Thursday, April 30

RECIPE: Quickie Shepherds' Pie

I love a good shepherds pie (or cottage pie if you decide to use beef) - who doesn't?  

Our girls all play netball and are all this year playing in different teams.  All of which have practice on different afternoons.  It's becoming chilly so this is perfect for those nights where we've been rushing around all day but want to serve up a hearty dinner on those cooler days especially when the kids need something to abate their ferocious hunger and warm them (and us) up.

Cue the quickie shepherds' pie.  No lots of simmering, no peeling, cooking and mashing potatoes.  It's a quick chop, fry, bake assembly job.  Thank heavens for that.  We all need a repetoire of these recipes in our busy lives, so please bookmark for your busy days!

Also, if you don't own a cast iron skillet, ask for one for mother's day!  I got mine for my birthday last year and use it SOOOO much.  This is mine and yes it's not cheap ($370) but you will use it forever and often.  There are some cheaper type here (for $140).  If that's not an option use a frypan and transfer to casserole dish before putting potato gems on top.

1 large brown onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced (include some of the leaves too)
500g lamb mince
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
2 tb cornflour
700ml beef stock
1 sprig parsley
leaves from 2 sprigs of thyme leaves
1 cup frozen peas and corn (or half a cup of each)
700g potato gems (or tater tots)

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees c

With 2tb oil, saute  onions, carrots and celery, until onions become transparent

Brown your lamb mince and add worcestershire sauce.

Sprinkle cornflour over the top

Then add stock, frozen vegetables and herbs and stir well.

Take off the stove (or transfer to casserole dish) and cover with frozen potato gems. Press them down a little.  Pop in the oven for 30 minutes.

This give you time to shower, do lunch-box unpacking and watching, even do a little homework or heaven forbid - have a glass of wine!

The potatoes will be crispy on top and the lovely gravy will soak into the bottom of them.  So yummy.

Kids will be cheering!

Wednesday, April 29

RECIPE: Large moist and light blueberry banana loaf

Everyone loves an easy cake, no more than me.  I'm not one for too many steps and fussing around.  I'd be a terrible patissier because I'd want to take shortcuts.  This one is just ingredients in two bowls, combine and bake.  Gotta love that.  The inclusion of sour cream makes it not only moist but really light, and I think I'll be using sour cream a bit more going forward with my cakes because even though I'm not a real cake person (I looove cheesecake) this is one I will admit, I had more than a few slices.....

The other good thing about this one is it makes 15 decent slices so if you were to make this for school lunches - you will get the 'return on investment' in your time... I'm going to make this again next time I cater morning tea at work or church.

3 cups plain flour
2 1/2 tsp bicarb soda
3/4 cup frozen or fresh bluberries
1 tsp cinnamon powder
3 bananas, mashed
3/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
250g butter, melted and cooled

Topping (optional)
Extra bluberries
1 banana, sliced


Preheat oven to 170 degrees c
In a mixing bowl,  combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and frozen blueberries and mix to combine.

Mix your sour cream bananas, eggs, and butter in another bowl

Combine together either with a spoon, or in a mixer.  It's a stiff dough so might be better with a mixer if you have one.  Don't worry if your bluberries pop :)

Place into a square or round tin or 2 greased loaf pans.
Place some blueberries and sliced banana on top.

Bake for 1 hour, check if it's cooked by using the skewer method.
Cool in the tin for about 10 minutes before turning out on a cooling rack for another 30 minutes minimum before serving.

Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days or freeze in portions or whole for later.


Monday, April 27

RECIPE: Scrumptious Cinnamon crunch bread pudding

I'm one of those weird people who doesn't mind when the cold weather turns up.  I actually just like the variety in the seasons.  Seasonal clothes, seasonal food.  But what I love about winter apart from sitting in front of the fire and wearing one of my favourite coats is making casseroles, saucy dishes and puddings.

This recipe is an easy one, and I had Laura help me,  Kids can make this if you let them use some electrical appliances or you can just help with the one bit that requires one.  You don't have to use white bread - you can use raisin or fruit bread it would be equally delicious.  This is the only thing I ever use white bread for - and you are a grainy bread family like ours, you need to make an exception here.

Ingredients: (serves 8)
9 slices white bread
8 eggs
200ml cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
110g butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup plain flour
2 tsp cinnamon powder

Preheat oven to 190 degrees c fan forced

Cut up bread in thirds like below:

With your butter, grease  a large baking dish

And them place the bread in the dish - kind of in a patchwork pattern.

In a bowl, whisk eggs, cream, vanilla together until well combined.

Pour the mix over the bread evenly.  Squoosh it down with your hands to ensure everything is soaked into each piece of bread.

Put your butter, flour, sugars and cinnamon in food processor (you could combine these with a fork or whisk if you wanted but it's much easier work with a food processor)

and pulse until your mix resembles wet sand.

Crumble over the top of the bread.

Bake for 50 minutes, it will be soft and sweet inside and crunchy cinnamon topping.  You are allowed to drool at this point.

Serve with cream or icecream.

Sunday, April 26

RECIPE: Easy sweet and sour pork meatballs

I used to love sweet and sour pork when I was a kid but these days I'm not so fond of capsicum (no-one in the house is) which prevents me from having that, and, I can't even remember the last time we had takeway Chinese.   Sweet and sour is a new kind of taste for our family and I can pretty much guarantee my kids eating anything if it's a meatball.  So instead of going down the deep-fried-battered-pork route I went to the shallow-fry meatball option.  These are great to make ahead too, take about 40 minutes from beginning to end I made some this weekend and have tucked them away for a night this week.. of course after we had all taste-tested one - and the reports from the frills - YUM MUM!

500g minced pork
3 slices bread or 1/2 cups of breadcrumbs
1/2 red onion, finely diced
2 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1 sprigs fresh parsley (or 1 tsp dried)
1 egg
100g butter
3tb olive oil

2 tb olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 carrot, finely diced
2/3 cup white vinegar
2/3 cup caster sugar
2 1/2 tb soy sauce
1 400g tin of pineapple rings in natural juice, drained and each ring cut into 8.

If you have a food processor (I love this mini-version - the Braun MultiQuick cordless) process your bread into the breadcrumbs, and then empty it into the bowl with the mince, then add onion and herb and process those also.  So quick and easy.  If you don't, cut up your bread, onion and herbs as finely as possible.

Combine all those dry ingredients with the mince and then mix through your egg.

Roll into meatballs about the diameter of a 50c piece.

Heat 100g butter and 3tb olive oil in a pan.  Don't worry too much, most of it is left behind, but it makes the outer of your meatballs stick together well and also get that yummy crispiness.

Add your meatballs and you'll need to turn them twice after about 5 minutes of frying away at a medium-high heat.

See? They crisp up beautifully, which is important for your sauce to stick properly.

Whilst the meatballs are getting crispy make your sauce by adding 2 tb olive oil to a deep frypan or skillet.  Cook off your garlic and carrot until soft.

Add vinegar, sugar and soy sauce and then lastly add the pineapple pieces. Simmer until it starts to thicken, only takes a few minutes.

As your meatballs finish their browning/crisping, transfer them to the pan with the sauce and coat them, turning them every two minutes or so until you have all your meatballs in the pan and they are nicely covered.

Serve with vegetables or rice.

Thursday, April 23

LUNCHBOX LEGEND: No-bake chewy blueberry coconut muesli bars

It's been a crazy week, we are in Sydney and if you've not seen in the news, this superstorm has certainly been disruptive.  We're on our third day with limited power - no washing machine, dishwasher and no oven.  We have enough power to run our fridge the past two days and some TVs as well so it could be worse.  Luckily we also have gas - so hot showers and gas cooktops are a blessing.

I  have been left with a limited lunchbox stash though so had to get creative.  No-bake-type creative.  I could have made LCMs but because it's so wet and damp thought that might not be a good idea.

So I went looking for a chewy muesli bar and I tweaked a recipe and got these and I have to say, they are the best muesli bars I've ever made.  Not only are they delicious but the recipe is super easy and it makes 18 bars.  I kinda want to make more today, and I might if I have time.

Now the recipe calls for light corn syrup.  If you can't access this - just use 1/3 cup glucose syrup and make up the rest of what would have been 1/2 cup with water, no drama.  You can get glucose syrup readily from the supermarket if they don't have light corn syrup.

You don't need to use blueberries either -  use choc-chips, sultanas, dried apricots, currants or goji berries or even funfetti/sprinkles if you're feeling a little crazy.

All up they take about an hour but  half of that you're waiting for them to set, so very quick!  Give them a go - you won't regret it!

125 gr butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
1 3/4 cups rice bubbles
1/4 cup dried blueberries

Line a baking tray (mine here is 43cm x 28cm (or 17 x 11 inches)) with aluminium foil.

Place butter, corn syrup, sugars and vanilla extract in a saucepan and place on stove over medium-high heat.

While your wet mixture is heating up - prepare your dry ingredients by combining them in a bowl.  These are the blueberries I used.

Give your wet ingredients a stir, and when it starts to bubble up like this, it's ready to pour into your dry ingredients.

Get ready with a spoon.

Pour in your wet ingredients gradually and stir as you go.

It should be moist all over.  Quickly move this into your prepared tray.

Spread out evenly with a piece of baking paper as the mixture will be hot and sticky.

Compact the mixture buy rolling a small rolling pin or glass over the top to ensure it meshes together well and the surface is even.

Leave it to set for about 30 minutes then turn upside down onto a chopping board. Peel off the foil and then cut into bars or squares, depending what you prefer.  This made 18 bars for me.

They have a lovely texture and are sweet without being sickly.

Cut up baking paper and roll into individualwrapped pieces.  They fit perfectly into a tupperware mini-rectangle size 2 if you have one.

Sunday, April 12

Mega-lunch-box-bake off, how we made 500 school snacks in three hours!

At the beginning of the school year I hosted a baking afternoon with the Mums of our church and some friends.   In the spirit of MamaBake we met in our large church kitchen and had time to chat and bake, and I passed on some of my recipes which I'd adapted to be big batches.

All in all it cost about $20 a family, there were nine of us, which I think is as big as it should be to be honest, mainly because of oven space and time.

I purchased the ingredients, but if you were doing this with friends, you could allocate a shopping list or a recipe to each person.  For the recipes we used, I also pre-made the scroll dough and short-crust for the mini-quiches.

I laid out each recipe in stations with ingredients, utensils and of course the recipe.   This is the station for banana passionfruit muffins

 And mini quiches using my quiche pastry dough

Savoury scrolls using Pioneer Woman's scroll dough

Everyone stuck to their recipe - and it was very social and it was clear that everyone loved baking but didn't have either the patience or the confidence to make it all.  Everyone left feeling they would re-make at least one of the recipes.

It was really fun, I would recommend it with friends or people in your community!

Slabs of LCMs!

The 'business'!  Cookies, muffins, scrolls, quiches!
 The assembly line of packaging!

Click here to download the bulk recipes to use yourself or with friends!


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