Posts tagged celebrations

Chocolate balls (both naughty & nice) plus Santa’s consignment notes…

These are the NICE balls... you should see the NAUGHTY ones!

These are the NICE balls… you should see the NAUGHTY ones!

Christmas is THIS WEEK! Yep, I know, crazy – we’re just moments away from the joyous frenzy of gifts and turkey and fun (and plastic things from China).

Possibly you’re still needing a little something to take to a BBQ on boxing day, or maybe a food gift would be the perfect thing to give to your Auntie, so I’ve got easy recipes for both traditional rumballs and booze-free, healthy, chocolate bliss balls. Both are simple and quick to make. If nothing else, they’re great recipes to keep the kids busy (I find their little hands perfect for the rolling, which is sticky & fun). Both recipes can be found in my Kitchen Collection e-book, which you can download instantly (for 40% off) from my newly revamped shopify shop! Code ‘xmas2017’ will get 40% off everything until Dec 31!

Since I’ve been on a bit of a blogging break, my annual unforgettable-Christmas-craft printable never quite made it to fruition this year (of course click here, if you’re desperate to make a nativity scene out of loo rolls). Knowing that you’ll all be massively disappointed(!), I’ve pulled my finger out overnight and popped this little treat together for you.

Fear not loo rolls, you are safe this year, instead, I’ve opted for a bit of parent-craft, designed to give the kids a thrill. It’s a genuine consignment note from the North Pole. Just download the PDF, print it onto card or sticker sheets and affix to Santa’s stash (remember to tick your location on the map). Guaranteed to bring an extra smile on Christmas morning.

I've hacked into Elf-central to grab this for you!

I’ve hacked into Elf-central to grab this for you!

Finally, have a fantastic Christmas and new year! I’ll be back in January. If you want to see which drink I’m sipping over the break, you can always catch me on instagram, which I’ve become quite fond of.



xmas discount-01

Leave a comment »

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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!

Comments (7) »

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.

Comments (1) »

A quick easter treat – bunny tails!


Sick to death of Easter eggs? Needing a bit of crafty-cooking to fill in half an hour of school holiday time? Why not whip up some of these bunny tails. They’re easy as, too. Just melt some white chocolate (I’m lazy and do mine in the microwave, but feel free to use the bain marie method over simmering water). Dip cut slices of banana into the chocolate then toss them into a bowl of coconut (desiccated or shredded – whatever you have on hand will do) and coat well. Transfer onto a plate and leave to set in the fridge for half an hour.

Chocolate is an inevitable fact of Easter life and one that I don’t fight too much. Especially in this week before, I just let the kids get excited and have fun. At least with this piece of the sugar-a-thon you have an activity that you can do with them and you know that a couple of nutrients might be making into them, too.


I’m having an Easter sale! 15% off storewide, until midnight, April 17, 2014 (AEST).

Wishing you all a wonderful break.

Comments (4) »

What are you cooking this Christmas?

Gloriously home made good cheer.

Gloriously home made good cheer.

How are your kids faring in the lead up to Christmas? Mine are nearly jumping out of their skins with excitement. Me? Not so much. For the grown ups, it’s a bit more stressful, don’t you think? So much to do! So much to remember!

To negotiate it all with the minimum of fuss, I resort to LISTS. And I’m not embarrassed to admit that I’m a chronic planner. Long ago I learned that my brain is unreliable, so don’t be surprised to walk into my kitchen and find I’ve got a running sheet for Christmas day, which starts at the time we want to eat and works backwards all the way to what time I need to preheat the oven. Sure, it’s a bit uptight, but for me it means that I don’t have to think, just do, which I find easier after an early afternoon glass of bubbles!

My menu for Christmas day is nearly set. Is yours? I’ll love to see your recipe links and ideas. Shall we do a bit of recipe sharing? You all pop yours in the comments below and here’s what I’m cooking this year…

Christmas Eve – I get off lightly, just turning up to my side of the family with a green salad and the traditional pudding, which is already in the fridge, ready to go.

This year, the other side of the family is coming to our house for Christmas day. There are only 9 of us, so I can do the traditional lunch without too much trouble. I’ll serve a starter platter of good crackers with smoked salmon, capers, chives, and lemons. Freeform sounds good to me – everyone can compile their own morsels. (If you like these flavours, and want a more formal starter, check out this smoked salmon & cheese tart recipe – it’s REALLY good).

For main, it’s a roast turkey. I’m going to use this recipe from Taste. I tested the stuffing on a roast chook last weekend and it was delicious (I used sourdough breadcrumbs). On the side I’m thinking that this green salad with mango looks good and some hassle back potatoes.

For dessert, I’ll crumble meringues into parfait glasses, along with chunks of Christmas cake, ice cream and some poached cherries (I’ll cook them in a sugar syrup with vanilla & cinnamon).

To nibble afterwards? Well, it’s gotta be rumballs. My gorgeous granny used to make them and as soon as I pop one into my mouth I’m bombarded with happy memories of childhood and love.

A cuddle in a recipe.

A cuddle in a recipe.


1 packet plain biscuits (I like Milk Arrowroot)
395 g can condensed milk
1 cup desiccated coconut, plus ½ cup extra, for rolling
3 tbsp good-quality cocoa powder
3 tbsp rum

Line a plastic container with baking paper. Tear some extra sheets so that you can store layers of the balls easily.

Place the biscuits in a large plastic bag and use a rolling pin or your fist to smash them up into crumbs. Tip into a large mixing bowl.

Add the condensed milk, coconut, cocoa and rum. Stir to combine. Use your hands to roll bite-sized balls. Toss in the extra coconut and place in your container. Seal and refrigerate for 2 hours.



Wanting to buy Vegie Smugglers cookbooks as gifts? Make sure you place orders within the next couple of days – especially if you’re far flung. Of course e-books can be bought anytime – you’ll be sent an automated download link at the time of your purchase.

pps… **I’M ON HOLIDAY!**

After nearly 4 years of regular blogging, I need a break. The shop is still open and I’ll still be checking Facebook & emails, but to replenish my creative juices I’m taking a few weeks off (in the background I’ll be finishing off my new cookbook and Thermomix e-book).

Thanks to all of my regular readers – I hugely appreciate your ongoing support of this blog and my business! So have a wonderful Christmas, happy New Year and I’ll see you at some stage in January. xxx

Comments (16) »

Well hello, Mrs Claus!


For some reason, I’ve gone all lavish this Christmas. Things that I’ve resisted in previous years are suddenly my new best friends. I’m not sure if I’ve been worn down after years of pestering, or if I’ve got a special dose of Christmas fever, but this year when the kids wrote down ‘iPod or 3ds’ or their Santa list, I just smiled and nodded.
In the past I’ve kept the material side of this holiday in the background, focusing instead on family and food and love. But this year, neither kid received much for their birthday. And the oldest is now a geriatric nine-years-old and still device free. So I’ve caved in, the deed is done (and the credit card groaning) and now I can’t wait to see the excitement on Christmas morning.

Each year the kids have also hassled for a shiny shop-bought advent calendar. Because I’m a scroogey bah-humbug, poo-poo mum, I’ve never let them have one. AS IF they need any further excitement (and sugar) pre-Christmas! But with the special fever attacking my brain, this year I’ve not only given in to the whole materialistic-lolly-manufacturer-driven debacle, but I’ve MADE them an advent calendar.

But even in the midst of the mayhem, I’m essentially a meanie. They can HAVE a lolly each day and enjoy a big countdown, but they have to give me something in return. If they want to unclip their bag and each take out their lolly, they have to have a drawing or piece of writing to leave in it’s place. Something that they’ve had to sit and think about. Maybe a drawing or sentence about their favourite things, something they’ve learned this year, a portrait of someone they love, or something that they’re grateful for.


I figure by Christmas I’ll have 24 cute pieces of paper that I can staple and store – a perfect snapshot of each of them in 2013.


Now I think about it, I think my Christmas fever is triggered by awareness of how quickly the years are going by, and how nice it is to be SO excited about Santa and family and food and love.

Maybe you want to join in? You can download the printable with everything you need here.

Comments (13) »

Ho ho flipping ho!

I am horrified to report that Christmas is just over 5 weeks away. How the year turned into a high speed adventure, I’m not sure. Somehow since August, the year has compressed and now I’m dreading an impending crash. Because I’ve not done any preparations yet. Have you?

The kids did pop together their Santa list over the weekend. I like to lock that sucker down nice and early. But scanning through I’ve noticed that even the cheapest items will leave poor Santa with empty pockets until mid-March.

Fret not, though. With your mind full of to-do lists, I’ll sort out your immediate concerns. All these meals can be made ahead and stored in the fridge, ready to munch on when you get home late from the ballet concert, or ready to scoff before you head out for Christmas carols…

Chicken pies.

Chicken pies – reheat in the oven.

pasta salad

Tuna pasta salad – eat cold.

vegie smugglers frittata recipe

Mini frittatas – eat warm or cold.

And my present to you this Christmas? Until December 2, I’m offering an earlybird Christmas special. Buy a cookbook bundle (that’s 320 glorious colour pages, full of 120+ Vegie Smugglers recipes) and you’ll receive the Lunchbox Planner e-book (worth $14.95) for free.

So for $59.95 you get the two books delivered to your door and the ebook is ready to download. And just quietly, I won’t tell if you decide to gift on the cookbooks but keep the ebook for yourself. We all deserve a little something at this time of year.


Comments (2) »

What’s your favourite thing to do?

Using my new sugar bowl is on the list too - makes me smile, every time.

Using my new sugar bowl is on the list too – makes me smile, every time.

“Mum, what’s your favourite thing to do?” asked Miss F the other day.

I was a bit taken aback. Like most 9-year-old girls, usually her chat is based firmly on herself, her own awesomeness, her awesome friends or cute baby animals. But looking at her, I realised that she was genuinely keen to know something about me. Luckily I had a good (and true) answer ready.

“My favourite thing to do is cuddle my children.”

“And your next favourite thing?”
“I like to read books, in bed.”

She smiled and nodded having recently learned the joy of that one.

“And your next favourite thing?”
“Reading a book in bed, while my children are snuggled up around me, also reading books.”

She was thoroughly happy with my answers and me.

“And your next favourite thing?”
Bit of a pause as I quickly calculated whether food or sleep is my next greatest passion.
“I love eating.”

More nodding. Then we ran through sleeping, eating cake and eating cake in bed after just waking up from a nap. In an Oscars-speech-style-faux pas, I realised I’d forgotten daddy, so I casually dropped him in there too, in about 15th position.

Finally we had a long list of thing we both love to do and life was feeling very blessed indeed.

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

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

Date & pecan bliss balls

Thanks to the ever-lovely Sonia from Natural NewAge Mum for getting me onto bliss balls. The kids ADORE them.

1 cup dates
1 cup pecans (or walnuts are also great)
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted (zap it in the microwave)
¼ cup good-quality cocoa powder
½ cup desiccated (or shredded) coconut (plus ½ cup extra for the coating)
1 tbsp chia seeds (black or white)

Soak the dates in hot water for 10 minutes to soften. Drain and add to a food processor bowl along with the pecans, oil, cocoa, chia seeds and ¼ cup coconut.

Blitz until smooth, and then use your hands to roll bite-sized balls. Roll in the remaining coconut. Refrigerate for 2 hours until firm.



What are your favourite things?

Comments (14) »

Dad’s turn to slack off (and be feted)

Back in May, I was quite vocal about what it was that I was looking for in my Mother’s Day. Now, as September dawns, it pains me to admit that it’s now Dad’s turn to pop the feet up, be reminded of his awesomeness and generally made to feel as though he’s king of his domain (one day won’t hurt us, will it?)

So possibly you’ve got a big brunch planned. And of course there’ll be bacon, a bit more bacon. Maybe a few chippolatas and a bit more bacon. To go with it, chuck together this brunch frittata. The best bit of it is that you can actually make it up the night before, store it in the fridge and then bake it in time for when your family descends the next morning. Handy!

See ladies, quietly, I’m still looking out for us, even though it’s not exactly our turn.

Impressive and easy - my favourite combo.

Impressive and easy – my favourite combo.

Make-ahead Brunch Frittata

2 potatoes
4 spring onions, finely sliced (use some of the green bits too)
½ punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
6 mushrooms, sliced (about 1 cup)
1 cup bread cut into a 1cm dice (this is a great way to use up day old sourdough)
1½ cups grated cheese
5 eggs
½ cup milk
Salt and pepper

Cook the potatoes. You could bake them, boil, steam or microwave them until just tender (I use the microwave as I find it the quickest and easiest way).

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line an 18x28cm slice tin with baking paper.

Once cool enough to handle, peel away the potato skins and chop into a rough dice. Add to a large mixing bowl.

Tip in the vegies, bread and cheese. Combine well.

In a bowl, whisk the eggs and milk. Season well. Pour onto the vegies and mix. Tip the mixture into your slice tin and fiddle bits around so that the mix is evenly distributed and firmly packed. Leave a few cherry tomatoes on top for presentation.

Bake for 40 minutes until set and golden on top.

Cut into 8 brunch-sized slices. Serve alone or with chipolatas and bacon.

Comments (5) »

Five things we don’t want this mother’s day

No. We don't want this.

No. We don’t want this.

Dear husbands/ partners,
With Mother’s Day approaching and an entire letterbox jammed with catalogues covered in slogans like ‘Make Mum Smile’, I thought I’d jot down some warnings about what it is we DON’T want this mother’s day. Because heaven forbid you glance through the Big W catalogue and be swayed by what you find in there.

We’re happy it’s Mother’s Day. Stoked. Can’t get enough of being reminded that we’re mothers, because, actually, SO MANY days go by where we forget.

No, I’m being jaded. We do like Mother’s Day and the special status that the day brings, but we don’t need our specialness to start too early. IN FACT, we’d be really, really, really happy if you’d pop off to the park with the kids for a bit and maybe we can start the ‘yay, me’ thing around 9am. And perhaps you can pick up a few pastries on the way home.

2. POO
Since it is our special day. We will not deal with poo in any form, in any location for the entire day. Not in nappies, on walls or smeared inside trousers. Not from children, dogs or cats. It’s your entire domain today. Actually you can deal with any wee and vomit, too.

An ex-KFC employee assures me that Mother’s Day is that restaurant’s busiest day of the year. Because it’s a well known fact that mums don’t cook on mother’s day, so apparently you’re going to get us a takeaway from there. Call me crazy, but I reckon, husband/partner, rather than gifting me a greasy bucket of lard, you’d be a hell of a lot sexier when you’re arm deep in home-made pancake batter or a roast. Don’t worry, we’ll have the patience to admire and appreciate your efforts, since we won’t be busy stressing about how many dishes you’re dirtying (that’s your job today, too).

We like music but please don’t get inspiration from the catalogues on the kitchen table. Because we don’t like Andre Rieu. That’s for your mother, not us. I’ll pop Michael Buble, Anthony Callea and Rod Steward into that category too, although others may disagree. At the end of the day though, what we really want is the chance to listen to something other than ‘Hi-5’, without interruption. Maybe in the bath, with a glass of bubbles, while you’re back at the park taking the kids for their afternoon run.


And luckily for us, we probably won’t get them. We’ll get some half-torn, scrunched up bit of cardboard with glitter that falls straight onto the carpet and throughout our beds. Inside will be a drawing of us with a moustache or over-emphasised wrinkles. And we’ll love it, because in a few short years, the cards WILL be store bought, probably from the service station, which means that the kids forgot/don’t give a toss.

And if all this seems too much? Remember to look forward to that little father’s day thing in September, when you’re welcome to present your own list of requests.

And just in case you need help with what to cook us today, try one of these…

Oaty pancakes with strawberries

Pancake batter looks good on you, sexy husband.

Just five ingredients between you and a biscuit. I'll go pop the kettle on...

A biscuit and a cup of tea will SCREAM ‘special’.

Roast chicken is always a winner.

Roast chicken is always a winner.

Adam's bolognaise

And a pot of this will save us from the kitchen for another couple of days.

But don’t forget, most mums will be happiest, with something from the Vegie Smuggler’s shop. Of course, hardcopy books might not arrive in time, but the e-books can be bought and downloaded instantly.

Comments (45) »