been mostly off-limits. So I was really interested to try the AntiOx range as not only is it 70% cocoa and packed with antioxidants, it is also naturally sweetened with stevia.

The range includes both blocks of chocolate and snack bars, all of which are made with sugar-free dark chocolate. I received 2 x 80 gram blocks of dark chocolate, one with Goji and the other with Acai. I also received 3 x snack bars - Goji, Acai and Chia & Quinoa.

Both goji and acai are considered super fruits because of their nutritional properties. Goji berries contain a very high concentration of antioxidants, vitamins and essential minerals and are also rich in vitamin C. Acai berries have a higher antioxidant capacity than any known berry, with over 16 phytonutrients and antioxidants. When combined in a bar with naturally antioxidant rich 70% cocoa, the result is a hit of antioxidants equivalent to 12 cups of green tea! Pretty impressive.

Even when I was eating sugar I've never been the person to grab a chocolate bar to eat as a snack. So I wondered how I would find a chocolate covered snack bar. When I first opened the snack bars I was hit with a gorgeous berry and chocolate aroma and a taste to match. Yes they are sweet but it's not the cloying sweetness of regular chocolate. Each bar is also packed full of wholegrains and forest fruits and is of course sugar-free, so there is nothing to feel guilty about when indulging in one of these!

I really enjoyed the blocks of chocolate, probably because it is more my style to grab a piece or 2 after dinner than sit down to eat a whole snack bar. The chocolate is smooth and intense and complemented by the tangy fruitiness of the berries. If it happens to boost my immunity and enhance wellbeing over winter than so much the better.

Want to try the AntiOx chocolate range for yourself? Here's how!


I have 2 amazing AntiOx prize packs valued at $30 to give away! Each pack includes:

          6 x AntiOx Snack Bars and
          4 x AntiOx Chocolates.

For a chance to win, simply leave a comment answering this question:

               Why do you want to try the new AntiOx snack bars and chocolate?

The giveaway closes on Friday 28th June and is open to Australian residents only (sorry international readers!). Click here for full terms and conditions.

If you don't happen to win, the lovely people at Vitality Brands are giving away some snack bars through their Facebook page! Just follow the link to the Winter Snack Bar Giveaway.

Check back tomorrow to see how I used some of my AntiOx chocolate in a delicious and intensely chocolatey dessert!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Pumpkin Fruit Cake

Pumpkin fruit cake - wheat, dairy and refined sugar free - www.mywholefoodfamily.com

{Wheat Free, Dairy Free, Sugar Free}

It isn't often I find a recipe one day, bake it the next and am already planning when to make it again! But this Pumpkin Fruit Cake from The Healthy Chef was calling my name the moment I saw it.

I was looking for something sweet but healthy to bake for after kindy, that was also nut-free to include in Oscar's lunch box the next day. This recipe was not only easy but I already had all the ingredients.

I adore pumpkin baked goods but unless I happen to have leftover steamed pumpkin already in the fridge I can never be bothered to make them. This recipe however, just calls for grated raw pumpkin. Genius! The end result was identical to cakes that use pumpkin puree. It was mixed and in the oven in about 5 minutes.

The taste test ...

YUM. Incredibly moist, subtly spiced and filled with little bursts of extra sweetness from the sultanas. We ate half the loaf warm from the oven and stashed the rest for snacks. I will be making it again next week!

Excuse the bad photo. It's a dreary grey day here, not great for photos but perfect for cake.

Pumpkin Fruit Cake
Adadpted slightly from The Healthy Chef

250 g grated raw pumpkin (2 cups)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 1 orange
¼ cup coconut oil
¼ cup rice malt syrup
¾ teaspoon bicarb soda (baking soda)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 big handful organic natural sultanas
1 cup (150 g )wholemeal spelt flour

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C/ 150 C fan forced. Grease and line a loaf pan (mine was pyrex).

Combine the raw pumpkin, eggs, vanilla, oil, zest, rice malt syrup, bicarb, baking powder, spices and sultanas in a mixing bowl. Fold through the spelt flour.

Spoon into a prepared tin and bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, covering the top with foil if necessary (mine was done in exactly 1 hour, no covering required). The cake will spring back when pressed lightly.

Allow to cool in the tin for 30 minutes before turning out.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Oscar's 4th Birthday and a Dinosaur Cake

Dinosaur Cake © www.foodbabylife.com

My big boy turned 4 last month! Such a cliche but he is growing up so quickly.

Although he had been asking for a party we decided to keep it low key and do a family outing instead, especially as his birthday fell on a Saturday this year.

Oscar has always loved animals and nature so we decided to head off to Australia Zoo for the day. This is the zoo that Steve Irwin founded on the Sunshine Coast and is a brilliant place to visit with kids. There is heaps to see so I would recommend getting there as soon as they open if you are to have any chance of seeing it all in one day!

We were a little late getting there (having a few toilet stops on the way for the kids) and I had also stupidly invited more family over for birthday cake at home at 4pm. What I hadn't figured on was getting home by 4 actually meant rounding everyone up to leave the zoo about 2.30. Not surprisingly we didn't see everything we wanted to. Oh well, live and learn.

Anyway, we all had a great time. The kids loved seeing all the animals, the giant tortoises, the bird show and of course the crocodiles were big hits. And we still had birthday cake at home to look forward to.

Oscar had been asking for a dinosaur cake for at least 6 months so I had plenty of time to research. I pretty much just googled 'dinosaur cake', looked through all the images and chose one something that looked easy (I found this one here). And it turned out pretty well if I do say so myself!

The body of the dinosaur is an 8 inch round cake split in half and sandwiched together with icing to form a semi-circle shape. As we are trying to stay sugar-free I chose to bake the vanilla cake from David Gillespie's Sweet Poison Quit Plan Cookbook, and then used a normal sugar icing.

The head, tail, legs and spots were made from ready-made fondant icing that I tinted myself using mostly Wilton gel colours. I was really happy with how the colours turned out, they were just what I was hoping for. It was a lot of fun making the shapes too, a bit like playing with play dough!

So another year, another birthday cake. Stay tuned for Charlie's birthday in November!

Monday, May 27, 2013

SRC - Chicken and Apple Rice Paper Rolls

Chicken and Apple Rice Paper Rolls © www.foodabylife.com

Well it's reveal day for Group D of the Secret Recipe Club! This month I was delighted to be given Natural Noshings by Nora. I came across Nora's blog quite a few months ago and had already flagged a number of recipes to make.

We have been making a real effort over the past 6 months or so to cut out processed foods and remove refined sugar from our diet. We have a pantry full of oats, coconut oil, chia seeds, natural nut butters and raw cacao. Natural Noshings has some amazing recipes that are gluten free and use real whole ingredients with nothing artificial or processed in sight.

I have bookmarked some of the sweet treats to make like the Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough Bites (which will be the perfect after kindy snack for my 4 year old) and the Healthy Nutella (which my peanut butter loving 2 year old will go nuts for - pun intended!).

Yet again though I have chosen to make a main because quite simply I couldn't go past these. Nora calls them spring rolls but in Australia spring rolls use a different wrapper and are baked or fried. We call these rice paper rolls. But really whatever you call them they are little parcels of deliciousness!

Adding the apple was a stroke of genius. The sweetness of red apple paired with the chicken and peanut sauce was fantastic. My kids adored these. Well actually Charlie my 2 year old couldn't be convinced that the rice paper wrappers were actually edible so he just ate the fillings and lots of sauce.

The original recipe had apple and cabbage but as usual I couldn't pass up the opportunity to get some extra veges into the kids. All the colours of the rainbow crammed into something they can roll up and dip in a yummy sauce (my version of the sauce has a few extra flavours added). All in all a healthy and delicious dinner!

Apple and Chicken Rice Paper Rolls with Peanut Sauce 
Adapted from Spring Rolls on Natural Noshings

For the rolls:
12 rice paper wrappers
4 small chicken thighs (marinated in a little soy sauce and sesame oil then baked and cut into strips
1 medium red apple, sliced into matchsticks
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 medium avocado, sliced thinly
1 small red capsicum, thinly sliced
½ bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped

For the peanut sauce:
3 tablespoons hot water
3 tablespoons peanut butter (mine was smooth, all natural)
juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice malt syrup
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
½ teaspoon sesame oil

To prepare the sauce, place all the ingredients in a small jug and whisk to combine.

To prepare the rice paper rolls, fill a large shallow bowl with just warm water. Working with one wrapper at a time, submerge it in the water and allow to soften (about 30 seconds) turning once or twice. Carefully remove from water and lay flat on a damp tea towel.

Half way between the centre of the wrapper and the edge closest to you, layer on some carrot, capsicum, avocado, chicken, apple and chopped coriander, leaving a gap of about an inch on each side.

Take the edge closest to you and fold it over the filling. Roll it once more and then fold the shorter left and right sides inward, like you would a burrito. Then continue wrapping and rolling until sealed. Place on serving platter, leaving a little room between them as they will stick together.

Repeat with remaining wrappers and serve with the peanut sauce!

Secret Recipe Club

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

BWJ - Savoury Brioche Pockets

 Savoury Brioche Parcels © www.foodbabylife.com

I had a bit of a brain freeze and totally forgot that this was BWJ week. Luckily without a mixer I have perfected a brioche dough made in the breadmaker and whipped these beauties out in about 2.5 hours!

They are called Savoury Brioche Pockets, and just as the name suggest, they are a brioche dough wrapped around a savoury filling. As I had forgotten about the recipe I didn't have any goat's cheese or chives on hand but I did happen to have leftover steamed potato in the fridge.

To make my filling I sauteed some onion, garlic and spinach in butter until soft then added it to cold mashed potato along with a handful of grated cheddar cheese, some salt and pepper. Basically it made the yummiest mashed potato you can imagine!

Savoury Brioche Parcels © www.foodbabylife.com

The taste test ...

They didn't blow my socks off but it was pretty tasty. The filling was delicious and you can't go past brioche. I'm just not a huge pan of potatoes in bread. It just seemed a bit too heavy even though the filling was lightened up with veg. I think my brioche discs were a bit too thick so the ratio of bread to filling was a bit off. Still a success overall though.

Carrie of Loaves and Stitches will have the recipe up today and to see what the other bakers thought of this one, check out the LYL section.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

BWJ - Upside Down Mini Apple Cakes

Upside Down Mini Apple Cakes © www.foodbabylife.com
So yesterday I went to the supermarket specifically to get rhubarb. I came home with bread, lemons, broccoli and a bag of spinach ... and no rhubarb. I really hope other people do things like that! There was no way I was going back there with 2 ratty kids so I made do with what I had, and that meant apples.

I made 12 little cakes using a large hole muffin tray. I put a little blob of butter in the base of each and topped it with a slice of gala apple then spooned the batter on top.

I ate 1 (ok, 2!) warm from the oven and they were absolutely divine. The creme fraiche (or greek yoghurt in my case) made for a lovely moist and slightly tangy cake which paired beautifully with the sweet apple. They may have made out of a mistake but they were a definite winner!

To see the real recipe for Fresh Rhubarb Upside Down Baby Cakes make sure you visit out host Erin of When in Doubt.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Secret Recipe Club - Mongolian Lamb

Mongolian Lamb © www.foodbabylife.com
This is now my third month with the Secret Recipe Club and I'm loving everything about it! From waiting expectantly for the email with my assigned blog inside, to spending many happy hours scouring that blog to find just the right recipe.

This month I was assigned Lynsey's blog called Lynsey Lou's. Despite living on the other side of the world I found we have lots in common from being married at around the same time in 2008 and starting to blog soon after, to just a general passion for food and cooking. I loved all of Lynsey's recipes and had a really hard time choosing just one! In the end I let my husband choose his favourite and that was Lynsey's Mongolian Beef. Not sure whether it's just in Australia but we used to get Mongolian Lamb whenever we had Chinese food so I of course adapted it to use lamb instead. 

I haven't eaten much Chinese food at all in recent years after figuring out I have a sensitivity to MSG aka Chinese Restaurant Syndrome. Hubby and I went to a Thai restaurant on our second date and I spent half the meal locked in the bathroom feeling faint with heart palpitations and a throbbing headache. Lucky for me he stuck around!

Anyway, no such problems this recipe! It was absolutely delicious, packed with flavour and probably the closest thing to takeaway Chinese food that I've ever made at home. It was the first time I've fried meat like this and it really gave the dish that authentic taste and texture. I did find it a little too sweet so next time I would reduce the brown sugar to just 1/2 cup. Otherwise this was a huge success.

Mongolian Lamb
Adapted from Lynsey Lou's Mongolian Beef

2 ts vegetable oil
1 tbs fresh minced ginger
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
Vegetable oil, for frying (about 2 cups)
500g lamb steaks
1/4 cup corn flour
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
2 green shallots, sliced finely

To make the sauce, heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the ginger and garlic to the pan, give it a quick stir then quickly add the soy sauce and water before the garlic scorches. Add the brown sugar, stir to dissolve, and then bring the sauce to the boil until it thickens and reduces, approx 5 minutes. Remove sauce from the heat and set aside.

To prepare the lamb, slice it thinly on the diagonal into ½ cm thick pieces. Tilting the blade of your knife to about 45 degrees will give wider cuts. Dust the pieces in corn flour then leave to rest for a few minutes so it sticks to the meat.

Heat 2 cups of oil in a wok or large deep fry pan until it's hot but not smoking (a wooden spoon dipped in the oil should start to bubble straight away).Carefully add the lamb in 2 or 3 batches to the hot oil and fry for two minutes, or until it just begins to darken on the edges. It doesn’t need to be cooked through at this stage. Stir the meat around a little so that it cooks evenly then remove with a large slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Repeat with remaining batches of lamb. Tip the hot oil into a heatproof jug then return the pan to the stove over medium heat.

Add the red onion and shallots (reserving a small handful of the shallots for garnish) and sauté for a few minutes until it becomes soft and translucent. Add the beef and the sauce and cook, stirring for another few minutes until it is well combined and the sauce has thickened.

Remove the lamb and onions (leaving excess sauce behind as it is very rich) and serve with plenty of steamed rice and a sprinkle of shallots over the top. Serves 4-6.

Secret Recipe Club

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

BWJ - Rustic Potato Loaves

Rustic Potato Loaf © www.foodbabylife.com

 aka the bread that almost wasn't.

I had it in my head that this was a typical long-rest bread. Add to that I was going to have to actually cook potatoes first AND I don't even have a mixer at the moment, I was sure this was not going to happen!

But then I realised how quick it would be, and hubby cooked the potatoes for me, and I realised I could mix the dough in the breadmaker. Voila.

Rustic Potato Loaf Sliced © www.foodbabylife.com

I made half the recipe and got a really decent sized loaf. You will notice from the picture that I forgot to cook the bread seam side up so it doesn't have the same look as the book. Still, it was delicious and made the house smell like an intoxicating mix of fresh bread and hot chips. Doesn't get much better than that!

Make sure you visit our host Dawn of Simply Sweet for the recipe.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Lemon and Blueberry Roulade

Lemon and Blueberry Roulade © www.foodbabylife.com
Happy Easter!!!

We are off to my mother in law's place for lunch today and I (of course) offered to bring dessert. I figured we wouldn't need anymore chocolate and instead opted for something a little lighter. While it is more suited to a Springtime Easter, I think it works just fine here. You really can't go wrong with the combination of lemon and blueberry and it just looks so pretty with that swirl of purple.

A roulade or swiss roll is often filled with jam but here I have used a light cheesecake style filling flavoured with lemon and studded with bluberries. Just delightful.

The recipe called for a 23cm x 32cm tin but I have actually never been able to find one. This is despite that size seeming to be the most standard size. Perhaps they are just always sold out. I had to make do with a 20cm x 30cm tin so my sponge is a little thicker than it should be and I added an extra minute to the cooking time.

I hope wherever you are, that you're having a lovely Easter weekend with your families. Don't eat too much chocolate!

Lemon and Blueberry Roulade
Sponge recipe from The Australian Woman's Weekly, filling by me

For the sponge:
3 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 tbs hot milk
3/4 cup self-raising flour, triple sifted
1/4 cup caster sugar extra

For the filling:
125g cream cheese, at room temperature
125ml thickened cream
1 tbs sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup frozen blueberries, thawed

To make the sponge, preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius  /180 degrees fan-forced. Grease and line the base and 2 sides of a 23cm x 32cm swiss roll pan, allowing the paper to extend about 5cm over the sides.

Place the egg whites in a large bowl and beat with an electric beater until soft peaks form. Gradually add in the sugar, continuing to beat until the sugar has dissolved. (You can test this by taking a dab of the meringue and rubbing it between 2 fingers. If there is any graininess continue to beat).

With the beaters running add the egg yolks one at a time, and beat until the mixture is thick and pale, about 10 minutes (mine took far less).

Working quickly, pour the hot milk down the side of bowl, tip in the flour and gently fold them through the egg mixture. Don't over-mix, just make sure there are no pockets of flour left.

Bake the sponge for 8 minutes or until golden brown and just cooked. If the sponge is overcooked it will crack when it is rolled.

Meanwhile, place a clean tea towel on the bench and sprinkle over the extra sugar roughly the same size as the sponge. As soon as a the sponge is cooked, flip in on the the sugared towel and gently peel off the baking paper. Starting on a short edge, turn the tea towel up over the sponge and roll up the sponge and tea towel together. (There is a great post here on Joe Pastry about how to make a swiss roll which includes pictures of this step).

Leave the cake to cool like this for approx 15 minutes, or until ready to fill

To make the filling, beat the cream cheese, sugar and lemon zest until smooth then add the cream a little at a time, continuing to beat until it is all incorporated and the mixture is smooth.

To assemble, unroll the sponge and spread with the cream cheese mixture, leaving a 1-2cm border around the edges. Sprinkle with the blueberries. Carefully re-roll the sponge taking care not to squish the filling too much. Place seam side down on the serving plate. Chill before serving (I made mine a day ahead and kept in the fridge). Serves 8.

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