Posts tagged fruit

Aaaahhhh. Fiji. And what I learned from resort holiday fun.

Mana Island, Fiji

Mana Island in all it’s glory!

In a happy chance my return from Fiji coincided with some winter sunshine and a cheap bulk buy of passionfruit at my local fruit shop. Which resulted in these sweet little morning tea treats that have me closing my eyes and drifting back off to the tropics (scroll down for recipe).

This trip was our first family-resort holiday. Usually we’re a van-park type of family, but stuff it, I hate winter and a few days of heat seemed entirely MEDICINAL. Of course the credit card may not agree for the rest of the year.

But we did create some pretty amazing family memories. With my kids a bit older, we skipped the kids club in favour of family frolics and some pretty adventurous snorkelling afternoons. It was so impressive to watch the kids step up, overcome some fears and get stuck in.

We moved about, but our favourite place was Mana Island – I can’t say enough good stuff about it and it’s still currently under renovation. It will be incredible in another six months or so.

And my tips for taking kids to a resort holiday in Fiji?

• If possible, find flights that don’t have you up for bus transfers at 3am. Or 2am. It kind of squishes some of the fun out of a short trip.

• Take a bunch of muesli bars and snacks to tide them over from buffet to buffet.

• Smother everyone in sunscreen all the time. Don’t trust the kids to do it themselves (speaking from experience).

• And even though the big resorts want you to tip when you pay the bill, slip cash to the staff who’ve been awesome. It makes a big difference to fantastic people who’s daily pay is about what you’d pay for a couple of beers. I find being the affluent-Aussie-in-poorer-countries thing quite awkward. The lady who was bringing me my cocktails by the pool had four kids under six and worked 8 hours a day, 6 days a week. And she smiled the whole time.

Lesson learned.

vegie smugglers passionfruit coconut madeleines

Regular patty pans will do instead of madeleine trays. And sorry for the rubbish pic – I was too lazy to dig out the good camera

Passionfruit & coconut madeleines

3 eggs
1/2 cup caster sugar (or golden caster)
1/2 cup plain flour
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
4 passionfruit (juice & seeds). Use 3 tbsp tinned passionfruit if you can’t find fresh
75g melted butter
Icing sugar to serve (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200C. Grease madeleine or patty pans with HEAPS of butter – or they’ll stick.

Pop the eggs and sugar into a large bowl and whisk for several minutes until lighter and thick (sounds tedious, but very good for tuck shop lady arms).

Sprinkle over the flour and coconut and fold through gently. Stir through the passionfruit and butter.

Scoop tablespoon quantities into the trays and bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden and springy (these don’t rise much).

Leave to cool for several minutes before turning out and tossing in a bit of icing sugar (optional).

Makes 30ish.

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For another tropical treat, try my delicious little pineapple cakes.

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

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

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Eating just like grandma…

Like nearly every other sheeple (sheep + people) in healthy-food-land, I’ve recently cut right down on the amount of sugar that I consume. The argument that sugar is an evil poison is extremely convincing and I find myself being swept along with public opinion.

Naturally though, my teeth are SWEET, so I’ve never felt the need to banish sugar from my life completely. I know myself well enough to know that it would be a futile exercise that would result in guilt and failure – two emotions that I just don’t need intertwined with my food experience. I love food, I love eating, I love cooking. And I love to cook for, feed and eat with the people I love.

So with that in mind, I keep the sugar debate in perspective. We don’t eat much processed food. We don’t drink soft drink or juice. Dessert is a rarity. Lollies are left for parties and most of the healthy treats I cook for the lunch boxes are fibre-rich with ingredients that nourish.

Which means on occasion, there’s room in our life for sugar. Not coconut sugar, or stevia or anything so fancy. Just sugar.

A couple of years ago, before the current sugar-fear exploded, the common food adage was, “Don’t eat anything your grandma wouldn’t recognise.” Luckily for me, my granny – like the rest of her generation – was extremely familiar with flour and sugar.

Unlike some foodie-types who claim to have grown up at their nanna’s apron strings, absorbing her food wisdom, my Granny was a pretty average cook. In fact it was a chore that she didn’t particularly like at all, which explains why good old fashioned crumble was on the menu so often. It’s a dessert that gives you a heap of bang for your buck. Just some chopping then a bit of massaging some ingredients together, into the oven and VOILA, the most gorgeous treat appears. And did I mention that it’s absolutely delicious, especially on a cold night, when eaten around a table with the rest of your family? It is. Try it.

Just quietly - this apple & berry crumble is a bit yummier than the one my granny used to make!

My granny ate this type of dish often, and she lived to a happy and sprightly 94.


Apple & berry crumble

Feel free to swap out the sugar for other natural sweeteners, as is the current trend. This is a traditional ‘grandma’ dish though, and I’m a big fan of making it with the traditional ingredients.

1 1/2 cups oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
100g butter, softened

3 granny smith apples
2 cups frozen berries
1/4 cup raw sugar

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Combine the oats, sugar, flour and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Rub the butter in with your fingers so that you have the consistency of rough breadcrumbs (you don’t have to be too exact here – a bit of lumpy butter works out just fine). Set aside.

Core and chop the apples. Toss into a medium sized oven dish (I use my 24cm round glass dish). Mix in the berries and scatter the sugar over the top.

Scatter the crumble mix over the top – leave it pretty loose – no need to pack it down neatly. Pop into the oven for 55 minutes until golden and bubbling.

Serves 2 adults and 4 kids.

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An apple cake to impress your kids with

Apples are tippety-top at the moment, especially if you can grab some from a farmers market or grocer. Lucky, isn’t it, that their peak coincides with the time of year where there’s nothing better than a warm fruit dessert. Somehow a mouthful of them magically reaches right down to my toes and spreads a happy glow right back up to my heart.

Seeing as it’s also still school holidays here, it seemed right to make a good ol’fashioned cake recipe. Miss F and I made this one together the other day. There’s a bunch of traditional baking skills to pass on while you whip this up. There’s lining the tin, creaming butter and sugar and all the little baking tips, like making sure everything is at room temperature and if the mix starts to curdle when you add the eggs, chuck in a spoonful of flour to pull it all back together.

Even if you’re not a proficient cake maker, this recipe is easy enough that you can fake your way through it and earn some serious kudos from your kids who will be delighted by the smells and textures and very pleased with the end result of your handiwork. Particularly if you drizzle over a dollop of cream.

Apple heaven, and easy, too.

Apple heaven, and easy, too.



Traditional apple cake

3 eating apples (I used royal gala)
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
Juice 1/2 lemon
150g butter – cubed, at room temperature
Just over 3/4 cup brown sugar
3 eggs – at room temperature
Just over 1 cup plain flour
2 tsp baking powder

Glaze:
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp boiling water

Preheat the oven to 190C. Line the base of a 23cm springform tin with baking paper and grease the edges with oil spray or butter.

Core and slice the apples (about 4-5mm slices). Toss them into a bowl with the combined cinnamon, vanilla & lemon juice. Combine well.

Add the butter to a bowl and cream using hand held beaters (or do this in your mixmaster if you have one). Add in the sugar, a large spoonful at a time until combined well and your mix is creamy and pale brown (it’s worth taking your time with this step).

Beat in the eggs, one at a time. (If the mix starts to curdle at this stage, adding a spoonful of flour will pull the mix back together.) After the eggs are well combined, mix through the flour (mix the baking powder into the flour). Drain off the juice from the apples and stir that through gently.

Transfer the mix into your cake tin. Use a spatula to spread it our evenly. Tip your apples on top – make them look a bit pretty if you like, but don’t go crazy, the cake mix rises up to engulf them quite a bit.

Bake in the oven for 50-55 minutes until a skewer pushed down into the cake part comes out clean. (Check the cake at 40 minutes and if the edges of apple are starting to burn, cover it with foil).

Mix together the sugar and boiling water. Use a pastry brush to dab it over the whole cake while it is still hot, straight out of the oven. Leave to cool slightly before undoing the pan.

Serve warm or cold, delicious on it’s own, but a bit of cream will make it even more indulgent.

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Like apple desserts? Try this recipe for stewed apples.
Or try these apple, pear & prune pastry squares.

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A quick easter treat – bunny tails!

vegie-smugglers-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.

DISCOUNT

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

Wishing you all a wonderful break.
x

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Those stinking, overripe bananas are your new best friend

At some stage throughout the week I find myself dashing into the supermarket to ‘grab a few things’.

The list of ‘those things’ was clear as day in my head while I was driving to the supermarket. But once inside the frenzied walls, surrounded by 40,000 products and a clock that is reminding me that I’ve only got 10 minutes to shop, pay and get to the school gate, my mind goes amazingly blank. All I’ll remember is that the list had four things on it, and that they were eclectic. So in a panic, I’ll grab milk, bananas, marinated tofu and tampons. Only to get home and find that I actually needed udon noodles, olives, deoderant and cat food.

After a few trips just like this, I end up with a dulux-colour-chart worth of banana bunches in varying states of decay. And despite lunchboxes, icecream and smoothies, I seem to constantly have a bunch of near-mush that is a degrading reminder of the inadequacies of my brain.

Lucky then, that I’ve got four sure-fire recipes that use them up in ways that transform my self image from harried, forgetful, middle-aged-woman to sexy and resourceful domestic goddess.

Click to visit the recipe…

Vegie smugglers banana bread recipe

Basis banana bread. Always delicious.

vegie smugglers choc chip almond and banana muffin

Choc chip, almond & banana muffins.

My kids will hoover this, will yours?

Carrot & muesli muffins

And finally, this piece of recipe gold….

Gluten free, egg free banana cookies

Gluten free, egg free banana cookies

‘2 ingredient’ banana cookies

These are called ‘2 ingredient’ since the only essential elements are the bananas and oats. Beyond that, you can add dried fruit, nuts and flavouring to suit your family.

2 overripe bananas, peeled
1 cup oats (gluten free is fine here)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup choc chunks (I just cut up choc melts)

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a tray with baking paper.

Mash the bananas in a mixing bowl.

Add the oats, cinnamon and coconut to a mini food processor and blitz it up a bit to break the oats down a little.

Mix the oat mix into the banana, roll into balls, press onto trays and bake for 15 minutes until set.

Makes 16

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4-ingredient frozen yoghurt

Do your kids fight? Mine do, in fact, they can manage to find an argument in pretty much every circumstance. This week, with a bit of welcome rainfall, we’ve been focusing all our squabbles on THE UMBRELLA.

Rain has been such a rare event this summer that as we were dashing out the door the other day, I couldn’t find an umbrella each, so the two kids had to ‘work together’ (my quote) and use the one large umbrella, which theoretically is more than large enough to shelter them both.

You’ll probably not be shocked to hear that so far with this system we end up at our final destination with someone dry & victorious and someone soggy & bitterly wronged. ‘Working together’ will have to wait for another week, apparently.

Working together perfectly are the four ingredients in this ‘frozen yoghurt’. And it’s a simple blitz & chill which takes about 2 minutes to make. Since the fruit content is high, it freezes hard, so remember to pop it out of the freezer a half hour before you want to eat to ensure it’s a scoopable consistency.

So pretty!

So pretty!



Fruity Frozen Yoghurt

1 banana, frozen, peeled, roughly sliced
½ pear, peeled, roughly diced
½ cup frozen berries
½ cup vanilla yoghurt

Pop all your ingredients into the bowl of a blender (or pop them into a large sturdy jug and use your stick blender). Blitz until smooth. At this stage you have a delicious berry smoothie, but if you pour it into a container and freeze for an hour or so, it will harden more and you’ll be able to serve scoops of delicious frozen yoghurt.

Serves 2 ADULTS & 2 KIDS

PS: this is the perfect recipe to pop in some Superfoodz for kids “C Berry Blast”, for a bit of added nutritional oomph!

C Berry Blast – 200g

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