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

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?

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!!

Making Baozi (BJ Bucket List #5)

Yes, this is super late. But we’ve moved countries, stayed in four different houses, are looking for our own place and I’m pregnant again! Sheesh. Nothing like keeping things interesting.

I’m sure you picked up from the last post that food has been a big part of this adventure for us. I’ve done quite a few cooking classes in our time here, mostly at The Hutong, but the one thing that seemed to have escaped the menu was baozi, or steamed buns.

Luckily, our ayi is a very good cook, so I asked her to teach me.

The hardest thing with ayi is to get her to teach you something from the start. I don’t know if this is a common ayi problem, but she wants to reduce my effort in the kitchen, so she pre-prepared the filling and dough. Annoyingly, I really wanted to watch that being put together, as it’s so much easier to replicate later if you get your hands dirty, however, she did tell me the recipe.

Baozi dough

  • 1+kg SR Flour
  • Add water until the dough comes together. Knead.
  • Allow it to rise for about half an hour.
  • The dough should be softer than jiaozi dough.

Baozi filling 

  • 500g minced meat (we used pork)
  • oil (we used olive oil)
  • sesame oil
  • fresh ginger, grated (or finely chopped if you can do it small enough)
  • Chinese five spice
  • ground cinnamon
  • pepper
  • spring onion, finely chopped*
  • tofu, finely chopped*
  • cabbage, finely chopped (salt and leave to sit to remove water)*
  • mushroom, finely chopped (香菇, xianggu)*

*Because I am not an expert chopper, unlike my ayi, I would use the food processor whizzy machine for these ingredients.

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The tricky part of this whole recipe is really the construction. Instead of rolling the dough traditionally, Ayi turned it around in her hand and poked a hole in the middle, teasing it into a donut shape!

She then broke the long “strands” into pieces. They were then flattened into circles, the filling was place in the middle and she magically shaped them with her hand, balancing the base in the palm of her hand and using her dextrous fingers to close the buns.

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This is one of mine… ayi’s were much prettier

Really, the magic is in watching the construction. It’s just too hard to describe. So you can find some short videos that I took here:

Donut Dough
Rolling circles
Filling baozi

We steamed these babies for 15 minutes.

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And they got the tick of approval from the little one.

Baby-led Weaning Journey – 11-12ish months

Woah. 12 months is almost here. Where did that time go? As we’re prepping for our big move, I’ve been a bit slack with cooking and blogging and the like. I seem to spend my few minutes of free time making lists and calculating costs. Fun.

Sadly for bubs, strawberry season is over. We stretched it out as long as we could, but those little red balls of deliciousness just aren’t as fresh and juicy any more. Ayi had a bit of a panic. “But she LOVES strawberries. What can I feed her now?” Following this baby-led weaning program, I really didn’t want to ever get stuck in a rut of feeding bubs the same thing at the same time (fearing a picky child), but it seems that ayi was stuck in one without me noticing.

(As much as it is wonderful to have an ayi, there are some hiccups… but I know…. MCP).

So I helped ayi through this difficult time (!) with some delicious seedless grapes cut in half, de-stoned cherries, mangoespeaches and stewed apples. All of which satiated the little one. “See, ayi? She can eat other things!”

When we’re feeding her (her two arvo/evening meals) she continues to have a wide variety of things. I’m trying more and more to save a serving of what we cook the night before so that she has a new meal to try. Lasagne and other pasta based dishes are definitely a fave! And hommous is also popular. We try to keep a supply of veggie slice, lentil cakes and banana bread in the freezer for a quick go-to. (If you are looking for more recipes, I try to pin them all on this pinterest board).We’ve had a little bit of meat recently. Not a whole lot. Mainly because we usually cook vegetarian at home and I’m always a bit dubious of restaurant meat (for her), but when we spend the money on a nice cut, we should share a little with her I guess!

  • I’m always on the hunt for new ideas and recipes…What do you keep stashed in your freezer for feeding baby? Drop a comment below…

She also loves Bellamy’s baby porridge, which Grandma brought over from Australia for her. And she can feed it to herself now with a spoon. The only tricky bit is the last few bits stuck in the edges of the bowl, but Mummy and Daddy can help with that.

Yesterday we also discovered pears. Super ripe and squishy and much easier to eat than fresh apple.

Our only unsuccessful dish recently was noodles. I don’t think she minded the flavour, but they were super tricky to eat. She kept getting them stuck on her fingers and arms and it was too hard to get them in her mouth. I suspect I need to improv my cooking of noodles and perfect my noodle-to-sauce ratio.

I also recently bought a snack cup that I have attached onto the pram. This is great for going out as it is great entertainment trying to get the little snacks through the lid, and also is great coordination practice.

It is so wonderful to see her turning into a real little person. She has discovered a great game. When she has finished eating, she now feeds all the leftovers to me or Daddy. Yes, some may be half-chewed, or be a mix of fish and yoghurt, but it’s such a cute game! And I feel it (hopefully) discourages the wasting of food.

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Patiently waiting whilst Mummy does some cooking. 

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I just had to snap this…. I thought it looked so cute! A mini-meal! Steak and veg.

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And almost all of it went down! She was having a bit of trouble biting through the meat strips, and also bit her tongue in doing so, so cut them up into smaller pieces and then she fed herself.

So, after 6 months of BLW, I can definitely say that we love it! It makes our lives so easy when we go out, and we spend so much less time prepping food. The only thing that we didn’t follow, according to the book, was breast-feeding on demand. We stuck to our 4 hourly feeds during the day, which has now been weaned down to two feeds (1 morning, 1 evening). I can highly recommend it to anyone!

  • Her first birthday is coming… do you have any great baby recipes for birthday parties? Drop a comment below…