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!!

Baking oven-tures

I’ve had a lot of crappy ovens in my life.

In our first rental, the oven looked straight out of the 50s. And probably hadn’t been cleaned since then. It cooked a main meal ok, but baking was a challenge. Gas, but no fan.

Our first apartment in Beijing had no oven. But we had 5 kuai noodles at the doorstep… who needs to cook? Plus, in a department store, we learnt how to make a cake in a wok. Sorted.

Our second apartment also had no oven, but I was beginning to itch. We bought a little convection oven, which we kept on the indoor balcony as I was a bit alarmed at how hot the outer surface got, and thought it might melt bits of our rental kitchen. Supposedly you can roast a whole chook in these. Supposedly.

Surprisingly, our third apartment came with an oven! Again, possibly from the 50s, so maybe 80s China? Gas, no fan, also no temperature gauge. Basically, the longer you left it on, the hotter it got. This was probably the biggest baking challenge by far. It was also imperative that you decided which cutlery you needed before the meal because once you got that baby going, there was no chance in hell you could open the quickly expanding drawers up against the oven. It also had a non-functioning side-warming compartment. Useful for storing objects that didn’t melt.

I wish I had a photo… will keep looking…

Back to Australia, and I was a bit disappointed to find that our kitchen was electric, rather than gas. It took me a long time to get used to it, yet still I burnt things on the outside, and had to be so careful and attentive.

And then it died.

And got replaced.

And I realised that baking is a million times easier with an oven that works. My first meal of ‘The Petite Kitchen’s’ lavender chook was the most delicious ever… and I’ve been cooking it for ages. My eyes widened as I realised the baking opportunities, and threw myself into a baking frenzy. Especially after finishing uni and not having an oven for 10 days or so!

So, I wish to share two exciting recipes with you.

The first is a Chocolate Caramel Poke Cake from the Coles magazine. Woah. Hold onto your pants with this one. I’m looking forward to playing with this recipe and trying out some different flavour combos.

The second is a low-FODMAP, vegan-friendly banana pudding. The original recipe has been tweaked from Donna Hay Issue 81, p132.

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  • 250g coconut oil, melted 
  • 2-3 bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp chia, 6 tbsp water, briefly mixed and soaked (as an egg replacement)
  • 1.5 cups of GF SR flour (I used the Aldi one)
  • Dark chocolate pieces, to taste

Mix the first 5 ingredients, stir through the chocolate, and bake in individual ramekins at 180 for about 15-20 mins.

Note: These are quite oily, but they don’t feel heavy, as it is coconut oil, rather than butter. But you may wish to put less oil.

Whilst the puddings are baking, make the caramel. This isn’t a true caramel, because of being vegan, but it is still delicious! I found that it was actually quite hard to dissolve the sugar in the coconut oil. I’m not entirely sure why… I’m sure science would tell me. Also, the sauce separates quickly quickly as there is less fat, so give it a good whisk before serving.

  • 150g coconut oil
  • 1.5 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup of coconut milk

Melt the oil in a saucepan, add the sugar and dissolve as much as possible. Add the coconut milk carefully and continue to cook until it thickens slightly.

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Mmm.

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.

A dinosaur birthday party

A brainstorming session with my toddler meant that my bubba got a dinosaur party. Not because he loves dinosaurs, but because Peppa Pig’s little brother had a dinosaur party. That pig has a lot to answer for.

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I made a dinosaur-spiked tee from here. It was SO easy and SO quick. Such a great tutorial.

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I watched this video and used this template for the cake. I used my ol’ sugar-free banana cake recipe (see below) with buttercream icing.

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I found a dinosaur sandwich-cutter at Officeworks.

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And, finally, some “lolly bags”.

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(I was quite proud of my dino pasta thankyou cards).

We had some craft activities to do to, but we just didn’t need them! Cubby houses, scooters, bikes and food are all too exciting.

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Sugar-free Banana Cake Recipe

  • 125g butter
  • 2 mashed bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups SR flour (I used part white, part wholemeal)
  • 1/2 cup milk (any milk works fine if you need to go dairy-free)

Cream butter and bananas together. Add eggs and beat well. Gently add flour and milk. Bake for about 25 mins at 180 until a cake tester comes out clean.

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!

 

 

Low FODMAP desserts

One of my besties is on the low-FODMAP diet to help with some health problemos. I cook for her regularly, and at first I freaked out quite a lot when I looked at the no-go list. And then add to that dairy and egg allergies from other family members!! Desserts become quite difficult…

But I’m getting it sorted now, and I’m particularly proud of two desserts that I pulled out for Christmas, and then her birthday.

And here is Christmas in a Glass (low-FODMAP, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free):

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The bottom is a layer of coconut tapioca pudding. I boil 3/4 cup of tapioca pearls in water, drain them, stir in a tin of coconut milk and let it set in the fridge.

On top is cinnamon-salted popcorn, a candycane, fresh blueberries, coconut chips (these are McKenzies brand and are beautiful) and gingerbread. I altered a Donna Hay recipe (from Issue 78, pg 150) for the gingerbread.

Gingerbread dough (more FODMAP friendly):

  • 125g butter or nuttelex, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup treacle
  • 2 1/2 cups GF plain flour
  • 1 tsp bi carb soda
  • 3-4 tsp ground ginger (depending on your palate!)
  • 1-2 tsp mixed spice (depending on your palate!)

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the other ingredients and beat until it comes together in a smooth dough. Press into a tin and bake for about 30 mins at 160 degrees.


 

Then, as a birthday cake, I made a layered pudding! The tapioca is the same again on the bottom. The next layer is frozen banana (freeze bananas, then whiz them in the food processor until they look like icecream) and topped with ganache. I made the ganache using 2/3 cup of coconut milk and 90g of dairy-free dark chocolate. And again, sprinkled with coconut chips.

Looking back, I realised that this is actually a pretty healthy dessert – the only sugar is in the dark chocolate!

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