Posts tagged baking

Turning pantry slops into lunchbox gold

Exciting times at VSHQ with a complete kitchen renovation just days away. For the past month we’ve eaten our way through the pantry and now I’m down to the SLOPS. All those supermarket impulse buys and double ups that have me now scratching my head as to just how I’m going to combine water chestnuts, lychees, olives and four jars of seeded mustard into one delicious meal.

Tinned fruit seems to be the single thing I buy, but never use. Here’s what I was left with….

I know, it's a massive shame that the leopard print contact that lines all my cupboard is about to go...

I know, it’s a massive shame that the leopard print contact that lines all my cupboards is about to go…

Yesterday I managed to rid myself of the cherries and pineapple (too easy). The cherries were combined with frozen blackberries and apple in a traditional crumble (use this recipe here) and the pineapple worked perfectly with desiccated coconut (another ingredient I always have too much of) in a lunchbox treat that has the kids singing my praises.

You can win a set of 4myearth snack wraps!

Pineapple & coconut muffins

1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1 cup desiccated coconut
1/4 cup raw sugar
440g crushed pineapple in juice. Drain the fruit over a bowl – keep the juice.
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup grapeseed oil or melted butter

Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease a 12-hole muffin tray or line with paper cases.

In a large bowl combine the flour, coconut & sugar. Mix together.

In a separate jug, combine 1/4 cup of the pineapple juice with the egg, milk and oil. Whisk this together thoroughly.

Tip the wet ingredients into the dry. Combine roughly then add in the crushed pineapple. Stir to mix through then divide evenly between your muffins holes.

Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden and springy to touch.

Makes 12
____________________

 

Yes! A new e-book has just arrived in store!

Yes! A new e-book has just arrived in store!

Comments (39) »

My fruit-bowl runneth over with sloppy bananas

Usually when my fruit bowl is all a-quiver with a mass of mushy bananas, I cook this banana bread, which uses up a few in one go. HOWEVER it’s full of nuts, so not lunchbox-friendly, which is why this NEW banana-hoovering recipe has been making a few appearances at VSHQ.

Let’s not kid anyone – this is no bread, this is CAKE. And a yummy one too, complete with passionfruit icing. Mmmmm. Freeze a few pieces and you’ll be ahead for lunchboxes when school goes back for term 2. Sweet.

Did you see that I’ve got an additional 10% off all my gloriously practical and family-friendly cookbooks? I do. Until midnight, Thursday April 9, 2015. Just enter code ‘holiday’ at the checkout. Visit my shop to see the full range.

Nut-free, a litle piece of this in the lunchbox will be pretty popular.

Nut-free, a litle piece of this in the lunchbox will be pretty popular.

Lunchbox banana cake

50g butter, softened
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup oats
1 cup spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 overripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup icing sugar
Pulp 1 passionfruit

Preheat the oven to 170C. Line a 14x28cm loaf tin with baking paper.

Add the butter and sugar to a mixing bowl. Use hand held beaters to cream them together until well combined. Tip in the egg and beat until well combined.

On a slow speed, mix through the combined flour/baking powder. Use a spoon to add in the oats and banana.

Scoop into your prepared tin and bake for 40-45 minutes until golden and the top springs back with touched.

Leave to cool completely, then sift the icing sugar (to remove lumps) and add just a little passionfruit at a time until you have a good icing consistency. Ice and leave to set.

Cut into 8-10 pieces.

Freezes well. Also makes great cupcakes.

Comments (4) »

My dirty-little-secret pantry dinner…

Generally I’m ALL FOR cooking with lovely fresh produce in creative and interesting ways that promote vibrant good health, happy bowels and an I-never-eat-processed-food glow. At other times, say later in the term (mainly on a Thursday night) when all I’m really looking for is wine and a bit of silence, I’m happy to bend my rules to create a healthy dinner with the minimal amount of effort.

So here it is, my dirty-little-secret dinner that is perfect for those nights, later in the term when everyone has their grumpy heads on. All the ingredients can be stored long-term in the pantry or fridge (most of you can crisper-dive to find a squishy carrot & soggy spring onions, I’m sure). All you do is mix it up and bake, then serve to kids who adore this easy-to-eat, comfort-food dinner.

So easy and a total hit with the kids.

So easy and a total hit with the kids.

Thursday night tuna & rice bake

1 microwave bag of rice, cooked (about 1 1/4 cups cooked rice)
180g tuna in water, drained
440g can cream of mushroom soup (YES, TRULY!!!!!)
125g corn kernels, drained
1 carrot, peeled, grated
4 spring onions, finely sliced
3/4 cup frozen peas
2 tsp Dijon mustard
3/4 cup grated cheese

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a pie dish with spray oil.

In a large bowl, combine everything, except 1/4 cup of the cheese. Season. Add in parsley or chives if you’re feeling fancy. Tip into the oven dish, spread it evenly and sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.

Bake for 20 minutes until golden.

Serves 2 adults & 2-3 kids.

 

real-healthy-families

Like this recipe? Check out my digital cookbooks to find a bunch more meals that your family will love.

Comments (12) »

Forgive me, for I have sinned…

Easy & delish. A treat that was instant happiness.

Easy & delish. A treat that was instant happiness.

Sunday morning and I have to confess that I’ve been a bit naughty, cooking again with flour and sugar. I popped the pic on Instagram last night and had several requests for the recipe, so here it is….

Irish Apple (& raspberry) Cake

(this is from “The Country Women’s Association Classics” cookbook, page 458, by Noela Macleod, from Essendon, VIC). It’s a super easy cobbler-type cake – one of those recipes that makes you look like a better cook than you are!

250g self raising flour
125g sugar (I used raw)
125g butter
3 cooking apples, cored, chopped (I didn’t bother peeling them)
1 egg, beaten,
1/3 cup milk (I found I needed to add a few extra splashes to get the mix to hold together)

I also added in about 2/3 punnet of fresh raspberries.

Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a 20cm round tin (I have a springform one which is great).

Combine the flour & sugar. Cut in the butter roughly (no need to rub or cream). Add apples. Stir in egg & milk to form a stiff, lumpy mixture. Mix in half the raspberries.

Tip the mix into the tin, press it in evenly and push the rest of the berries into the top. Bake for 1 hour (I covered with foil at the 45 minutes mark).

Serve hot with icecream/cream/custard.

Serves 8.

Comments (6) »

Bugger it, they can eat biscuits all year

My back-to-school stress dreams started about a week ago. After one particularly gruelling night time panic, involving lists, school bells and missing leopard-print vests, I wrote a quite funny blog post which was subsequently lost when my laptop carked it.

So I’ll have to leave the humour to your imagination and rather than try to rewrite it, I’m giving you a DIY blog post. Just fill in the blanks based on your own family’s back-to-school situation…..

On the first day of school, I have to go _____________________ to get __________________ for _______. Then I’m off to _________________ because _________________ needs _______________ and I’ve only got until _________________ to fetch them. After that we’re off to __________________ for ______________. I’ve got _______________________ planned, but we’ll see how we go. I might have to resort to plan B, where ______________________________________ and ____________________________________________. Then I’ll nip into work for a bit because I’ve got _____________________ at _______________ which really needs some ____________________ before _______________. We should be home by _______ when I’ll get _____________ to __________________ and practice _______________________ before ________________________. I think that’ll work nicely with just enough time to eat ______________________________________ and do a bit of _________________ before bed.

And so we’re back into the school year. Good luck!

Nut-free, lunchbox perfect.

Nut-free, lunchbox perfect.

Gingerbread (good luck) biscuits

Perfect for the summer lunchbox, these sturdy biscuits are packed with seeds, making them nutritious, nut-free AND delicious.

1 cup seeds (I use a combination of flax, pumpkin, sunflower & chia – skip sesame seeds which are becoming more of an allergen problem)
30g butter (at room temperature)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
3 tbsp treacle
1 cup self-raising flour (wholemeal flour works well, too)
1 tsp each of ginger, mixed spice & cinnamon (or cassia is great)

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line two oven trays with baking paper.

Add the seeds to a blender, mini food processor or thermomix and blitz them, to break them up a little (this helps hide them a little AND better helps your body absorb the nutrients). Set aside.

Use hand held beaters (or a mixmaster if you have one) to cream the butter and sugar for a minute or two, until it resembles the texture of soggy sand. (NOTE: traditional ‘creaming’ is to help dissolve the sugar, however these quantities don’t allow that to happen, we’re just giving the mix a good start).

Add the egg and use the beaters to combine it in well. Also beat in the treacle. Tip over the flour & spices (I don’t bother sifting) and use the beaters on a low setting to mix it through (a deep bowl stops flour going everywhere).

Remove the beaters, tip in the seed mixture and use a spoon to mix it through evenly. Roll the mix into 26ish even-sized balls (wear kitchen gloves if you hate getting your hands dirty). Place on the trays (allow some room for spreading) and bake for 10-12 minutes until just firm and springy. They harden up more as they cool and you don’t want them rock hard the whole way through.

Makes 26ish.

Comments (25) »

Beautiful school holiday baking boredom busters…

What do you think, enough alliteration for one headline? After an intense term of school, my brain has started to dissolve now we’ve hit the school holidays! Mainly I can’t believe that half the year has gone already.

With the wind being chilly I’m keen to stay indoors a bit, but I’m keen to keep the kids off screens too, so the textas are out, the old toy boxes are down from the top of the cupboards and my cooking-shy kids are even venturing into the warm kitchen. You’re not going to see my kids on Junior Masterchef anytime soon, so to pique their interest, we resort to baking treats. At least when they’re made at home we know the ingredients are quality AND they do learn a few kitchen skills along the way.

Here’s some suggestions of things you might like to whip up with your little lovelies (click to link to the recipe)…

Traditional American-style pancakes.

Traditional American-style pancakes.

...awwwwww, transported straight to Queensland with these pineapple cakes.

…awwwwww, transported straight to Queensland with these pineapple cakes.

fruit chocolate slice recipe

Chocolate and butter… it must be school holidays!

Delicious bliss balls, with a bit of power-nutrition packed in.

Delicious bliss balls, with a bit of power-nutrition packed in.

new-book-on-sale

Leave a comment »

Cake stall SOS

Do you think the best part of election day is the food? Of course I would, what with me being both a pig and a glutton – nothing thrills me more than a display of home-made baked things or a sizzling BBQ with the waft of bacon.

If you’re lucky enough to be voting in a church hall, then you might just get a home-made jar of jam or lemon butter along with your piece of democracy. Most of us will trundle along to our local primary school where nabbing a bacon & egg roll or sausage in a bread will mean our hands are full enough that we can happily refuse the ‘how to vote’ pamphlets. Then after casting your vote, come out and buy up big at the cake stall. For the school, it’s one of the best fundraisers of the year.

No doubt if you have school-aged kids then have had the note home requesting that you whip something up for sale. Life being the busy thing it is though, you probably don’t have time to help out… or do you? YOU DO! I’ve got your back sisters – these cake stall donations are all simple, quick AND delicious. Click the pics to go through to the recipes…

sally-wise-chocolate-cupcakes

The easiest cupcakes ever.

Anzac Biscuits

Anzac Biscuits

Microwave marmalade.

Microwave marmalade.

...awwwwww, transported straight to Queensland.

Pineapple cakes.

May the best man win….

Comments (10) »

Something illicit for the weekend…

There’s nothing like telling me I can’t do something to make me want to do it. Perhaps most of us are hardwired that way?

At the moment, I just keep hearing about how toxic sugar is, how evil flour is and how my life is being ruined by them both. Except the thing is, I feel good. And I like my life. My body seems to cope just fine with moderate amounts of both without any drama. And did I mention that I LOVE them? In quite a passionate and deeply-needed way.

Maybe it’s just that I’m so far under their spell, that rather than understanding how far they have me trapped in their abyss, all I can see is the absolute delirious joy that I experience as I bite into a floury/sugary concoction that’s freshly baked.

So perhaps biologically they are bad for me, but sometimes, just sometimes, a little bit of naughty can be a whole lotta nice.

Mmwwwwaaaahh aah aah aah aaaaaaaaaahhhhh

Mmwwwwaaaahh aah aah aah aaaaaaaaaahhhhh

Pecan chelsea buns

They’re a bit of work, but a rewarding way to potter about on the weekend.

1 cup luke warm milk
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 tsp instant yeast (just under 1 sachet)
4 1/2 cups bakers flour
1/2 tsp salt
50g butter, melted
1 egg, lightly whisked

Filling
50g butter, melted (this gets brushed over the rolled dough)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/2 cup currants
1/2 cup sultanas
1/2 tsp cassia powder (or cinnamon)
1/2 tsp mixed spice

Glaze
1/4 cup caster sugar
just under 1/4 cup water

Pop the warm milk and 1 tbsp of the sugar into a jug, scatter over the yeast, stir and leave it somewhere warm until it goes frothy (about 10 minutes). Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and remaining sugar.

Once the yeast mix is ready, pour it into the dry ingredients, along with the melted butter and egg. Use a metal spoon to combine it all into a dough. Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for 6-8 minutes until the dough it smooth and gorgeous. Pop it into a greased bowl, cover with a tea towel or greased glad wrap and pop it somewhere warm to double in size. (In the winter, I use my car, which is the warmest, least drafty place – but avoid giving anyone a lift anywhere afterwards – they’ll wonder what the yeast smell is). The proving process can take anywhere from 30-60 minutes, depending on the temperature & conditions.

Once doubled, Give the dough a punch with your fist to release the air. Turn it out onto your floured bench and roll it out into a large rectangle.

Brush the dough with the melted butter (from the filling list). Combine the other filling ingredients and scatter them over the entire surface. Roll up the dough from the longest side. Cut into 12 equal pieces. Place cut side down into another greased baking tray. Recover and leave that to prove for another 30 minutes or so.

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Add the glaze sugar and water together in a small saucepan over medium/high heat. Stir to melt the sugar. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer it for a couple of minutes to thicken. Set aside.

Remove the cover off the bread and bake for 15 – 20 minutes until golden and springy. Take the buns out of the oven and brush over the glaze (you might not need all of it).

EAT. Enjoy. Makes 12.

_______________

GOT A THERMOMIX? Chuck all the dough ingredients in the bowl and mix speed 6 for 12-15 seconds. Then knead for 6 minutes. Turn out and follow the recipe as normal.

Right then (she says dusting off her floured hands), where’s the wine?

Comments (15) »

Ideas for a fun Easter

Ready and waiting

Ready and waiting

Lordy me, wasn’t it just summer? Looking at the calendar I see that Easter has rolled around again! Bit early this year and not wedged into the middle of school holidays.

The bright side of the unusual timing is that there’s an Easter bonnet parade to enjoy at school this year. Odd celebration isn’t it. Apparently it started when the tradition was to have new springtime clothes to parade about in. The lovely new threads would guarantee you luck and abundance over the coming harvest.

Of course in Australia that tradition is ridiculous (especially since it’s Autumn), so we celebrate instead by sticking cardboard chickens on our kid’s heads and taking a heap of incriminating photos.

Easter baking is more something I can relate to. You can find my hot happy buns recipe here. This year I’ve got a couple of new things I want to try. This Easter bread looks interesting and I’m keen to try this Russian kulich recipe. Although I’m not sure what they mean by citron – I guess it’s lemon rind and then I’m planning on adding in some dried fruit too. There’s no citron in the kulich recipe listed on the ‘Orthodoxy and the World’ website, but there is saffron and vodka, which sounds a bit irresistible. And for ridiculous cuteness, it’s hard to beat these Martha Stewart chicken cupcakes.

Staying with friends a couple of years ago, they introduced us to their family tradition of drawing a picture and leaving it for the Easter bunny. It’s a tribute picture of course, featuring the magical rodent himself. It’s a cute idea and one that leads to a nice record of how your kids change and grow each year.

If it’s just a bit of colouring you want, then I’ve done up an Easter colouring-in page. There’s not a vegie in sight, but hey, there’s only one Sunday in the year when you’ve got permission to eat as much chocolate as you like, so let’s enjoy it.

A bunny, eggs and cute stuff to colour.

A bunny, eggs and cute stuff to colour.

What happens at your place? Are you campers? Is there a particular feast? Or maybe you’re one of the fabulous people who head to church and understand was the whole celebration is really about.

Comments (8) »