Friday, 10 July 2015

Mama Meals On Wheels

As much as I love to cook, when I brought my first baby home, I had no capacity for cooking.  I was in a complete baby haze.  I had made a few meals ahead and stored in the freezer, but not enough to see my non cooking husband and me through!

The first day we arrived home from the hospital my mum brought over soup and a friend brought over pumpkin pizza from our favourite authentic Italian restaurant.  Another friend, whom I lived 3.5 minutes away from brought us her leftovers many times in the first few weeks. I think she was surprised that I had completely lost my cooking mojo!  These people helped a lot and saved us from eating rubbishy food.  It was especially helpful for me as I struggled to breastfeed and produce milk - nutritious and filling food was a massive help.  When our little boy was in the hospital last year, one of my lovely friends drove across town with her baby in the car just to drop a healthy dinner off to us - her thoughtfulness lifted our stressed out spirits beyond belief!!!

I have always made food for new mama friends but this post by Nicole from Planning With Kids opened up many more ideas and how helpful it could be.  I've been revamping and extending my Mama Meals on Wheels care packages over the last 5 years and I thought I'd share some of my ideas with you.

I always send most items already frozen and in individual portions.  This enables the recipient to eat it when they need it most.  I always send mostly savoury food and try to make it a complete meal as often as possible so they don't need to do side veggies.  I do send something sweet along too though.

- individual pies (you could do free form square ones - a piece of puff pastry quartered) - beef & burgandy or cauliflower and cheese or chicken and leek. These are ace because they freeze well, reheat easily and are a complete meal with veggies contained so no need for side dishes.

- curry
                - meat or veg - this one by the lovely Cat is fabulous and freezes well.

- savoury muffins -  my recipe is here or this more grown up, gourmet version from 101 Cookbooks is excellent.

- quinoa burgers/patties - already cooked so they just need to reheat. 

- shepards pie - no pastry, just meat (or veg) with potato or sweet potato mash on top

- soup
              - roasted pumpkin soup
              - chicken and veggie soup

- Lasagna - beef
                - pumpkin & pine nut 
                - chicken, zucchini & cherry tomato lasagna 
                - roasted cauliflower & brocolli

- bolognese sauce

- apple & raspberry crumble

- sweet muffins - freeze and defrost really well

- granola

- lemon cordial

- slice - raspberry, coconut & choc chip

- ice cream or frozen yoghurt - just a small tub but it's a lovely, special treat.  I usually make my Dulce de Leche Ice Cream or David Lebowitz's Buttered Pecan.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Zucchini, cacao and seedy muffins

Hello!

We currently have a MASSIVE zucchini crop and I'm putting them in basically everything.  Crumbed zucchini, chicken and veggie lasagna, mexican chicken and veg, roasted zucchini soup, stuffed zucchini flowers etc etc.  My kids are about to head back to school and kinder (sob!!!) so it's time to start filling the freezer.  I'm trying to use more coconut flour lately just to give us some variety from wheat flour.  After googling I found this recipe and changed it up to make it nut free and also added extra seeds on top and make use of what ingredients I had on hand.  These are full of protein and will keep my little busy bees going during their long days at school and kinder.


My 4 year old is super fussy with what he eats, but he picked the zucchini from the garden and helped me make these and he loved them! Whoo hoo!



Zucchini, seed and cacao muffins

Ingredients:
- 1 cup of seed butter (I used half sunflower seed butter and half tahini because I had half a jar of each on hand)

- 1 cup of finely grated zucchini (liquid squeezed out)

- 2 eggs

- 1/3 cup maple syrup

- 4 tablespoons of coconut flour

- 2 tablespoons of chia seeds

- 1.5 tablespoons of raw cacao

- 1 teaspoon of baking powder

- sunflower seeds to sprinkle on top


Method:
- preheat oven to 170 degrees celcius

- line your muffin tray with paper cases - this recipe makes approximately 12 large muffins, or 18 smaller medium sized ones

- mix together seed butter, eggs & maple syrup until no lumps are left - I used the kitchen mixer

- gently stir in coconut flour, chia seeds, cacao, baking powder and zucchini until smooth

- fill cup cake cases half full with mixture 

- top with a sprinkling of sunflower seeds




- bake at 170 degrees for 15-18 minutes depending on the size of your muffins





Enjoy!!!!

Love Amy xoxoxo

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate & Other Homemade Christmas Gifts

Hello!

You may have noticed if you follow along on Instagram or if you've seen this post, that I do so LOVE making edible homemade gifts. I always enjoy baking gifts for family, friends and my kids amazing teachers.

This was a gift for my son's incredible prep teacher:

This year the gorgeous and lovely Chantelle from Fat Mum Slim paid me the highest compliment. She asked me to bake gifts for her favourite people for Christmas. To have her like what I make (she's had a few taste tests over the years!) was a thrill! Chantelle sprinkles happiness and loveliness with the things she does online. The photo a day phenomenon has spread all over the world and is such a lovely way of looking for the good, beauty and creativity in your day.  I just adore Chantelle and appreciate what she shares of herself.  I was extremely chuffed to help her share some loveliness with her friends and family and contacts. All of the items I made needed to be able to be posted to various parts of Australia so nothing perishable or totally crushable was my main aim!

What I put in the boxes of yummo:

- Dulce de Leche Shortbread Sandwiches - recipe can be found here.  These are always a favourite and are super easy to make!



- The fabulous Lorraine from Not Quite Nigella's Snickers Rocky Road - recipe can be found here.



- My trusty awesome White Chocolate, Toasted Macadamia, Toasted Coconut & Cranberry Rocky Road. I shall endeavour to post the recipe for this too, but you could easily wing it if you wanted to give it a go!



- My staple Maple Muesli. You can find a version of the recipe here, but these days I use coconut oil and skip the golden syrup just using maple syrup and almond is my fave variety at the moment.  It's a ridiculously versatile recipe that I switch around depending on the seeds and nuts on hand.




- Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Mix. I know it's summer in Australia but a few years ago when Jamie Oliver made this recipe, I had to try it!  My version had to be salted caramel because I am OBSESSED with salted caramel!



My recipe is below, but in the meantime, here are some cute photos of the packages I made for Chantelle's peeps and some that I made for my kids teachers for end of year gifts.






Kinder & school teacher gifts:



Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Mix

Ingredients:
Caramel:
- 2.5 cups of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla paste or extract
- 1 teaspoon of sea salt flakes

Chocolate Mix:
- 1.5 cups of cocoa (I used 1 cup of dutch process cocoa powder and 1/2 cup of raw cacao)
- 3/4 cup of brown sugar
- 1/2 cup of malted milk powder
- 1/2 cup of powered milk
- 250 grams of best quality chocolate finely grated. I used a combination of dark and milk and used Lindt and Green and Blacks organic chocolate
- 1-2 tablespoons of sea salt flakes depending on your salt/sweet preferences.

Method:
Caramel:
- cook the sugar in a pan swirling the pan but not stirring until a dark caramel forms

 

- at the last minute, stir through the vanilla. Have a lined baking tray ready to go because although the caramel takes awhile, at the end it's very quick from going to a lovely deep caramel to burnt so as soon as you've got it to the desired level, pour straight away on to the lined tray. Sprinkle with sea salt.



- allow to cool completely
- shatter the caramel up - best method is putting it inside a big zip lock bag and then putting the bag inside a tea towel and then bash it with a rolling pin.  You can then blitz it in a food processor until it becomes a gorgeous fine praline.






Chocolate Mix:
- keep the grated chocolate aside
- add all of the other ingredients to the caramel praline and blitz until a gorgeous chocolatey power occurs. Don't blitz for too long as you want to keep a few teeny tiny bits of caramel - these taste incredible in the hot chocolate at the end!
- fold through the grated chocolate and you're done!





To serve:
- stir 2-3 tablespoons of chocolate mix in to a cup of warm milk.
- to make it totally off the chain, add in a toasted marshmallow or two!




I hope you all have a lovely, safe and happy Christmas!

Take care.

Love Amy xoxo

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Carrot, Apple & Coconut Muffins and Cakes

Ok, I'm worst food blogger ever! There's a good way to start!  Hopefully I can redeem myself with this ridiculously easy but delicious recipe!





I think I keep putting off posting recipes because I don't have photos of all of the steps in the process of the recipes. I LOVE recipes with photos of every step. But with 3 kids under foot, the days of me having the opportunity to take step by step photos of everything I make are few and far between.  So, rather than putting off sharing recipes any further, I now will endeavour to post a recipe even if I only have one photo of the finished product *gasps in horror!!!!*.  I also don't have that much to say, so the future posts may be short and sweet but will be documenting recipes I've made and loved. Keep it simple stupid! And as my friend Claire says - you're not building a piano!!!!  This little blog can be a recipe journal with a photo here and there. Onwards and upwards!

So, here's a recipe that I've made about a dozen times in the past year. A firm lunchbox favourite. Extremely adaptable!  You can make it as muffins or as larger cakes.  I made it as for my little Lady Babycake's first birthday cake. It's delicious! When I'm just making it for lunchboxes, I lower the maple syrup amount but for birthday cakes, I use the full amount. You don't have to use spelt flour or any wholemeal if you don't want to, but I tried it with spelt flour (regular and wholemeal combination) and it's my fave!!!! I'm converted!!!  For any info on the health benefits of spelt, I suggest you google and look for your own evidence. I'm happy that it's a healthier option and even happier that it's also tastier!  I just bought it from Woolworths - the Macro brand (not sponsored, just saw it and bought it!).

Next time I'm going to try it with coconut flour.  Not because I'm gluten free or in to fad food, but I love experimenting with different products and wheat free baking is good for a change. I've been using coconut flour lots lately and love it. Makes for super tasty and non dry cakes and muffins.

Whilst I'm on the topic, here are a couple of further thoughts on fad foods and wholefoods. I, clearly, love to cook. I also love to bake sweet things. But with 3 kids 5 and under, I'm getting more and more mindful of what foods are better choices for them and for me.  There are lots of fad foods out there at the moment. Some are awesome, some are gross! Um, maca powder - ewwwwww!!!!  I know it's supposed to be awesome but I can't stand it!  The approach I am taking with 80-90% of the food in our house is wholefoods. Fruit, vegetables, meat, chicken, fish, nuts, legumes, dairy, grains etc. The best quality and freshest we can afford, grow and/or find. No food groups are excluded, but different choices are being experimented with. For example, I no longer use vegetable oil, instead I use proper butter, extra virgin olive oil and cold pressed, unrefined coconut oil. It's not about fat, it's about how wholesome it is.  Less processed sugar is also happening. But I can assure you that I have not jumped on the "I quit sugar" bandwagon! Fruit is awesome. Maple syrup is delicious! And sometimes, you just NEED to make salted caramel brownies jam packed full of refined sugar!!!! ;-) I could continue to ramble on about this, but I won't. Instead, I will introduce you to these 3 awesome ladies:

- No nonsense nutrition guru Katie180. Visit her blog or follow her on Facebook for some little pearls of wisdom.  No extremes and loads of interesting information.  Plus she likes cake :-)

- The fabulous Heidi at Apples Under My Bed is a dietitian who loves to eat and cooks the most delicious food. I've made lots of her recipes and I'm inspired daily by her instgram feed.  A fellow Melbournian and an awesome chick.

- Bianca at Wholefood Simply has so many straight forward but gorgeous recipes- particularly baked goods with healthier ingredients.  I made her coconut bread in muffin form yesterday and they were awesome!

All 3 blogs are full of really ace recipes that are delicious, simple and mostly wholesome without any deprivation!

Ok, what was I saying earlier about having nothing to say?!?! See why I don't blog very often?! I start rambling.

Here's the recipe! Finally!

Carrot, Apple & Coconut Muffins and Cakes

Ingredients:
150 grams of spelt flour
100 grams of spelt wholemeal flour
80 grams (1 cup) of coconut
3 teaspoons of baking powder
80grams of cold pressed, unrefined coconut oil, melted
3 eggs, lightly whisked
75-125ml of pure maple syrup (not the imitation stuff!) depending on your preference.
3 carrots, grated (squeeze some of the juice out and discard or drink it!)
2 apples, grated (same as with the carrot juice!)



Method:
- Preheat oven to 160 degrees
- Mix all of the ingredients together with a wooden spoon.  That's how easy this recipe is!




- pour in to patty pan cases or lined and greased (with coconut oil) cake tins







For muffins/cupcakes - bake for approximately 15 minutes depending on the size you use - I make about 36 medium muffins from this recipe usually but have also made larger ones and mini ones.  Once the muffins are golden and cooked all the way through, they're done.  Here's some photos of the muffin version that are a regular lunchbox item for my kiddos.




For larger cakes - bake for approximately 30-40 minutes. I made 3 small, flat cakes with this recipe ready to be stacked with maple cream cheese frosting - yummo!!!!  Here's some pics of the cake as seen at Lady Babycakes First Birthday.











I hope you try these and love them as much as we do!

I shall endeavour to post another recipe soon….I have about 20 waiting in the wings...

Love Amy xoxo

Monday, 7 October 2013

Apple and Rhubarb Crumble Cake

Hello lovely readers!

Apologies again for the sporadic and neglectful manner I have been updating this blog! I have about 20 posts drafted and half finished so I hope to eventually get them all completed and published soon...maybe when my youngest goes to school in about 5 years?!?!?! Anyway, here's one I had to type up urgently before I forgot how I made it!

For those of you who are on Instagram, you might have seen this little beauty being created on the weekend. It was goooooooooooooooooood!!!



I served it with warm vanilla custard – I used this recipe as a base but used milk instead of cream, raw caster sugar instead of white (caramel flavour!), doubled the cornflour and used vanilla paste instead of extract. Worked a treat!



Ingredients:
- 100g butter, softened
- 50g  brown sugar
- 50g raw caster sugar (regular caster sugar is fine)
- 150g plain flour
- 50g cornflour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 3 eggs
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla paste
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 6 sticks of rhubarb (it was a bit less than a full bunch – I saved some to stew to go with my porridge for breakfast!)
- 2 granny smith apples
- ½ lemon



For the crumble:
- 125g plain flour
- 125g butter, cubed and keep cold in the fridge
- 50g brown sugar
- 50 g raw caster sugar
- 25 demerara sugar (you can use 125g of just one type of sugar if you like! I just used the combination of what I had and what I like.)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste

Method:

Preheat oven to 160-170 degrees Celsius.

Grease and line a 25cm spring form tin. You could use a smaller one but adjust the cooking time as it will be a higher cake.



For the crumble:
Mix together all of the ingredients aside from the demerara sugar in a food processor until it’s like chunky bread crumbs. Don’t over mix – it’s good to have little chunks of butter. You could do this by hand if you don’t want to use a food processor. Then add the demerara sugar and give one last quick mix. Set the crumble mix aside in the fridge to stay cold.



For the cake:

Cut the rhubarb into 1-2cm pieces and peel, core and cut the apples in to 2cm cubes. Toss the fruit together with 1 tablespoon of the caster sugar and a big squeeze of lemon juice. Set aside.



Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla with an electric beater for several minutes until smooth and fluffy. Add the eggs – do this very slowly so the mixture doesn't split! I usually add some of the flour in if it’s looking like it’s going to split. Add both flours and the lemon zest and beat until smooth. Finally add the baking powder and gently incorporate.

Poor the cake mixture in to the lined pan and spread out evenly.



Remove most of the liquid from the fruit and then add the fruit on top of the cake mixture.



Add the crumble mixture on top in a reasonably even manner.



Bake for 1-1 ¼ hours depending on your oven. You want the top to be nice and brown with a crunch, the centre to be cooked through and the base to be lovely and cooked. I cooked my cake for 1 and  ¼  hours at 160 degrees fan forced. Test with a skewer to be sure and keep an eye on it as you don't want it to burn if you have a super hot oven!  Leave to cool in tin. Then remove from tin, peel off the baking paper and serve at room temperature with warm custard or on it’s own.







Let me know if you try this one and if you enjoy it!!! It’s a large cake – we served 12 people and even froze two slices for another day.

Love Amy xoxo