Cheeseburger Cups

These are delish! They actually taste like cheeseburgers. A bread base, mince meat filling, topped with mozzarella, garnished with sauce, gherkins and lettuce.

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This mix made 12 cups and this is based on this Cheeseburger Minis recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 500g of beef mince
  • a couple of garlic cloves
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • tomato paste
  • sliced wholemeal bread (1 slice per muffin)
  • mozzarella cheese (or cheddar)
  • tomato sauce
  • some gherkins, sliced
  • some lettuce, shredded

Method:

Set oven to 180.

1. Fry off the garlic and add the mince. As it starts to brown, stir in the stock cube and tomato paste. Keep stirring and breaking up the pieces until all cooked through.

2. Cut large circles of bread (bigger than your muffin tin) and place in the muffin tin. 

3. Fill bread with mince mixture and place in the oven. After about 5 minutes, place the cheese on top and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes, or until cheese is golden.

4. Serve with a dollop of sauce, sliced gherkins and shredded lettuce. 

They were such a hit with the little ones, I think they might become a lunchbox fave since they hold together so well for little hands. Just put the sauce in a mini squeezy bottle (Daiso have great ones) and have the greens on the side. It would also be super easy to make the mix go further by adding some veggies, such as eggplant, tomatoes and zucchini. Further experimentation required!!

Picture book activities

There are some amazing picture books out there and we have recently done some great craft activities based on our favourite books. Both the kiddies really love making the connection between what we read and what we make.

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We made the MASSIVE COOKIE from ‘Wild Boars Cook’ (Meg Rosoff and Sophie Blackall). The recipe is on the last page of the book.

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I remember ‘Corduroy’ (Don Freeman) from when I was little, and this is a follow-up. When I was at primary school, we made knitted bears and Mum helped me sew overalls for my bear to look like Corduroy.

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Both my little ones love ‘A river’ (Marc Martin). They trace the river on every page of the book and also make sure they find the boat every time. For this activity, we drew patterns with crayon like the patchwork in the book, then painted over it with watercolours.

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‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ (Eric Carle)

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And perhaps a lesser known Eric Carle book, ‘The Bad-tempered Ladybird’. The best bit of this activity was discussing which way we were going to put the mouths to make both a happy and a grumpy ladybird.

 

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‘The Rainbow Fish’ (Marcus Pfister)

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We actually made this entire book again redrawing the illustrations because she loved it so much. It’s a great story – very cute! ‘Crayon’ (Simon Rickerty)

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This one looks a little crude, but it was a LOT of entertainment. Especially when we went hunting around the house for all the elephants we could find! We also kept this box for a long time as a play thing. ‘Too many Elephants in this House’ (Ursula Dubosarsky).

What’s your favourite picture book activity? Please comment below.

I try to keep my pinterest files up-to-date with our latest fave reads if you need some library-inspiration:

Ages 0-2
Ages 2-3
Ages 3-4

Low FODMAP salted dark chocolate delicious tart (egg-free)

My favourite tart recipe in the world is Donna Hay’s Dark Chocolate Pretzel Tart. Dark chocolate and salt? The best combination ever. Ever.

(Her recipe is in Issue 64 2012)

And here is my egg-free, FODMAP-friendly version:

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  • 120g gluten-free digestive biscuits
  • 120g gluten-free pretzels
  • 180g butter, melted
  • 375g dairy-free dark chocolate
  • 1 1/4 cups coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp of your fave liqueur (I used drambuie)

Process the biscuits and pretzels to crumbs and add the butter until combined. Press into a tart tin and throw in the fridge for about an hour.

Place dark choc, coconut milk and liqueur in a saucepan and stir over low heat until melted. Pour into biscuit base and refrigerate until set.

***

The above pic is decorated with coconut chips – they are delish and have no preservatives added.

If you have extra pretzels and chocolate leftover, dip the pretzels in melted chocolate and use them to decorate the top.

Tigereye Tomato Tart

Now this was a lovely gardening surprise! These little beauties grew from some great little seedlings that I bought from Bunnings. It’s a trailing tomato plant, and I unfortunately planted my tomato plants too close together, so I have to pretty much climb into the plants to pick them! When I plant these again next Spring, I think they’d do really well along the edge of my garden beds.

They are so super-dooper pretty. And delicious. And juicy.

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After picking them I put them in this little pie dish, just because it was the right size, but then I couldn’t stop thinking about tarts.

I wanted to keep the tomatoes as ‘the hero of the dish’ as they’d say on Masterchef. So, I whipped up a Stephanie Alexander pastry (see below), briefly baked it, threw on the tomatoes, some fresh basil, dollops of ricotta and S&P.

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When it popped out of the oven, I gave it a quick drizzle with fancy olive oil.

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So good. So I made it again. Then next night!


Taken from Stephanie Alexander, The Cook’s Companion, pg 965

Polenta crust:

  • 3/4 cup fine polenta
  • 115g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 75g butter
  • 1/2 cup cream

Mix the polenta, flour, salt and baking powder in a food processor. Add butter and process until the butter pieces are pea-sized. Add cream until dough comes together. Refridgerate until needed (at least 30 mins).

This made enough for two tarts. The recipe is designed for a ‘closed’ pie, so it didn’t need blind-baking. However, because of my tart-style, I pricked the base with a fork and blind-baked it for about 10 mins, then added the filling and baked it for another 15-20 minutes or so.

Also, because of the juiciness of my tomatoes, I cut them and left them to drain on some muslin cloth for a while before constructing the tart.


I have plenty more tomatoes. If you have any recommended recipes, let me know!

 

 

My fave … of 2014

It’s nice to look back and reflect…

My fave recipe book: Save with Jamie (and fave recipe inside is chicken stew with dumplings).

My fave dessert: Donna Hay’s Chocolate Meringue Cake (DH Issue 74 APR/MAY 2014).

My fave savoury dish: Donna Hay’s Asian Meatballs (DH Issue 74 APR/MAY 2014) – yes, this edition is amazing. Followed closely by her Lamb and Sumac Sausage Rolls (DH Issue 77 OCT/NOV 2014).

My fave read: The girl with the all the gifts – Mike Carey.

My fave TV shows: Wentworth, House of Cards.

My fave movie: The Grand Budapest Hotel.

My fave tea: Tlicious, black tea with cinnamon.

My fave blog: Monkeys and Mooncakes.

My fave garden success: Black Tuscan Kale.

My fave DIY project: re-painting a second-hand plant stand.

My fave baby product: Fisher Price Rainforest Jumperoo (so I could shower in peace).

My fave toddler product: Tupperware’s ‘Sandwich Keeper Plus’ Lunchbox.

My fave shop: Invite Me on Anderson St, Yarraville.

My fave cafe: Butcher 128 (Robert St, Yarraville).

My fave entertaining-for-the-kiddies cafe: Jellybread (Barkly St, Footscray).

My fave take-away: Hard choice between Grill’d and Fish & Chips on Geelong Rd near Yarraville.

My fave place for a drink: Lady Moustache (Seddon).

My fave clothes shop: Pash, in Pt. Fairy

My fave useful purchase: 2nd hand chest freezer (I love being able to make big batches of things and have spares in the freezer, especially for the kiddies). Thankyou IWBSS!

My fave pretty, but unnecessary, purchase: 6 vintage teacups with saucers. Thankyou IWBSS!

My fave parenting moment: Having two children finally sleep through the night. Ahhh….

What are your faves for the year?

Losing the afternoon nap

This has probably been my hardest parenting hurdle. For a few short months, I had blissful afternoons. With both munchkins snoozing for about two hours at the same time, I could do the chores in peace, bake, waste time on social media and drink as many HOT cups of tea as I liked. It was even possibly to occasionally have a nap myself!

But no more…

I started to realise that when the two-year-old munchkin had a long arvo kip, she was up at all hours of the night singing and talking. Suddenly my great 12-hour sleeper was one no more.

But afternoon naps?? What about MY time???

This was why it was the hardest parenting decision. I consulted all my friends who have older kiddies and gathered ideas. As one of the wise mums at playgroup pointed out, it’s psychologically difficult for the stay-at-home parent – in practice, it’s just another step. Another step up that parenting ladder.

So this is what we did:

  • I explained to big munchkin that sometimes Mummy is busy and has to do some things by herself. At that time, it can be her ‘quiet time’.
  • We changed her cot into a bed, so that she can get in and out as she pleases. Just in case she wants an arvo nap.
  • We bought a CD player and I burnt a whole lot of kids CDs. I taught her how to use it herself.
  • We put pretty lights up in her room for a bit of fun and ambiance.
  • We made an ikea hack learning tower so she can help me with dinner prep.
  • All her crafty things (play-doh, stickers, pencils, paper, etc) are accessible, so she can help herself.

1653982_10153482233410021_6623177047601381177_nAnd does it work?

As with everything, sometimes yes and sometimes no. I probably get at least 30-45 mins (but sometimes longer if I’m lucky) each arvo when she plays quietly in her room. Every now and again (once a week or fortnight) she might have a snooze – not always in bed (see photo below)! When nothing is working, the garden usually does. And I still get wifi in the backyard.

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I also try to be very hands-on in the morning, so she seems more accepting of my personal time in the afternoons. I think I’m also better at getting my chores done super-efficiently: multiple loads of washing don’t get hung out until they’re all washed, dishes get done and the dishwasher gets (un)packed whilst the two of them are eating lunch and tidying up happens whilst we play!

What happens when the next one stops napping??? EEK! That’s something for future Sof to worry about.

If you have any other good ‘quiet time’ activities that have worked for you… please comment below.

Recipe Organisation

I’ve gone a bit OCD on my recipe collection. I say ‘a bit’. Some may say ‘a lot’. I’ll let you decide.

I shop once a week. It’s so much better. If it’s all planned out I save money because I only buy what I need. Plus, I can go on the weekend without the kiddies. And shopping without children is like a holiday in itself. So amazing. 😉 So, once a week, I plan. I look through my big cookbook collection and choose 6 recipes and make my shopping list. I have a tick-what-I-need shopping list (inspired by my parents-in-law) that is organised aisle-by-aisle for my local supermarket so that I don’t have to back-track and can be super-dooper efficient.

A while back I found these awesome free printables and I started a post it note system. Basically, I planned out 6 meals for each week (1 night of leftovers) and wrote the name of the dish and where I could find the recipe. This was working great – until I ran out of wall space!!

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I wanted to keep this reference system of recipes I wanted to repeat, so, I needed to go one step further. I watched this video about recipe planning and organisation. And I was blown away by this woman’s system. Wow. But, I decided I just couldn’t keep this one up… I figured I’d slack off and it would fall by the wayside. So, I compromised. I got myself a ring binder and laminated blank sheets of paper. Then hole-punched. And bought an AWESOME binder divider that sticks out past the pages (why are they not ALL like that????). So, all my pretty little post-its had a home.

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Hint: Buy the “super-sticky” post-its. It’s totally worth it.

So, my kitchen corner looks like this. The orange and green binders have my post-its (one for parents, one for kids). The blue folder is my savoury recipe collection and the red is dessert. The cookbooks on the bench are the ones I need for the week. And loose recipes (from the blue and red binders) that I need for the week go in there. It’s also a good place for loose ones to wait until I get around to filing them.

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And I printed one more planner for the kids since the little munchkin is just starting on baby-led weaning, and the big munchkin is needed more interesting food!

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Recently, I also managed to buy a second-hand chest freezer online, so I’m trying to keep track of what is inside (this is just another white laminated page that I can draw on with whiteboard markers) so nothing gets forgotten.

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And finally I have created an excel file for recipes I want to try based on this website’s ideas. As I read through a cookbook or magazine, I can file away the ideas, rather than having notes and scribbles floating around the kitchen.

And it’s all working well! But there’s always room for improvement – hit me up with any other cool ideas!!