Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My Summer Fruit Trifle (Thermomix)

For me trifle is the quintessential Summer, and therefore Christmas, dessert. It was my favourite thing growing up and I remember the excitement of helping mum assemble it with bought jam roll, red and green jelly, tinned peaches and lashings of bright yellow custard. There was nothing better on Christmas Day (although plum pudding with custard did come a close second and there is a story often told of me as a very young child asking for "a big piece please.")

Keeping with our no-roast Christmas lunch this year it went without saying that we would have trifle for dessert. I made a Maggie Beer raspberry and lemon curd one last year and although we enjoyed it I felt it was a bit too tart overall. This year I played around with flavours and came up with this Summer Fruit Trifle which we all LOVED. I will probably still make a few tweaks for next year (I can never leave a recipe alone) but this was pretty close to perfect.

I was too full to have any at lunchtime but I had a small taste at dinner and then a bowlful for breakfast on Boxing Day. Nothing wrong with that!

This is my final post for 2015 and what a year it's been! Looking forward to spending 2016 with you all.  Enjoy x

My Summer Fruit Trifle

Spelt Genoise Sponge 
Recipe from Jude Blereau's Wholefood for Children, Thermomix adaptation by me

130g white spelt flour, sifted
4 large eggs, at room temperature
100g golden caster sugar (made from raw sugar blitzed in the TMX 10 secs / SP 9)
1 ts vanilla extract
40g melted butter

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C / 160 degrees fan-forced. Grease and line the base and sides of an 8 inch cake pan and set aside.

Using the butterfly, whisk together the eggs and the sugar for 10 minutes / SP 4 until thick and pale.

Add the vanilla and beat again for a few seconds.

Remove the butterfly, add the flour and beat for 10 secs / SP 3.

Add the melted and cooled butter and beat again for another 10 secs / SP 3.

Use a spatula to scrape around the edges and fold through any remaining butter or flour.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 20-22 minutes. It will be golden brown, springy in the middle and pulling away from the sides.

Leave to cool completely in the tin. When ready to assemble the trifle, cut the cake into cubes.

Mango Jelly
2 large mangoes, seed and skin removed
2 cups coconut water
2 tbs gelatine (I use Great Lakes brand)

Place the mango flesh into the mixing bowl along with the coconut water and blend for 20 secs / SP 9.

Sprinkle over the gelatine and cook for 3 mins / 60 deg / SP 4.

Pour into a lightly oiled slice pan and place in the fridge. Cut into small cubes when ready to assemble the trifle.

1L rice milk
4 eggs
140g rice malt syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 heaped tbs arrowroot

Place all ingredients into the mixing bowl and cook for 10 mins / 80 deg / SP 4.5. Pour into a heatproof jug. Cool on the bench for 30 minutes before placing into the fridge to chill completely.

Lemon and Orange Curd
Adapted from Tenina

200g rice malt syrup
zest of 2 oranges and 2 lemons
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
240g cold unsalted butter, cut in cubes
2 heaped ts arrowroot 
4 whole eggs
2 egg yolks

Place butter into the mixing bowl and chop 5 secs / SP 5.

Add all remaining ingredients and cook for 10 minutes / 80 degrees / SP 5.

Cook for a further 3 minutes / 90 degrees / SP 6.

Pour into a large glass container. Place in the fridge once cooled.

Assembling the trifle

2 cups raspberries
2 cups sweet, ripe pineapple, cut into small thin slices

To assemble the trifle (best done at least a few hours ahead of time), place alternating layers of cake, fruit, curd, jelly and custard into a large trifle dish, finishing with a layer of custard and a scattering of raspberries over the top. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve. 

Serves 8-10

Monday, December 28, 2015

My pre-Christmas Bake-a-thon and the Best Ever Gingerbread

Merry Christmas everyone! Hope you all had a fabulous day. We enjoyed a lovely relaxing Christmas at home which was perfect as there is no way the boys would have wanted to leave their brand new trampoline behind.

Did anyone else have a Christmas Eve bake-a-thon? I spent most of the day in the kitchen and then crashed in the afternoon before heading out for the evening. Don't get me wrong I really enjoy the baking and cooking (I wouldn't be here otherwise!) it's just the cleanup that gets me down. I am so grateful to have a dishwasher, we couldn't get by without it.

I was trying not to leave everything to the last minute but some things can really only be made the day before, and other things I sort of forgot about so ended up doing those too!

I know you are probably all totally over Christmas food but I wanted to post at least this one recipe so I can keep track and make it again next year (and probably before that too) because it was totally amazing.  

I didn't have much cooking to do this year but I did lots of sweet things.

On Christmas Eve I made 2 types of custard to take to my mother in laws house (the pudding was already prepped thank goodness). Then for our trifle I made a lemon and orange curd, a spelt genoise sponge, more custard and a mango and coconut jelly. Yum! I also made a double batch of this pumpkin gingerbread for our Christmas breakfast, a batch of my dairy-free rum balls and a batch of gingerbread men so the boys would have something yummy to leave for Santa. Whew!!

For me this gingerbread was the absolute highlight of my Christmas baking. It was everything you want in a gingerbread - packed with warm spicy flavour, incredibly moist and tasted even better the next day when you can't be bothered cooking anything. We had it Christmas morning with some homemade peach and chia jam.

While I think it would be more suited for our Christmas in July celebrations rather than a hot summertime Christmas, I would happily eat this any day and am glad to have half a loaf still stashed in the freezer.

Apologies for the less than stellar photo - cake for breakfast waits for no man! Had to snap one quickly and then get it on plates for the hungry horde. 

Best Ever Pumpkin Gingerbread 
Adapted from Simply Recipes

400g white spelt flour
1 1/2 ts bicarb soda
1 tbs ginger
1 tbs cinnamon
1/2 ts nutmeg
1 1/2 ts salt
2 cups pumpkin puree
225g melted butter
2/3 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup rice malt syrup
1/2 cup molasses
4 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup water

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C / 160 degrees C fan forced. Grease and line 2 loaf pans (mine were pyrex) and set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, bicarb, salt and spices.

In a separate large bowl or jug, whisk together the remaining ingredients until smooth.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold through until just combined.

Pour the mixture evenly into the prepared pans and bake for 45-60 minutes (mine was done at 45 minutes so start checking then). It is done when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Leave in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

Delicious served warm with butter but it's even more amazing the next day if you can wait that long.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Christmas Menu 2015

Image source

I'm a little later with my Christmas menu planning than I was intending but I've still made it with 4 days to spare!

We spent most of the day today celebrating an early Christmas with my dad's side of the family. As usual the food was spectacular - ham off the bone, maple glazed chicken, quiche and 8 different salads including my Rice Salad, and followed by cheesecake, a chocolate and raspberry ice cream pudding and a very boozy trifle. The kids were spoilt rotten and we also came home loaded with homemade Christmas cake, chutneys, shortbread and rum balls. Whew!

Yet again for the big day though we are going for low-stress and fuss-free so our menu is quite pared back. No roast turkey again this year just lots of seafood, salads and fruit. We are planning on doing a roast pork belly for Boxing Day.

We are going to my mother in law's house for Christmas Eve and then hosting at home for Christmas Day. I'm very excited to have our first Christmas in our new home, plus the boys have a BIG present coming to the backyard on Christmas Eve!!!

Christmas Eve

Cheese, crackers, nuts and truffles

Barbecued chicken and witlof salad
Grilled prawn, chorizo and corn couscous salad
Sweet potato salad
Sourdough rolls

Steamed orange pudding
Dairy-free Custard

Christmas Day

Gingerbread Loaf
Mango smoothies

Pate, crackers and nuts

Seafood platter with tiger prawns, smoked salmon and condiments
Barbecued side of salmon
Crunchy duck fat roast potatoes
Avocado, mango and walnut salad

Dairy-free Mango and raspberry trifle

I still have a few more festive recipes to post over the coming days but now that the official Christmas menu is set I feel ready to go. I'm doing our final Christmas shopping kid-free first thing in the morning and then it should be smooth sailing!

How is your planning going? Any family favourites that you just couldn't have Christmas without?

Sunday, December 13, 2015

My Fruit Mince Tarts

The first day of the school holidays was unexpectedly cool and rainy so what better way to spend it than to with some Christmas baking! My husband has been dropping not so subtle hints for fruit mince tarts over the past few weeks so that was first on my list.

Before I got into my wholefoods groove I used to make fruit mince tarts with packet pastry and a jar of pre-made fruit mince. Not any more. I love making pastry and after a few years of practice I feel like I understand it a little more and can prevent some disasters. And honestly how amazing is homemade pastry?  If you don't feel up to making your own, the Careme brand pastry in Australia is really good and they even have a gluten free version.

I used my go-to spelt pastry recipe and developed my own fruit mince recipe which was SO delicious I couldn't help taking lots of sneaky spoonfuls for 'just to check if it was ready.' Ha!

The kids were hanging around by the oven waiting for them to bake because they smelt so amazing and then each had 3 for afternoon tea. So that's a big tick of approval.

The pastry recipe makes enough for one batch of 12 tarts and I rolled the scraps out into some little biscuits which we snacked while waiting for the tarts to cool enough to eat.

The fruit mince recipe makes enough for 2 batches of 12 tarts and is stashed in the fridge to make some more next weekend. As I was making these for kids I cooked the brandy in with the fruit to get the flavour but cook off most of the alcohol. You can add the brandy at the end once the fruit is cooked for a bit more of a kick.

My Fruit Mince Tarts

Fruit mince:

500g organic mixed dried fruit
5 granny smith apples (peeled, cored and diced)
1 cup fresh orange juice, pulp and all
1/2 cup rice malt syrup
1/4 cup brandy
zest of 1 orange
1 ts cinnamon
1/4 ts nutmeg
1/4 ts clove
1/4 ts allspice

Place all ingredients into a pot over medium heat. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer until the apple has completely softened and the mixture is thick and sticky. This will take around 20 minutes or so. Remove from the heat and leave to cool completely.


250g white spelt flour
20g coconut sugar
125g cold salted butter
1 egg yolk
2-3 tbs iced water, as needed

Place flour and sugar into the thermomix or food processor and mix just to combine and break up any lumps. Add the butter and process for a few seconds at a time, until the mixture resembles rough sand. Add the egg yolk and 1 tbs iced water and process again for a few seconds at a time until the dough starts to clump together. Add extra water 1 tbs at a time only if needed.

Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and press into a disc. Wrap well and place into the fridge to rest for at least 20 minutes before rolling.

To assemble the tarts:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C / 160 degrees fan-forced. Grease a 12 cup tart or muffin tray and set aside.

Roll out about 2/3 of the dough (leave the rest in the fridge) about 3mm thick. Using a round cutter (mine was 7cm), cut out 12 circles for the bases of your tarts. Choose a cutter that is just a little wider than the diameter of each hole in your tray and they will fit perfectly. Press each circle over the base of your prepared tray and set the scraps of dough aside.

Place a teaspooful of fruit mince mixture into each tart base, being careful not to overfil or the edges won't seal. Using your finger, dab some water around the edge of pastry of each tart.

Roll out the remainder of the dough from the fridge in the same way, but use a slightly smaller cutter (mine was 6cm) to cut 12 circles for the tops of your tarts. Place a piece on top of each tart and then use a fork to crimp and seal the edges. Use the fork to pierce the top of each tart to allow steam to escape.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until the tarts are golden brown and smell amazing. Cool in the tray for 5 minutes before turning out onto a rack. Delicious warm or cold.

Buttery pastry surrounding sweet and spicy fruit, there's a reason these are a classic!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Bacon, Spinach and Garlic Pull-apart Bread

Aaaand so it's December! Things have been very quiet around here lately as I attempt to overhaul my blog. After lots of messing around I have ended up with 2 sites that aren't linked up and there's a whole lot of work to get things ready to go. I will keep you posted but I hope to launch in the New Year.

I haven't been doing much cooking of note lately. I've been sick for the past 3 weeks with a throat and chest infection so quite apart from not having enough energy to cook, I also haven't felt like eating. Tragic I know!

But even I can't resist the aroma of freshly baked bread. We've massively cut back on the amount of bread we buy so I've been baking more. Usually just sandwich loaves (recipe to come!) or a quick focaccia but sometimes you just want something a little fancy.

This bacon, spinach and garlic pull-apart was amazing. AMAZING. These sorts of bread are normally dripping with butter and cheese but I needed a dairy-free version and this worked perfectly. It is so packed with flavour from the bacon, garlic and olive oil that you don't miss the cheese, or in fact even notice that you were expecting some.

I made the dough and filling in the thermomix but you absolutely don't need to. Making the dough by hand (or breadmaker or however you normally make dough) and the filling on the stovetop will work just fine, it may just take a bit longer.

Bacon, Spinach and Garlic Pull-apart Bread

450g water, room temperature
1 tbs instant dried yeast
1 ts salt
750g baker's flour
100g extra virgin olive oil

50g extra virgin olive oil
4 rashers bacon, roughly chopped
1 big handful baby spinach or 2 large leaves silverbeet, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed

Grease a 9 inch cake pan and set aside.

TMX instructions to make the dough - place the water and yeast in the mixing bowl and heat for 2 minutes / 37 degrees / SP 2. Add the salt, flour and oil and mix for 6 seconds / SP 6, then knead for 2 minutes / interval setting.

Remove the dough, shape into a bowl and leave to prove in a covered and greased bowl for around 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile make the filling - in the thermomix add the garlic and chop for 2 seconds / SP 7. Scrape down the bowl, add the bacon and chop for 3 seconds / SP 6. Scrape down the bowl, add the oil and cook for 3 minutes / varoma / SP 2. Add the spinach and cook for 2 minutes / 100 degrees / SP 2. (To prepare filling on the stovetop just chop all ingredients and fry together in the oil for 5 minutes or so until softened and fragrant). Tip the mixture into a heat proof bowl and leave to cool until required.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C / 350 degrees F.

To prepare the bread - knock down the dough and tip it out onto a floured surface. Roll out into a large even rectangle, about 1cm thick. Spread over the cooled filling evenly to the edges.

Using a sharp knife, slice the dough into 4cm wide strips. Fold each piece into a concertina and place into the prepared tin, cut side up. Repeat with remaining dough until the tin is full. Leave to prove for another 15 minutes.

Bake for approximately 45 minutes. It will be risen, golden brown and smelling delicious. Leave in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

It's ready to eat as soon as it is cool enough to handle.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Cardamom Pear Muffins (SRC)

It's Secret Recipe Club time again! Each month a dedicated group of bloggers are assigned a blog in secret to peruse and cook from, and then we all post on the same day. Today is reveal day for group D.

This month I was assigned Nicole's blog Hapatite and wow was I in for a treat. Hapatite ("hapa" meaning half or of mixed racial heritage and "tite" meaning appetite) is an absolute treasure-trove of amazing recipes, all drawing upon her family's Chinese, Cherokee, German and Hawaiian American background. As you can imagine this makes for some fabulous food!

One dish that really caught my eye was Nicole's take on char siu chow fun which is served for Chinese New Year.  But then I also loved her Baked Onion Rings and homemade Filet-o-Fish which was my go-to late night meal back in my uni days!

Nicole is also something of a tea connoisseur and has reviewed some really interesting tea blends. My favourite was the Candied Chestnut Tea and I wish it was available here! I really love tea and have an ever-growing collection of herbal teas so this made for some great reading.

As usual though I was on the hunt for kid-friendly snack ideas and you can't beat a muffin. Enter these Cardamom Spiced Pear Muffins.

Cardamom is one of those spices that seems to get overlooked. I remember making a cardamom cake years ago that I absolutely loved but I haven't really used it since, apart from in curries.

These muffins were absolutely delicious. The cardamom added a complexity of flavour that I wasn't expecting yet it wasn't overpowering, probably because it was paired with cinnamon and nutmeg (and the clove that I added because I love it). My boys loved these and as usual I wished I'd made a double batch because they disappeared way too quickly.

Cardamom Pear Muffins
Slightly adapted from Hapatite

2 cups self raising flour (or 2 cups plain flour + 1 tbs baking powder)
1/2 cup coconut sugar
85g softened butter
2 large eggs
1 ts vanilla extract
1 ts ground cardamom
1 ts cinnamon
1/2 ts nutmeg
1/4 ts ground cloves
1/2 cup buttermilk (I used 1/2 cup rice milk soured with 1 ts apple cider vinegar)
1 large pear, just ripe, cut into small dice

Line a 12 cup muffin tray with paper liners. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius fan-forced.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add the spices and mix well.

Fold through 1/2 the flour followed by 1/2 the buttermilk, then repeat with the remainder.

Fold through the pear pieces.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tray and bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean.

Cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely (or just eat warm as they are amazing straight from the oven!!).

Thanks for a great month and a delicious recipe Nicole!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Creamiest Dairy Free Chocolate Ice Cream

Creamiest Dairy Free Chocolate Ice Cream

Happy November everyone! I never intended to be absent so long but life got busy, as it tends to do this time of year. Anyway you'll be glad I'm back because this ice cream is awesome and perfect for the stinking hot weather we're having at the moment (33 degrees C right now if anyone else is a weather tragic like me!)

So ice cream without dairy can be a little tricky, it can swing between too icy or too coconutty (totally a word) pretty quickly. But as 3 out of 5 of us are dairy free I've done a lot of experimenting. You're welcome.

My kids claimed this was the best chocolate ice cream ever and their chocolate covered faces spoke volumes. It was smooth and luscious and intensely chocolatey. The perfect antidote to a hot summer's day.

The weather made it impossible to get a picture before it melted (that and the kids kept opening the freezer every 5 minutes to check if it was ready!)

Make this. It's really good.

Creamiest Dairy Free Chocolate Ice Cream

400g tin coconut cream
400g rice milk (or any dairy-free milk you like)
2 eggs
2 heaped tbs raw cacao
2 tbs arrowroot
120g rice malt syrup (or maple syrup)
2 ts vanilla extract
pinch salt

TMX - place all ingredients in mixing bowl and cook 9 minutes / 90 degrees / SP 4.

Don't have a thermomix? Warm the milks in a large saucepan over medium heat and bring it to a simmer. Meanwhile in a medium heatproof bowl, beat together all remaining ingredients. Pour the warmed milks into the other ingredients whisking continuously. Tip the mixture back into the saucepan and stir over medium heat with a wooden spoon until it thickens and coats the back of the spoon, 5-10 minutes.

Pour the custard into a heatproof bowl and cool to room temperature before placing into the fridge and leaving to chill for at least 4 hours. Make sure you press some baking paper over the surface of the custard to stop it drying out.

Once the custard is completely cold, pour into your ice cream maker and churn for approximately 15 minutes or according to the manufacturer's instructions. It will be soft-serve consistency at this stage so pop it in a glass container in the freezer for a few hours before serving (if you can wait that long).

Monday, October 26, 2015

Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter Cookies (SRC)

Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter Cookies © 

The last month has been really busy around here. We're 2 weeks into the term and still feel a bit all over the place and not back into our usual routine. My recipe choice for this month's Secret Recipe Club is perhaps indicative of my state of mind at the moment. Here Spring has arrived with a vengeance - the weather has warmed up and the jacarandas are in full bloom - but I'm still making soups and stews and feeling like hibernating. I think it's the stress and busy-ness of moving house that has finally caught up with me!

So when I was assigned Palatable Pastime by Sue for SRC this month it wasn't her amazing array of salads like Apple-Fennel Salad with Almonds that I was drawn to, it was heartier fare like Corned Beef Hash and Rustic Tortellini Soup. As usual though I needed an idea for an after school snack so I started looking for something sweet and ended up making 2 related recipes.

Pumpkin really hasn't caught on here in Australia as an ingredient for sweet dishes. You will never find canned pumpkin or pumpkin pie spice on the shelves. I decided to finally remedy that and make my first batch of pumpkin pie spice to enjoy whenever I like.

Pumpkin Pie Spice ©

Pumpkin Pie Spice
Recipe from Palatable Pastime

1/2 cup cinnamon
5 tbs ginger
1 tbs nutmeg
2 ts allspice
2 ts ground cloves

Makes 1 cup (I plan on using lots of this over the coming months but Sue's post also gives instructions for smaller quantities as well).

And what to make with this fabulous blend of spices? I couldn't go past Sue's Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter Cookies (yep I definitely have a bit of a peanut butter obsession but lucky my kids do too!)

Whether you have access to canned pumpkin puree or not, it is so, so easy to make your own. Simple steam or bake some pumpkin, throw it in a blender or food process and puree until smooth. That's it!

how to make pumpkin puree ©

Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter Cookies
Adapted from Palatable Pastime

60g softened butter
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 tbs pumpkin pie spice
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups white spelt flour
1/2 ts sea salt

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.  Line 2 trays with baking paper.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until well combined. Add the egg and beat well.

Add the pumpkin puree, peanut butter, salt and spice and mix until well combined.

Next fold through the flour to form a thick and sticky dough.

Roll tablespoons of dough into balls and place on the prepared trays.

Dip a fork into some extra coconut sugar and press the cookies flat with a criss-cross pattern.

Bake for approximately 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool on the tray for a few minutes then place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 24 cookies.

Thanks for 2 great recipes Sue! My kids and I LOVED these crispy edged-chewy middle cookies and I am such a fan of the pumpkin pie spice.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Noah turns 2! and a Frozen Raspberry Cheesecake

You know what they say about best laid plans? Well that was us this week. I had planned the most delicious carrot, orange and ginger layer cake for Noah's birthday and guess what happened. Our oven died. Right in the middle of cooking pizza for dinner 2 days before his birthday. We saved the pizza by cutting it into pieces and cooking them individually in our sandwich press. Bit hard to make a cake like that though!

After a bit of panic and a lot of searching I decided it would be easiest to make a frozen cake of some sort and Wholefood Simply came to the recipe. If you haven't visited this gorgeous blog then you are really missing out.

The recipe I chose was a raspberry cheesecake with chocolate crust which I tweaked a little and decorated to suit a birthday. On that note, a huge happy birthday to our beautiful boy who has filled our lives with such joy these past 2 years. We love you Noah!!

Frozen Raspberry Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust
Slightly Adapted from Wholefood Simply

1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup raw almonds
10 dates, seeds removed
1 tablespoons raw cacao

Line the base of a 20cm springform pan with baking paper. Place all ingredients in a food processor or high speed blender and blend until sticky and well combined. Press firmly into the base of the prepared pan and place in the freezer until required.

Cheesecake – Step 1
2 cups frozen mixed berries
8 dates, seeds removed

Blend all ingredients until well combined, spoon into a bowl and set aside.

Cheescake – Step 2
2.5 cups raw cashews (preferably soaked for a few hours first then drained well)
3 heaped tbs coconut oil
2 ts vanilla extract
juice of one lemon
1/2 cup coconut milk (you may need a little more or less liquid than this so don't add it all at once)

Blend all ingredients until smooth and very well combined. Scrape down the sides of the blender and keep blending until you are happy with the consistency. Add the berry mixture and mix until well combined.  Spread the cheesecake mixture over the base, smooth the top and place in the freezer.

1 1/2 cups cold coconut cream
2 tbs maple syrup
2 ts vanilla extract
1 tbs gelatin

Blend all ingredients until thick and smooth. Pour over the cheesecake mixture and return to the freezer for 4 hours or overnight.

Remove from the freezer at least 20-30 minutes before serving.

To make the number 2 on top I simply printed a big number 2 and cut it out to form a stencil. Lay the stencil over the cake and dust on some cocoa. Make sure you remove the stencil very carefully (you might need an extra pair of hands for this). Very simple but very effective!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Changes are coming and I need your help!

You may have noticed things have been a little quiet around here lately. Well that is partly just life becoming very busy but also because things have been happening behind the scenes at this little blog and there are changes coming!

I've been realising that I actually have a lot to say and that the blog in it's current state doesn't really allow me to say it. I'm passionate about whole foods, kids health and eating well on a budget so that is the direction I will be going in.

To do that I would really, really, REALLY appreciate some feedback from you, my lovely readers. I want to know who you are, why you are here and what your challenges with food are.

The direction I'm going in is very different from where I first started when it was all about baking and lots of sugar! Perhaps if you've been reading for awhile you have also been taking steps to change the way you eat.

So if you have a couple of minutes to spare could you please complete this short survey for me? It will be completely anonymous and won't take much of your time. If you have any problems with it or would like to share anything else with that I haven't asked please email me at AT gmail DOT com.

Thank you so much and stay tuned!

Create your own user feedback survey

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Smoky BBQ Pork Ribs

These smoky pork ribs were a seriously delicious dinner! I actually made these for Fathers' Day way back at the start of September and then with the move forgot to post them. Now there are probably thousands of rib recipes out there and I must have looked at dozens before deciding to just wing it and make something up myself. I didn't want anything too spicy and I didn't want to buy weird ingredients like liquid smoke.

While I'm all for making things from scratch I did use bought sauces for this, namely the Fountain Good Choice tomato and barbecue sauces which I reviewed earlier this year.

I wasn't able to find the American style ribs anywhere (admittedly I left it until the last minute!) so used these Aussie pork spare ribs instead and they worked just as well.

The cooking is done in three stages. First they are left to marinate in the fridge overnight which starts to tenderise the meat, then they are baked in the oven and lastly they are grilled and basted with marinade which makes them charred, sticky and luscious. So good!

I served the ribs with coleslaw, avocado, homemade potato wedges and corn on the cob. Hubby and kids all loved it and there lots of sticky smiles and licked fingers.

Remember to start this recipe a day ahead!

Smoky BBQ Pork Ribs

1/2 cup BBQ sauce
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup coconut sugar
4 cloves garlic
2 ts smoked paprika
2 ts mustard powder
salt and pepper to taste

1.5 kg pork spare ribs

Combine all marinade ingredients in a large dish and combine well. Add the pork and mix well, massaging the sauce into the meat. Cover the dish with 2 layers of plastic wrap and leave in the fridge overnight.

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees celsius, Line a large baking dish with foil and place a rack on top. Lay out the ribs on the rack, reserving the marinade, season with salt and pepper and cover with foil.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours, turning and basting with marinade every 20 minutes or so.

Meanwhile tip the remaining marinade into a small pot and bring to the boil for a few minutes, until it has reduced and thickened.

Increase the oven temperature to 200 degrees. Remove the cover from the ribs, brush with extra marinade and bake for another half an hour, turning and basting again halfway OR cook the ribs on a barbecue grill over a flame, turning and basting every 5 minutes or so (this will give best results!).

Remove from the heat and allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Serves 4

Monday, October 5, 2015

Back to school baking

The last 2 weeks have flown by and here we are on the official last day of the holidays. Which means there are only 10 weeks until Oscar has finished grade 1 and Charlie has finished kindy and then it will be Christmas! Wow. So much to do before then though which is why I made a kickstart today with a marathon of baking.

Today I made:
1 x big batch Chocolate Granola
1 x Banana Bread
1 x Grain free Banana Cupcakes
1 x Almond and Chia Protein Bliss Balls
2 x Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I find having a stash like this in the freezer makes life so much easier. I can quickly grab something sweet to pop in lunchboxes for a treat, there is always something for afternoon tea even if we are home late and I can take a snack for myself if I am going to be out and about (saves buying something!).

Only half the banana bread actually made it to the freezer though as it smelt so good while it was baking and the kids needed morning tea so lucky things enjoyed it still warm with lots of butter (delicious!).

Then later I also prepped some savoury meals to help with lunch and dinners. The back to school routine is always a bit of a shock to our systems and I find dinner ends up getting pushed back later and later which then affects bedtime. So I love having dinners either completely prepared ahead of time, in the slow cooker or half-prepped because it just saves so much time.

For lunch today I cooked some chipolata sausages and saved 6 for Oscar's school lunches. My tip is to always separate out the leftovers you want to keep first before you dish up the meal because that way it's there ready to go and doesn't mysteriously get eaten!

Next I made a huge double batch of meatballs using 1 kg of beef mince, a tin of mixed beans and loads of veggies and herbs. Shape them into balls and place on a tray lined with baking paper and then pop them straight into the freezer (seal them in a bag once they are frozen). We will have some for dinner tonight, have leftovers for hubby and the boys lunches tomorrow and then still have another full dinner's worth in the freezer for another night. I like to bake my meatballs as it lets me cook the whole batch at once and saves on the mess.

Anyone else doing some back to school baking? Do you have any tips for make-ahead cooking and baking?

Monday, September 28, 2015

Apple Pie Cookies (SRC)

Apple Pie Cookies  ©

What a month it's been! We moved into our new house exactly 2 weeks ago and while we still have a few boxes around, it's feeling more and more like home. I love our new oven and induction cooktop but as we don't have an induction suitable frypan it has made cooking dinner a little challenging.

But today of course is all about the Secret Recipe Club, a dedicated band of bloggers who are assigned a blog each month to secretly peruse and cook from, with everyone posting their recipes on the same day. Today is reveal day for group D.

This month I was assigned The Spiffy Cookie by Erin. In a funny coincidence she had my blog just last month! Erin has a PhD in microbiology (just like my husband), loves the combination of peanut butter and chocolate and her favourite meal is dessert.  I know I say it every time but I was really spoilt for choice when it came to recipes.

Erin recently did a round-up of her top 10 peanut butter and chocolate recipes which included a Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cake that had me drooling over the computer!

Her Steel Cut Oatmeal with Bananas and Cobbler Topping looks like just the thing to pimp up our regular porridge and her Spiced Pear Smoothie sounds delicious. To round out breakfast how about baked eggs with a crispy hash brown crust?

We had most of a box of apples to use up though so I started searching for apple recipes and came up with some beauties like Homemade Apple Jelly, Apple Walnut Pancakes and just last week this Apple Pecan Praline Bread. One that really jumped out at me though were these Apple Pie Cookies which were just so cute! All the best bits of apple pie but in cookie form which I knew my kids would love. Genius right?!

I played around with a few ingredients to suit our dietary requirements but I think these are pretty close to the original and they were AMAZING. Apple pie is one of my favourite things but I don't tend to make it very often. These little cookies had all the same flavours and were exactly like mini apple pies. The recipe made 24 and they were gone in a day. As you can tell it was very hard to stop at just one!

Apple Pie Cookies  ©

Apple Pie Cookies
Adapted from Dorothy Kern's Dessert Mashups via The Spiffy Cookie

100 g butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup ground almonds
1 cup spelt flour
1 egg
2 tbs coconut sugar
1 ts vanilla extract

5 granny smith apples (peeled, cored and finely diced)
1/3 cup water
1 ts cinnamon
1/4 ts ground cloves
1 tbs coconut sugar
1 tbs spelt flour

In a large bowl cream together the butter and coconut sugar, then add the egg and vanilla and mix well. Fold through the flour and almond meal until incorporated into a thick dough. Spoon the mixture onto plastic wrap, wrap well and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare the apples. Peel, core and finely dice the apples. Place in a medium pan with 1/3 cup water and the spices and cook over low-medium heat until just tender. Drain and place into a heat proof bowl. Sprinkle over the coconut sugar and flour and mix well.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius / 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease 2 x 12 hole mini muffin pans.

Place a tablespoon of dough into each muffin hole and press over the base and sides creating an indent for the filling. Spoon a teaspoon of apple filling into each cookie.

Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until golden brown. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out and dusting with icing sugar. Delicious warm from the oven.

Makes 24 cookies

Thanks for a great month Erin! :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

My favourite green smoothie

My favourite green smoothie ©

Wow where has the past week gone?? In a whirlwind of boxes and newspaper and mess, that's where!

We are slowly settling into our new home. It's school holidays now which is such a welcome relief. I think we were late for school nearly every day last week and I even forgot free dress day on the last day of term and had to do a quick trip home for a change of clothes for Oscar so he wasn't the only one in his class wearing his school uniform. Oops!

Most of our kitchen things are unpacked now and I'm getting back into cooking and baking but mornings are still rushed. This green smoothie has been an absolute saviour this past week when I haven't had time to sit down for breakfast. It is my all time favourite combination of flavours and is packed full of nutrients to keep you going for hours.

My kids love this one and luckily they are completely OK with green drinks. If yours aren't I do have a trick to help with that! We use glass mason jars with a handle and lid for smoothies and as our glasses are green, the kids have no idea what the drink actually looks like! They just love the taste and the creaminess and happily down the lot with no complaints.

(I will take a photo of our glasses so you can see what I'm talking about in the morning!)

If you're not sold on the whole green smoothie thing this one may change your mind. 

My Favourite Green Smoothie

1 cup rice milk
1 frozen banana, chopped into rounds
really big handful baby spinach
1 heaped teaspoon chia seeds
1 heaped teaspoon flaxseed meal
1/4 large avocado (or 1/2 a small one)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Place all ingredients into a high powered blender and blend for 1 minute (TMX 1 min / SP 9).

Pour into a glass and enjoy!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Healthy chocolate crackle slice

Healthy chocolate crackle slice ©

Snacks, snacks snacks! That's what we seem be needing a lot of lately. I guess moving really does work up an appetite!

And today is moving day! As you read this the truck will already be here loading our things and getting us ready to start our new family life in our new home.

For anyone who grew up in Australia you will be very familiar with the chocolate crackle, which featured at every birthday party and school fete as a kid.

These are a far healthier version from the Naughty Naturopath Mum who calls them anti-LCM bars. I have to admit my kids have never eaten an LCM and would have no idea what they are (yay!) so I just called it a chocolate rice bubble slice for them.

We don't usually buy rice bubbles either but half a bag came home with them from their sleepover down the coast in the holidays and frugal me didn't want to throw them, but also didn't want them to just eat it for breakfast because they would be starving again in 5 minutes.

These were SOOOO delicious. Chocolatey, caramelly, crispy and chewy and just plain good. Still a treat but one you can definitely feel good about.

Healthy Chocolate Crackle Slice or Anti-LCM Bars
From the Naughty Naturopath Mum

4 cups rice bubbles (puffed rice from the health food shop is better!)
2 cups desiccated coconut (check that it is preservative free)
1 cup rice malt syrup
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup raw cacao
pinch salt

Grease and line a slice pan with baking paper.

Place all dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix together.

In a small pan over medium heat, place the rice malt syrup and coconut oil and warm gently until it is smooth and only just starting to bubble. Pour immediately over the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.

Tip the mixture into the prepared pan and press down well, smoothing the top as you go.

Store in the fridge and slice into bars when ready to serve (you can't store this out of the fridge as the coconut oil will start to melt as it warms up).

Makes lots.


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Easy Pear Tea Cake

Easy Pear Teacake - wholefood - wheat and refined sugar free - dairy free variation - from

This cake has been a lifesaver recently when I've been asked to bring something to share for morning tea and have had very few ingredients to choose from. This is a really simple tea cake and while it might not be fancy it is absolutely delicious!

I have made it with pears, apples and blueberries and each one was sensational. Pears are in season right now though and their flavour really shines in this simple cake.

I'm hoping it freezes well as I will be making another one this week and freezing it to have for afternoon tea on moving day (7 days and counting - aaahhh!)

Easy Pear Tea Cake

1 1/2 cups wholemeal spelt flour
2 ts aluminium free baking powder
1/3 cup rice malt syrup
1 egg
125g unsalted butter, melted and cooled*
1 ts vanilla extract
pinch salt
400g just ripe pears, peeled cored and diced
a squeeze of lemon
1 tbs coconut sugar
1 ts cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease and line the base of a 20cm (8 inch) round sping-form cake tin.

Peel, core and dice the pears and squeeze of some lemon juice, tossing to coat the pieces and prevent them from going brown.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt, then add the syrup, egg, butter and vanilla and mix to combine. It will form a dough rather than a batter. Press 3/4 of the mixture into the base of the tin and then scatter over the pears. Scatter the remaining dough over the top of the pears, like a crumble topping.

Combine the coconut sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle liberally over the top of the cake.

Bake for approx 40 minutes until it is golden brown, pulling away from the edges and a skewer comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before removing the sides of pan and sliding onto your serving plate. It is very delicate when warm but would be delicious warm for dessert with cream.

*Dairy-free version - use coconut or macadamia oil in place of the melted butter.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Fluffy Father's Day Pancakes

Happy Father's Day to all the Dads!!! I hope you are all being spoilt this morning.

My hubby missed out on breakfast in bed this morning as we have to be up early and all pitch in to be ready for swimming at 8am. BUT I did make him a yummy breakfast. Apologies for the terrible photo, it was very dark and very early!

These were some of the lightest and fluffiest pancakes I've made, which you can't always say about pancakes made without wheat flour and buttermilk (I've made some real duds over the years believe me!).  Hubby and the kids LOVED them and they were the perfect start to Father's Day.

Hope you're having a great weekend :)

Fluffy Father's Day Pancakes

2 cups wholemeal spelt flour
1 tbs aluminium free baking powder
1 tbs coconut sugar
pinch salt
2 eggs
1 ts vanilla extract
270ml can Ayam coconut milk
1/2 -2/3 cup rice milk (or any  milk you like)
maple syrup and banana to serve
coconut oil for cooking

Place a large pan over medium heat.

In a large bowl place the flour, baking powder, coconut sugar and salt and whisk together. In a jug or small bowl, mix the eggs, vanilla, coconut milk and 1/2 cup of the milk together.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until only just combined. The batter should be thick but if it is too thick and sticky add more milk, a little at a time until it is smooth and spoonable.

Drop some coconut oil into the pan and swirl to coat. Place spoonfuls of the mixture into the pan (I can fit 4 pancakes in my 10 inch pan). Cook until bubbles appear on the surface then turn and cook for another 2 minutes or so until golden brown and cooked through.

Place directly onto serving plates and top with sliced banana and a generous drizzle of maple syrup.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Spelt Chocolate Chunk Cookies ©

Well the house is officially ours!!! We picked up the keys this afternoon and the boys were thrilled with the big yellow bow tied on the front door.  So now it all begins in earnest. We have trades booked to start sanding and polishing the floors upstairs first thing in the morning as well as measuring the stairs for new carpet. So much to do and so little time! Moving day is Monday 14th so we are officially on a countdown now.

I knew this afternoon would be a whirlwind so I took the time this morning to make something easy and delicious for afternoon tea. These are easily the best cookies I've made for ages. The rice flour gives them a little shortbready crunch and the big chunks of chocolate are a great surprise. SO tasty and they were mixed, baked and ready to eat within 30 minutes.

I guarantee you'll have happy little campers if you make these for afternoon tea!!

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

1 1/4 cups wholemeal spelt flour
1/4 cup rice flour
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
1/2 ts bicarb soda
1/4 ts salt
4 tbs rice malt syrup
4 tbs coconut oil, melted
1 ts vanilla extract
50g dark chocolate (Lindt 70% is good for this), roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 170 degrees celsius. Line  baking tray with baking paper and set aside.

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Roll into walnut-sized balls and place on the prepared tray.

TMX - place all ingredients except chocolate in mixing bowl and mix for 10 secs / SP 4. Add the chocolate and mix on reverse / 6 secs / SP 3.

Bake for 10-12 minutes. They will still be soft but will firm up once they cool to become crunchy around the edges and chewy in the middle, just the way I like them!

Makes approx 16.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Happy birthday to me! and a chocolate-orange celebration cake

Spelt Chocolate Orange Celebration Cake ©

Actually that should read happy birthday to us as my husband and I are lucky enough to share the same birthday! Being Sunday we had to get up early to get the kids to swimming for 8am and also do some more packing and cleaning in preparation for our move. But after lunch we got to relax a little and we had family over for birthday cake for afternoon tea and Indian takeaway for dinner (I refuse to cook dinner on my birthday!).

Now some people might think it's a bit sad having to make your own birthday cake but as a baker I really enjoy it and bonus, I know exactly what's in it and can tweak the recipe to suit our needs.

Chocolate and orange is one of my all time favourite combinations and after much (much, much) thought I decided to make a chocolate cake, sweet orange curd, orange jelly and a chocolate swiss meringue buttercream. Wow it sounds decadent when you write it out like that!

We are mostly sugar-free (fructose-free) in this house and while I wanted this cake to be special I didn't want to go overboard on the sugar. My sweeteners of choice these days are rice malt syrup (which although processed is fructose-free and a great alternative to honey and golden syrup) and coconut sugar (which does contain fructose but is unrefined). I also wanted to use spelt rather than wheat flour and no dairy other than the grassfed butter we use everyday.

I made a few small changes to the recipes I found and was really happy with the result. Everyone loved the cake and it was certainly impressively tall! It had all the flavour I was hoping for and it wasn't too sweet.

I popped the cake in the fridge for an hour or so which was a mistake as it seemed to dry the cake out a little (I know it was really moist before that as I got to eat the trimmings - cook's privilege!).  It would be much better to simply assemble the cake as close as possible to serving and leave it at room temperature until ready.

I especially loved this cake and it will become my go-to spelt chocolate cake from now on!

Spelt Chocolate Orange Celebration Layer Cake ©

Spelt Chocolate Cake
Slightly adapted from Bake with Spelt
makes 2 x 8 inch cakes

230g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups coconut sugar
6 large eggs, at room temperature
2 ts vanilla extract
300g white spelt flour
40g raw cacao
1 tbs aluminium free baking powder
80ml (1/3 cup) rice milk

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celsius fan-forced. Grease and line the bases of 2 x 8 inch round baking pans.

Using a stand mixer, thermomix or electric beaters, beat together the butter and coconut sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the vanilla.

Sift together the flour, cacao and baking powder then add to the butter mixture, alternating with the milk until the mixture is smooth and well combined.

Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans and bake for 25-35 minutes. The cakes will have pulled away from the sides a little, spring back in the middle and a skewer inserted into the middle will come out clean (mine took 31 minutes).

Leave in the pans to cool for 10 minutes before turning out to cool completely on a wire rack.

Sweet Orange Curd
Adapted from Tenina

200g rice malt syrup
zest of 2 oranges and 1 lemon
200g fresh orange juice
240g cold butter, cut in cubes
1 ts corn flour
4 whole eggs
2 egg yolks

Place butter into the thermomix bowl and chop 5 seconds / SP 5.

Add all remaining ingredients and cook for 10 minutes / 80 degrees / SP 5.

Cook for a further 3 minutes / 90 degrees / SP 6.

Pour into sterilised glass jars. Place in the fridge once cooled.

Fresh Orange Jelly

500ml fresh orange juice, strained to remove the pulp
1 1/2 tbs gelatin powder (I use Great Lakes)

Grease and line the base of an 8 inch round cake pan.

Place the orange juice into a small pot over low heat. Once the juice is just warm to touch, turn off the heat and sprinkle over the gelatin, whisking continuously until it is completely dissolved and there are no lumps.

Pour immediately into the prepared pan and refrigerate until needed.

Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Slightly adapted from Thermomix Recipe Community

85g egg whites, at room temperature
170g coconut sugar
pinch of salt
340g unsalted butter, very cold and cut into cubes
100g 85% dark chocolate, melted and cooled

Make sure the thermomix bowl is completely clean, dry and free of grease.

Weigh in the coconut sugar and mill for 1 minute / SP 9.

Weigh in the egg whites and salt and mix for 3 minutes / 60 degrees / SP 3.

Check that the sugar has dissolved by rubbing a small amount of the mixture between your thumb and finger. It should be completely smooth. If not, repeat for another minute or so.

Insert the butterfly and whip for 10 minutes / SP 4 until the bowl is only slightly warm and the mixture is glossy and has double in volume.

With the machine running on SP 3 for 6-8 minutes, add the butter a few pieces at a time. Once it is all incorporated, pour in the melted and cooled chocolate and whip until light and fluffy.

Use immediately or keep in the fridge until required (bring back to room temperature and re-whip with the butterfly on SP 4.

Spelt Chocolate Orange Celebration Layer Cake ©

To assemble the cake

Choose your favourite large cake plate or stand and place a small dollop of the buttercream in the middle to secure the cake.

Trim the tops from each cake if they have domed and then slice each cake evenly in half horizontally so you have 4 layers.

Place one half down on the plate and top with 1/3 of the orange curd. Spread evenly to the edges. Top with another cake half and press down lightly. Smooth over a tablespoon of curd and then carefully place on the prepared jelly. Top with another tablespoon of curd and another layer of cake. Repeat with another cake layer and 1/3 orange curd.

Top with final layer of cake.

Cover top and sides of cake with buttercream icing.

Best assembled close to serving and kept at room temperature until ready.

Serves 12 (at least)

So there you go!! A marathon recipe but none of the components are too tricky and best of all, I was able to keep it free of wheat and refined sugar!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Banana Brownies with Chocolate Peanut Butter Glaze (SRC)

Banana brownies with chocolate peanut butter glaze ©

Secret Recipe Club reveal day seems to have come around very quickly this month, which is a bit of a worry because that means it is exactly 3 weeks today until we move and there is SO much still to do!

Luckily Lynn from my assigned blog for this month Turnips 2 Tangerines has provided lots of inspiration for snacks to keep us going amidst all the boxes and associated clutter.

I was excited to learn that Lynn is from Wisconsin as that is where I spent a very happy semester finishing my law degree at Marquette University in Milwaukee. I have so many great food memories from my time there including buttery chargrilled corn at Summerfest, visiting Bella's Fat Cat for frozen custard and enjoying brats on the grill at a 4th of July picnic (oh and the brats MUST be cooked in beer first before being grilled for best results).

I spent ages on Lynn's blog and lots of recipes caught my eye. Lynn's Chicago Style Hot Dog looked just like what I remember but unfortunately we can't get any of those authentic ingredients here in Australia. I also drooled over her Popcorn and Peanut Mix which my boys would love and these Gingerbread Scones with Maple Syrup Glaze sound amazing and very Christmassy.

But if you have spent any time here you will know we love bananas and peanut butter so when I came across Lynn's Banana Brownies with Chocolate Peanut Butter Glaze the search was over.

Banana brownies with chocolate peanut butter glaze ©

Now I was in Wisconsin during summer and it was gorgeous but in her post for these brownies Lynn mentions the high for the day was going to be -5. That's -20 degrees Celsius and so cold I can't even imagine it! Where I live it is considered freezing if the maximum doesn't go above about 15.

You really can't go wrong with a combination of chocolate, banana and peanut butter and these brownies don't disappoint. Moist and sweet and completely moreish, my boys devoured these and they were all gone in a day.  Perfect for afternoon tea with a big glass of milk.

We only had medium peanut butter so my glaze wasn't smooth but the little bit of extra crunch just added to the deliciousness.

Banana brownies with chocolate peanut butter glaze ©

Banana Brownies with Chocolate Peanut Butter Glaze
Adapted from Turnips 2 Tangerines

For the brownies:
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1/3 cup coconut sugar
3 tbs raw cacao
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 ts vanilla extract
1/2 cup gluten free flour
1 ts baking powder
1/4 t salt (I used salted butter so left this out)
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (I used 2 small bananas)
1/2 cup 85% dark chocolate roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Grease and line a 11 x 7 baking pan and set aside.

In large bowl combine the flour, sugar, cacao, baking powder and salt.

In a medium bowl, mix together the butter, eggs, mashed banana and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and fold through. Stir in the chocolate.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. Do not over bake.

Once cooled, pour over the glaze. 

For the glaze:
1/2 cup 70% dark chocolate roughly choppped
2 tbs natural peanut butter
1 tbs rice malt syrup
pinch salt

In a small pan over low heat, combine the chocolate, syrup and peanut butter. Stir until smooth and immediately pour over the brownies and smooth the top.

Thanks for a great recipe Lynn, it has become a family favourite!!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Healthy Orange Jellies

Healthy orange jellies ©

When you think of healthy foods I'm pretty sure jelly isn't the first thing that springs to mind! But did you know you can make a jelly that is not only delicious but healing too?

I've been reading about and experimenting with all sorts of gut healing foods lately and one ingredient that continually appears is gelatin. Not all gelatin is created equal though and it is important to source a high quality product. I use Great Lakes Gelatin (red label) which I bought online from iHerb at less than half the price you can buy it in Australia.

Gelatin is packed full of protein, collagen and minerals all of which help to support healthy gut and immune function. A great source of gelatin is bone broth which I have been making all winter as a base for soups and casseroles and even just drinking warm with a pinch of salt. You can read about the benefits of bone broth here and here.

Two of my three boys love bone broth and the savoury meals I make with it but Mr 4 won't go near it in any form. This jelly however has become a favourite treat and I know he's getting all the health benefits he needs.

The ginger, turmeric and Manuka honey are all brilliant for coughs and colds and combined with hydrating coconut water and the vitamin-C from the orange juice this makes one seriously healthy jelly!

Healthy Orange Jellies
Adapted from Well Nourished

1 cup coconut water
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice (I got enough from 3 large oranges)
2 cm piece of fresh ginger
1/4 ts dried turmeric
1-2 tbs Manuka honey
3 tbs good quality gelatin powder

Oil and line a small slice/brownie pan and set aside.

Squeeze your oranges and measure out 1 cup of juice into a heatproof jug (mine was pyrex).

Place the coconut water, ginger and turmeric in a medium pan over low-medium heat. Bring to the simmer and allow to steep for 5 minutes.

Pour the coconut water mixture through a sieve into the orange juice. Stir to combine then return to the pan by pouring through the sieve again to remove any orange pulp (my juice was cold from the fridge so my mixture was just luke-warm. Allow to cool slightly before adding the Manuka honey if your mixture feels hot to touch).

Add the honey and stir to combine.

Sprinkle the gelatin over the warm liquid, one tablespoon at a time, whisking well after each addition. Continue whisking until the gelatin is completely absorbed. If you have lumps of gelatin return the pan to the heat but don't let it get more than luke-warm.

Pour the mixture through the sieve into the prepared pan and place in the fridge to set for a few hours.

I give the kids a couple of pieces a day and it lasts for about 1 week in the fridge. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Gluten-free Orange Shortbread Cookies

gluten free orange shortbread cookies ©

With citrus so abundant and so delicious at the moment I've been looking for different ways to use it. One of my favourite things is a whole orange and almond cake which I've been meaning to blog about for ages. Today though I felt like making biscuits and came up with these little gems.

I've been doing lots of experimenting with different flours for baking lately and while none of us have coeliac, I know I at least feel so much better when I limit the amount of gluten that I eat. You can buy some great gluten free flours these days but I prefer to make my own as it lets me choose the recipe that best suits what I am baking.

My top 2 gluten free flour recipes are from The Holistic Ingredient and Gluten-free-Girl.

For these shortbread cookies I used the Gluten-free-Girl recipe which gives a light, crisp and slightly crumbly result, perfect for shortbread. This one doesn't contain xanthan gum so I added a tablespoon of linseed meal which has similar properties.

You will notice there is a lot (a LOT) of butter in these cookies and as you mix them up you will probably see butter beginning to ooze out of the mixture. When I first made them I wondered whether I'd made a huge mistake but actually the end result is amazing and there is no extra butter to be seen - just perfect little shortbread cookies which are crisp, short and crumbly and beautifully fragrant from the orange zest. The house smelt spectacular while they were baking and made for a delicious afternoon snack with a cup of ginger tea.

Whether you need to be gluten free or not, with treats like these you certainly won't feel like you are missing out!

Gluten free Orange Shortbread Cookies

2 1/4 cups gluten-free plain flour
1 tbs linseed meal
1 ts baking powder
1/2 cup coconut sugar
zest of 1 large orange
1 ts vanilla extract
250g salted butter, melted and cooled
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Line 2 trays with baking paper and set aside.

Place the dry ingredients into a large bowl and add the orange zest. Use your fingers to rub the zest into the flour mix until well combined. Add the wet ingredients and mix well.

Roll into small balls and place on the prepared trays. They don't spread very much so they can be placed quite closely together.

Bake at 170 degrees Celsius for approx 12 minutes. They will be golden brown and firm to touch. Leave to cool on the trays for 5 minutes before placing on wire racks to cool completely.

Makes approximately 30 cookies.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Delicious Dairy-free Lasagne

Dairy free Lasagne ©

One of my all-time favourite meals is lasagne. Always has been and probably always will be! It has also been a favourite of my kids and I have some gorgeous photos of each of them on their first birthday pretty much covered in it from head to toe! Now that they are older they get to choose what they want to eat for their birthday dinner and Oscar, bless him, still always choose lasagne.

When I first had to give up dairy I really thought there was no way I could give up cheese. My husband used to call me a cheese-freak but now I haven't touched any for more than 18 months. Go me!

After so many dairy-free months I have perfected my dairy-free white sauce and use it for all sorts of recipes from tuna mornay to macaroni and 'cheese' and of course lasagne. I use the thermomix to make it because it's just so easy but you can of course do it on the stove top and I have included those instructions as well.

Go ahead and try it, I promise you won't miss the cheese at all!!!

Dairy free White Sauce

500ml rice milk (or any non-dairy milk)
50g olive oil
50g rice flour
2 tbs nutritional yeast
1 ts salt
1/8 ts nutmeg
pepper to taste

Thermomix - place all ingredients in the mixing bowl and cook for 7 minutes / 90 degrees / SP 4.

Stove top - heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the rice flour and whisk  together. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly then add the milk and whisk to combine. Once smooth add all remaining ingredients and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring often. Use immediately.

To assemble the lasagne just alternate layers of Vegie-loaded Bolognaise sauce with lasagna sheets (gluten free work well) and dairy-free white sauce ending with lots of white sauce on the top. Bake for approx 45 minutes at 180 degrees C or until the pasta is tender and the top is bubbly and golden.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Spicy Carrot Loaf Cake and some news

Spicy Carrot Loaf Cake ©

Oh it feels like ages since I've been here! The last month or so has been a bit of a blur of phone calls and emails but it feels like the right time now to share our news ... we bought a house!!! After being in a rented townhouse for the past 5 years we are thrilled that soon we will have a house of our own. We are moving in the middle of September and have already started packing. We've accumulated a lot of stuff as well as had 2 more children since we moved in here and there is a lot of sort out. I'm loving the chance for a clear out though and we have passed on bags and bags of stuff to the Salvos already.

In all the busyness my diet has slipped a little and my health started suffering as a result. Nothing major but constant colds and the stress of studying for exams and house-hunting took their toll on my thyroid and I've been feeling exhausted. After trip to the naturopath I am back on the right path and taking the time to cook and bake for all of us properly.

I'm really loving my spices at the moment. Not sure whether it's just my body's way of wanting to warm up this winter but whatever the reason, I can't get enough! I needed to make something for afternoon tea and decided to use up some veggies at the same time. This cake used 4 medium carrots but you could use pumpkin, zucchini or even parsnips for this recipe or even a combination of these.

This was an easy and absolutely delicious cake. My boys loved it and Oscar told me it was the best cake I'd ever made! I of course loved that it go some extra carrot into them along with the amazing health benefits of cinnamon, ginger and turmeric in winter.

I left the walnuts out of this batch but if you don't have littlies add them in for some yummy crunch.

Spicy Carrot Loaf Cake

250g grated carrot
2 large eggs
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup rice malt syrup
1 cup wholemeal spelt flour
1 ts baking powder
1/4 ts bicarb soda
2 ts cinnamon
1 ts turmeric
1 ts ginger
1/4 ts ground cloves
pinch salt
1/2 cup natural raisins
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 170 degrees celsius / 150 degrees fan-forced. Grease and line an 8 inch loaf pan (mine was pyrex).

Place the carrot, eggs, oil, syrup and raisins in a large bowl and mix well. Sift the flour and spices together and then add to the wet mix, folding through until only just combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top.

Bake for approximately 1 hour. It will be golden brown and fragrant and the middle will spring back when pressed lightly. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for half an hour before turning out onto a wire rack.

Slice and serve with butter (if not dairy free).

Monday, July 27, 2015

Chocolate Chess Pie (SRC)

Chocolate Chess Pie ©

Secret recipe club time! For those who are new, each member of SRC is secretly assigned a blog each month to peruse and choose a recipe to post. All is revealed on the same day and today is Group D's turn!

This month I was assigned I am a Honey Bee by Nicole. I had a brilliant time on Nicole's blog and found even though we live on opposite sides of the world we actually have a lot in common (apart from just a love of food and cooking) - we are both detail oriented, hate the cold, are morning people, think eggs Benedict is the best way to eat eggs and love Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I binge-watched the entire series again when Oscar was a baby and I was stuck on the couch feeding).

I also found similar food journeys and she has completed not one but two rounds of the Whole30. I eat pretty cleanly (no sugar or dairy and reduced grain) most of the time and am really keen to give it a go. I have bookmarked a few of Nicole's Whole30 posts to re-read when I do finally take the plunge.

So what did I end up choosing? Well it was really tough to choose and I narrowed it down to 3 - Lemony Raspberry Zucchini Bread with a Lemony Glaze, Paleo Waffled Breakfast Sandwiches and
Chocolate Chess Pie.

In the end I couldn't go past the Chocolate Chess Pie because I have seen the name around for years and wondered what on earth it had to do with chess! After a bit of research I am none the wiser (there seem to be at least 3 distinct explanations) but I am delighted to have made this delicious chocolate pie. I love that this one has cocoa powder rather than chocolate which makes it cheaper and easier to whip up.

I did make a few substitutions like using coconut oil instead of shortening in the pastry and some rice malt syrup instead of just sugar in the filling.

The taste test? It was completely delicious. The top was crispy and crackly while underneath was creamy, chocolatey and sweet without being too rich. The pastry was light and flaky and I loved the slight hint of coconut with the chocolate. The pastry was a little underdone in the middle although the filling was perfect so next time I would blind bake the pastry first to make it extra crisp.

Chocolate Chess Pie with strawberries ©

Chocolate Chess Pie
Slightly Adapted from I am a Honey Bee

1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 ts salt
60g coconut oil, very cold and cut into pieces
60g butter, very cold and cut into pieces
4-6 tablespoons ice water

2/3 cup rice malt syrup
1/4 cup raw cacao powder
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee powder (optional)
4 tbs butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 ts vanilla extract
2 eggs, lightly beaten

To make the crust:

Grease a 9 inch pie dish and set aside. Keep the butter and coconut oil in the fridge until ready to use.

Place the flour and salt in a food processor fitted with the dough blade and pulse a few times to combine. Add the coconut oil and butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Gradually add enough ice water to the mixture while pulsing until a ball of dough is about formed.

Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Press into a disc then wrap in plastic and place in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Once chilled place the dough back on a floured surface and roll out to approx 3mm thick. Add more flour if it starts to stick to the bench while you’re rolling.

Press onto the base and sides of the prepared pie dish and trim and crimp the edges as needed. Cover the pie plate with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to overnight.

To make the pie:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C / 350 degrees F.

Using a stand mixer or large bowl with electric beaters, beat together the cacao, sugar, coffee powder, melted butter and syrup and beat on high speed.

Add the vanilla extract and eggs and mix on high for approximately 2-3 minutes.

Pour the mixture into the unbaked pie shell and bake for 35-40 minutes. The centre of the pie will still be a little soft but it will firm up as it cools. Leave on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing. I baked mine the day before and stored in the fridge then left at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.

Thanks Nicole for a great recipe and great month!

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