Banana chickpea muffins


Suddenly my calendar is telling me that it is OCTOBER! How the hell did that happen? And it does seem to be true – the kids headed back to school in summer uniforms yesterday.

This recipe will add a bit of interest to the craziness that is term 4. It will use up all your soggy bananas AND give you that brief moment of parental superiority as your child heads off with an additive-free, home-made lunchbox.

Banana chickpea muffins

1 cup self-raising flour (wholemeal or regular)
1/2 cup besan flour (chickpea flour, available at health food stores)
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
50g butter, melted and cooled slightly
3 overripe bananas – mashed
1/2 cup sultanas (or choc chips are pretty yum too!)

Preheat the oven to 175C. Grease a 12 hole muffin tin or line with paper cases.

In a large bowl, combine the flours (no need to sift) and sugar.

In a smaller bowl or jug, whisk together the egg, milk and butter. Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients. Combine roughly, then mix through the bananas and sultanas.

Divide between your muffin cases. If you like, top with walnuts (not for school lunch boxes, obviously) or chia seeds.

Bake for 25 minutes or so, until golden and springy.

Makes 12. Extras freeze well.

Full of solutions for the rest of your food year!

Full of solutions for the rest of your food year!

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Five pie-hole fillers, perfect for toddlers AND husbands this grand final weekend

So it’s grand final weekend – a classic time to gather together and munch on some pastry covered pieces of something-not-quite-defined.

It doesn’t take too much effort to whip up your own morsels – these recipes all go far, contain sneaky vegetables AND taste incredible. PLUS all these recipes are classic finger food, suited to toddlers (as well as husbands)….

Click the pics to see the full recipe….

Sausage rolls and chips

Classic chicken sausage rolls.

vegie smugglers pork fennel apple sausage rolls

Pub grub style – pork & fennel sausage rolls.

Sweet potato & lentil balls - nice option for vegetarians.

Sweet potato & lentil balls – nice option for vegetarians.

Tuna, egg & vegie pastry pockets

Tuna, egg & vegie pastry pockets

rice paper rolls

Beef & peanut rice paper rolls.


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The magical power of CAKE and how my kids revealed themselves to actually be competent

My mission recently has been to ‘skill’ my kids. Apparently the best way to help with their self-esteem is not to talk them up, but rather to teach and help them conquer a wide and varied set of skills. Which includes the glorious and the mundane. Sure, learn how to snorkel, read novels and ride bikes but also learn how to polish your shoes, sort through the washing and take care of yourself.

Enthusiasm for the various tasks swings wildly. Feeding the cat is low on the list. They can never remember where the cans are kept. Is it that cupboard? This one? Out in the garage?

Same with breakfast. I reckon they can sort themselves out. But they’re not so sure. What? Find the milk myself? But the container is nearly full and much too heavy for a small wee child to pour. Surely mummy would do a better job….

Which is why I was all agog the other night post-dinner when freshly flopped on the couch I remembered that there was some leftover apple sponge pudding in the fridge. “Kids,” I yelled, between sips of pinot gris, “there’s dessert for you if you can find it.” I mentioned cake, yoghurt etc and in a flash they were off. Five minutes later they returned, pleased as punch with themselves. Somehow they’d found the cake, dished out servings, heated it in the microwave and topped it with yoghurt.

Astonishing what they are actually capable of.

SO delish, and keeps in the fridge for several days.

SO delish, and keeps in the fridge for several days.

Apple sponge pudding – based on a recipe by Nola Treloar from a Country Women’s Association cookbook

25g butter
4-5 apples (any sort), peeled, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp brown or raw sugar

80g butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 cup self-raising flour
Pinch salt

Heat a frying pan over medium/high heat. Melt the butter then add in the apple. Stir every couple of minutes until softening nicely. Sprinkle over the cinnamon and sugar. Mix for another minute or so, then set aside to cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 160C. Grease a baking or pie dish. Tip the apple mix evenly over the base – include all the juices.

In a large bowl, whisk together the butter and vanilla. Then whisk in the sugar, then the egg. Mix through the milk. Sift over the flour and salt. Whisk it all together into a glorious, lump-free batter.

Pour the mixture over the apples. Pop into the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes until golden.

Serve as is, or with yoghurt or ice-cream.

Serves 6-8



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Pea, potato & haloumi frittatas

It’s a deadset crappy day outside today – which seems to happen a lot during school holidays! So we’re making the most of it by doing bugger-all. Miss F is reading on the couch. Mr M&P is fluffing about – a bit of reading, a bit of drawing evils guys with crossbows and a little bit of doing a lovely portrait of mummy.

My boobs aren't looking so great, but at least I'm smiling.

My boobs aren’t looking so great, but at least I’m smiling.

Thankfully my kids are pretty calm little people. They can handle a day of doing nothing – they relish it as much as I do. I’ve always thought that a bit of nothing time is essential for the spirit. Creative juices get to flow about, minds can wander over and around all sorts of random topics. Often we end these times recharged and ready for life. But I guess it is a chicken or egg thing – are my kids calm because I give them lots of calm times, or are we able to have calm times because they’re calm people? I can’t decide.

I can decide that these little frittatas have been a massive hit around VSHQ lately. Peas (my favourite vegie of ALL TIME) with haloumi flavour bombs, all padded out with potato making them almost Spanish omelette-like.

Back to my book.


Pea, potato & haloumi frittatas

These gluten-free little tasties are great hot, but also delicious cold, making them a great lunchbox item, too.

2 large potatoes, peeled, cubed into 1cm cubes
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
225g block haloumi cheese, in 5mm cubes
1 small carrot, peeled, grated
7 eggs, lightly whisked
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (not the powdered stuff)
3 tbsp fresh herbs (any combo of chives, mint, parsley is good), finely chopped
Salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C. Grease a 12 hole muffin tin or line with paper cases.

Par cook the potato cubes by either steaming or microwaving them until barely tender. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, combine everything (complicated recipe, I know).

Divide between your muffin holes. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden and puffy.

Serves with salad.

Makes 12.


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Living in a cheese-lover’s paradise

For some reason I’ve had ‘Gangsta’s Paradise‘ stuck in my head all week. And boy, doesn’t accidentally singing that out loud in Woolies make you look cool! Especially when you’re a white Australian woman on the elegant side of 40. SO authentic – I mean, the things I know about livin’ in da hood!

Possibly in another 15 years I’ll be up-to-date enough to be humming a bit of Kanye on my way into hospital when I’m arriving for my hip replacement.

All I do know is that even the toughest gansta would love a bite of this ultimate macaroni cheese, since it contains not one, but FOUR types of cheese. It’d be good for them too, since it’s packed full of white vegies, making it the most versatile colour-gang food, especially designed for particularly fussy eaters.

Word to your mother. Homies.

vegie smugglers four cheese macaroni cheese pasta bake

Macaroni cheese times four!

4 cheese pasta bake

250-350g macaroni (depending on how many you’re feeding)
50g butter
1/4 cup plain flour
2 1/2 cups milk (warm the milk up in the microwave for a bit)
1 small head cauliflower
1 zucchini, grated
1 parsnip, peeled, grated
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (not the powdered stuff!)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
Baby bocconcinis

Cook the pasta according to packet directions. Drain & set aside.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a lasagne dish with spray oil and set aside.

Chop the cauliflower into small florets. Par cook, by steaming or microwave for a couple of minutes. I then pop it onto a large chopping board and hack away at it with my kitchen knife until it’s all in tiny pieces (you can also grate it).

Pop a large saucepan onto medium heat. Melt the butter then tip in the flour. Use a wooden spoon to stir it for a minute or so until it turns fragrant (it will start to smell like cooking biscuits). Gradually tip in the milk – really slowly at first and stir well the entire time. Initially it will form into a paste, but keep adding milk and stirring and it will loosen back out into a lovely thick sauce. For the best result, take your time and give your tuck-shop-lady arm muscles a bit of a work out. :)

Turn the heat off. Add the cheddar and parmesan. Use the residual heat to melt it through. Mix in the vegies and ricotta. Combine well and tip into your oven dish.
Smooth the surface. Press bocconcinis into the top.

Bake for 30 minutes or so until bubbling and the top is golden.

Serves 2 adults & 4 kids


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This dinner is a bit fancy, a bit good with a noice secret ingredient!

How great is it when you rediscover a ‘classic’ flavour combination that has been lost in the mists of time. In food land that usually means that it’s an ingredient or two that has gone out of fashion or doesn’t fit the current food trends.

But always being a bit rebellious in my tastes, I can’t help but flirt with these flavours a little, finding all that is good in them. And good this soy/tomato sauce/honey combo is. Sure, it’s a flash straight out of the 80s, but who cares when it shrouds a bunch of healthy ingredients and gets gobbled up in moments.

Vegie Smugglers Chinese Chicken tray bake

Chuck it all in and bake for 40 minutes. Too easy!

Chinese chicken tray-bake

700g chicken wing nibbles
2 red onions, peeled, cut into wedges
3 potatoes, chopped into largish bite-sized pieces (leave the skin on)
1-2 cups pumpkin in pieces slightly larger than the potato
4 carrots, peeled, cut into 4cm chunks
1 red capsicum, cored, cut into large squares
1/4 fennel, sliced
8 button mushrooms, halved
8 cloves garlic, peeled, left whole

1/3 cup oil of your choice (I like olive)
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp tomato sauce
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp Chinese 5-spice powder

Broccoli (to serve)
1/2 lemon

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Add the chicken, all the veggies and the garlic into a large baking dish. Use your hands to toss it all together.

Whisk together the oil, sauces, honey and 5-spice. Pour over the chicken & veggies. Toss well.

Bake for 40 minutes or so, until the chicken is golden and cooked through and the veggies are tender.

Cut the broccoli and lightly cook by steaming or microwaving. Scatter over the tray. Squeeze the lemon juice over the whole dish.

Serves 2 adults and 3-4 kids.


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The one meal that my kids would love to eat every day….

Generally a vegie-smuggling theory of mine has been that too much repetition in a kitchen or on a weekly menu is a bad thing. Dealing with fussy kids is hard enough without adding an extra layer of “but it’s Tuesday – we always eat bolognaise on Tuesdays”. Too much predictability will make conquering bad food habits particularly tricky. So I like to mix it up and keep the kids used to coming to the dinner table with an open mind. “What’s this?” they’ll ask. I’ll tell them and they’ll shrug an “ok”, all the while giving it a sniff and checking out the colours.

Which is why our recent trip to Fiji was even more exciting – I completely let the rule book go. Repetition was inevitable since the kids only ate free if they ate from the kid’s menu (I’ve discussed dismal kid’s menus before here). So for lunch, every. single. day, my boy chose to eat ‘Fun in a Bun’. A mini burger of such magnificence that it was entirely satisfying for 5 days in a row. It came with chips (of course) and there was some token lettuce which was quickly tossed aside.

But looking at his blissed out face every day I pledged that mummy would tackle fun-in-a-bun. Which I have to admit has been quite fun. Of course my burgers are meanly sneaking in stuff, but not too much. And there is a certain lazy thrill is serving up a minimal kind of bun, without too much salad or fuss.

And the kids love it.

vegie smugglers basic hamburger for kids

The funnest bun in town

Fun in a bun

125g can 4-bean mix, rinsed, drained
2 big cloves garlic, peeled
4 spring onions, chopped into 4cm lengths
1 medium carrot, peeled, roughly chopped
1 egg
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
500g beef mince

Spray oil

To serve: burger buns, salad, sauces.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a baking tray with foil and place a wire rack on top. Spray the rack with oil. Set aside.

In a mini food processor, pulse the beans, garlic, spring onions, carrots, egg and sauce until everything is roughly chopped and well combined.

Place the mince into a large mixing bowl. Pour the vegie mix over the top and use your hands (wear kitchen gloves if you’re squeamish) to combine it all together really well. Shape the mix into about 14 mini-patties and place them onto the oven rack. Spray with oil and bake for 15 minutes. Carefully turn them over, spray with more oil and bake for another 15 minutes until cooked through.

Serve on small bread rolls with your choice of classic burger toppings – choose from lettuce, tomato, avocado, beetroot, gherkins and cheese. Top with your choice of sauce – we like classic tomato with American mustard.

Makes 14ish patties – serves 2 adults & 3-4 kids.


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