Archive for All recipes

How to survive Christmas day with a fussy eater

Christmas day looms and with it is the vague realisation that my kids need more than just chips and chocolate coins over the holiday period. I’ve popped together a few tips and ideas for how to get a few nutrients into them, including a recipe for these turkey meatballs. To read all, click on over to Mother & Baby Magazine, where I’m guest posting today.

The turkey you have when you're not having turkey

The turkey you have when you’re not having turkey

And don’t forget, my 15% off everything sale, ends tomorrow! Best get in quick for all those fabby-marvy-bargains. Did I mention that my gorgeous cookbooks make amazing Christmas gifts? (just use code ‘christmas’ at the checkout).

christmas

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Recipes to save your frazzled ‘December’ brain

How’s your diary looking for December? I’m going to guess that like mine, your family calendar is groaning with concerts, celebrations, covert gift buying and daunting lists of logistics.

Last week, in one night, we had an extra scheduled saxophone practice until 5.30, cricket practice at 5.30 for an hour, then the collection of extra kids for a dance rehearsal (which was miles away) from 7.15. By the time I collapsed into bed at 10.30, I was ready to nix Christmas and all the crappy exhaustion that it entails.

At the same time though, I can’t help but love it. The kids singing proudly at school carols, receiving awards, giving gifts – so much laughter and excitement. If only I can get the stressed, organisation ‘mum’ side of my brain to relax, so that I can take a moment and relish it a little.

So, to offer some help, I’ve had a think about which recipes might come in handy for you during December, to give you a bit of breathing space… (click the pics to visit the recipe)

Nachos. Her latest favourite.

Nachos. Always a kid-crowd-pleaser.

NACHOS
Why?
Hugely popular, the meat mix can be made ahead and left to brew in the fridge for a couple of days. Easy to assemble in individual portions, leftovers are delicious in toasties or baked potatoes. Even better, make a double batch and chuck some in the freezer.
Smuggling rating: 8/10 – vegies through the mince, then more stuff snuck under melted cheese.

Remember these traffic light swirls? They've made it into the new book...

Take a plate of something fun.

TRAFFIC LIGHT SWIRLS
Why?
My favourite ‘bring-a-plate’ for kids. The pastry is junkie enough to lure them in, then they get a bit of veg thrown in for good measure. Plus, they look fancy but are really easy to make.
Smuggling rating: 5/10 – the vegies are a bit nominal, but it’s better than a bowl of crisps.

pasta salad

Tuna pasta salad. Easy to adapt to suit your family.

PASTA SALAD
Why?
This recipe makes a huge amount. Delicious hot or cold, it keeps in the fridge for several days, making it perfect for dinners, picnics and lunchboxes. And it works well with gluten-free pasta.
Smuggling rating: 6/10 – tonnes of good stuff, nothing hidden, but all colourful and enticing

Classic noodle & cabbage salad - a summer staple.

Classic noodle & cabbage salad – a summer staple.

NOODLE SALAD
Why?
Easy to chop all the ingredients ahead, and make the dressing up in a jar. Compile when ready to eat. Perfect for dinner – it goes with everything. Also great for BBQs, either at your house or when you need to take a salad somewhere else.
Smuggling rating: 8/10 – Most kids I know are mad for this recipe and will eat a massive bowl, thanks to the salty/sweet dressing. I know there’s sugar here, but who cares when so much raw veg is making it down the hatch at the same time.

So hopefully these will help you through the crazy season! If your family like them, then you might want to check out my other Christmas pressie – 15% off all my cookbooks and e-books, until December 10. Just use ‘christmas’ at the checkout.

christmas

With that I’m signing off – thanks for another great Vegie Smuggling year – I really appreciate it every time you take the time to click through and read. And I love it when I hear that something I’ve posted has been a hit or made it’s way onto your list of family favourites.

See you in 2015!

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3 words that make me horny?

Sifting through my inbox lately, I’ve noticed that the spam has phased back into the traditional style from the start-of-the-internet, all concerned with penis size, orgasms and my libido. For a few years there, I was inundated with lovely Russian women who were looking for my friendship and then all the ‘banks’ were sending me .exe files that contained critical financial information. All I had to do was open and enter my pin. But now, we’re back to sex basics.

However, without even opening the “3 words that make her horny” message, I’ve got a feeling that the email creator is giving the male population a bum steer with poorly researched advice. Unless the spammer is an overwhelmed and under appreciated wife & mother, who does actually know that the three words that make us horniest are when our partner yells from the kitchen, “dishes are done”. Or when he’s got other helpful things to say, like “dishwasher is unpacked”, “kids are clean” or “you keep sleeping”. With Christmas looming the phrase list expands exponentially. Now it includes, “presents are wrapped”, “turkey is cooked” and “it’s from Tiffany’s”. THOSE little 3-word-phrases do get my knickers all twisted, indeed.

In the spirit of international spice, and three-word phrases, here’s this week’s recipe…

Egyptian Baked Chicken

vegie smugglers egyptian chicken

Just an instagram snap, I’m afraid, no time for fancy photos this week.

Feeds: 2 adults & 2 small kids, when served on rice or cous cous
Timings: 10-15 minutes prep. Marindate all day, 5 minutes to chop veg & 40 minutes baking.
Allergies: this is gluten, egg & sugar free, there are sesame seeds in zatar.
Substitutions: Spring onions, shallots, green beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, zucchini would all work. Use whichever your kids like.
Freeze: No.
Prep ahead: Yes. You can marinade everything all together in the morning and just chuck it in the oven when you need to cook.
Why I like i
t: Marinade is quick to prepare and I can get it ready in the morning before work. Suits the days when I’m just getting home later in the afternoon. And the kids love to munch on a bit of crispy chicken skin.
Smuggling rating: 2/10 – the vegetables are mostly on show.

Marinade:
1 onion
1/2 fennel
1/2 lemon (juice & zest)
2-3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp za’atar (a MIddle Eastern spice mix that contains sesame seeds, thyme, oregano, salt & sumac) – OR if you don’t have any premixed, just add whatever combination of these spices you do have in the cupboard)

700g chicken wing nibbles (these are chicken wings with the point end taken off).
2 large carrots, peeled, cut into sticks
1 red capsicum, cut into 2-3cm squares
1/2 cup frozen peas

To serve: cous cous or rice, coriander, parsley, lemon wedges

Use a mini food processor to blitz together all the marinade ingredients.

Add the chicken to a glass baking dish, pour the marinade over the make sure everything is nicely coated. Cover and refrigerate for as long as you’ve got (an hour is ok, all day long is better).

Preheat the oven to 200C. Uncover the chicken, mix through the carrots and capsicum. Bake for a total of about 40 minutes, turning once about 25-30 minutes into cooking.

Remove from the oven and scatter over the peas (the heat will thaw them).

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Fun (healthy) food for Halloween

Continuing on with our orange food theme, let’s check out a few recipes that are perfect for the Halloween weekend. There’s savoury, sweet and even something for the mums & dads (click the pic to check out the recipe)…..

vegie smugglers pumpkin and lentil soup recipe

Pumpkin, corn & lentil soup.

Roast capsicum ravioli

Ravioli with ‘orange’ sauce.

Orange mega-seed muffins

Orange mega-seed muffins

And one for the adults….

Pumpkin & haloumi salad.

Pumpkin & haloumi salad.

Happy halloween!

vs-promo-1

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Halloween pumpkin…. in a cake

It is the week where orange food rules. I don’t know about your place, but Halloween has seeped into our household over the last few years and I’m happy this year that it falls on a Friday night. It means that we can all potter off to a dress up party together for a bit of fun rather than trawling the streets looking for the rare orange balloon that signifies that the occupants won’t freak out if we knock.

In previous years my kids have been super keen for a bit of trick or treating… until we get to the strange driveway… then all gumption leaves them and they start crying, too afraid to approach the door. Of course then they pester and want me to do it for them, but being a mean mum, I merely point out that following this imported tradition is THEIR idea, and if they can’t knock on the door, they don’t deserve any treat.

Tough love, and delivered whilst wearing a witches hat. Cackle.

Inevitably our lolly haul is small and we end up home earlier than anticipated with the night being more fraught than fright.

So a batch of these waiting in the kitchen might come in handy…

The ghosts look desirous, don't you think?

The ghosts look desirous, don’t you think?

Halloween pumpkin cakes

Most kids I’ve tried these on have liked them – although a few were vehemently anti-sultana, which is why I’m suggesting a choc chip substitution. I’ve not tried it, but I reckon it would get them over the line with most junior food critics.

2 eggs
1/4 cup oil of your choice (I use grapeseed, but coconut, olive oil etc are all fine)
1/2 cup Greek yoghurt
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar (be generous)
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1 tsp mixed spice
2 cups grated pumpkin (if you hate grating, just blitz small pumpkin chunks in a mini-food processor)
1/2 cup sultanas (or choc chips)

Heat the oven to 180C. Line a 12-hole muffin tray with paper cases.

Whisk the eggs well in a large bowl. Tip in the oil and yoghurt and whisk to combine before doing the same with the brown sugar.

Remove the whisk and sift over the flour and mixed spice. Use a metal spoon to fold through, then also combine in the pumpkin and sultanas.

Divide the mixture between the 12 muffin holes and bake for 22-25 minutes until golden and springy.

Makes 12.

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Why I can’t manage healthy eating all the time

Keeping all the nutrition balls in the air at all times is a task that is often too large for me (I suspect it’s too large for most modern parents). I mean, hot damn, if there isn’t a bunch of tasks clawing at us from different directions at all times keeping the domestic tension rising. It makes sense that the pressure escapes in the areas where you have the most options. So while skiving off work or dropping the kids to school at 10.15 isn’t an option, dashing into the supermarket and buying something ready-to-eat out of the packet, is.

So I get it, I really do, the fact that keeping a house full of 100% healthy food is a tricky task that is only achievable with consistent motivation and effort. Which is why I try to keep my blog pretty accessible. I’m not asking you to ferment, or make your cheese or activate nuts or only eat organic. Gold stars to all of you who do manage to do all of this – if you could please pop over and let me know all of your time management secrets; I’d be hugely appreciative.

At my place, I cook as much as I can. I consider but don’t obsess over ingredients and I do try to stand back and get an overview of our diet from time to time. Inevitably little areas of slackness have arisen that I can squish back down with some simple changes and easy recipes.

One area I get lazy with is savoury crackers. There are several brands that aren’t full of additives (yes I know, they’re all full of masses of salt), so a packet of them in the pantry can be a lifesaver. BUT, they’re not really full of anything much at all. No rubbish, but also no nutrition. And considering how popular they are with the kids as an after-school snack, it’s worth the 10 minutes it takes to mix and press out this homemade version. Just happens that this recipe is gluten and egg-free, although I like it just because these crackers are seriously tasty.

Seed crackers - nut free, so perfect for lunchboxes, too.

Seed crackers – nut free, so perfect for lunchboxes, too.

SEEDY CRACKERS

1 cup besan flour (chickpea flour, available from good fruit markets and health food stores)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp spice (I like 1/2 tsp garlic powder & 1/2 tsp cumin, but you can try paprika, sumac, coriander or zatar)
1 tbsp fresh herbs (I like rosemary & thyme)
4 tbsp seeds (any combination you like of sesame, flax, poppy, sunflower, pumpkin & chia)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 170C.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, spices, herbs & seeds.

Tip in the olive oil, the gradually add enough water until the mix comes together to form a sticky dough.

Roll it out between a couple of sheets of kitchen paper until about 3-5mm thick (if you don’t have a rolling pin, just press it out with your hand). Remove the top sheet. Score with a knife and place on a large baking sheet. Cook for 20-22 minutes until golden.

Cool before breaking into pieces.

Makes about 20 pieces

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Did you see that I’ve got 15% off storewide? Use discount code ‘OCTOBER’ at the checkout before midnight tonight, Monday October 20. Visit the shop here…

new-book-on-sale

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My latest (gluten-free) can’t-be-bothered dinner

I’ve had a couple of weeks of working four days a week and it’s always a good reminder about the challenges that working parents face. Finding the time to whip up a healthy dinner when you’re struggling in late with wretched kids, lunchboxes to clean and repack, clothes to wash and life to organise is hard.

By later in the week I’m grateful for a dinner of wine and a carrot, but surprisingly enough the kids aren’t as keen on this combination. They want, you know, like food that tastes nice and fills up their tired bones after a few days of racing about. So this dinner has been making a few appearances. It’s my latest favourite-thing-to-do-with-a-BBQ-chicken (see my previous favourite here). Mix up a super easy salad and wrap it and some chicken in a rice paper roll and you’re done. Once you get the knack they’re easy to do. Watch this video if you don’t know how.

Another advantage of this dish is you can make them and store them in the fridge, perfect for those nights when people are coming and going and need to eat on the run. AND they are still ok the next day, which makes them a pretty great gluten-free lunchbox addition.

vegie smugglers BBQ chicken rice paper rolls

A bit of dipping sauce and you’re away!

BBQ chicken rice paper rolls

1/2 BBQ chicken – bones removed & discarded
2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
1 carrot, peeled, grated
1/2 cup fennel, finely shredded
125g corn kernels, drained
1/3 cup mayonnaise
Juice 1/2 lemon
Pepper

Rice papers

In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, carrot, fennet, corn, mayo and lemon juice.

Soak a rice paper in warm water for 10-20 seconds until pliable. Place on your chopping board. Pile about a 1/4 cup of salad onto the paper. Top with chicken (adults might like coriander & vietnamese mint). Roll up (watch the video link above if you don’t know how). Eat.

Makes 12.

new-book-on-sale

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